Mayor announces “Green Wave” plan to protect cyclists
by Benjamin Fang
Jul 31, 2019 | 582 views | 0 0 comments | 60 60 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Amid a surge in cyclist deaths in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio has unveiled a new “Green Wave” plan to protect bikers.

Last Thursday in Bay Ridge, the mayor rolled out the $58.4 million initiative, which will combine improved street design with better enforcement.

Eighteen cyclists, including 13 in Brooklyn, have died this year, far surpassing the record-low 10 fatalities in 2018. Nine have involved interactions with trucks.

“This has been an extraordinarily painful few weeks, and we have to first think about this in terms of the people we’ve lost and the families that are left behind in agony,” de Blasio said. “It’s a crisis.

“We can never look at such a moment like this and think we can do things the same way,” he added. “It cannot go on like this.”

As part of the Green Wave plan, the city is committing, for the first time, to a citywide protected bike lane network. De Blasio pledged to add 80 more miles by 2021, bringing his administration’s total to 160 miles of protected bike lanes.

Among the neighborhoods that will receive its first on-street protected bike lane is Bay Ridge, where the announcement was made.

The initiative will also include increased enforcement by the NYPD and more public education, both meant to change the behavior of motorists.

De Blasio said the city will target enforcement at 100 of the most dangerous locations in the city, with a special focus on trucks. Police will be looking for violations like speeding, failing to yield, blocking bike lanes and trucks driving off route.

The NYPD will also continue its “Operation Bicycle Safe Passage” initiative. According to the mayor, police have issued more than 8,600 tickets for blocking bike lanes, double from the same period from last year, in the first three weeks.

“I want everyone who drives a truck in this city to know the NYPD will be watching,” the mayor said, “and they will take action if any trucker does the wrong thing and endangers a bicyclist.”

Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg called the Green Wave a “robust and ambitious plan.” As part of the plan, the DOT will aim to build 30 miles of protected bike lanes annually.

The agency will also receive $58 million in new resources, including hiring 80 new people to work specifically on bike lanes. They hope to build out a citywide bike lane network by 2030.

Trottenberg said DOT will also commit to additional turn-calming treatments at 50 of most high-crash intersections. Those will be added after streets are resurfaced or reconstructed.

Additionally, the city will pilot “Green Wave” signal-timing so cyclists can have a smooth ride with less stopping at intersections, she said. DOT will also use more green paint and “bike boxes” so cyclists can be more visible to vehicles.

“We’re also going to be hardening more of our bike lanes with bollards and other devices to keep cars out of them,” she said.

When asked how many parking spots will be eliminated by the Green Wave plan, Trottenberg said she didn’t have a specific number, but estimated it to be “in the thousands.”

In a statement, Borough President Eric Adams praised City Hall’s efforts to redouble street safety efforts. He called for a focus on priority corridors in underserved communities like Bay Ridge, Midwod and Sheepshead Bay.

“We need equitable attention paid to intersection redesigns and enforcement of our traffic rules,” he said.

But the Green Wave plan found a critic in Councilman Carlos Menchaca, who said it doesn’t go far enough to address the “root causes of our emergency.”

“What we need is the courage to break the car culture and implement a master plan that protects the safety of our most vulnerable street users –– cyclists and pedestrians,” he said. “They are living the crisis daily and deserve a seat at the table. We need to follow their lead.”
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