a citizenâ€™s guide to winning livable streets.
01 INTRODUCTION As a New Yorker, you are bound to come upon a problem affecting your ability to travel safely, whether itâ€™s the lack of a bike lane or even a safe place to cross the street. You may also want assistance to open your street to new programs like Play Streets or Weekend Walks. A city street may need seating, a bus shelter or a bike rack. How can you address these issues?
INTRODUCING THE ACTIVISTS’ HANDBOOK This handbook is for those who want to improve the conditions on their streets. Whether the improvement is on one block or in an entire neighborhood, this handbook will help you get the solution you need. This handbook describes how to develop your action plan, while helping you identify and engage key contacts for obtaining solutions to your street safety concerns. It includes worksheets, templates and a case study to help you implement the engagement process. Don’t be afraid to use the resources that are available to you. Community leaders, neighbors, advocacy groups, handbooks—each will strengthen your efforts towards improving the quality of life of your city streets.
Transportation Alternatives (T.A.) is a New York City-based non-profit advocacy organization. T.A.’s mission is to reclaim New York City streets from the automobile and promote bicycling, walking and public transit. With the help of 100,000 supporters and activists working in every borough, T.A. fights for the installation of infrastructure improvements that reduce speeding and traffic crashes, save lives and improve everyday transportation for all New Yorkers. Right now, Transportation Alternatives activists are leading the fight to improve infrastructure for bicycling and walking, and to change traffic enforcement policy and practices citywide. The goal is to achieve Vision Zero, the elimination of traffic deaths and serious injuries on New York City’s streets.
MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD: DEVELOP A CAMPAIGN
CASE STUDY: 1ST AND 2ND AVENUES (MANHATTAN) COMPLETE STREETS CAMPAIGN
READY, SET, ORGANIZE!
APPENDIX City Council District Boundaries New York City Community District Boundaries Community Boards 101 Strategy Chart Instructions Templates City Programs Q&A and Tips
02 MAKING CONNECTIONS When preparing to make a difference in your neighborhood, you will need to build support for your cause. Get involved in your community and reach out to local decision makers and other key allies to improve your chances of success.
This section outlines roles of City government and what you, as a community member, can do to propose or support traffic safety initiatives.
Main Components of City Government Executive Branch (Mayor, Public Advocate, Comptroller, and Borough Presidents) Legislative Branch (City Council) Judicial Branch (District Attorneys)
Get involved in your community and reach out to local decision makers and other key allies to greatly improve your chances of success. The term â€œkey allyâ€? refers to those who have a vested interest in addressing the problem/issue you present and who are in a position to help you reach the solution that you seek. Key allies include local elected officials and government agencies, and affect major decisions that are made in the community. Certain improvements to infrastructure and most other changes to public streets require the approval of city government. (A proposal for a new bike lane, for example, usually must be approved by the local community board and by the Department of Transportation.) Your key allies will be vital to correcting your problem and addressing your concerns.
Knowing the hierarchy of government and other agencies is good; becoming actively involved is better. It is important to understand the
informal processes, politics, and relationships that will have a great influence on getting your problem addressed. In most instances there is a link between elected officials, community board members, the NYPD and the DOT.
The City Council is the branch of New York City government that writes and approves legislation, monitors and advises City agencies, makes landuse decisions and approves the City budget.
Community boards address neighborhood-specific needs and work to improve quality of life across the city. Your community board is a tool for democratic change, a forum where local residents can express their interests and influence citywide legislation.
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION The New York City Department of Transportation is the expert in determining traffic engineering solutions. Not only do they plan and construct street design and make improvements, the DOT also provides day-to-day maintenance of streets, highways, bridges and sidewalks.
PRECINCT COMMUNITY COUNCILS The Precint Community Council (PCC) meets regularly with the NYPD precinct Commanding Officer and Community Affairs Officers to discuss solutions to public-safety problems in a given community. It is led by a volunteer community resident.
1 Consider council membersâ€™ priorities.
What is of interest to the member? What bills have they worked on? What legislation have they supported? Who are their appointed community board members, and do you have a relationship with any of them? Who can you add to your coalition to help raise the profile of your issue and get you the meeting?
2 Make friends with the council memberâ€™s scheduler. The scheduler is a
gatekeeper and your ally. You want to make it onto their calendar, and once there you need to be able to make your pitch in a few minutes. Within that time, you need to identify the problem and what you would like the council member to do to address it. (See the section on meeting with your elected official on pg 27-28)
Your first contact with elected officials should be with the City Council, the law-making branch that writes and approves legislation, monitors and advises City agencies, makes land-use decisions and approves the City budget.
WHO THEY ARE
WHAT THEY DO
HOW TO CONNECT
The City Council provides a variety of services to constituents and acts as a liaison between the community boards in their districts. District offices are designed to be accessible to constituents (you!) and to keep track of community relations. As a representative of your district, your council member, like your community board, must represent the interests of large constituency groups.
You can call your council member’s office to set up a meeting, or walk in to their district office at any time. Get to know your council member’s stance on issues that interest you and let them know whether you agree. Ask them how you can best make your opinion known and who your allies are among their vocal constituents. (See Appendix Pg 40 for a map of Council districts)
Gaining council member support can help influence the decisions of community board members. Because they
State and federal elected officials are connectors.
appoint half of the community board members within their community district, Council Members often have influence over community board members.
Elected officials are inextricably linked to each other through political party affiliation, living within the same boundaries, collaboration on community projects and sometimes even sharing the same local office space.
