NYC Pursuing Hundreds of Miles of Protected Bike Lanes

MANHATTAN (CN) – The New York City Council approved an ambitious new street-safety plan Wednesday that includes 250 miles of new protected bike lanes as well as more space for pedestrians. 

“The piecemeal way we plan our streets has made no sense for far too long, and New Yorkers have paid the price every day stuck on slow buses or as pedestrians or cyclists on dangerous streets,” Council Speaker Corey Johnson said in a statement.

“We need to do everything we can to encourage sustainable modes of transportation, especially with the realities of climate change growing more dire every day. This plan will get us there, and by doing so it will make New York City a much more livable and enjoyable place to call home.”

Twenty-five cyclists have been killed on New York City’s streets this year, a huge jump from the 10 fatalities in 2018. Seventy pedestrians had died in 2019 as of August. 

The city already has about 1,250 miles of bike lanes but most lack a protective barrier between cyclists and cars.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said this earlier this week he’d agreed to the plan, and City Hall says it passed the council 36-10, with two abstentions. The first plan is due December 2021; until then, the city says it will build 30 miles of protected bike lanes every year. De Blasio’s term ends in January 2022. 

The first plan also includes bus-stop upgrades, redesigned intersections, shifting parking policies, and the creation and maintenance of a million square feet of pedestrian space, according to the City Council. 

The plan would also require the Department of Transportation to issue and implement a transportation master plan every five years, accompanied by public education plans about their benefits. 

Johnson, who frequently speaks of “breaking car culture,” introduced some ideas in his January 2019 state of the city address.

“Complete streets can make our city safer for New Yorkers of all ages,” AARP New York Associate State Director Chris Widelo said in a statement applauding the new measures.

“Whether you have a stroller or a wheelchair, ride a bike or take the bus, upgrading our streets improves the quality of life in New York City. We applaud Speaker Johnson and his cosponsors for supporting this important legislation to make New York a more livable and age-friendly city.”

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