Package of bills will enforce protocols and regulations; create civil penalties for commercial bicyclists

Bill named in honor of Stuart Gruskin who was killed by a delivery biker
New York, NY – In an ongoing effort to make our city’s streets safer, the Council will today vote on a package of legislation to enforce measures and establish civil penalties for commercial bicyclists. Those who use bicycles to perform work-related duties, including restaurant delivery workers and messengers, can create hazardous conditions when navigating the city’s busy streets. This legislation will strengthen safety regulations for these workers so that they can avert accidents and harm to themselves and others.

The Council will also focus on the needs of young New Yorkers who are applying for – or receiving – public assistance by voting to ensure that young people in need can access it, and connect to appropriate services, including education and training programs.

Additionally, the Council will vote to approve the Seward Park redevelopment project to facilitate the development of an approximately 1.65 million square feet mixed use and mixed income project. This action will allow for the redevelopment of nine predominantly vacant parcels of City-owned land on the Lower East side of Manhattan.

Commercial Bicycle Legislation

This legislation builds on the Council’s strong record of promoting street safety.

The first bill of this package is named after Stuart Gruskin who was tragically killed by a commercial bicyclist traveling the wrong way down a city street in 2009. Stuart’s Law would necessitate that businesses employing commercial bicyclists require these employees to take a bicycle safety course. The Department of Transportation (DOT) must post the curriculum of the course on its website, which will include safe bicycling practices and the rules of the road.

“New York is a city on the go and we want to keep it that way, but we must do so safely,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “Business owners are responsible for the safety of their employees and anyone else in the workplace. City streets become an extension of that workplace the moment their employees leave to perform job-related duties on a bike. We must all work together, along with the Department of Transportation and law enforcement, to make our streets safer. This is what this legislation aims to do.”

Importantly, the legislation the Council will consider gives DOT the power to enforce the commercial bicycling sections of the City’s Administrative Code, along with the New York City Police Department (NYPD), which already has this power. Better enforcement of the commercial bicycle laws will mean safer streets for all New Yorkers.

This package of legislation will also set civil penalties for any business that violates standing commercial bicycle laws. This includes businesses that fail to provide helmets and retro-reflective vests for their workers; that fail to provide proper bicycle and bicyclist identification and that fail to post signs at the main business site explaining the legal obligations of the bicyclists and businesses.

The penalty would be set at $100. If the same offense occurs again after 30 days of the original offense, the new penalty would be set at $250.

“With these bills in place, there will be no more excuses when it comes to commercial cycling scofflaws. The days of the wild wild west are now over,” said Council Member James Vacca, Chair of the Council Transportation Committee. “Businesses will have no excuse for not providing required safety equipment to their cyclists. Cyclists will know the rules of the road, and DOT will have no excuse for failing to enforce them.”

“By making our commercial cyclists more visible, we are helping improve the safety of not only those on two wheels but also those in cars and on foot,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. “Intro. 683 will illuminate commercial cyclists with reflective vests making our city’s streets safer for all.”

“My legislation, in concert with the bills by Chair Vacca and Council Member Van Bramer, will go a long way toward improving commercial bike regulation in our city. With these common-sense bills, we will increase compliance with existing laws on commercial biking, and improve safety for both bicyclists and pedestrians in our city,” said Council Member Gale A. Brewer.

Human Resources Administration Bills

The Human Resources Administration (HRA) plays an important role in the city by providing temporary economic and social service support for our most needy residents, while helping them achieve economic independence.

However, some advocates and young people are concerned that HRA caseworkers often do not understand the rights of minors and their eligibility for benefits, and worry that the agency is not adequately connecting them to appropriate educational activities.

Unfortunately, this means that often young New Yorkers are not properly assessed by HRA about their educational goals and are wrongly denied the right to apply for assistance. And sadly, often young people themselves are unaware of their rights.

In other cases, youth and advocates have reported that young people under the age of 18 and certain young adults ages 18 and 19 are often not connected to educational activities, despite the fact that State law requires them to be.

There are over one million people living in New York City between the ages of 15 and 24. The majority of this population will never seek public assistance as they transition out of childhood and move towards adulthood but for those who must, the City needs to do a better job of serving them.

This is what has shaped this legislation. Requiring HRA to provide basic information to young people about how to access public assistance, and informing them of their rights, levels the playing field between the agency and disconnected young people in need of help.