Community Boards are forums for local residents to express their interests and influence local and citywide legislation. Though advisory, they are the gatekeepers for almost every way to improve local streets, from public plazas to bus routes and protected bike lanes.
WHO THEY ARE
WHAT THEY DO
HOW TO CONNECT
Community boards address neighborhood-specific needs and work to improve quality of life across the city. Your community board is a tool for local democratic change. It’s the first rung of New York City government and a critical venue for public participation, consensus building and positive change on the neighborhood level. Each board meets once a month. In between the full board meetings, subcommittees like Parks and Recreation and Transportation meet to discuss and vote on particular issues. As a community resident you can attend any subcommittee or full board meeting and speak up for existing proposals or propose new improvements. If your community board does not have a committee explicitly dedicated to transportation issues, reach out to the district manager and find out which committee is best for your issues and how to get your issue on the agenda.
1 Each community board has its own flavor.The power structure should
be viewed through a fine lens. Think strategically about informal relationships, how decisions are made, and who to connect with.
2 Think about the relationships between the players. Is the District
Manager of your board the major decision maker? Does the chair of the board defer to the committee chair? How much influence do the appointing elected officials have over individual members? How do the members influence each other?
Knowing who made which member appointments to the community board can be critical. Often times the membersâ€™ views are aligned with those of their appointer.
One of the best ways to effectively work with the community board is by becoming a member. T.A. hosts join-ups each year.
Read community board minutes for general and committee meetings. These documents will
Information is available at http://transalt. org/getinvolved/cb
provide information on attendance, issues addressed and voting items. Community boards are required to maintain minutes and records of all voting items.
NYCDOT NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
1 You do not want to alienate the DOT by telling them how to do their job. The engineers will know the
range of possibilities, and it is up to you to present as much information as possible to show a problem exists. Let the DOT determine the appropriate remedy.
2 Each borough has a transportation office that works closely with the local police precincts to assess neighborhood needs for traffic safety improvements.
The Department of Transportation is the expert in determining traffic engineering solutions in New York City. Not only do they plan and construct street design and make improvements, the DOT also provides for day-to-day maintenance of streets, highways, bridges and sidewalks. In addition, DOT has oversight and approval over open space programs like Play Streets, Weekend Walks and pedestrian plazas. But they need citizen input to determine highest priority problems.
WHO THEY ARE
WHAT THEY DO
HOW TO CONNECT
The DOT structure includes a commissioner, borough commissioners and engineers. Borough commissioners advocate for the delivery of transportation services and advise the commissioner on policy issues affecting transportation in their respective borough. They are community liaisons who monitor and expedite service requests.
In most cases, the best way to contact the DOT is through an advocacy group like Transportation Alternatives. Don’t hesitate to contact us for support.
In New York City each police precinct has a Precinct Community Council (PCC). The PCC’s are forums that provide ongoing, direct communication between the police and community. The PCC is led by a volunteer community resident, and meets regularly with the precinct Commanding Officer and Community Affairs Officers to discuss and find solutions to public-safety problems. Most PCCs hold meetings monthly.
WHO THEY ARE
WHAT THEY DO
HOW TO CONNECT
The role of the NYPD is to ensure that drivers are following the law, and to provide enforcement by way of ticketing, summonses and, if necessary, arrests. The NYPD is also involved in investigations of crashes and in issuing/approving permits for street closure activities and providing monitoring of traffic during such closures.
Begin attending your Precinct Community Council meetings. Once you start, you’ll be eligible to become an official member of the Precinct Community Council. Then you can help elect officers to administer council meetings and establish a stronger forum to discuss local street safety.
1 Some community councils are more influential than others.
Does your council president have a good relationship with the Community Affairs officers, Department Chief, and/or Executive Officer? Is the precinct already working on your issue of concern?
2 Meetings are often poorly attended, so you can have a big impact by just showing up. Let the
PCC know your concerns about street safety in the neighborhood. You can be even more effective by showing up with your friends and neighbors.
PRECINCT COMMUNITY COUNCILS
The Police Precinct Commander is usually the appointed official at the District Service Cabinet meetings held by the local community board.
Make the Community Affairs Officer your first point of contact. The Commanding Officer may be more
Again, pay attention to the relationships among the community leaders.
supportive, but is often very busy responding to immediate and urgent issues and may not have time or resources to address your concerns the moment they are brought to his/her attention.
03 DEVELOPING A CAMPAIGN Through our activist committees, T.A. works with thousands of New Yorkers to improve streets in their neighborhoods by focusing on defined campaigns, such as winning a bike lane or curb extension. Hereâ€™s how to get started!
Community stakeholders like you are central to Transportation Alternatives’ theory of change: In New York City, people are power. Community organizing is a way of identifying and mobilizing like-minded people to act collectively.
develop your campaign
fill out a strategy chart
sign on neighbors, businesses, and organizations
1 Connect to an Activist Committee
T.A.’s Activist Committees meet once a month in every borough. These volunteerled groups identify particularly dangerous streets and run strategic grassroots organizing campaigns to win improvements. You can join an existing campaign or make a new one.
