City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg on Monday announced plans to resign in early December, nearly seven years after she joined Mayor de Blasio’s administration with the goal of reducing traffic deaths.
Trottenberg — whose job oversaw the city’s streets, sidewalks and Staten Island Ferry — has been credited with pushing forward with the rollout of bike and bus lanes across the city, even when she sometimes lacked public support from the mayor.
“I have been honored to work with them and see the passion, creativity and dedication they bring every day to serving New Yorkers, especially during the pandemic of the last eight months,” Trottenberg said in a statement. “For now, I just say thank you, one and all.”
She was brought on to the top Department of Transportation role when de Blasio took office in 2014 after previously serving as undersecretary at the U.S. DOT under President Obama.
Hizzoner put Trottenberg in charge of his Vision Zero program, which aimed to end traffic deaths across the five boroughs through street design and enforcement of reckless drivers.
“This is something for the ages,” de Blasio said Monday of Trottenberg’s departure. “This city, a place known for so much intensity and so much activity, has actually been the place leading the nation in terms of how to be safer.”
The Vision Zero program has been hailed as a model for other cities to improve street safety — but it’s had mixed results.
After the city saw reductions in traffic fatalities during Trottenberg’s first five years at the helm, deaths ticked up last year and are on pace to increase again in 2020.
The DOT has installed more than 100 miles of bike lanes since de Blasio took office, and Trottenberg pushed for a 2019 plan called the “Green Wave” with the goal of installing 80 new miles of protected bike lanes before the end of the mayor’s term in January 2022.
That plan has been hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic — and in September seven cyclists died on city streets, the most in a single month since de Blasio took office.
Trottenberg also served as de Blasio’s appointee on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board from 2014 through 2019, and was praised by transit officials as a voice of reason in a room full of strong personalities.
It’s unclear what’s next for Trottenberg, an avid cyclist who made a point to regularly ride her bicycle to work at the DOT’s lower Manhattan headquarters.
She’s been appointed as a transportation adviser on President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team — and a return to federal government could be in the cards.
De Blasio said he’ll likely tap a current DOT staffer to ride out the remainder of the term.
“We have a very deep bench,” said de Blasio. “She’s got a great team she’s assembled, and we’ll be able to continue that work.”
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