TITLE OF BILL
Establishes a standing advisory committee within the metropolitan transportation authority to improve bicycle and pedestrian access.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS
Section 1 of the bill adds a new section 1279-m to the Public Authorities Law that establishes within the MTA a permanent advisory committee to study, investigate, monitor and make recommendations with respect to the maintenance and improvement of bicycle and pedestrian access at all bridges and passenger stations operated by the authority. The bill outlines the size and makeup of the committee, along with the terms such members would serve. The committee will be charged with developing a strategic action plan in consultation with the MTA for improving bicycle and pedestrian access to MTA facilities, and to develop and monitor new and existing capital projects to ensure improved access. Section 2 amends section 1269-b of the public authorities law by adding a new subdivision 11 that requires the MTA to consider bicycle and pedestrian accessibility in formulating its capital program plans. Section 3 sets the effective date as immediate.
STATEMENT OF SUPPORT
We believe that a modern, 21st Century transportation agency must not only move people, but also move to correct the damage wrought by a century of automobile-centric planning.
We know that reducing carbon emissions, improving air quality, eliminating traffic congestion and speeding up the bus cannot be accomplished by widening roads, it must be done by getting people out of their cars–something that can be done by encouraging people to use their bicycles as a primary means of transportation. To support this shift, the MTA needs to build bicycle paths on its bridges and provide secure bicycle parking at all of its train and subway stations.
Southern Brooklyn is home to the Verrazzano-Narrows and Gil Hodges Marine Parkway bridges, two of the seven bridges where the MTA has banned bicycles. These crossings provide links to our jobs, families, friends and outdoor recreation on Staten Island and Rockaway Peninsula. The MTA’s policies have turned what could be short, enjoyable bike rides into a long, torturous trips by car. As a result, our neighborhoods are choked with traffic from thousands of unnecessary car trips everyday. The toll of these trips, beyond what the MTA collects, are soaring childhood asthma rates; scores of injuries and deaths on our streets; and a slow-moving environmental catastrophe that will put many of our neighbors’ homes in the Atlantic Ocean. We cannot continue down this road. The MTA must move past it’s Robert Moses-era hostility toward bikes on its bridges for us to reach a better future.
In addition to bridge access, our neighborhoods need and deserve secure bike parking at subway stations. Southern Brooklynites have some of the longest commute times in the city. This is the result of not only having fewer transit options than other parts of the city, but also slow and often unreliable service where they exist. Some of the transit network’s deficiencies can be overcome by bicycles. A bike can shorten the trip from the someone’s front door to the train. Or, it can allow riders to bypass a few local stops and go directly to an express train. This doesn’t happen in large numbers now because people are, rightfully, wary of leaving their bikes locked up to a sign post for eight or more hours. The addition of secure parking will give people the confidence that their bicycle will be there when they return. The MTA should want people biking to the subway instead of driving or taking a cab. Fewer car trips in the city will lead to less congestion near transit hubs, speeding up the New York City Transit’s bus service. The MTA can provide better service for all of it’s customers by embracing bikes and encouraging their use as a key part of a multi-modal transporation network.
For these reasons, we support the passage of A6235/S4943. We hope you will join us on a bike ride across the Verrazzano-Narrows and Gil Hodges Marine Parkway bridges once it is signed into law.