2 Choose an effective campaign.
Because we have limited resources, it’s important to choose campaigns that have a reasonable chance of success. This will allow you to build a strong network of supporters and form lasting relationships with stakeholders.
present your plan
make your pitch to the community board
community board requests changes from the DOT
dot study DOT reviews changes and presents to community board
STRATEGY PLANNING The strategy chart helps you step back and think about what you want to accomplish (Goals), the assets you have to run a campaign (Resources), who your potential partners are (Allies and Constituents), who stands to gain from your failure (Opponents), who youâ€™ll need to convince to give you what you want (Decision-Makers), and what you and your partners will need to do to convince them to act in your favor (Tactics). You can find a template of the Midwest Strategy Chart on page 42 in the Appendix)
ALLIES RESOURCES CONSTITUENTS OPPONENTS
A strategy chart looks like this:
A strategy plan looks like this:
SET A GOAL: Choose goals that have a reasonable chance of success. This will allow you to build a strong network of supporters and form lasting relationships with other stakeholders. Together you will build the overall power of the livable streets movement in New York City.
ACCESS RESOURCES: Once you’ve established a concrete set of goals, list the resources you
have to run the campaign in the Organizational Resources column. These could include your time, your neighbors’ energy or skills, the ability to print materials, etc. Be as specific as possible. For instance, write: “two hours per week of my time,” or “Amy’s printer to print 100 petition sheets per month”. One goal of the strategy chart is to get you, the organizer, to be realistic about what you have at your disposal, so you can leverage your resources as efficiently as possible.
IDENTIFY A TARGET:
While your end goal is to win over the community board, your target should be someone who can influence them. Targets should always be individual people, and ideally individuals who are directly accountable to you, the voter. Follow these steps to find a target: BUILD A LIST of everyone on the community board and its transportation committee. You can typical- ly find this information on the community board’s website. You’ll have to win the trans- portation committee’s approval first. RESEARCH all of the transportation committee members and try to find as much information about them as possible, including their community affiliations or memberships, how they’ve voted on bike or pedestrian projects in the past, whether they have any bigger political ambitions, etc. READ MEETING MINUTES and media coverage of board votes. If you know someone on a transportation commit tee, or know that a particular member of a board is friendly to your issue, you can also ask them for their input on how other committee members might vote on your issue.
FIND ALLIES: Consider your targets’ affiliations and make a list. If you can convince representatives from these affiliated groups to sign on to your campaign, you’ll have a better shot of winning over your target. This list of partners will become a blueprint for further outreach.
LIST YOUR TACTICS: Tactics are actions that you or your partners take to convince your target
to do what you want (deliver your goal, in this case a bike lane on Main Street). Tactics include petitions, coalition letters, one-on-one meetings with your target, rallies and press coverage. A tactic is only effective if it’s delivered, in some form, to your target. 100 petitions for your bike lane don’t mean anything if they’re not given to the person who can make the decision you desire. “Raising awareness” doesn’t do you any good unless you’re raising your target’s awareness, or using that awareness to mobilize individuals to pressure your target directly (through signing a petition that you then deliver to your target, for instance). The tactics you choose should reinforce your strategy.
PLAN A CAMPAIGN Once you fill out your strategy chart, put your goals on a calendar, and then work backwards to plan out your campaign. Add in your secondary goals (a certain number of petitions, neighbors in your group, or participants at a rally), and again work backwards from each of them to figure out the work you’ll need to do to make them happen.
RECRUIT YOUR NEIGHBORS: The best way to
kick off your campaign and build your group is to start a simple petition. See Appendix p. 44 for a template petition you can modify to fit your campaign. Make sure to include a box that people can check if they’d like to volunteer. Contact email@example.com if you’d like T.A. to help draft a petition for you. You can collect signatures on any sidewalk or public location in NYC, at community events (with the event organizer’s permission, of course) or from your neighbors, co-workers or anyone else with a stake in a safer Main Street.
PLAN A FOLLOW UP:
Between 6 and 8pm, shortly after you’ve collected some petitions, call the people who said they’d like to volunteer, explain what you’d like to accomplish on Main Street, and ask them to come help you petition (or take another action) the next time you’re out. Be direct and confident when you ask – you’d be surprised how many of your neighbors are eager to get involved and meet other people.
CIRCULATE A COALITION LETTER: Like a petition, a
coalition letter demonstrates broad support for your plan. Rather than individuals, though, a coalition letter collects the support of community institutions and organized groups, like businesses, PTAs, churches, etc. See Appendix p.45 for an example of a coalition letter. Approach those organizations that you suspect or know to be supportive of your campaign first. This “low-hanging fruit” will build some momentum for your campaign and help convince other businesses or organizations to sign on. Soon you’ll have an impressive list!
COLLECT DATA: Collecting data on a street can help you make your case
for traffic calming measures like bike lanes, speed bumps or safer crosswalks. Data isn’t always necessary (and personal stories are often far more compelling), but basic statistics can help illustrate the scope of a problem. At transalt.org/ issues/speeding you’ll find instructions to conduct a speeding survey, count the number of bikes or pedestrians on a street and document cases of cars committing dangerous infractions, like failure to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. Make sure that the type of data you collect fits into your broader strategy.
1 There’s No Magic Number
One hundred petition signatures is generally a baseline for smaller campaigns in New York City. Five hundred will get a City Council member’s attention, and 1,000 will usually be enough to win most livable street campaigns (though for our biggest campaigns, like winning Complete Streets on Queens Boulevard or 5th and 6th avenues, T.A. tries to collect closer to five or ten thousand).
