(Photo: Dmitry Gudkov)
The latest enviable livable streets advancement in New York City isn’t another excellent bikeway or public plaza project: It’s StreetsPAC, a lobbying arm for activists aimed at flexing political muscle for the cause. Launched with a press conference yesterday, StreetsPAC feels like a natural development for a city that has the most mature livable streets advocacy ecosystem in the country.
Here’s how they define their mission:
StreetsPAC is a political action committee dedicated to improving the safety, mobility and livability of one of New York City’s greatest assets: its streets. The space between buildings, including sidewalks, roads and plazas, account for the majority of all public space in the five boroughs, and are a precious resource to be used and enjoyed by all.
And lest you think this is some rag-tag group of grassroots activists, the list of founding board members is as impressive as their mission. It includes several names that might sound familiar to some of you including Aaron Naparstek, the founder of Streetsblog and Doug Gordon, a TV writer and producer who also writes the Brooklyn Spoke blog.
StreetsPAC will focus on garnering support — both in terms of voter turnout and campaign cash — for city council candidates that understand the necessity and value of safe streets where people can walk and bike in comfort. They’ve registered with the state and city as an official lobbying organization and they plan to make endorsements and write checks to politicians.
Slope, Brooklyn last year, are StreetsPAC board members.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)
Both the Wall Street Journal and Streetsblog reported yesterday that they’ve already secured $30,000 in donations and board member Eric McClure (a neighborhood activist who I met during a visit to Brooklyn last year) said they expect to get “well into six figures.”
While New York City has made amazing strides in recent years with the dynamic duo of Mayor Bloomberg and DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, they have a lot of work to do (as evidenced by the non-troversies surrounding the launch of Citi Bike, ongoing lawsuits against bike lanes, and the ongoing battle for respect from the NYPD).
Portland has a similar group in Bike Walk Vote, but they’re a 100% volunteer-driven, grassroots organization. The potential is there, but they need more cash, a stronger agenda, and more powerful and sustained leadership to really make a difference. Maybe StreetsPAC, like much of what New York City has done recently, will inspire Portland to get off our laurels.