With a month left before seeking employment elsewhere, outgoing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and outgoing New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson in conjunction with the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the New York City Streets Plan.
The Streets Plan commits DOT to meeting the following benchmarks by Dec. 31, 2026:
- 150 Miles of physically or camera-protected bus lanes
- 4,750 Transit signal priority at intersections
- 250 Miles of protected bike lanes
- 2,500 Bus stop upgrades like benches, shelters, and real-time passenger information
- 2,000 Redesigning signalized intersections
- 2,500 Accessible pedestrian signals at intersections
- Assess and amend commercial loading zones and truck routes
- Develop parking policies to promote the master plan’s goals of safety, mass transit use, reduced vehicle emissions, and access for individuals with disabilities
- Create and maintain one million square feet of pedestrian space.
Community engagement will guide all of DOT’s street redesign projects, including vehicle, pedestrian, cyclist, and bus infrastructure. Beginning in 2023, DOT will detail progress toward these goals in annual updates. Two public feedback sessions will be held virtually on Dec. 14 and Dec. 16.
There are a few caveats to this plan, however. One is that the incoming Mayor Eric Adams can implement whichever aspects he sees fit. The other is that much of this plan just incorporates projects and initiatives DOT already announced and has been working on. For example, much of the freight component includes:
- Smart Truck Management Plan
- Off Hour Delivery
- Neighborhood Loading Zones
- Green Loading Zones
- Clean Trucks Program
These are all wonderful projects, but DOT has been on top of them for some time. Though with a new administration and an ongoing pandemic, this is a good time for some fresh thinking. For example, rather than just make the Open Restaurants program permanent, NYC can build off hour deliveries into the program. This would increase off hour deliveries while removing many of the unsightly (and unused) shanties that popped up during Covid. It is also long past time to regulate e-bikes used for commercial purposes. These vehicles need to be registered and insured. Mandating that will then allow fleets to contract with these services to increase cargo bike freight transportation.
There are plenty of useful ideas in this plan but hopefully the new administration puts far more thought and creativity into it than the document dumped by a couple of lame ducks on their way out the door.