2 Remember the Rule of Halves
If you want two people to come petition with you the next time you’re out, you’ll need to get four people to say yes, which means you’ll need to talk to eight people, and call at least 16 (New Yorkers tend to answer phones less than most Americans for some reason, so plan on actually calling at least 30 people to get two volunteers to show up).
recruit your neighbors
plan your petition follow up
circulate a coalition letter
collect data meet with elected officials
3 Know Your Neighbors
Pay special attention to what motivates them to work for safer streets. Invite them to meet with you and some other activists, where you can introduce your new friends to each other and start to hash out a plan to make Main Street more bikefriendly. After every meeting, do something fun: get pizza, drinks, or go for a bike ride or walk. This will keep people coming back, and ensure that your group continues to grow.
DEVELOP A PITCH Once you choose your campaign, practice a simple pitch about your street and why action is needed to make it safer. Be sure to cover:
Think about the best way to introduce yourself. Tell who you are, and provide some very basic info about the street you want to improve. You should have an “ask” or request to make from everyone you speak to in your campaign. This could include signing on to your coalition letter (more on that soon), signing a petition, or coming to a meeting. Make your ask clear and get people to join you!
What’s wrong with the street now? Have there been pedestrian or bicyclist deaths? Is there a speeding problem? Why should your audience act on this now? Highlight a specific incident or shocking statistic here to galvanize people’s support. Did someone get seriously injured or killed on the street recently?
PERSONAL STORY: If possible, close with your personal motivation for
working on this issue. Your story doesn’t have to be directly related to the issue at hand, it just has to help connect people to you and your cause. If you’re a parent, for instance, you could talk about how having a child has given you a newfound sense of urgency to make our streets safer, and tell a particularly poignant anecdote about your child that inspired you to get involved. Since many people also have children, they will empathize with you, and be more likely to act in support of your cause. People make decisions based on emotion, not reason, so the more you can appeal to people’s emotions through your story, the better.
The solution you’re proposing to fix the street, e.g. installing a bike lane, safer crosswalks, asking the DOT to study a good solution, etc. Don’t be too specific here – the DOT will eventually decide the technical solution, so say that you’d like to bring changes like bike lanes or pedestrian safety improvements.
always have an ask tell a personal story
propose a solution
PRESENT TO ELECTED OFFICIALS Elected officials can be powerful allies. In New York City, City Council Members, in particular, are good potential partners because they’re fairly accessible, and they appoint half the number of community board members in the City. This means they can help move your proposal through a community board and hold their appointees accountable.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
The best time to engage an elected official is generally once you already have a healthy base of community support lined up. Demonstrating that key players in your community support your initiative through your coalition letter or petition signatures will show the elected official that it’s safe to sign on to your effort. It can be prudent to meet with an elected official early in a campaign if you know they are supportive of your cause. Well-connected officials will tell you the most important groups to engage and may even make an introduction for you. If you have any doubts, make sure to round up a solid base of community support before approaching the decision-maker.
MAKE A PITCH It’s crucial to rehearse a concise, compelling pitch for your campaign before you meet with a decision maker. Making your pitch pithy and direct with a clear ‘ask,’ or request, will help you stand out from the crowd and demonstrate that you respect the decision-maker’s time. POWER OF WE If possible,
bring representatives from various groups supporting your campaigns. Have each mention the number of people, businesses, etc that they represent, to demonstrate the power they wield in the elected official’s district. Likewise, be sure to have the activists in the meeting mention the number of petitions you collected, number of coalition partners on your letter, etc.
ALWAYS HAVE AN ASK
Make sure to close each meeting with an elected official with an ask, or request. An effective ask will be realistic and concrete. An elected official wants to support your cause, but they only have so much time and resources, so making your request doable and concrete will increase your odds of success. An ask should be actionable, specific and reasonable. Signing on to a letter, recruiting their colleagues to co-sponsor a bill, attending a hearing or press conference, contacting other community-based groups on your behalf or introducing legislation are all good asks to make of an elected official.
power of we make a pitch timing is everything
circulate a coalition letter
PRESENT TO COMMUNITY BOARDS Now that you’ve recruited a broad base of support from the community groups and elected officials who your target cares about, it’s time to make your case at the community board.
TELL ALL THE BENEFITS
KEEP IT SHORT
New York City has a rich history of safe and lively streets. The first bike lane in America was in Brooklyn, on Ocean Parkway in 1894. Streets closed to cars were common on the Lower East Side a hundred years ago, when street markets would fill entire blocks. Kids used to play stickball on the street. Collecting data on a street can help you make your case for traffic calming measures like bike lanes, speed bumps or safer crosswalks. Data isn’t always necessary (and personal stories are often far more compelling), but basic statistics can help illustrate the scope of a problem.
1 Talkin’ About A Resolution
The principal form of support in a community board is a resolution: essentially a letter written by board members that requests an action, typically from a city agency.
Stories, especially those with an emotional or moral appeal, move decision makers much more than statistics.
Encourage your group members to make stirring remarks, but to keep them short. Fill the room if you can, but make sure no one drones on, especially if they’re repeating exactly what someone else said. If someone says what you wanted to say, simply say that you second their emotion.
2 Know the Role of the Community Board
Community boards are only advisory, meaning that they are important consultants but not decision-making bodies. The Department of Transportation will typically respond to a resolution from a community board by studying the street in question and then presenting some potential options for improvement.
lead with your story
share the benefits
keep it short
3 Transportation Committee is Key
Remember: first present to a community board’s transportation committee, and then to the full community board. In both meetings, it’s critical to show support from groups and individuals who will influence your target.
