NEW YORK - A mayoral panel is weighing proposals that would dramatically change the rules of the road for drivers - an effort to avoid nightmarish traffic as coronavirus restrictions ease and businesses across the city reopen.
"We've discussed everything from tools that we have from congestion pricing and protected bike and bus lanes, to tools that we've used in the aftermath of crisis, like HOV lanes, to new ideas that the city may not have explored quite yet," said Danny Harris, one of the panel's members and director of the cycling advocacy group, Transportation Alternatives.
Sources tell NY1 the proposals include eliminating some curbside parking to create more space for bike lines, loading zones for trucks and designated locations for taxis to pick up and drop off passengers.
Some of the reclaimed parking space also could be used for outdoor restaurant seating.
Driving the deliberations is a concern that too many workers returning to their jobs will drive to work instead of taking mass transit in order to reduce any possible exposure to the coronavirus.
"One question we’re getting a lot of is, might the city have to do some demand management things though, if nonetheless people don’t want to get back into the subways and they start to get in their cars," Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said at a panel discussion organized by City & State magazine, on Tuesday. "New York has a history of that.”
New York could enter its second phase of reopening as early as next week.
Sources say the city Transportation Department has an active role in the panel's work.
But there is concern among some members as to whether Mayor de Blasio will embrace its recommendations.
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson expressed similar concerns during a panel discussion on the future of transportation.
“The folks inside of City Hall need to be a little more proactive in supporting some of the work that DOT is doing, in giving them more leeway to actually come up with creative ideas and not having the professionals at DOT be entirely under their thumb," Johnson said at the panel organized by City & State magazine.
A de blasio spokesman says the mayor will review the panel's recommendations.
"After that, we'll work quickly to implement a suite of ideas that will give New Yorkers the fast, safe, and reliable transit options they deserve as we continue to reopen our city," de Blasio spokesman Mitch Schwartz said.