Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer wants to prioritize buses, bikes, and pedestrians on Manhattan’s 14th Street when the L train shuts down for 18 months beginning in January 2019. Brewer signed onto Transportation Alternatives’ “PeopleWay” campaign yesterday after meeting with campaign organizers.
“To get through 18 months without the L train, we’ll need to move people along 14th Street like never before,” she said in a statement. “We need the DOT and MTA to conduct studies and get more community feedback before we’ll know what the best plan is, but some form of 14th Street PeopleWay has to be part of the solution.”
The shutdown will leave hundreds of thousands of daily L train commuters in need of reliable and fast alternatives. Buses running on dedicated lanes between Williamsburg and Manhattan are the most efficient way to accomplish that goal. Brewer previously called on DOT to study the concept of a “bus-only” 14th Street ahead of the shutdown.
PeopleWay advocates have not yet proposed a specific design for prioritizing buses, pedestrians, and bikes on the corridor, and Brewer’s statement stops short of calling for an entirely car-free 14th Street. In September and October, TA will host a series of public workshops to collect input for a more detailed plan, according to TA Organizing Director Tom DeVito.
TA volunteers and organizers spent the summer drumming up support for the PeopleWay concept. Brewer joins Council Member Corey Johnson, who represents the corridor from Fifth Avenue to the Hudson River, as well as Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez, in supporting the proposal. Council members Rosie Mendez and Dan Garodnick, who also represent parts of 14th Street, have yet to sign on.
The city and MTA will not be able to meet shutdown-induced demand unless they reallocate street space to people on buses and bikes. While DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg has said “all options are on the table,” Mayor de Blasio has been cold to the PeopleWay concept. Appearing on WNYC in July, the mayor was reluctant to endorse a car-free 14th Street, calling it a “big decision…given how important 14th Street is.”