4 Always Follow Up
Make sure that the community board actually sends a copy of the meeting’s minutes to the Department of Transportation. Sometimes this will take a couple of calls to the District Manager after the meeting. Once the resolution makes its way to the DOT, expect to wait several months to a year before the DOT comes back to the community board with a presentation of potential solutions. When that happens, plan to mobilize your supporters because the board will have to take another vote to approve the final plans.
ENGAGE THE MEDIA Media can be a helpful tool to raise the profile of your issue, recruit new activists and hold officials accountable for supporting your cause. Approach media coverage as you would any aspect of your campaign - with strategy.
If a bicyclist or pedestrian is killed on a street you’re looking to improve, you can work with your partners and elected officials to hold a press conference to honor the individual who was kiled and call for improvements.
If you want to demonstrate broad support (or just general buzz) for a cause before it’s heard by the community board, earning some media coverage can help build momentum and illustrate the breadth of support you’ve collected. Just make sure you put the partners your target cares about in front of the camera!
If an elected official or community board shoots down a proposal, wellplaced media attention can be an opportunity to frame your issue in your own terms and re-illustrate all the support for your cause.
GETTING PRESS STEAL THE SHOW
News outlets looking to cover events love stories that have a strong visual message. It helps attract reporters and illustrate a story for them.
DATA IS SEXY
Be sure to share information that helps your cause.
FIGHT TO FLIGHT
Reporters love conflict. While it’s important to begin by running a positive, inclusive campaign, occasional moments can justify a more conflict-based approach. For example, if a lobbyist for a major car group is speaking up against your bike lane or pedestrian plaza in the press, you can tell a David and Goliath story to reporters i.e., local activists are fighting for safer streets against the big car lobby. That level of conflict will typically be enough to pique a reporter’s interest.
Before you speak with a reporter, come up with two or three bullet points that you want to be the main message of the story. Try to repeat these bullet points in every response you give to the reporter. Don’t worry if you sound like a broken record, that’s the point! If you’re not getting your main message in every response, chances are it won’t make it into print.
A PERSONAL TOUCH
Reporters know that readers respond to a personal story, so do your best to find a person with a powerful story and have them speak to a reporter on behalf of your campaign. Or tell your own personal story: it’s probably more relevant and moving than you think.
2 Follow Up
It’s always ok to call the reporter back. If you get a call from a reporter, ask for their deadline and say that you’ll call them back. This will buy you time to draft your bullet points and gather your thoughts.
our right of way
one less car
take back transit
voice your power
3 Just Do You
Reporters will often ask pointed or leading questions hoping that you’ll go off message and engage in whatever conflict they have in mind. But you can avoid the trap! As soon as the reporter stops talking, it’s your turn to talk, and you can say whatever you want. So bring it back to your message as quickly as possible.
4 Learn to Pivot
Use transitional phrases like “Look...”, “The most important thing is...”, and “Let’s not get distracted fom the real problem...” to get back to your message. These will buy you some time and help you keep the conversation on target.
COMPLETING THE STREET
A strategy chart looks like this:
Manhattan’s First and Second avenues are some of New York’s finest examples of Complete Streets, but they weren’t always that way. In 2009, when First and Second avenues were almost entirely dedicated to cars, a devoted group of T.A. volunteer activists saw an opportunity to bring Select Bus Service, protected bike lanes and pedestrian safety improvements to these streets.
ALLIES RESOURCES CONSTITUENTS OPPONENTS
SHORT TERM Win a supportive resolution at community board
MID TERM Win temporary street improvements (better crosswalks, painted bike lane)
LONG TERM A Complete Street on First & Second avenues (built out with permanent materials)
ALLIES 1 full-time organizer
Local community boards
Local council members
Field team Press and local media connections
Tenants associations Senior centers Schools and parents associations Local business groups
Deliver 1,000 written letters of support to Council member Host one-on-one meetings with local leaders of community groups Host a walkbike event in partnership with community boards and Council members Host a mobilization and petition drop-off at local community board
BIG Change looks like this:
READY, SET, ORGANIZE!
04 APPENDIX 39-40 41 42 43 44 45-46 47-48 50
District Maps NYC Community Boards 101 Midwest Strategy Chart Campaign Checklist Petition Template Coalition Letter Template Q&A City Programs
NYC COMMUNITY BOARD DISTRICTS Be sure to check your Community District online at http://www.transalt.org/getinvolved/cb/ attend
3 2 6
4 5 2
NYC CITY COUNCIL DISTRICTS Be sure to check your City Coucil District online at http://www.transalt.org/getinvolved/ yourelectedofficials
NYC COMMUNITY BOARDS 101 APPENDIX
NYC CommuNITY Boards 101 The Basics
Working the Hierarchy
3 Ways to Get Involved
The Back Story
Step 1: District Manager Each board has a paid staff member called the District Manager who is responsible for providing information to community members, resolving neighborhood complaints and acting as a liaison with the board. The DM should be your first step in identifying the appropriate committee for your issue and getting contact information for the committee members.
1. Show Up The best introduction to your local board is to attend a monthly full board meeting. To find out when and where meetings are held, call your local board and request a monthly calendar.
Since 1963, New York City’s community boards have played an advisory role in neighborhood planning. They served as the original 311. Each board is charged with making recommendations on long-term community planning, land use, business permits, street closings and district financial needs. The presiding Borough President and the local City Council Member each appoint half of each district’s community board members, respectively.
