The City Council is calling on Mayor Eric Adams to invest $3.1 billion into a ramped up effort to build more bike and bus lanes amid fears that the administration is not adequately funding its ambitious streets plan.
Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and other leaders of the legislative body made the request on Saturday as part of a lengthy response to the mayor’s own proposed $98.5 billion preliminary budget calling for 3% cuts to city agencies. The investment would usher in sweeping changes to the city’s streetscape – including 500 miles of protected bike lanes, 500 miles of bus lanes, and 38 million feet of open pedestrian space, according to the proposal.
“To secure an equitable recovery for our city and improve public safety, we must focus on robust investments that strengthen our communities and deliver opportunities for all New Yorkers,” the speaker said in a statement responding to the mayor's budget proposal.
The totals in the City Council's proposal represent a significant expansion of the city’s current street redesign goals.
Under the "Streets Master Plan" passed in 2019, the city was required to build 250 miles of protected bike lanes and 150 miles of protected bus lanes over the next five years. And on the campaign trail, the mayor said he would go even further, promising to build 300 miles of protected bike lanes in his first term.
But at a recent budget hearing, transportation officials left open the possibility that they could fall short of those commitments, and declined to say how much money had gone toward the benchmarks so far.
In a statement on Sunday, a spokesperson for Adams said the mayor would review the proposal, while touting the administration’s latest efforts to improve street safety and bus speeds.
“Mayor Adams has put forward an aggressive plan to improve street safety and provide greater access citywide to reliable transportation options, including an unprecedented effort to add 150 additional miles of bus lanes in the next four years,” the spokesperson, Jonah Allon, said.
The council’s proposal also included a benchmark that was not in either the mayor’s plan or in the original City Council legislation: 40 miles of car-free busways. The redesign, which bans private cars from a street, has already helped speed buses along 14th Street in Manhattan, and has since been added to a handful of other corridors in Queens, Washington Heights, and Downtown Brooklyn.
But efforts to add more busways around the city have also spurred backlash. A former Mayor Bill de Blasio-era plan to add a busway to Fifth Avenue was stymied by luxury retailers – and remains unfinished.
In a statement, Jolyse Race, a senior organizer for the transit advocacy group Riders Alliance, said the City Council's $3.1 billion investment plan would provide “unprecedented support for better buses and streets that work for everyone.”
"Bus riders urge Mayor Adams to embrace the City Council's bold vision for better buses and safer streets,” Race said. “Expanded funding for faster and more reliable bus service and better access to neighborhoods without subways will make New York work better for everyone who lives, works, and visits here.”