CI Endorses Gale Brewer for Manhattan Borough President

August 14, 2013–New York, NY–Editorial

Cyclists International endorses Gale Brewer to become the new Manhattan Borough President for the City of New York.

Gale Brewer is running for Manhattan Borough President this year. She has a strong record of advocating for cyclists and pedestrians in NYC.

Our reasons are many.

One of the first things we will ever remember is that Gale Brewer showed up for the showing of B.I.K.E., at the Bicycle Film Festival at our invitation–showing an interest in the people who ride bicycles, not just their management.

Her dedication to a core group of the population–cyclists– who are often neglected, scorned, maligned, and often unjustly punished by other New Yorkers and law enforcement,  has not gone unnoticed.

Since 2001 when she first became a council woman for the Upper West Side, Ms. Brewer has consistently advocated for cyclists and pedestrians.

“Creating safer streets and reducing conflict among motorists, bikers, pedestrians and other users of scarce street space requires a combination of rigorous enforcement of traffic laws, the innovative use of technology, and well-designed streets, sidewalks and public spaces,” she said.

“As Borough President, I would expand this advocacy and continue to develop new ideas to promote a more pedestrian-friendly city,” said Ms. Brewer.

In her position as council woman for the district that ranges from about West 96th St. to Columbus Circle, Ms. Brewer has not only shown a sensitivity for cyclists and pedestrians, but has also fought tough battles for their rights without ever wavering.

Perhaps Ms. Brewer was just born this way, or perhaps in part because she started her city career working for the Parks Department under Mayor John Lindsay’s administration: Ms. Brewer has consistently managed to turn tough opposition into enthusiastic adherence, or at least acceptance.

Ms. Brewer has been a long time prime sponsor of the legislation to ban motor vehicles in Central Park and Prospect Park loops, through Intro 491-2011. She plans on continuing that fight when she gains office with your help.

Ms. Brewer also has advocated for full reporting on crash scenes, and will be looking for a zero-tolerance policy for dangerous driving, and loss of license for people convicted of multiple dangerous violations such as Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). “After 3 DWI offenses, a person should have their license permanently revoked,” she said.

With regards to Citibike (New York City Bikeshare) Ms. Brewer advocates for increased education for cyclists, pedestrians and tourists. 

The council woman was essential in the fight earlier this year by Bike New York, the group that provides bike education for free in the city, to not have to pay a police protection bill of over $1 million for their annual Bike New York (five boro bike tour, see our article on the matter.)

Ms. Brewer also walked a delicate line when presented with pushback from businesses on lower Columbus Avenue against bike lanes that were being installed there, when she supported the lower Columbus Ave. bike lane extension. Notably, progress with bike lanes on the avenue had stopped abruptly on 79th St., sending cyclists into dangerous traffic patterns (see our story on Bike Chaos.)

Always thinking about safety, Ms. Brewer passed several laws that regulate commercial cyclists, including mandating that they be taught the rules of the road and that the rules be posted in commercial establishments. She also pushed for Department of Transportation inspectors to educate and ticket where necessary those businesses that send out bicycle delivery people without bells, lights, vests, and helmets. Those laws not only protect pedestrians, but they also protect the workers.

Working For Pedestrians and Public Transit as Well

Ms. Brewer has also pushed extensively for improvements in pedestrian safety and changes in mass transit that will benefit all New Yorkers.

“We need continued investment in street-calming measures such as dedicated bus lanes, bike lanes, and pedestrian plazas,” she said. “We also need increased enforcement of speeding and negligent drivers, including through the use of speeding cameras and red light cameras.” 

Among her achievements as councilwoman, Ms. Brewer has been a tireless supporter of street-calming measures to protect the safety of pedestrians–the biggest mobility device in New York City.

Ms. Brewer was a co-sponsor of Resolution 916-2011 which was adopted by the City Council calling on the NY State Legislature to pass A4327 that would permit a speed camera enforcement pilot program in the city.

She also co-sponsored Resolution 1677 that called on the state to authorize NYC to install 150 red light cameras in the five boroughs.

She was also prime sponsor of Local Law 21 in 2012 that mandates the installation of accessible pedestrian signals for visually impaired pedestrians at major intersections, and won an award from Baruch College for her work for the visually impaired.

Ms Brewer was a prime sponsor of the bill to modify DOT’s performance measures in an effort to help reduce traffic congestion. Local Law 23 of 2008 mandated that DOT release annual reports that track project indicators in the five boroughs, including the effectiveness of engineering, traffic signals, regulatory and pricing solutions, and mobility enhancement solutions.

Ms. Brewer advocated and won a West Side Manhattan Transportation Study to be completed by DOT over her concerns about the effect of major real estate developments and traffic congestion on the Upper West Side.

The study, bounded by West 55th St., West 86th St., Central Park West, and Twelfth Ave/ Henry Hudson Parkway will project how future land uses may generate new traffic trips and affect congestion levels in the area.  The study will take into consideration changing demographics, truck deliveries, parking access, buses and subways, pedestrian and bicycle safety, land use, and zoning.

But Ms. Brewer also wants to keep up the pressure on the Mass Transit Authority to deliver comprehensive mass transit for New Yorkers. “We cannot lose sight of the fundamental needs of our subways and buses, which remain underfunded, or the need for pricing auto use to encourage the use of public transit,” she said.

“The MTA needs to get its fiscal ship in order so we can stop increasing subway and bus fares for straphangers,” said Ms. Brewer who will advocate for increased support from the Federal and State government, as well as from the City.

The MTA recently announced an unexpected $40 million in additional revenue, she noted, “funding [that] should be used to restore and enhance service for riders, as a thank you for the multiple service cuts and fare hikes over the past few years.”

“Without a well-financed, well-run transit system that New Yorkers can rely on, we cannot expect people to give up their vehicles, especially outside of Manhattan.”

“Increased investment in bike and bus lanes will also speed up commutes for people utilizing these methods of travel.”

With a Master’s Degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Gale has taught Urban Policy at Barnard College and CUNY colleges across the city, including Baruch and Hunter, for over 20 years. Gale and her husband, Cal Snyder, live on the Upper West Side where they have helped raise 35 foster children – several of whom they adopted and are now grown.

Enough said. We endorse Ms. Gale Brewer for Manhattan Borough President. Don’t forget to vote on Sept. 10th for the primary. 

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