The Structure NYC has 59 community board districts. Each board has 50 members who live, work or have other significant interests in the community. Members serve staggered, twoyear terms. Full Board meetings are held once a month, with committee meetings throughout the month.
Their Role Community boards make advisory decisions about important street reforms such as: • Bike lanes • Car parking to bike parking swaps • Parking regulations • Pedestrian plazas • Street closures • Traffic Calming
Step 2: Committees The Transportation and Land Use Committees are the typical bodies that review issues that affect the streetscape like bike lanes. If you are trying to pass a resolution in favor of a project, it will go through a committee first, and following approval can move to the full board.
Step 3: Full Board Every board holds a once-monthly meeting where motions approved by committee come for a full vote. Each meeting has a public comment portion, where you can speak on an issue raised earlier, or speak freely on any topic for two or three minutes.
2. Speak Up Whether you have a great idea for a new bike lane, need help making an intersection safer or want any other improvements to make your streets more livable, take your ideas to your community board first. Call your board and ask to speak to the District Manager. The District Manager can help you submit your proposal to the appropriate committee so you can get on the agenda.
3. Join Up The best way to see change in your neighborhood is to sit on a community board and have a vote. Because every borough has a different deadline and application procedure, it’s best to just contact the office of your Borough President (call 311 for the contact information) and ask for an application.
Contact Info To find your community board, call 311 or go to nyc.gov/html/ cau/html/cb/cb.shtml.
SAFE STREETS ARE HEALTHY STREETS 32
MIDWEST STRATEGY CHART STRATEGY CHART INSTRUCTIONS APPENDIX
MIDWEST ACADEMY STRATEGY CHART ORGANIZATIONAL CONSIDERATIONS 1.
List the resources that your organization brings to the campaign. Include: money, number of staff, facilities, reputation, canvass, etc.
List the specific things you need to do to develop the campaign and ways in which the campaign will strengthen your organization. Fill in numbers for each.
What is the budget, including in-kind contributions, for this campaign?
Expand leadership group Increase experience of existing leadership Build membership base Expand into new constituencies Develop Issue Campaign Message Develop Media Plan Develop a Fundraising plan – how can you raise money for and through this campaign?
Who cares about this issue enough to join or help the organization?
CONSTITUENTS, Allies & Opponents
Who are your opponents?
Whose problem is it? Into what groups are they already organized? What do they gain if they win? What risks are they taking? What power do they have over the target? 2.
What will your victory cost them? What will they do/spend to oppose you? How strong are they? What power do they have over the target?
27 East Monroe, 11 Fl, Chicago, IL 60603 www.midwestacademy.com
TARGETS (Decision Makers) Primary Targets
Who has the power to give you what you want? What power do you have over them? 2. Secondary Targets (You don’t always have or need secondary targets)
Who has power over the people with the power to give you what you want? What power do you have over them (the secondary target)?
For each target, list tactics that each constituent group can best use to put pressure on the target to win your intermediate and/or shortterm goals.
Tactics must be: In context Directed at a specific target Backed up by a specific form of power Flexible and creative Make sense to members
Tactics include: Phone, email, petitions, LTE, OP ED, Media events Actions for information Public Hearings Non-Partisan Voter Registration and Education Non-Partisan GOTV Accountability Sessions Negotiations Elections Law Suits Strikes
A target is always a person. It is never an institution or an elected body. There can be more than one target but each need a separate strategy chart as your relationships of power differs with each target.
After choosing your issue, fill in this chart as a guide to developing strategy. Be specific. List all the possibilities. Develop a timeline.
List the long-term goals of your campaign.
Goals are what we want to WIN!
State the intermediate goals for this issue campaign. What constitutes victory?
Win concrete improvements in people’s lives? Give people a sense of their own power? Alter the relations of power?
How will the campaign: 3.
What short-term or partial victories can you win as steps toward your longterm goal?
3. List the internal (organizational) problems, that must be considered if the campaign is to succeed.
(c)Midwest Academy 2010
SAFE STREETS ARE HEALTHY STREETS 33
have limited resources, it’s important to choose campaigns that have a reasonable chance of success. This will allow you to build a strong network of supporters and help you form lasting relationships with other stakeholders which build the overall power of the livable streets movement in New York City.
T.A. Campaigns Checklist How well does your campaign meet these criteria? 3 – Very well 2 - Moderately 1 – Not well 0 – Not at all
Potential campaignsà Has a clear target(an individual person or people) Winnable (consider planned bike/bus routes, connectivity to existing network, level of existing community support, etc.) Has measurable goals (short, medium and long-term) with a concrete end Geographic focus builds T.A.’s network and political focus Engages Influential/new groups of people Enables current members and neighborhood activists to easily get involved Results in long-term improvement of bicycling/walking/transit infrastructure Incorporates recruitment for T.A. committees Builds T.A.’s political power Fits T.A.’s mission to promote safe walking, bicycling and public transit Recruits T.A. members and builds mailing list Enables you to recruit > 5 new activists to your cause Totals:
SAFE STREETS ARE HEALTHY STREETS 14
Volunteer with T.A.
Volunteer with T.A.
Volunteer with T.A.
Volunteer with T.A.
Volunteer with T.A.
