Making cycling accessible to all New Yorkers – streetsblog New York City
This is the last coverage of the race to succeed limited-time Council member Brad Lander in Park Slope District 39. Previously, we’ve covered the race in a general story, but we’ve also published three opinion pieces from a prolific candidate and writer. Justin Krebs. This play is by Shahana Hanif.
As a lupus survivor who had both hips and my left shoulder replaced, I’ve always been afraid to ride a bike. Biking anywhere in town can be dangerous, but it is especially dangerous where I live in Kensington, a working class immigrant neighborhood with known deadly intersections, sparse and disconnected cycle paths, and few bicycle shops to repair an apartment. For New York to become a true cycling city, it must address four fundamental issues: lack of cycling infrastructure, community engagement around the streets, NYPD involvement in bike safety, and access to stores and services. of bicycles.
Some parts of the city have adequate infrastructure for cycling and pedestrians, but many others – especially black, brown and immigrant neighborhoods – have been overlooked for protected cycle lanes and open street infrastructure that allows more people to cycle safely. The main cycle routes in District 39 are interspersed with highways and deadly intersections, making conditions unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians.
In my district, Borough Park is a “priority cycling district” – an area with a high number of bicycle injuries or fatalities. Only 8% of the streets in Borough Park have cycle lanes, against 29 percent in more affluent areas such as Park Slope and Carroll Gardens. Neither of the two percentages is sufficient. Updating the streets and investing in programs like Vision Zero will reduce our dependence on cars and make the streets safer for the daily commute of cyclists and pedestrians. Additionally, many New Yorkers have to haul their bikes up the stairs to their apartments because there is nowhere to safely store them outside. The expansion of Citi Bike to all neighborhoods is a good start to address these issues, but it also requires follow-up in the street infrastructure, which has not happened. Fair infrastructure must also take into account the cyclists who work in the city, such as food deliverers, including setting unsafe working conditions by providing access to toilets, which is especially important for app-based delivery drivers who are not allowed to use restaurant restrooms.
Our open streets program, which includes alfresco dining and performances, flourished during the pandemic. COVID-19 has shown lawmakers the critical need for expanded and permanent open spaces in our city. For some neighborhoods, the Open Streets program was an opportunity for community members to work together and create alternatives to car-centric streets. In many other neighborhoods, especially in black, brown, and immigrant neighborhoods, open streets are non-existent because of a lack of volunteers and resources. No community should be expected to provide free labor to provide an essential service, especially those that lack time and infrastructure.
The new city cleaning body of the Mayor of Blasio, and the $ 4 million in support the city is committed to open streets partners, may alleviate some maintenance burdens. But the city must step up its support for community groups if it is to support the Open Street program.
It’s like when I built Avenue C Plaza, a community gathering space in Kensington: We were supported by the Department of Transportation’s Neighborhood Plaza partnership program, which provided training for neighborhood volunteers in communities without strong local organizations. No program can survive long on volunteers alone. We need to create a neighborhood stewardship initiative, which would pay members of the local community to maintain and support open streets.
Police services are also a critical obstacle for cyclists of color, especially working-class immigrant delivery men, who are at a higher risk of harassment and violence from authorities. Immigrant and / or undocumented cyclists are less likely to report injuries and unsafe driving and road conditions due to fear of deportation and other consequences related to the NYPD and ICE. The upcoming transfer of cycling and other accident investigations from the NYPD to the DOT is a good start, but the NYPD will still be involved in criminal incident investigations after the fact, which is a major safety hurdle and a drag. accessibility to cycling. Removing the NYPD from bike safety would encourage more cyclists to take to the streets and make cycling a more accessible form of transportation, work and play.
WE JUST BIKE DISTRICT 39?
Felt safe cycling from Kensington to Park Slope tight in a biker group, but we have to show up for a NYC bike ride!
– Shahana Hanif for the city council? (@ShahanaFromBK) May 2, 2021
Another often overlooked barrier to cycling access is the cost of purchasing and maintaining a quality bicycle. The cycling community traditionally caters to men with disposable income, making many bicycle and repair shops not only unwelcoming spaces for new or working-class cyclists – especially those of color – but also rare. in neighborhoods like mine. I learned to ride a bike as an adult and was taught by a collective of women of color on a borrowed bike after my bike was stolen. I want to support cycling programs and cooperatives like these, which teach women to ride bikes, repair bikes and feel comfortable riding a bike by supporting outreach led by cyclists of color . On our District Bike Ride in April, organized and led by women cyclists of color, I felt safe and supported in Kensington, surrounded by a group of experienced cyclists who understood my challenges in navigating the area. cycling infrastructure. Let’s make the city a place where more working class women and cyclists feel safe every day.
Shahana Hanif (@ShahanaFromBK) is running for the 39th District City Council, encompassing Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Columbia Waterfront, Gowanus, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Borough Park and Kensington.