Queens lawmaker urges governor to sign MTA bike access legislation into law

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Assemblywoman Jessica González-Rojas renews her call for Governor Kathy Hochul to sign her MTA bike access legislation into law. (Photo courtesy of González-Rojas’ office)

Assemblywoman Jessica González-Rojas joined several state and city officials from Queens on the Manhattan side of the Queensboro Bridge where Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced on Tuesday, Nov. 23, that the federal infrastructure bill will include $289 million for bike infrastructure in New York City.

González-Rojas used the opportunity to reiterate her call for Governor Kathy Hochul to sign her MTA Bike Access legislation, designed to promote cycling and pedestrian access on MTA bridges and transit stations across the five boroughs.

Just days earlier, González-Rojas and state Senator Alessandra Biaggi were at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, where the city recently converted a lane for cars into a separated bikeway, and urged Hochul to sign bike access bills that were passed unanimously in the Senate and Assembly in June.

The measures do not impose budgetary or project mandates on the MTA, but does signal that bike and walking access to MTA bridges and better linkage between bike facilities and transit are important policy areas the agency must begin to address.

“For New York to build back better itself we have to center access and equity in infrastructure. Increasing bike and pedestrian access to MTA bridges are essential to that goal,” González-Rojas said. “This is important for deliveristas trying to do their work and for cyclists who want to sustain their health during a global pandemic. It’s an immigrant justice issue and an environmental justice imperative. No borough or community should be left behind, and we know we can get this across the finish line if we have the political will.”

Under the legislation, MTA and relevant Permanent Citizen Advisory councils would be required to develop a strategic action plan to improve cycling and pedestrian access on MTA bridges, bike parking at MTA subway and commuter rail stations, and bike access onboard MTA equipment. Within one year, the MTA must submit a report to the governor and state Legislature and make it available online.

“With nearly 800,0000 New Yorkers cycling regularly, we have a responsibility to ensure that our infrastructure is safe, welcoming and accessible to cyclists and pedestrians,” Biaggi said. “Governor Hochul must heed the calls from legislators and New Yorkers alike and sign this bill to improve the transportation options and lives of all New Yorkers.”

The MTA bike access legislation has plenty of support among Queens elected officials.

“The pandemic fundamentally changed many New Yorkers’ relationships with how they move around our city and state, and it presents an opportunity to refocus and build transit infrastructure that dresses historic transit deserts and critical environmental action,” state Senator Jessica Ramos said.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo strongly urged the governor to sign the legislation into law and forever change the way people travel in New York City.

“By expanding bicycle and pedestrian access at MTA bridges and passenger stations we will provide residents with more transportation options with the hopes of getting more travelers out of their cars, which will not only ease congestion on our busy congested roads but also be a boon for the environment in and around New York,” Addabbo said.

Astoria’s Juan Restrepo, Senior Organizer at Transportation Alternatives, said it is time for the MTA to catch up on the bike boon.

“As we celebrate a new bike lane on the Brooklyn Bridge, the MTA refuses to open access for cyclists and pedestrians on the Verrazano Bridge and other state-operated bridges,” Restrepo said. “Passage of this bill is an important step toward bringing the MTA up to speed and meeting the needs of New Yorkers who bike. For the sake of our climate, our safety, and for commuters across the region, we urge Governor Hochul to sign this bill without delay.”