While deadly streets remain a concern for New Yorkers, recent reports by Streetsblog and the New York Post suggests that the incoming mayoral administration may be a cause for hope. Mayor-elect Eric Adams has reportedly selected City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez to be his Transportation Commissioner, plucking him from his eight-year tenure on the City Council’s Transportation Committee.
As Streetsblog notes, Rodriguez is “a key supporter of Vision Zero,” the campaign to eliminate traffic violence in New York. His credits include a bill that would require motorists to ensure passing cyclists receive three feet of space; support for speed camera enforcement; an instance in which he “demanded” the de Blasio administration install 100 miles of protected bike lanes; advocacy for “car-reduction strategies”; longtime support for bike lines; and advocacy for “safer trucks,” according to Streetsblog. The New York Post report adds that he was behind NYC’s “Car-Free Earth Day,” an annual event in which New York “opens thirty blocks of Broadway from Times Square to Union Square for people to explore on foot,” according to the city.
Safe streets advocates are reportedly pleased by the pick. In a statement to Streetsblog, “pedestrian advocate” and Manhattan Community Board member Christine Berthet said: “In his years as Council Member Ydanis has been very committed to street safety as a goal and we are delighted by his nomination.” A spokesperson for public transit advocacy group Riders Alliance, meanwhile, told Streetsblog: “Ydanis Rodriguez has been a long time champion of fairer, safer streets that work for all New Yorkers… We look forward to partnering with him, Mayor Adams and Speaker Adams to bring about much better bus service, increase equity and reduce our carbon emissions.”
Streetsblog notes that Rodriguez’s work is cut out for him: with a budget of $1.3 billion, the Department of Transportation is set next year to receive oversight of car crash investigations, bus and bicycle lane installation, outdoor dining, and “an imperative to bring down road deaths after the bloodiest year of the Vision Zero era.” A spokesperson for the advocacy group StreetsPAC told the publication that the DOT’s employees have been “demoralized,” but that Rodriguez is well positioned to change this. “He’s clearly been frustrated at times by the administration’s recalcitrance on policies that the Council has advanced, and now he’ll be in a position to do something about it,” the spokesperson said, arguing that Rodriguez should continue advocating for policies like car-reduction.