The first bill would require HRA and the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) to publish on their websites answers to frequently asked questions by youth and young adults so that they are aware of their rights when they visit an HRA Job Center to apply for benefits.

The second piece of legislation would obligate HRA to collect and publish data about young people on public assistance.

HRA already collects and publishes a monthly report online, documenting, for example, how many recipients are involved in work activities, education and training. However, this report is not sorted by age. The second bill will allow for an examination of this data in an effort to understand the experience of this population.

A final bill clarifies the procedures the agency has in place for connecting young people to educational and employment opportunities.

A detailed report would be submitted to the Council for review, including a description of HRA’s processes for serving youth and young adults. The report would also include a description of HRA’s plan to improve coordination with other City agencies and programs that specialize in employment services for young people.

Finally, the law would require HRA to designate an individual to oversee how young people are engaged and served, in order to certify that the agency is complying with legal mandates to provide educational and employment opportunities to this group of New Yorkers.

“The legislation will create a system that is more successful in ensuring youth and young adults understand their rights, including the right to participate in educational or training programs in order to satisfy their work requirements,” said General Welfare Committee Chair Annabel Palma. “I want to thank HRA for negotiating these bills in good faith, Speaker Quinn and Council Members Brewer and Fidler for all of their hard work in prioritizing these important bills.”

“One of my biggest concerns as a Council Member has been homeless youth. Increasing shelter beds, while critical, is not the answer alone,” said Council Member Lew Fidler. “We have to turn off the spigot that pours these young people onto the streets. Compelling HRA to help them with both public assistance and education should be an effective strategy for many of them. It will save money and save lives. I want to thank Speaker Quinn and Chairwoman Palma for their work and support on this critically important issue.”

“Young people in New York City need all the help they can get in accessing information about public assistance in New York City. This legislation will provide helpful information about public assistance via an easy to read document on the HRA and DYCD websites, giving young New Yorkers the opportunity to access the city services they need,” Council Member Brewer.

Seward Park Redevelopment Project

The Council will vote to approve the Seward Park redevelopment project to facilitate the development of an approximately 1.65 million square feet mixed use and mixed income project. Uses will include commercial/retail, community facilities and 1,000 dwelling units of which 500 will be permanently affordable.

The redevelopment of this area, which is part of the former Seward Park Extension Urban Renewal Area, has been more than 45 years in the making and will allow for the redevelopment of nine predominantly vacant parcels of city owned land on the Lower East side of Manhattan.

Council Member Margaret Chin negotiated with the Administration to modify the City Planning Commission’s proposal and secure many commitments, including:

• The community will now have a very substantial role and significant input in the RFP process
• The Essex Street Market will remain a public market, with the potential to be relocated to one of the new development sites with the promise of comparable rent and space.
• Space on the site will be reserved to address a potential future need for a new public school
• Commitment by the administration to reach out and locate the former site tenants
• Encouragement of local development partners in the RFP process.
• Respondents to the RFP process will be required to submit a plan outlining their goals to include M/WBEs and the HireNYC program in their responses.
• Strengthened requirements for retail diversity
• Commitment by the administration to develop additional affordable housing units off-site at 21 Spring Street.
“Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in the long history of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area,” said Council Member Stephen T. Levin, Chair of the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions & Concessions. “Thanks to the diligent work of Speaker Quinn, Councilmember Chin, the Community Board members, and everyone who spent countless hours to craft this proposal, residents of the Lower East Side will finally have access to affordable housing, needed commercial and retail space, and usable open space at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge. While it took many years to get to this point, the high level of community involvement and the willingness of all parties to maintain a constructive dialogue is a model that we can all look to as our city continues to evolve.”

“Today’s vote to approve development on the SPURA site is truly history in the making,” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “This vote means 500 new units of affordable housing at SPURA and additional affordable housing offsite at 21 Spring Street. Thirty percent of affordable housing at SPURA will be reserved for low income individuals making less than $40,000 a year. This is a significant step toward alleviating the chronic problem of overcrowding in our community. In addition, we will create a “Community Taskforce” that will work with the City to set the goals for the RFP and provide feedback on responses from developers. The Lower East Side’s voice will continued to be heard as this process moves forward. This is not only a momentous vote, but an example of what we can accomplish when the City and our partners in the community work together.”