For immediate release: Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Contact: Kate Slevin, 212-268-7474
New Yorkers joined city and regional transportation, environmental, and planning organizations this morning to thank the city for over three years of transportation improvements. On the steps of City Hall, advocates and city residents displayed a giant card saying “Thanks for a Greener NYC!” addressed to Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and her bosses, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith.
“New York is a safer and greener city thanks to Commissioner Sadik-Khan and Mayor Bloomberg,” said Kate Slevin, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “New Yorkers are grateful. Just ask Talaura from Brooklyn, Mark from Queens, Alexei from Manhattan, Virginia from the Bronx, Ginny from Staten Island, and the 1,700 others who signed our card.”
Card signers thanked the city for the pedestrian, cycling, and transit improvements which have occurred since Sadik-Khan was appointed Transportation Commissioner in 2007. These include car-free Times Square, new separated cycling lanes and pedestrian plazas throughout the city, and new bus-only lanes that have sped up buses as part of “Select Bus Service” on Fordham Road in the Bronx and First and Second Avenues in Manhattan. In recent years, traffic fatalities have reached record lows – there were 269 deaths in 2010, compared to nearly 400 in 2001. In 2009, there were 256 traffic fatalities in New York City – the lowest since 1910, when the city began keeping fatality records.
“You can’t put a value on the lives that have been saved because of New York City’s new approach to its streets,” said Julia De Martini Day, Transportation Alternatives’ transportation and health director and the coordinator of the East Side Streets Coalition, a community initiative working to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities on Manhattan’s East Side. “Commissioner, East Siders thank you for the work you’ve done and ask that you keep doing it.”
“Under this administration we’ve seen real transit innovation in the form of Select Bus Service,” said Gene Russianoff, senior attorney at the Straphangers Campaign. “Bus-only lanes, pay-before-you-board fare collection, and bigger, better buses are the kinds of common-sense improvements New Yorkers need.”
“The Bloomberg administration’s innovative steps to improve transportation have made the city much more livable and enjoyable for so many New Yorkers,” said Rich Kassel, senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “Pedestrian plazas have improved congested corridors, more people are biking than ever before, and buses are moving more efficiently. When a few loud voices are shouting to turn back the clock, it’s worth remembering how much safer, easier and more pleasant it is to get around the city today.”
“New York has become a national leader on sustainable transportation issues thanks to Commissioner Sadik-Khan and Mayor Bloomberg,” said Dan Hendrick, communications director at the New York League of Conservation Voters. “We hope the mayor and his team will continue the great work they’ve done in the last few years.”
“Ensuring public safety, increasing sustainability and lessening inequalities between neighborhoods are key responsibilities that the Department of Transportation should fulfill, and we now have an agency which sees that clearly. Better buses and safer places to walk mean better access to blue-collar and service jobs for people far from a subway line. Creating safer streets that serve the needs of all people advances social justice,” said Elena Conte, an organizer at the Pratt Center for Community Development.
"At Bike New York, we teach hundreds of kids and adults how to ride bicycles each year, so we are continually seeing first-hand how well-planned infrastructure can change lives for the better. We’ve found that many cyclists are motivated to start riding in protected areas—such as bike lanes—before they venture into other streets," said Jacquelyn Lewis, communications manager for Bike New York. "But it’s not just about inspiring people to ride bicycles—it’s about showing people possibilities. We applaud NYC DOT and other city officials for creating these possibilities with a more user-friendly, enjoyable transportation system for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists."
Advocates also read several stories sent in by New Yorkers describing how the city’s transportation improvements had affected their lives.
“In September of last year, I had an accident which caused a multiple fracture of my big toe. It was difficult to travel more than a few blocks from my apartment on 18th Street and Broadway,” Joanne Waller of Manhattan wrote. “Around the same time as my injury, the redesign of Broadway was implemented. I was able to go there on my crutches and sit on the chairs on the east side of Broadway. It was my only experience of direct sun during those three long months! The redesign of Broadway not only contributed to making the city a bit more livable, it probably saved my sanity.”
“Exactly one year ago today, I bought a bicycle from a shop near my office in Hell’s Kitchen. I've lost over 35 lbs, sleep better and have more energy,” Marcus Woolen of Jackson Heights wrote. “I want to thank the city for including bicycle infrastructure as a part of the transit network that has enabled me to do this. As a resident of Jackson Heights, I also wish to thank the city for the ongoing extensive transportation study focused on improving traffic safety and congestion in my neighborhood, and for the amount of community outreach it’s done.”
“Our Kids Ride Club began fifteen years ago as a community partnership between Recycle-a-Bicycle and Woodhull Hospital in East Williamsburg. Today, the program consists of more than 100 youth participants who collectively ride more than 10,000 miles every season. Ninety-five percent of the kids in our Ride Club live in low-income communities,” wrote Pasqualina Azzarello, the executive director of Recycle-a-Bicycle, a Brooklyn-based organization which operates youth education programs in city public schools. “Without a doubt, the more our city supports development of bicycling infrastructure, the more that people of all ages and from diverse economic backgrounds can safely experience the healthful benefits and general well-being that can come with riding a bike.”
“Our neighborhood streets have become more civilized thanks to recent changes,” wrote Ian Dutton, vice-chair of Manhattan Community Board 2’s Traffic & Transportation Committee. “Shortened crossings mean seniors don't have to run for their lives to cross avenues that seemed to be absolute barriers. Seating areas in what used to be traffic-plagued intersections let residents and visitors experience the city in new, pleasant ways. And cruising in protected bicycle lanes lets me take my time and enjoy the neighborhood - I've even discovered a new favorite cupcake bakery with a bike lane out front!”
The 1,700 signatures on the thank-you card were collected online by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Straphangers Campaign, Transportation Alternatives, Pratt Center for Community Development, NY League of Conservation Voters, Bike New York, and other organizations. Stories from New Yorkers sent to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign are available here.
Handout photo (via Tri-State Transportation Campaign): Advocates opening up a thank-you card to NYCDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and her bosses, Mayor Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith. At microphone stand on right is Tri-State Transportation Campaign executive director Kate Slevin. Higher-resolution photo available on request.
The Tri-State Transportation Campaign is a nonprofit organization working toward a more balanced, transit-friendly, and equitable transportation system in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. www.tstc.org