New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

StreetsBlog

StreetsBlog Shake Shack Steals Public Space in Tribeca as More Lawmakers Demand Open Streets for Restaurant Revival by Gersh Kuntzman

Shake Shack Steals Public Space in Tribeca as More Lawmakers Demand Open Streets for Restaurant Revival

Council Member Ben Kallos of the Upper East Side joined the fight on Sunday, firing off a letter to the mayor demanding the removal of parking so that restaurants in his district could operate safely. Kallos said his concern came after watching crowds gather outside restaurants in his neighborhood during the warm weekend.

“I have long thought about the fact that on a given street with 5,000 to 10,000 people living on it, there are 50 parking spots — which means that 50 people prevent 5,000 to 10,000 people from having complete streets with bike lanes, bus lanes and micromobility,” Kallos told Streetsblog on Monday. “But now people are engaging in risky behavior, so let’s create safe spaces to reduce the risk of behavior they’re going to engage in anyway.”

Kallos likened it to the city’s distribution of free condoms.

StreetsBlog Council To Mayor: Bus Service Needs Improvements, Not Cuts by Julianne Cuba

Council To Mayor: Bus Service Needs Improvements, Not Cuts

City lawmakers are demanding Mayor de Blasio rethink his decision to nix funding for his own better bus initiative — a move that will hurt the thousands of frontline workers now relying on buses to get to work.

Hizzoner last month revealed that he would cut $2.7 million through June of this year, and an additional $5.7 million through June 2021 from the Department of Transportation’s budget for funding dedicated to improving the beleaguered bus network.

Advocates initially slammed the mayor, warning that the cuts would negatively impact bus riders — especially essential workers in low-income communities and communities of color, during the coronavirus crisis, now and in the future.

And on Monday, 13 pols joined them — specifically calling on de Blasio to restore funding for the Better Bus Initiative, install temporary bus lanes during the pandemic to improve bus speeds and ensure frequent service, and ensure that bus improvement projects slated for 2020 and 2021 remain on schedule.

“While the city is in a challenging fiscal crisis caused by the coronavirus … bus service has powered the city’s emergency response, providing critical service to frontline workers — brave doctors and nurses, EMTs, grocery workers, transit employees, and delivery drivers — 75 percent of whom are people of color,” the Council Members wrote in a May 11 letter to the mayor.  “We cannot shortchange the New Yorkers who helped save this city nor overlook the role public transit plays in our economy.”

The 13 pols include Manhattan Council Members Ydanis Rodriguez, Mark Levine, Ben Kallos, Carlina Rivera, Margaret Chin, and Keith Powers; Brooklyn Council Members Carlos Menchaca, and Alan Maisel; Queens Council Members Daneek Miller, Donovan Richards, Costa Constantinides, and Barry Grodenchik; and Bronx Council Member Vanessa Gibson.

StreetsBlog UPDATE: Mayor’s First Seven Miles of ‘Open Streets’ Start Saturday! by Gersh Kuntzman

UPDATE: Mayor’s First Seven Miles of ‘Open Streets’ Start Saturday!

The inclusion of the roadway along Carl Schurz Park in Upper Manhattan is particularly ironic, given that the mayor’s home — Gracie Mansion — is inside that park. The mayor was confronted last weekend by a Brooklynite who was angered that the mayor is regularly driven 11 miles from the mansion to Prospect Park so he can recreate. Perhaps he will now use East End Avenue.

Even if he doesn’t, the area’s council member, Ben Kallos, shared his support.

“East End Avenue is a perfect street to open exclusively to pedestrians,” said Kallos, who lobbied the mayor for the inclusion of that roadway. “Once the street is open to pedestrians, this will relieve the pressure off our local parks and give everyone the space they need to the practice social distancing outdoors correctly.”

The announcement could be seen as a small start, but it does come as the Department of Transportation has repeatedly said it is straining to fulfill its mission during the COVID-19 crisis, with a staff scattered by the virus.

StreetsBlog Don’t Let Coronavirus Prevent NYC from Buying Small Snowplows (…Wait, Wut?) by Gersh Kuntzman

Don’t Let Coronavirus Prevent NYC from Buying Small Snowplows (…Wait, Wut?)

If it wasn’t for the damn coronavirus pandemic, the Upper East Side would be well on its way to obtaining the city’s first narrow snowplow to keep protected bike lanes clear during winter.

But residents and cyclists in Council Member Ben Kallos’s district still have a chance to get the much-needed equipment. All they have to do is email the lawmaker or tweet at him.

Allow us to explain what the hell we’re talking about…

Earlier this year, Kallos created a ballot of projects he would consider funding under the Council’s participatory budgeting scheme — which allows district residents to tell local representatives how they think a portion of a pol’s discretionary funding should be allocated.

