DOT Commissioner Rodriguez talks safety at Queens Borough Board Meeting

Commissioner Rodriguez
DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez (Photo by Kevin Duggan)

New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez took part in the April 11 Queens Borough Board Meeting, discussing plans to improve bike lanes and sidewalks for cyclists and pedestrians. He also emphasized the importance of accomplishing this without negatively affecting public transportation.

According to Commissioner Rodriguez, reckless and dangerous driving is a big issue right now in New York City, with cyclists and pedestrians often becoming the victims of these drivers.

“We will work closely with the borough presidents to ensure necessary investments are made to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists across the five boroughs,” Rodriguez said.

Some of the upcoming safety plans the DOT commissioner discussed include redesigning approximately 1,000 intersections across New York City and replacing the plastic protections separating bike lanes from roadways with more solid protections. Additionally, according to Rodriguez, the DOT will try to make sure Queens gets a fair share in investment for taking care of roadways, sidewalks, repaving and intersections.

Another topic Rodriguez discussed was the transportation issues for buses and the potential solutions the bus network redesign proposal may bring.

“It takes longer for someone to come from some places in Queens to Manhattan than flying from JFK [Airport] to Florida,” Rodriguez said.

The proposal would involve different initiatives to bring more bus lanes where needed and plan the way buses run more efficiently and safely.

Rodriguez also intends to look into an issue at Diversity Plaza related to food sheds in the area. According to Queens Community Board 3 Chairperson Frank Taylor, some of these sheds are being used by people to sleep in and store their bikes.

Another issue brought forth during the meeting was concerns about the closure of bike lanes and pedestrian walkways on the Queensborough Bridge for certain periods of time while maintenance is being done there. Commissioner Rodriguez said he will soon be walking across the bridge to see how the renovation work is coming along. While he hopes for the work on the bridge to be completed in a timely manner, Rodriguez noted the importance of the work being done on it.

“Sometimes there’s work that has to be done for maintenance of bridges,” Rodriguez said.

In addition to Commissioner Rodriguez, New York City Department of City Planning Commission Chair Dan Garodnick also spoke at the meeting. He discussed some of his department’s main goals in working alongside the board.

“We want to be collaborative, forward-thinking and clear in our approach in every communication,” Garodnick said.

According to Garodnick, his department wants to make investments that go across agencies and have a huge impact on the city. One such investment in the works is the Equitable Development Data Explorer.

“This will help bring transparency to conversations about affordability, gentrification and displacement [in New York City neighborhoods],” Garodnick said.

Garodnick also said his department plans to look into changing citywide zoning resolutions in order to promote economic development. He noted that some parts of certain resolutions are now outdated. The new resolutions would provide information related to newer alternative energies, including electric cars, solar panels and battery storage. An example discussed during the meeting was providing a certain amount of electric car charging stations in garages for buildings being constructed.

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