Pols and Advocates to Mayor: Put More Money Into the Streets Master Plan
There’s impatience in the air.
Scores of advocates and politicians rallied at City Hall on Thursday — in one of the largest demonstrations about the Adams Administration’s slow start on street safety issues — to demand that City Hall accede to a City Council recommendation to set aside $3.1 billion for a safer, more bike-, bus-, and pedestrian-friendly New York.
More than a dozen council members and advocacy organizations say the mayor must adequately fund the long-awaited Streets Master Plan, which passed in 2019 and goes into effect this year, calling it a much-needed investment as traffic fatalities skyrocketed 44 percent in the first quarter of 2022 — the deadliest start to any year since Vision Zero launched in 2014. Between Jan. 1 and March 31, 59 people were killed in crashes.
“We want $3.1 billion, a little tiny fraction of the [nearly $100-billion] city budget, to make sure our streets belong to us, and to make sure New Yorkers are safe,” said Council Member Alexa Avilés (D-Sunset Park), who was joined by colleagues Selvena Brooks-Powers, Carlina Rivera, Lincoln Restler, Sandy Nurse, Chi Ossé, Crystal Hudson, Shekar Krishnan, and Amanda Farías. “We have seen death after death after death to no avail. We demand our city do better by us, by fully investing in the street plan.”
It is unclear whether the mayor will heed the call. The Department of Transportation’s 96-page plan, issued late last year, claimed the agency did not have the money to fully implement the Streets Master Plan, which requires the city to install hundreds of miles of protected bike lanes and bus lanes, cleaner sidewalks, and car-free streets over its five-year scope.
And the mayor’s proposed $98.5-billion Fiscal Year 2023 preliminary budget — which is $2 billion less than the previous year’s budget — did not put significant funds, if any, specifically into carrying out the plan.
The mayor’s office has been unable to provide a basic apples-to-apples comparison of the dollar amount he’s allocated specifically to the scheme, saying only that more than $4 billion is currently allocated to DOT for its five-year capital budget through fiscal year 2026 for street projects (excluding street resurfacing), and that many of those projects “overlap” with the city’s Streets Master Plan.
Despite proudly accepting endorsements from transit advocates such as StreetsPAC, Adams has done little to follow through — or even pick up where the former de Blasio administration left off, however inconsequential that was, said Rivera.
“There was certainly a moment to pick up on the momentum and his campaign was very vocal and proud to receive the endorsement of so many transit and pedestrian-friendly advocates and then constantly being on his bike, talking about how important helping transit is,” the Lower Manhattan Democrat told Streetsblog. “There was certainly momentum there for him to carry this into the budget, but I don’t see it as profoundly as I did in the months leading up to the start of his administration, and I don’t quite see it in the first 100 days.”
The real nitty-gritty details of how much money will ultimately get allocated toward the scheme are expected to get worked out next week ahead of the mayor’s executive budget, according to Rivera and a City Hall spokesperson.
City Hall said that existing capital funding is intertwined with goals of the Streets Master Plan, but admitted that the details still need to be worked out.