New York governor signs MTA bike access legislation into law

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill into law on Dec. 28 that is designed to promote cycling in New York City and make it easier for pedestrians to use bridges operated by the Metropolitan Transit Authority. Senate Bill S4943B was passed unanimously by the Assembly and Senate in June, but it only reached the governor’s desk after New York City lawmakers made a concerted effort. The bill’s passage was likely expedited by the federal $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which allocates $289 billion to improve cycling infrastructure in the city.

No MTA mandates

The new law stops short of imposing project or budgetary mandates on the MTA, but it does require the public benefit corporation to develop a plan to improve access for cyclists and pedestrians on the bridges it operates, provide parking or storage for bicycles at commuter rail and subway stations and make it easier for cyclists to bring their bicycles with them on bus or train journeys. The bill gives the MTA one year to write the plan, submit it to lawmakers and make it available to the public online.

A win for the city

Supporters of the bicycle access law say the legislation is a win for road safety, public health and the environment. They point out that almost 800,000 New Yorkers cycle to and from work or for leisure, and they hope that it will spur even more city residents to abandon their cars in favor of bicycles. Advocacy groups are also pleased that the bipartisan infrastructure bill will allocate funds for new cycle lanes that will reduce fatal bicycle accidents and save lives.

A step in the right direction

The unanimous passage of this bill in the state legislature shows that bipartisanship in New York is still strong when the issues involved benefit society as a whole. If lawmakers learn from this cooperation and try to find common ground when thornier matters are discussed, the lives of all New York residents could change for the better.