Council Speaker Corey Johnson rallied with street safety advocates Tuesday to push for his bill to establish a “master plan” for New York City’s streets that proposes an ambitious expansion of bike and bus lanes.
The bill would require the city’s Department of Transportation to install 50 new miles of protected bike lanes and 30 new miles of bus lanes each year through 2024. Johnson is currently working to gain support from other Council members and the mayor.
“Other cities around the world are so, so, so far ahead of us on this issue,” Johnson said at the rally. “We have a lot of catching up to do. This bill is our attempt on a plan for how to get us there.”
While Johnson’s proposal is aggressive, he would not commit to raising the standards for protected bike lanes to catch up to other cities across the globe that do a better job of protecting cyclists. Many cities in Europe and Asia have elevated bike lanes that are on the same plane as sidewalks, a design that could help save lives and make cycling a more attractive option for New York commuters.
Johnson’s bill would define protected bike lanes as those that are “separated from traffic by vertical delineation or physical barrier," a standard that doesn’t meet his purported goal to stand up with leading cycling cities across the globe.
The speaker said he “is not wedded to a single idea” when it comes to standards for bike lanes, adding that “if we see places where the current protected bike lanes are not working,” the city would consider raising them.
But raising those standards will be difficult. Johnson noted he’s negotiating with the mayor and DOT over some details of his bill.
“We’re not caving to anything that DOT is saying where they don’t want certain things,” Johnson asserted. “I will handle it and approve it in a responsible, thoughtful way, which includes negotiation.”
Still, Johnson said he will not put the bill up for a vote until he gets backing from the de Blasio administration.
De Blasio spokesman Seth Stein touted his boss’s work to expand the city’s network of bike lanes, and pointed to hizzoner’s $58.4 million plan to install 80 new miles of on-street protected bike lanes before he leaves office.
“We share the Council’s goal of expanding protected bike lanes and making cycling more accessible,” Stein said.
Stein and several DOT spokespeople did not respond to a request to comment about protected bike lane standards.