New Poll Shows Bronx Voters Want More Bike and Bus Lanes, Expanded Sidewalks and Green Spaces

A new poll commissioned by Transportation Alternatives and conducted by Sienna College indicates that Bronx residents want more protected bike lanes and dedicated bus lanes in their neighborhoods even if it means losing parking spaces.

Conducted between November and December of last year, the poll is a call to any candidate seeking office in New York City this year whether in the council or the mayor’s office, if they truly want to make the city a safer and greener place for all.

Bike lanes on Morris Park Avenue after it went on a “road diet” going from two lanes each way to just one each way along with the addition of bike lanes.

According to Transportation Alternatives, collectively, acreage occupied by city streets equals an area just under twice the size of The Bronx. That’s a lot of public space that is not being fully utilized in an equitable manner given that only 32% of residents actually use a car to get around with the remainder relying on walking, subway, buses, or biking.

Transportation Alternatives provided Bronx specific data from the poll to Welcome2TheBronx which revealed the following about Bronx voters:

  • Clear majorities of Bronx voters support adding more protected bike lanes (65%) and dedicated bus lanes (58%) in their neighborhood
  • 90% of Bronx voters support creating more space for children to play, the highest support of any borough.
  • 60% of Bronx voters supported creating wider sidewalks — the most of any borough.
  • Bronx and Manhattan voters were the most likely to support increasing the amount of trees and green space, with 85% of voters from each borough reporting that they either “strongly” or “somewhat” supported this idea.
Parts of the Grand Concourse became a playground for kids during the beginning of the pandemic as part of the city’s open streets program to allow for greater social distancing.

Other key findings from the survey include:

BIKE LANES: 68 percent of voters – including majorities in all five boroughs – support adding more protected bike lanes in their neighborhoods. 82 percent of Hispanic voters support adding protected bike lanes in their neighborhoods. 

BIKE SHARE: 56 percent of voters believe that bike share stations are an important use of curb space in their neighborhoods, including 69 percent of voters from households with income less than $50,000 per year.

Bike lane along Prospect Avenue

BUS LANES: 56 percent of voters support using space currently used for parking in order to have protected citywide bus lanes. New Yorkers from households with income below $50,000 a year have the strongest support, with 66 percent supporting.

OPEN RESTAURANTS: 64 percent of voters say outdoor seating for restaurants is an important use of curb space in their neighborhood, including 78 percent of voters in Manhattan. 

OPEN STREETS: 63 percent of voters support the expansion of Open Streets in their neighborhood, including 76 percent of voters under age thirty-five.

CROSSWALK SAFETY: 85 percent of voters strongly or somewhat support efforts to improve crosswalk safety. 74 percent of Staten Island voters and 77 percent of Black voters strongly support these efforts, even if it results in fewer parking spaces.

WIDER SIDEWALKS: 58 percent support adding wider sidewalks to their neighborhood, including 70 percent of voters under age thirty-five. even if it results in fewer parking spaces.

PLAYGROUNDS: 84 percent of voters support adding more space for children to play in their neighborhood, including 90 percent of Bronx voters, even if it results in fewer parking spaces. 

GREENERY: 83 percent of voters support adding more trees and greenery to their neighborhood, including 87 percent of Hispanic voters, even if it results in fewer parking spaces.

Prospect Avenue unprotected bike lane.

BENCHES: 75 percent of voters support creating more places to sit such as benches, even if it results in fewer parking spaces. 

CAR OWNERS: A super-majority of voters from households that own a car support enhancing crosswalk safety (84 percent) and adding space for children to play (82 percent), even if it takes away parking spaces. 61 percent support adding more protected bike lanes in their neighborhood. 60 percent believe that outdoor seating for restaurants is an important use of curb space and 57 percent support Open Streets expansion in their neighborhood.

The need for more protected bike lanes in The Bronx is a critical one in terms of safety.

By December of last year, injuries to Bronx cyclists soared by 45% compared to the same period in 2019 and yet with cycling on the rise thanks to interest and Citi Bike finally arriving in the borough, the city has done little to protect these riders.

Trucks and cars race along side a bike lane along Bruckner Boulevard in Port Morris.

Only 3% of protected bike lanes are located in The Bronx compared to Manhattan with 50% of the city’s total.

StreetsBlogNYC reported in December:

The rise in injuries is a result of poor infrastructure. When the city announced it was installing nine miles of pop-up bike lanes to aid in the city’s pandemic recovery, for example, none was in the Bronx, pointed out Erwin Figueroa, director of organizing at Transportation Alternatives.

“It’s not a unique problem because of the pandemic, it’s something that has been building to this point,” he said. “There’s been an increase in cycling, including in the Bronx, but also the Bronx has not received the same amount of infrastructure. There were a number of announcements from the city highlighting where they were going to implement projects before COVID, and they never made an announcement coming for the Bronx.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio campaigned on ending the tale of two cities yet his administration did little to change the status quo and this is reflected in how the city has continued to treat Bronx infrastructure as an afterthought by throwing us a few crumbs.

Our current and future elected officials MUST fight for all New Yorkers and if our borough leaders truly want us to not be “62” then they can start by building a healthier Bronx with more protected bike lanes and open spaces.

If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us one thing about our city is that our streetscapes can be reimagined if there’s a will—and we have seen that there is a way.

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.