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Council Speaker Johnson Unveils Sweeping NYC Streets 'Master Plan' Designed To 'Break The Car Culture'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and transportation advocates rallied Tuesday on the steps of City Hall as lawmakers prepared to approve a new streets "master plan."

The plan expands bike and bus lanes while cutting space for cars, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported.

More protected bike lanes and more protected bus lanes -- Johnson has one goal. He says he wants to "break the car culture."

"For too long things have been stacked in car drivers' favor and away from other people that need to use our city streets," Johnson said.

And he just managed to strike a deal that got Mayor de Blasio to support it.

Car driving through Manhattan
(credit: CBS2)

"I commend Speaker Johnson. He had a very bold vision for how much farther we could go in terms of a whole host of things to create safer streets," de Blasio said.

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The speaker's plan, which is expected to be passed by the city council on Wednesday, includes a sweeping agenda for transforming city streets, making it safer for bikers and pedestrians and speeding up buses.

The $1.7 billion plan requires that the city:

* Build 250 miles of protected bike lanes and 150 miles of protected bus lanes that are either physically separated from traffic or monitored by cameras

* Install so-called "transit priority systems" at thousands of intersections. It's a system that allows buses to turn traffic lights green as they approach the intersection, speeding up travel

* Create 1 million square feet of pedestrian space in the first two years

* Upgrade bus stops and crack down on bad drivers.

"We're going to ratchet up enforcement and send as clear message to drivers -- follow the rules of the road or get off the road," Johnson added.

Kramer asked Johnson about holding bike riders who don't follow street laws accountable.

"We of course want cyclists to obey the rules of the road, but I don't want to make a comparison here and say these things are equal. Cars are killing and maiming and seriously injuring people," Johnson said.

The speaker said the addition of protected bike lanes and bus lanes and pedestrian plazas will result in a loss of on-street parking, meaning that there is apparently no solution to parking disparity -- the rich who can afford parking garages and the working people who can't.

Drivers were less than pleased.

"It's gonna cause more congestion. It's good for the cyclists ... but for the driver. They going to suffer," said Wrenrick Thomas of East New York.

"In a way it is a good idea because the people who ride bikes, you know, it is more accessible to them," said Joy Ault of Jamaica, Queens.

"I'm not really for it. Congestion is tough enough," said Phil Tanella of Staten Island.

Mayor de Blasio said it's going to take quite some time for Johnson's vision to be realized.

That may be an understatement. Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg has said her agency would need billions in new funds for staff, offices and equipment to turn the streets "master plan" into a reality.

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That may be one of the reasons de Blasio insisted the effective date of the plan be pushed back from this December to December 2021, just before he leaves office.

"Our administration will do all the ground work to get ready to ramp up to that much higher level and then my successor will take it forward," de Blasio said.

For the record, Johnson is hoping to be de Blasio's successor. He's hoping to ride the streets master pan to victory in the next mayoral election.

The plan is scheduled to go into effect just as congestion pricing is implemented in the city.

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