Public Transit and Livable Streets

Holding Reckless Drivers Accountable

Across our neighborhoods, we’ve witnessed too many tragedies where reckless drivers have killed or seriously injured neighbors and loved ones. The three young teens who were students at MS 51 (Sammy Cohen-Eckstein, Joie Sellers, and Mohammed Naiem Uddin) are not the only pedestrians killed in our district over the past few years. Others have been seniors, workers at local businesses, and young people just starting their careers.

We’ve made a lot of progress since Mayor de Blasio launched “Vision Zero” last year. Pedestrian deaths in 2014 were the lowest in a century. But there’s still a long way to go, toward our goal of a city without senseless traffic deaths. Read more »

Dark days, and brighter ones

The waning days of 2014 have been dark ones for New York City. The killing of Detectives Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu made real the worst imaginable fears for those who put their safety on the line to serve our communities. Reactions to their murders highlighted tensions among New Yorkers – around how we understand the challenges of public safety and policing – and have risked setting us against ourselves.

Just a few weeks earlier, here in the 39th Council District, we lost 14-year-old Mohammad Naiem Uddin in a traffic crash that reminded us that our efforts to improve traffic safety and reduce speeding have not yet done enough.

Still, as the year turns, I remain truly grateful for what we’ve done together. Democracy can be messy, even painful. We don’t all agree on how to understand the problems, and certainly not on the solutions. But I am genuinely glad about what we’ve achieved together in New York City in 2014. While much of the rest of the country is stuck in a place of political polarization, we have moved forward in tangible ways to make lives better for many New Yorkers. Read more »

Next steps toward Kensington/Windsor Terrace Street Safety

Last week, many of us joined memorial services for Mohammad Naiem Uddin, who was killed in a hit-and-run incident at E. 7th Street & Caton Avenue. As our community came together for the Uddin family (you can make a contribution to support the family, organized by the PS 130 PTA), the call for action was clear: we must do all we can to make sure this does not happen again.

I’m writing to let you know the steps we are taking – to honor Naiem’s memory – toward safer streets in Kensington/Windsor Terrace and beyond:

Read more »

Remembering Sammy Cohen-Eckstein

I'll be honest. I wasn’t sure I could attend the Park Slope Participatory Budgeting Neighborhood Assembly on Thursday night. Like so many friends and neighbors, I was still shaken in the hours after the funeral for Sammy Cohen-Eckstein, who was hit by a van on Prospect Park West on Tuesday. It feels like our whole community was punched in the gut.

No words are going to help us comprehend this tragedy. But I wanted to share a little of what I’ve been thinking. Read more »

The real champions of change

I’m honored to be in Washington DC today to receive a “Champions of Change” award from the White House for work (along with Alderman Joe Moore from Chicago, and Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito from East Harlem) on participatory budgeting.

I’m excited to meet and learn from other elected officials, not-for-profit leaders, and community organizers who are pioneering new forms of civic engagement and open government (like Jessica Klein, co-founder of Rockaway Help, which created new technology tools to enable people to collaborate for disaster relief). 

But there is something not-quite-right about getting an award for something as inclusive as participatory budgeting (which The New York Times called “revolutionary civics in action”). The whole idea of participatory budgeting is to see elected office not as a vehicle for one person’s leadership, but as a way to bring people together to take shared responsibility.  The best part of participatory budgeting is how people step up together to act as stewards of the shared public realm – our schools, parks, public transportation, streets, libraries – that makes our life together possible, and sometimes even ennobling. Read more »