SAFE STREETS ARE HEALTHY STREETS 34
COALITION LETTER TEMPLATE PEOPLE FIRST ON ATLANTIC AVENUE
Dear Community Boards 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 16, We write to request that you ask the NYC Department of Transportation to study the feasibility of bringing pedestrian, bicycle and public transit improvements to Atlantic Avenue. As your board members and community residents may be aware, Atlantic Avenue, one of the longest, widest and busiest arteries through Central Brooklyn is an unsafe place for New Yorkers. Indeed, between 2002 and 2011, over 1,000 pedestrians and bicyclists were injured by drivers along the street. As the neighborhoods on either side of Atlantic Avenue boom with residential and commercial activity, foot and bicycle traffic along the street has increased dramatically. But the corridor remains an unsafe place for everyone who uses it. On Atlantic Avenue East of Flatbush Avenue, we call on you to ask the Department of Transportation to study the feasibility of installing a combination of Select Bus Service protected bike lanes and pedestrian safety improvements on Atlantic Avenue. Select Bus Service will slow automobile traffic to a safe speed while keeping cars moving at a consistent pace. Protected bike lanes will keep everyone out of each other’s way and reduce sidewalk riding. And pedestrian safety improvements will boost local business by fostering access to the many shops and restaurants dotting Atlantic Avenue. These types of pedestrian safety improvements, protected bike lanes and Select Bus Service:
• • •
Reduce crashes for everyone on the street by up to 58 percent* Reduce sidewalk riding by up to 84 percent** Increase retail salesup to49 percent*
On Atlantic Avenue West of Flatbush Avenue, the Department of Transportation could study the installation of pedestrian and bicycle amenities to make Atlantic Avenue a safer, more inviting retail corridor. Among other traffic calming measures, we would love some combination of the following improvements considered in a study of this stretch of Atlantic Avenue:
• • • • •
Bus bulb-outs Leading pedestrian intervals and pedestrian way finding An enhanced and illuminated pedestrian plaza at Times Plaza An enhanced shared bike route (class 3 greenway) along the outer lanes to provide a safe space for bicycles Other traffic calming measures that make the street a more inviting retail destination while maintaining existing traffic flow
Similar street safety improvements have drastically reduced injuries while boosting local business – Brooklyn residents deserve these same safety improvements in our backyard. We look forward to working with you to make these improvements a reality and to continue making Atlantic Avenue and its surrounding neighborhoods a friendly, safe and economically viable community. Sincerely, *“Measuring the Street,” NYC DOT, 2012 SAFE STREETS ARE HEALTHY STREETS 35 **NYC DOT Presentation: “8th Avenue - Bicycle Path Extension,” 6/16/10, http:// www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/20100616_8th_ave_extension_slides.pdf
COALITION LETTER TEMPLATE CONT’D Council Member Laurie Cumbo Council Member Stephen Levin Council Member Brad Lander Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation Reverand Pierre Damus, St Bartholomew Church Society For Clinton Hill MoCADA Reverand Joseph Moise, St Bartholomew Church Kane Street Synagogue PS IS 89 Parent Teachers Association CS 21 Parent Teachers Association Washington Avenue Prospect Heights Association Hope City Empowerment Center BRIC Atlantic Avenue Local Development Corporation Atlantic Avenue BID
Cobble Hill Association Boerum Hill Association Brooklyn Heights Association The Irondale Center Patrolman Robert Bolden PS 345 Parents Association Good Neighbors Project, Fort Greene Two Trees Management Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council Brooklyn Historical Society Brooklyn Academy of Music Cobble Hill Health Center Fort Greene Council Friends of Crown Heights Educational Centers Inc. Brooklyn AYSO Cumbe: Center for African and Diaspora Dance Nicholas Brooklyn Transportation Alternatives
Supporting Businesses WMA Karate Horizon Construction Sprint Realty Steel Star Tattoo Faith Deliverance African American Atlantic Cellars Btown Deli Brookyln Cycle Works Mai Discount Store Heru’s Juice Bar Angelica’s Grocery Store Destiny Kids Lucky Lotus Yoga Cataldo’s Restaurant Wine Exchange 1 of a Find Vintage Pequena Restaurant Mitchell’s Soul Food Restaurant Ride Brooklyn Brooklyn Larder 61 Local Soula Shoes David Melchior Cabinetry, Inc. By Brooklyn The Brooklyn Strategist Bien Cuit Rivet Brooklyn Izakaya on Smith James Leonard Opticians
Smith Hanten Properties Union Market K and Y Fruit and Vegetable Expert Center Provence En Boite Salon Mizuno Chance Asian Bistro Ceol LLC Bikesmith LLC Anne Willi Aesop Hunter’s S.V.R.H. Pharmacy El Nuevo Portal Restaurant Pazzi Pasta Downtown Cleaners Homage Brooklyn The Invisible Dog Tony’s Hardware Felmingo Corp Bitter and Esters Bicycle Station Stinky Bklyn Dassara Brooklyn Ramen Grocery bird VIP Thai Cuisine 718 Cyclery Runner and Stone
Bar Sepia Arminda Service Station Keyfood of Atlantic Plaza Action Beverage Corp Aaron’s of Atlantic Plaza Emotan Beauty Supply Primetime Deli A&H Deli Mini Market Checks & More Gureje New Vanderbilt Grocery O.N.A LLC Hope Vet Clinic Bicycle Roots Bike Shop Organic Deli Grocery Stocked Richol Bakery Best Burger Palace Epaulet Kinam Bar and Lounge MovEvolution Shambhala Yoga & Dance Center Atmosphere Area Emporium, LLC Shelsky’s Smoked Fish Smith & Vine Bagels Bayfield Importing Sottocasa
SAFE STREETS ARE HEALTHY STREETS 36
Q&A Interested in more ways to improve safety on your street? Transportation Alternatives has culled together some frequently asked questions and tips on smaller scale projects that can be won without launching a full-scale, long-term campaign.
