OPINION: Lindsey Boylan’s Safe-Streets Plan for Manhattan
Borough president candidate Lindsey Boylan lays out her vision of a city oriented around 'people not cars.'
Manhattanites have a number of candidates running for borough president with good records on street safety (including Elizabeth Caputo, Brad Hoylman, and Mark Levine), but Lindsey Boylan wanted to make sure she’s front and center, so she sent us her full transportation platform. Other candidates are welcome to do the same.
I love New York City. I love that I can go from Chelsea to the Museum of Natural History on the A train faster than a car can get uptown. I love that I can get on my bike and go across town from Chelsea to the East Village for some ramen in minutes. And I could walk around the city for hours, taking it in, and stopping in a local (donut) shop.
But moving around the city is still too hard, too dangerous, and too slow. Americans go to Europe and marvel at the romance of the piazzas and bustling streets, but never consider that we could make that life here. Even Manhattan, the densest part of the country, is oriented around cars. In my vision of New York, inspired by urbanist activists and urban planners, we will reorient the city around people not cars.
As borough president, I will use the office to implement and support reforms that make the city a place where people can walk, bike, and move safely through the city.
Before I worked for the State of New York, I was an urban planner. I helped make Broadway a car-free zone for stretches in Midtown. It has been a massive success. During the pandemic, the Open Streets program has been wildly popular and is hopefully here to stay. Let’s make even more streets open and create “superblocks” like in Barcelona. That will provide New Yorkers with more space to gather. We can add more small green spaces with trees, so that Manhattan streets can be cooled with climate change coming. That will require leadership by the borough president, from somebody who can coordinate across stakeholders, and I have the experience to do it.
As I wrote recently in my accessibility platform, when I am borough president, I will fight like hell to make sure the Metropolitan Transportation Authority delivers for everybody in our community and Access-A-Ride’s pilot program becomes a full time reality. Elevators and escalators are constantly out of order and repaired incredibly slowly at subway stations. The steps and platforms are often excessively narrow and difficult to traverse. We must invest the capital necessary to make our subway accessible and to get costs down to make it a reality. I’ll hold hearings and fight to change the inattention given to accessible transit.
Bus Lanes and Bike Lanes
We all see it: Cars parked in those painted-red bus lanes. Taxis pulling over into the green painted bike lanes, slowing commutes for buses and endangering cyclists. These lanes should not just be dedicated, but separated. Let’s create truly dedicated lanes, separate from our streets, with medians. We can even make the medians green and work to reduce stormwater runoff. I also support creating midblock sidewalk ramps on our busiest streets, as proposed by Shabazz Stuart in a recent op-ed, to help our deliveristas safely do their jobs. As borough president, I’ll facilitate getting the job done, and push through the red tape to allow our transit system to thrive.
The 14th Street Busway was a massive success, and New York is now up to four dedicated busways throughout the city. But it needs to be way easier for Manhattanites to get across town. North of 42nd and south of 14th Street, there is no subway going across town, and buses and cars grind to a halt. I will advocate for dedicated busways moving across town at streets like 23rd, 34th, 72nd, 86th, and 125th. Let’s make getting across town as safe and easy everywhere as it is at 14th.
Calming Streets and Reducing Police Enforcement
Vision Zero is a good idea that has not been sufficiently executed. We can do so much more to calm our streets with infrastructure. We need more speed bumps and other street installations that calm the streets. We also should transition away from police enforcement of traffic violations, and to enforce speeding violations we should transition towards speeding cameras, particularly in school zones. I will help facilitate installations as your borough president and speed up Vision Zero without delay.
Ending Placard Abuse
Elected officials and civil servants should not have special advantages in our city, and particularly not one that privileges their ability to drive. It is a petty corruption that corrupts more broadly. The placards are frequently used to allow politicians and their staff to park illegally on sidewalks and crosswalks, endangering New Yorkers everywhere. I will not allow their use in my office, and I will call out those who do use them.
Lindsey Boylan (@LindseyBoylan) spent almost a decade in urban planning and management, including the oversight of Bryant Park and Herald and Greeley squares, and pedestrianizing segments of Broadway and several other public spaces in Manhattan. She also served as the state’s deputy secretary for Economic Development and Housing.