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With this post, we’re calling it a wrap for 2012. Have a great New Year, Streetsblog readers!
Elected Official of the Year
In one of the more encouraging trends for livable streets in NYC, it seems like the competition for this Streetsie gets a little more crowded each year. In the City Council, Brad Lander continued to be a strong voice for safer streets and better transit; Gale Brewer concluded 2012 with a definitive statement backing the extension of the Columbus Avenue bike lane; Tish James helped usher in some traffic-calming treatments on one-way streets in her district; and Julissa Ferreras welcomed the arrival of Corona’s new public plaza and a 20 mph zone. In the state legislature, State Senator Dan Squadron earned a commendation for leading the campaign for a safer Delancey Street.
The second runner-up is Assembly Member Joseph Lentol, who responded to the bike-ped crunch on the Pulaski Bridge with the sensible suggestion that a safe, protected lane for cyclists should be carved out of the roadway. It looks like the idea could have some legs. First runner-up is Council Member Daniel Dromm. Facing a barrage of withering coverage of the 37th Road plaza in Jackson Heights, Dromm stayed steady and brokered an agreement in which the merchants who’d been shredding the plaza in the press turned around and agreed to take ownership of it.
The winner and Streetsblog’s Elected Official of 2012 is Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. This was the year that the East Harlem representative’s persistent advocacy for safer streets in her district finally paid off, when the first protected bike lane above 96th Street was installed on Second Avenue. From speaking on the City Hall steps in 2010 to facing down the misinformation campaign against the project in 2011, Mark-Viverito was at the center of the effort to bring complete streets to East Harlem. This wasn’t the first time she’d taken a stand for livable streets, either. Mark-Viverito was the council’s clearest voice for congestion pricing in 2008, and she’s a big proponent of Bus Rapid Transit. If every City Council member was so willing to embrace change, progress would come to NYC streets a lot faster.
Worst Elected Official
There were a lot of contenders for this one too, but in the end it was clear who deserved the honor: City Council Member Inez Dickens. The appalling vehicular violence on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard — 11 deaths since 2006 — demanded action. But Dickens was nowhere to be found when DOT proposed a traffic-calming redesign for 35 blocks of the avenue. While neighborhood institutions like the Harlem Children’s Zone and the Abyssinian Development Corporation endorsed the changes, the local community board (with its many Dickens appointees) stonewalled. Dickens continued to say nothing and let the proposal wither on the vine.
DOT eventually went ahead with a scaled-back version, leaving many blocks untouched until next year at the earliest. With those safety upgrades still on the table and major bus enhancements potentially in the works for 125th Street, Harlem’s streets could start functioning much better for everybody pretty soon, but the neighborhood’s change-averse political leadership isn’t helping.
Activist of the Year
With so many New Yorkers in the trenches fighting for livable streets, picking one honoree for this award is never easy. So this year we’re picking two. The Bronx Helpers and Make Lafayette Safer share the 2012 Streetsie for Activist of the Year.