SPEED CAMERAS 1) What are speed cameras? Speed cameras are a way to address safe routes to school. Cameras may be placed within 1/4 mile of a school.
2) How can I get a speed camera in my neighborhood? For speed cameras you can enter your desired locations here: transalt.org/speedcameras.
3) Are there penalties for the driver? A minimal fine of $50 is in place for those exceeding the speed limit by 10 or more miles per hour.
NEIGHBORHOOD SLOW ZONES 1) What is a Slow Zone? Neighborhood Slow Zones reduce the speed limit on neighborhood streets from 30 mph to 20 mph. Slow Zones incorporate approximately a five square block area.
2) Who can apply? Community boards, civic associations, Business Improvement Districts, elected officials, or other community institutions such as schools and churches may apply.
3) How can I apply? To apply you may contact Transportation Alternatives for further details at transalt.org/issues/speeding/slowzones
STOP SIGNS, SPEED BUMPS, SIGNALS Familiar speed reducers as Stop signs, speed humps and traffic signals are good at addressing problems on a street by street basis.
1) My street needs a stop sign or traffic signal. Who do I call? You may write to the DOT Commissioner requesting the installation of a stop sign or traffic signal. A contact form is available online at nyc.gov/html/dot/html/contact/contact-form.shtml
2) Why I haven’t received a response to my request? The Commissioner’s office receives thousands of requests each year and forwards them to the boroughs. You may want to make your request known directly to the Borough Commissioner for a more efficient response.
3) Why is it taking so long for my request to be fulfilled? There are several steps the DOT must take while evaluating a request including preliminary traffic studies, vehicle speeds, pedestrian volumes and accident history. Field investigations occur over a period time, generally six weeks and an approved installation may take place within three or four months.
WELCOMING STREETS T.A. has defined welcoming streets as those that are aesthetically pleasing and invite users tomake full use of open space and amenities, including sidewalk benches, bus shelters and bike racks (aka City Racks). These items are referred to as street furniture and can be obtained from the DOT through an application process.
Street Furniture Tips 1) When are applications due? There is no hard deadline. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. However, it is important to note that it may take six months or more before new CityRacks requests can be investigated.
2) Who can apply? Anyone can apply. The purpose of the Bus Shelter and CityBench program is to bring a little order to our streets while offering comfort and seating to transit riders, especially seniors and disabled persons. CityRacks exists to accommodate all types of bicycles and locks.
3) How do I apply? To request a rack, fill out the online form (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/bicyclists/cityrack-suggest.shtml) To request a bench, fill out the online form (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/pedestrians/citybench.shtml). To request a shelter, review DOT’s siting criteria (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/infrastructure/ streetfurniture.shtml) then submit your recommendation in writing to Coordinated Street Furniture Franchise via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can contact your local community board with your request.
Tips on applying: • Applications should demonstrate that the local community stands to benefit from the addition of a CityBench. • Measure out the location of the proposed site yourself and include that info in your application. • If you plan on applying for multiple CityBenches or CityRacks, it is more efficient to request them in a batch as opposed to individually.
BLOCK PARTIES, SUMMER STREETS AND CAR-FREE PARKS Our streets are the true public spaces of our city. Access to this space enhances community interaction, improves public health, and makes our city more enjoyable. The following details programs like Play Streets and Weekend Walks that open the streets to community use.
PLAY STREETS 1) Isn’t Play Streets a police department program?
Play Streets were first institutionalized by the Police Athletic League (PAL) in 1914, but the tradition of playing on the streets is as old as the city itself. Beginning a few years ago (2010), communities across New York City started to clamor for their own Play Streets. TA listened and responded by petitioning the city to formalize a “Community Play Street” permit application process. In the summer of 2012 there were over a dozen of these new community Play Streets in operation throughout the City. We have continued to work on the program since then in an effort to spread the word and ensure we have additional safe, fun and supervised places for our kids to play.
2) How do I get a Play Street?
You can obtain a copy of the Play Streets process and application from TA (http://transalt.org/issues/ pedestrian/playstreets/resources), or from the Street Activity Permits Office (SAPO) via the link http://www.nyc. gov/html/cecm/html/office/office.shtml
3) Who supervises Play Streets?
The organizer is responsible for having at least 2 adults on the Play Street at all times. In practice it’s very rare for even the smallest of Play Streets to have less than a half-dozen adults around at all times because neighbors and parents love to be on the street when kids are out playing. These events are a great opportunity for folks to come out and chat with neighbors and in many cases engage or lead activities themselves. Talk to your neighbors, figure out what hidden talents they have (champion double-dutch jumper?) and ask to borrow their skills for a day, or the entire summer!
WEEKEND WALKS 1) What is a Weekend Walk?
Weekend Walks occur weekly for one day and encompass several blocks in a commercial neighborhood. They are usually organized and hosted by local partners such as a Business Improvement District. These festive events serve to highlight local businesses, cultural institutions and non-profits. Activities include music, arts and crafts, and youth programming.
2) How can my community host a Weekend Walk?
For those interested in organizing and hosting a Weekend Walk, an Expression of Interest form may be completed and submitted to the DOT.
GET INVOLVED WITH OUR ACTIVIST COMMITTEES AT TRANSALT.ORG/ ACTIVIST