In the last week, the City Council Committees on Sanitation and Transportation held hearings on clean streets and expanding vital sanitation services, and transportation equity respectively. The Sanitation Committee’s hearing covered key issues facing the New York region including eco-friendly waste management systems and composting programs, while the Transportation Committee’s forum addressed transportation infrastructure and traffic enforcement initiatives. At both of these hearings, NYLCV New York City Program Associate Carlos Castell Croke testified in support of expanding the city’s composting program as well as making transportation more equitable.
The first hearing regarding waste service issues addressed the expansion of the composting program being cut in the Mayor’s budget, a program that would have aided in expanding composting throughout the entire city. Not only will this lack of expansion create a lesser incentive for New Yorkers to compost, but it will also slow the city’s climate goals. Along with advocating for funding the expansion of the composting program, other priorities include streamlining waste collection through implementing containerization on NYC streets and preventing the buildup of waste on the sidewalks or in trash rooms. Further, measures such as Skip the Stuff to reduce single-use waste should be implemented, as should various waste-prevention education programs.
The second hearing regarding transportation equity addressed the intersection of climate and equity in transportation. Not only does transportation pose major threats to public health and air quality, but its effects are much more likely to impact low-income communities or communities of color. In NYC in particular, most major highways run through underserved communities, communities who often do not benefit from infrastructure or policy designed to protect residents from cars. To combat these issues, Castell Croke recommended implementing the NYC Streets Plan and the 25×25 Plan, as well as traffic enforcement initiatives to enforce the city’s commitment to reimagining street space. Legislation, such as Intro 2465 from the previous session needs to be passed to enable bike lanes to be built throughout the city. Finally, Castell Croke emphasized the need for communities in transportation deserts to have safe and reliable alternatives to cars to avoid high rates of pollution and congestion. Funding is necessary to implement some of these recommendations, and congestion pricing is an excellent way to do so.
Both hearings are critical in ensuring that New York City is continuing to work towards its climate goals, while also ensuring the equity and resiliency of its communities. Sanitation and transportation are crucial elements of the fight against climate change, and initiatives to expand composting and improve transportation equity are both necessary in advancing sustainability.
By Michaela Stones