STREET-SAFETY ACTIVISTS WANT CB7 TRANSPORTATION LEADERS OUSTED

lerner russo
Dana Lerner and Sofia Russo advocating for safer streets as a recent meeting Photo courtesy of Thomas DeVito.

Street-safety advocates, including parents of children killed by drivers on the Upper West Side, are calling on local city council members and Borough President Gale Brewer to pay more attention to street safety. Several activists are asking them to change the leadership of Community Board 7’s transportation committee.

Dan Zweig and Andrew Albert have run the committee for more than a decade, and biking and pedestrian advocates say they’ve gotten in the way of projects that could have made the neighborhood safer.

The critics were pretty blunt at a community board meetingĀ last week where they held up signs like “Vizion Zero = Zero Action at CB7” and “Inaction = Death.”

“Changes that would have saved lives were delayed or crushed, and people have died,” said local resident Julie Margolies at the meeting. Among the projects that the community never moved ahead with was a proposed redesign to the area around 96th street and Broadway — four people died within three blocks of that intersection last year. They’ve also opposed or slowed bicycle-friendly changes at times. Local activist Lisa Sladkus chronicled what she thinks are the board’s failures here.

But Helen Rosenthal praised Zweig and Albert at the meeting, praising them for helping expedite changes to West End Avenue. StreetsPac, which fights for bike lanes and pedestrian improvements, endorsed Rosenthal in the 2013 council election, even praising her leadership of CB7 (when she was chair, she kept Zweig and Albert on as transportation committee chairs). But people associated with the group have begun to criticize her more openly now.

Protestors also held signs at Gale Brewer “State of the Borough” Meeting on Sunday. Among the protesters were Dana Lerner, mother of Cooper Stock, and Sofia, mother of Ariel Russo. Both children were killed by vehicles on the Upper West Side. Brewer appoints Community Board members and critics say she hasn’t been fast enough to to put new pedestrian-friendly members on the board.

We reached out to Zweig and Albert, but they did not respond to an email. According to the Columbia Spectator, Albert has been co-chair for 30 years and Zweig has been co-chair for 16.

Community Board 7 passed a rule last year that limited chairs to 6-year-terms, which leaves Albert and Zweig with four more years to serve if the board keeps them in the current positions. Zweig is up for reappointment this year by Councilman Mark Levine. Asked last year about a bill that would limit how long people could serve on community boards, Albert told us: “I’ve just been re-appointed by Borough President Brewer, and serve as Co-Chair of the Transportation Committee at the pleasure of the Board’s Chairperson. I look forward to dealing with all issues of transportation, which is, as you know, my true love!”

NEWS | 8 comments | permalink
    1. Jeremy says:

      Interesting to see how this will play out. Gale Brewer and Helen Rosenthal have sorta wiggled out from being under the thumb of Transportation Alternatives. CM Rosenthal’s recent constituent update even mentioned dangerous cyclists, and no criticism of drivers, which probably drove them nuts.

      I guess this is payback of sorts. Not smart going to war with your elected patrons, tho.

    2. Liberated Woman says:

      Council members Gale Brewer and Helen Rosenthal are solid, loyal allies in the fight for reproductive freedom and LGBTQ equality. That should be reason enough to tread very lightly with them, cut them plenty of slack and be ready to overlook petty quibbles we may have them. At a time when Roe vs. Wade and marriage equality hang upon as little as just one vote, can we afford to risk alienating such staunch friends of progress and enlightenment as CMs Brewer and Rosenthal?

      • Kevin says:

        Yes. Because at this level of politics, there is very little control of the issues you mentioned, and there is very high control of transportation safety issues. Match the issues with the people that have the power to do something about it.

    3. DMH says:

      Do you really not worry about dangerous drivers on the UWS? I sure do.

    4. mlm says:

      As a senior citizen with mobility issues, I find the street crossings unsafe and uncertain. The lights that say “walk” begin to flash numbers showing how many seconds we have to cross, and half the time I’m not sure if I should cross, and then the cars start off or beep their horns.

      30 years is too long to serve as a chair. So is 15.

    5. Steve says:

      Andrew Albert knows transportation alternatives in the City better than probably any non-City official. For his entire tenure on Community Board he has been one of the strongest advocates of mass transportation in our community. Life is a balancing act and Andrew understands the alternatives. While everyone may not agree with him, it would be a major mistake to even think of depriving the Community Board and the community of his knowledge gained over a lifetime of service to our community amd interest in transportation issues.

    6. Steve says:

      Change of leadership is long overdue. I’ve been to some of those meetings — something has gotta go.

    7. Liberated Woman says:

      Council members Gale Brewer and Helen Rosenthal are solid, loyal allies in the fight for reproductive freedom and LGBTQ equality. That should be reason enough to tread very lightly with them and cut them plenty of slack. At a time when Roe vs. Wade and marriage equality hang upon as little as just one vote, can we afford to risk alienating such staunch friends of progress and enlightenment as CMs Brewer and Rosenthal?