Wednesday’s Headlines: Mr. Mayor, Help Bus Riders Edition

Assembly Member Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas led the charge for more dedicated lanes for buses (unlike the inset). Photos: Julianne Cuba
Assembly Member Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas led the charge for more dedicated lanes for buses (unlike the inset). Photos: Julianne Cuba

We sent Julianne Cuba to yesterday’s mega-rally in Queens demanding that Mayor Adams meet the legal requirement that he paint 30 miles of dedicated bus lanes and 20 miles of protected bike lanes this year.

So far, the DOT has only painted 5.4 miles of bus lanes and just 9.3 miles of protected bike lanes across the five boroughs — according to the Riders Alliance and Transportation Alternatives trackers.

One of those stalled projects is a dedicated bus lane on Northern Boulevard, which serves the Q66 bus route and more than 150,000 people.

“With only two months left in the year, the administration is nowhere near close to meeting this requirement,” said Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas, who represents Corona, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, and Woodside. “Progress on the new designated bus lane on Northern Boulevard is stalled, denying riders, pedestrians, and cyclists I represent in Queens the safe and accessible modes of transportation all New Yorkers deserve.” (The Department of Transportation said work on Northern Boulevard would start later this year.)

The benchmarks of the NYC Streets Plan aren’t just numbers, said Families for Safe Streets member Raul Ampuero, whose 9-year-old son Giovanni was killed by a reckless driver on Northern Boulevard in 2018. It’s about lives.

“The pain that traffic violence brings is something that no other family should have to experience,” said Ampuero. “Mayor Adams and Commissioner Rodriguez must fast-track projects across all five boroughs. With bold action, we can stop traffic violence and build safe streets in every neighborhood.”

It’s worth noting that Council District 21, which includes the area where the rally was on Tuesday, is dead last in dedicated bus lanes (it has none), ranks 33rd out of 51 Council districts for bike lanes, has buses that average just 6.9 miles per hour, and a majority of households (54 percent) do not have access to a car. It’s also the poorest neighborhood in Queens, according to Census and other data compiled by TA and MIT (amNY also covered the rally, but didn’t include the above data).

Speaking of buses, Mayor Adams did offer some good news yesterday — he’s gotten $18.5 million in federal money to buy 51 electric school buses (those are expensive buses!). (NYDN, amNY, Gothamist) But London still kicks our ass (to paraphrase the Daily News’s unfortunate slogan for New York, “We can kick your city’s ass”) when it comes to buses.

In other news:

  • You don’t get better scoops than this: “A security firm launched by Mayor Adams’s top public safety director [Phil Banks] scored a portion of the MTA contract to send unarmed guards to patrol subway turnstiles as part of a new crackdown on fare-beating,” the Post reported.
  • We appreciate that Hell Gate did a blow-by-blow account of how NYPD officers care more about their own driving than they do safety in the neighborhoods they cover — which was revealed anew by a videotape of a 115th Precinct cop complaining of traffic allegedly caused by the 34th Avenue open street.
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand introduced a bill to help transit systems make themselves more resilient. (Transportation Today)
  • We have to admit to feeling fascinated and repulsed by the “driving instructor to the elite” profiled last week in Curbed.
  • A drag racer almost killed a cabbie in Midtown on Sunday. (NYDN)
  • Play Subway Bingo with the MTA (for prizes)!
  • Cross Bay Boulevard is crumbling, the City reports.
  • Friend of Streetsblog Aaron Short had a fun piece on umbrellas in Hell Gate.
  • Seriously, any maniac from New Jersey can drive a 5,000-pound SUV onto our streets, polluting our lungs and endangering our kids, without so much as a single raised eyebrow at DOT, but it takes “many discussions” to get a few bike racks put in?

  • And, finally, here’s a classic from friend of Streetsblog Nic Wolff (for what it’s worth, DOT told us that this spot will soon be painted for what it is: a pedestrian island):