First on Kallos’s list (see list, right)? “Mechanical cleaner and plow for bike lanes.”

Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you don’t think much of participatory budgeting…), the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Council to shut down this year’s reality show, “How Should We Spend a Tiny Portion of Our Extra Cash?”

But Kallos is pushing ahead.

StreetsBlog Roosevelt Island — Home of ‘Four Freedoms’ Park — May Get Four Citi Bike Stations by Gersh Kuntzman

Roosevelt Island — Home of ‘Four Freedoms’ Park — May Get Four Citi Bike Stations

Roosevelt Island — named for the president who elucidated “four freedoms” for all Americans — is poised to finally allow Citi Bike to add four stations, adding a new way for its 14,000 residents to get around, get some exercise or get off the island on the 36th Avenue bridge.

At a meeting on Thursday night, the island’s board of directors — Roosevelt Island is, officially, a fiefdom of the state, where many city rules don’t apply and even the city Department of Transportation doesn’t have hegemony over the roads — is expected to approve a preliminary agreement allowing Citi Bike’s parent company Lyft to start negotiating the terms of the island’s surrender to reality.

As first reported by the blog Roosevelt Islander, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation board will likely nitpick locations for the four docks — one will obviously serve the tramway terminus and the island’s lone subway stop — but it seems the board is, well, on board.

StreetsBlog Streetfilms: Yes, the Bike/Ped Situation on the Queensboro Bridge Is That Bad! by Gersh Kuntzman

Streetfilms: Yes, the Bike/Ped Situation on the Queensboro Bridge Is That Bad!

We covered last week’s renewed call for pedestrian and bike safety fixes on the dangerous Queensboro Bridge, but you have to see Clarence Eckerson’s latest Streetfilms video to really understand the situation.

StreetsBlog Council Members: DOT Has ‘No Reason’ to Not Give Queensboro Bridge Lane to Pedestrians by Gersh Kuntzman

Council Members: DOT Has ‘No Reason’ to Not Give Queensboro Bridge Lane to Pedestrians

The city’s failure to give more space to the increasing number of pedestrians and cyclists on the Queensboro Bridge is a betrayal of Vision Zero — and that failure seems based on a fealty to car traffic on a span where bikes and walkers sometimes outnumber drivers.

East Side Council Member Ben Kallos and his Queens counterpart Jimmy Van Bramer blasted Department of Transportation officials for their continued claim that they cannot convert the south side of the bridge’s outermost lane, also known as the South Outer Roadway, into a pedestrian path so that walkers do not need to share the bridge’s narrow North Outer Roadway with cyclists, who are increasing by double-digit counts.

StreetsBlog What’s Next for 6th Ave Protected Bike Lane and Crosstown Routes on UES by David Meyer

What’s Next for 6th Ave Protected Bike Lane and Crosstown Routes on UES

Two Manhattan bike projects went before community boards last night. The CB 8 transportation committee heard from DOT about the agency’s plan forcrosstown bike lanes on the Upper East Side, and CB 4 endorsed the protected lane on Sixth Avenue, which DOT plans to install in the fall.

The crosstown painted lanes would span the width of the Upper East Side, providing safer east-west access for a neighborhood that currently has only one bike lane pair — 90th and 91st streets. The new bike lane pairs are East 67th and 68th streets between Fifth and York, 77th and 78th Streets between Fifth and John Jay Park, and 84th and 85th Streets between Fifth and East End. After the eastern termini at Cherokee Place and East End Avenue, shared lanes will guide cyclists to parks and the East River Esplanade greenway.

StreetsBlog DOT Proposes Complete Street for Second Ave Above 68th Street by David Meyer

DOT Proposes Complete Street for Second Ave Above 68th Street

Speaking before the meeting, Council Member Ben Kallos was supportive of the proposal. “I am for a complete street proposal that provides a protected bike lane to provide pedestrians, cyclists and motorists a safe way to use the street,” he told Streetsblog.

StreetsBlog NYPD Should Open Data on All Traffic Summonses, Not Just on Truck Routes by Brad Aaron

NYPD Should Open Data on All Traffic Summonses, Not Just on Truck Routes

DOT already maps NYPD crash data for all streets citywide, albeit by intersection, so we know the streets where crashes occur. What the public doesn’t know is whether police are concentrating enforcement in areas where it’s most needed to prevent crashes. In 2014 Council Member Ben Kallos introduced a bill to require the city to release and map data on all moving violations — including date, time, and latitude and longitude coordinates — to be published at least once a month. Though Rodriguez is listed as a co-sponsor of the Kallos bill, it went nowhere.