Intros would create formal outreach and reporting requirements for proposed bike lanes and any major transportation project. On September 26, 2011, the City Council’s Transportation Committee held a public hearing to consider three proposed local laws concerning the Department of Transportation’s outreach efforts for proposed bike lanes, and addressing consultation and reporting requirements for major transportation projects.
Intro 412, introduced by Council Member Lewis Fidler in November 2010, would require DOT to notify and request to hold a public hearing in affected community boards at least three months prior to constructing a bike lane.
Intros 626 and 671, introduced by Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca in June and September 2011, respectively, would apply to any major transportation project, defined as an alteration of four or more consecutive blocks or 1,000 consecutive feet of street, and involving the removal of vehicle or parking lanes or the addition of vehicle lanes.
Intro 626 would require DOT to formally consult with the Police and Fire Departments, the Department of Small Business Services, and the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities before undertaking a major transportation project. DOT would be required to produce a written report documenting the consultation, which would be forwarded to local council members and community boards.
Intro 671 would specify the type of data that DOT would be required to collect and report after the completion of a major transportation project. According to Intro 671, eighteen months after the completion of the project DOT would be required to report on, among other things, the average number of crashes in the five years preceding the project and one year following the implementation of the project. DOT would also be required to report on the average speed of vehicles on the streets affected by the project in the year prior to implementation and the year following implementation.
At the well-attended public hearing, Council Member Fidler stated that there had been more controversy surrounding the implementation of bike lanes than had been anticipated, and believed that creating a law requiring the City to seek community input was sensible. DOT’s Deputy Commissioner of External Affairs David Woloch supported the notification and consultation requirements of Intros 412 and 626, testifying that the laws would essentially codify DOT’s existing community outreach and consultation practices. Woloch, however, expressed concern about Intro 671 as drafted. He argued that the law’s specific statistical requirements did not account for the unique nature of particular DOT projects, and that customized data collection plans would be more appropriate.
Residents and community groups spoke both in support of and in opposition to the proposed laws. Transportation Alternatives’ Juan Martinez criticized Intro 412 because it did not distinguish between major bike lanes and those he referred to as the most minor and routine bike lanes painted by DOT. He claimed that delaying the implementation of bike lanes would compromise public safety.
Dr. Karen Gourgey of Pedestrians for Accessible and Safe Streets testified in support, noting the importance to the visually impaired community of ensuring DOT consultation with the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.
Committee Chair Vacca closed the hearing, and no date was set to vote on the proposed laws.
Council: Intro 0412-2010; Intro 0626- 2011; Intro 0671-2011 (Sept. 26, 2011).