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Public Interest Groups in an Urban Landscape: Two NYC Case Studies, Transportation Airport Expansion & Creation of Bicycle Lanes in NYC

Urban Interest Groups: Are they impactful? How? What works for smaller interest groups?

Top down urban development

is no longer an option for local governments What does it take for urban interest groups to be heard & heeded?

Case Study #1: Bicycle Lanes in NYC 2006-2010: +250 miles of bicycle lanes (NY Times, Nov 2010)

2009 alone: +90 miles of bike lanes (

As # of bike lanes increases, so does some of the opposition to the lanes & to the process: Council member, Lew Fidler: "Bike lanes drop out of the sky without any notice to the community."

Pro bike lane interest groups

Anti bike lane interest groups

•Reduce traffic •Clean air •Greenhouse gas reduction goals •Safety of pedestrians & bicyclers

•Negatively impact small businesses •Safety risks increase with bicycle lane creation

The DOT & Interest Groups General feeling about DOT & Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan:

Too heavy handed Alienates people who might be natural allies

The Neighborhood Retail Alliance • “Spike the Bike Lanes” • Out of control nature of the DOT’s policy on bicycle lanes • Need to expose the DOT and conduct a full city council hearing

City Council, led by Transportation Committee chairman, James Vacca, responds by enacting bills to make the DOT more accountable

NYC City Council Bills to Curb/Slow DOT Activity

ďƒ˜DOT must give community boards advance warning of planned bike lanes & must participate in community board hearings on proposed bike lanes. ďƒ˜Feb 2011: City must report accidents involving bicycles striking pedestrians. These statistics might help guide the city when deliberating about new bike lanes.

ďƒ˜Bill 626A (Dec 2011): DOT must consult with other city agencies and report results of the consultation to the City Council and relevant community boards. ďƒ˜DOT must provide statistics within 18 months of a reconfiguration to demonstrate the effects of the changes made.

As a result of the negative feedback and interest group opposition the DOT has slowed the process

But will anything really change? Not according to Doug Gordon of Park Slope Neighbors

Case Study #2: Airport Expansion at JFK PANYNJ paid for a study of NY area airports: •current capacity •future growth •potential plans to accommodate increased demand predicted for the future.

Regional Plan Association (RPA) conducted the study •Link found between economic prosperity of NYC and airport capacity •Determined need for increasing capacity of NY area airports to meet forecasted increase in travel •The RPA studied about a dozen potential plans that would increase capacity ideas handling predictions of increased capacity

Interest groups opposed: the process AND the proposals to fill in Jamaica Bay Citizens & interest groups not included or consulted in the process The RPA & PANYNJ predictions are exaggerated Land reclamation in Jamaica Bay is unacceptable

Though the RPA report focuses on expansion into Jamaica Bay, the Port Authority has not adopted this or any plan for next steps.

SO Do powerful government agencies consider the views of interest groups? Do they reconsider decisions based on continued interest group activity?

YES •Appeal to council members to affect change •Point to a larger issue than just your own concerns •Combine forces with other local and more powerful national interest groups

It seems that NYC interest groups do impact public policy…sometimes before the decision-making stage and on occasion, even after decisions are made

Works Cited •

Center for Hearing and Communications

Chaban, Matt. “Inside the Worst Airport in the World, JFK’s Terminal 3.” The New York Observer, 25 Jan 2012. Web. 17 Apr 2012. <>

Dunlap, David. “CITY ROOM; At La Guardia, a 'Giant Ice Cream Cone' Is Gone.” New York Times, 26 Nov. 2011.

JFK Airport Chamber of Commerce

NYC Department of Environmental Conservation, Noise Code

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey online <>

Rafter, Dominick. “Behind The Scenes: Secrets Of Port Authority Success In Replacing Main JFK Runaway.” Queens Tribune Online. 02 Jun 2011. Web. 20 Apr 2012.


Regional Plan Association:

RPA paper on upgrading airports:

“Response to RPA Report on JFK Expansion.” Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers 08 Apr 2012. Web 20 Apr 2012.

US Citizens Aviation Watch < newsissues&tm= 14&f=20&su=p284.13.342.ip_p504.6.342.ip_&tt=2&bt=1&bts=1&zu=http%3A//>

Honors Seminar Presentation  
Honors Seminar Presentation  

Daniel's presentation as part of Honors 226