City Council District 8 Candidates on Streets and Transportation Issues

City Council District 8 candidates Robert Rodriguez and Diana Ayala on NY1 last month.
City Council District 8 candidates Robert Rodriguez and Diana Ayala on NY1 last month.

Tomorrow’s Democratic primaries will be the decisive vote in most City Council districts, determining who will represent New York City neighborhoods for the next four years. In some races, the outcome is likely to come down to a few hundred votes or fewer.

Two weeks ago, Streetsblog sent four open-ended questions to the candidates in eight contested City Council races. We’re publishing the responses we received, as well as supplementary material from StreetsPAC questionnaires, in a series of posts this afternoon.

Below are the responses for the 8th District, which spans East Harlem and South Bronx neighborhoods west of the Bruckner Expressway, currently represented by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who is term-limited.

There are four candidates in the primary: Diana Ayala, Tamika Mapp, former Assembly Member Israel Martinez, and current Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez. Mapp responded to Streetsblog’s query, and Ayala and Rodriguez responded to the StreetsPAC questionnaire, portions of which are excerpted below.

New York City bus service keeps getting worse. Average speeds are the slowest in the nation, and ridership continues to drop. New York City government can improve service by prioritizing buses on city streets. What policies do you support to make bus service faster and more reliable? Where would you like to see bus improvements in your district?

Tamika Mapp: Redesign bus routes, have a dedicated bus lane that cars can’t get into. I would like to see bus times on all stops throughout the district and more busses that would carry more than two wheelchairs throughout the district as well. I would also fight to get fair fares for my district as well, because our district needs to get to their jobs and important appointments and giving free Metrocards to those who need it will open the city for them to do those things.

How would you make bicycling safer in your district? Do you support the expansion of protected bike lanes, even if street space has to be reallocated from traffic lanes or parking spaces?

Tamika Mapp: I support the expansion of protected bike lanes in my district. I would like to see two lane bike lane[s] in my district; right now there’s only one way you can ride your bike in the district and it puts my resident’s at risk when they don’t have a dedicated bike lane.

How can the City Council best use its powers to reduce traffic deaths and injuries and ensure all New Yorkers can safely walk and bike to get where they want to go?

Tamika Mapp: My job as your City Council Member is to protect you and educate you on various issues. We will be holding town halls on the importance of riding your bike in the protected bike lane and only to walk when you have the light to do so. I would like to see a light delay of two minutes to make sure residents can cross the street safely.

Congestion pricing has been in the news as a potential way to reduce traffic jams and fund the transit system. One option is the Move NY plan, which would toll all East River crossings and a cordon across Manhattan at 60th street while reducing tolls on outlying MTA crossings. The revenue would fund the MTA capital program, accelerating transit improvements and reducing the need for future fare hikes. Do you support this plan?

Tamika Mapp: I support that plan if it has an affordable congestion pricing for those in New York are living on a fixed income or receiving minimum wages to be able to get in the city as well.


From the StreetsPAC questionnaire…

Do you support the Move NY fair tolling plan?

Ayala: No.

Rodriguez: As a lead [assembly] sponsor of the MoveNY fair tolling program, I am proud to stand behind our efforts to make New York more accessible and affordable to all its occupants: resident, commuters, and travelers alike. The fair tolling plan will not only provide a cost benefit for driving commuters, the funds from the tolling plan will help and provide the means to work on projects to better our infrastructure and add more jobs.

Do you pledge to oppose efforts to limit New York City’s Right-of-Way Law, including opposing exemptions for bus drivers or other professional vehicle operators, such as New York City Council Intro 663?

Ayala: Yes.

Rodriguez: While the intentions of the “Right-of-Way” law are in good faith, we cannot assume that the intentions of the bill won’t be misconstrued to prosecute public transit workers who face dangerous street conditions every day. Car and transit accidents are, for the most part, just that: accidents. The small number of accidents involving the city’s metro and transit workers should not face additional penalties as stipulated by this “Right-of-Way” rule. It is simply too vague. Criminalizing more people shouldn’t be the first or only answer to any social problem. In the case of traffic violence, we should be redesigning streets to make them more hospitable to pedestrians before we start crafting new ways to arrest more people.

Do you support substantially reducing the number of parking placards issued by New York City, along with the adoption of measures to make placards more difficult to abuse or counterfeit, such as scannable barcodes?

Ayala: Yes.

Rodriguez: Reducing the number of parking placards would be the most beneficial measure to encourage mass transit. Reducing placards would allow the city to improve public transportation for New Yorkers to rid the hassle of having to drive to work. In the meantime, adopting more effective measures to make placards more difficult to abuse — as well as enforcing stricter regiments — would be the best option for New York City.

Will you pledge to support efforts to allow the Department of Transportation to operate speed cameras 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year?

Ayala: Yes.

Rodriguez: Yes.