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NYC Gets Serious on Transportation Reform

In the latest installment of his transportation column, Omnibus, Justin Glick looks at some brand-new initiatives affecting bikers, riders and drivers in New York City.

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After the New York state assembly shot down Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt at a congestion tax for all vehicles entering below-59th Street Manhattan last year, many anti-automobile activists felt like their cause just ran into a wall. But 2009 is looking to be a banner year for transportation policy supporting mass transit, cycling, and pedestrians.

First, we got word of what Streetsblog is calling “the boldest and most transformative street reclamation project since Portland, Oregon decided to tear down Harbor Drive in 1974”: the pedestrianization of Broadway between 47th and 42nd Streets (Times Square area) and between 32nd and 36th Streets (Herald Square area) as part of an ongoing endeavor that aims to remake Broadway as New York City’s premier car-free boulevard all the way from Columbus Circle down to Union Square. It also is one of those rare instances when what’s best for the walkers is also best for the drivers. Apparently Broadway’s diagonal orientation disrupts Midtown’s street grid resulting in backed up traffic along the avenues and major cross-streets.

Then, I heard last night at a panel discussion regarding the future of indoor bike parking in NYC that Introductions 871 and 78 look like they’re going to get through the city council. For everyone who forgot, Introduction 871 would mandate access to bike parking in most office and retail buildings, “provided that such building can reasonably accommodate the storage of such bicycle.” In addition, going forward, new office buildings would have to offer one bicycle space for every 5,000 square feet; new retail buildings, one for every 7,500 square feet; and new apartment buildings with more than 10 units, one for every two residential units. Introduction 78 would require garages and parking lots to provide at least one bicycle parking space for every 10 car-parking spaces. (For more, visit the City Room.) It goes without saying that this would be a huge step forward toward making bicycles a legitimate alternative to taking the subway or driving.

Finally, it appears that the New York state assembly is responding to the urgency of the MTA’s doomsday budget. It looks like they are in fact going to impose a $2 toll for all currently toll-less bridges over the East and Harlem rivers. And while this is less than the $5 proposed in the initial Ravitch plan, it’s still going to allow the MTA to continue to operate at current levels.

This all happened LAST WEEK. Can’t wait to see what’s down the pipeline.

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Tags: new york citytransit agenciespublic spacebikingmichael bloomberg

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