What to Know
- The NYC City Council approved a bill on Wednesday that allows for a master plan that will "revolutionize" city streets
- City Council Speaker Corey Johnson's $1.7 billion plan includes adding 250 miles of protected bike lanes and adding 150 miles of bus lanes
- Critics of the plan say they fear that more bike lanes and pedestrian plazas will add to the traffic jam
A red light in New York City could soon turn green just as a bus approaches, and cyclists could have triple the protected bike lanes they have today as the City Council approved a bill Wednesday that will "revolutionize" the Big Apple streets.
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson says he drew up the Streets Master Plan after hearing from dozens of grieving relatives of those who were killed or injured on New York City streets.
"We need to do everything we can to encourage sustainable modes of transportation, especially with the realities of climate change growing more dire every day. This plan will make New York City a much more livable and enjoyable place to call home," the likely 2021 mayoral hopeful said on Tuesday.
The five-year, $1.7 billion plan includes adding 250 miles of protected bike lanes over five years, adding 150 miles of protected bus lanes, and making buses a priority at 1,000 intersections.
Johnson's plan includes redesigning signalized intersections, adding more pedestrian signals and adding more pedestrian plazas where no cars are allowed. And that's just the first phase of the plan due in December 2021.
The master plan was approved by a vote of 36-10 on Wednesday, with two abstentions.
Supporters of the legislation say the changes will make the streets safer for all New Yorkers.
Harold and Debbie Kahn's son Seth was killed in 2009 after being hit by a bus driver on West 53rd Street. They joined Johnson on Tuesday to voice their support for the bill.
"Ten surreal agonizing years – we will never get to know what he would have accomplished with his life had he been given a chance to live," Harold Kahn said.
In 2019, at least 25 cyclists have died on city streets and advocates say the protected bike lanes are much needed.
On the other hand, drivers worry that the crackdown on vehicles has gone too far. They fear that more bike lanes and pedestrian plazas will add to the traffic jam.
"As a driver you can't get anywhere with all these bike lanes – it’s such a disruption. It’s a problem," Qumar Smalley, a truck driver, tells News 4.
The changes already made to city streets include banning cars from the busway on 14th Street. The rule has been in effect since the beginning of the month and has been getting very positive reviews from commuters.