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NYC Needs Huge Growth in Cycling to Reach de Blasio’s Climate Goals

Mayor de Blasio wants NYC on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, but reducing transportation-related emissions won’t be possible without a significant mode shift away from private vehicles.

Transportation accounts for more than a quarter of citywide greenhouse emissions, and a whopping 92 percent of that comes from cars and trucks. Reducing the number of cars on the streets is essential to the mayor’s emissions goals, according to the “Roadmap to 80 x 50” report released this week by the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability [PDF].

Mayor de Blasio's climate change plan relies on a dramatic increase in in-city bike trips. Image: Mayor's Office of Sustainability

Mayor de Blasio’s climate change plan relies on a dramatic increase in in-city bike trips. Image: NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability

The report proposes a decrease in the percentage of trips in private vehicles to 12 percent from the current 31 percent. Bikes would play an essential role in the shift, increasing from a 1 percent to 10 percent share of total trips — as would buses and trains, which today account for only eight percent of total citywide emissions.

Earlier this month, DOT released a blueprint for increasing bike mode share in its five-year strategic plan, which includes protected bike lanes and a five-borough Citi Bike system. The Office of Sustainability report also acknowledges that the city has a long way to go before cycling is an accessible transportation option in many parts of NYC.

“Despite the rapid growth in the city’s bicycle network, there are still many areas that lack sufficient bike connections,” the report says. “In addition to planned expansions, the City will emphasize an all-ages and abilities core network of protected bike lanes throughout the five boroughs, and the build-out of key connectors linking neighborhoods to transit hubs.”

The “Roadmap” report also assumes an increase in bus ridership — which the slate of reforms proposed by the NYC Bus Turnaround Campaign could help make possible.

The report highlights the public health effects of high emissions. Fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, released by vehicles causes 320 premature deaths and 870 emergency room visits each year, according to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Read more…

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De Blasio Signs Right of Way and Bike Access Bills

Today's legislation ensures that pedestrians who enter a crosswalk during the flashing “Pedestrian Change Interval” have the right of way under New York City law. Image: DOT

The new law ensures that pedestrians who enter a crosswalk during the flashing “Pedestrian Change Interval” have the right of way under New York City law. Image: DOT

Following unanimous City Council votes earlier this month, Mayor de Blasio signed several bills yesterday with important implications for walking and biking in NYC.

Public Advocate Letitia James’ Intro 997-A, now known as Local Law 115, amends the legal definition of pedestrians’ right of way so anyone who steps off the curb during the flashing “Don’t Walk” phase has the protection of the law.

Without the legislation, district attorneys and NYPD had declined to charge many motorists who struck people in crosswalks, citing a passage in the city’s traffic rules that said “no pedestrian shall enter or cross the roadway during the flashing ‘Don’t Walk’ phase.”

“By passing this law, we are taking a common-sense step toward protecting pedestrians and making New York’s streets safer,” James said in a statement. The new rule goes into effect on December 27, 90 days after the signing.

At the same ceremony, de Blasio also signed three bills enhancing bike access to commercial and residential buildings.

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
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Portland Cracks Down on an Old Urban Scourge: Drive-Throughs

Drive-through services at restaurants and stores can be a real headache for pedestrians. They generally require multiple curb cuts across the sidewalk and generate a lot of conflicts with motor vehicles.

Drive-throughs in Portland will have to serve people on foot or bike if the walk-in enterances are closed. Photo: Bike Portland

Drive-throughs in Portland will have to serve people on foot or bike if the walk-in entrances are closed. Photo: Bike Portland

Many chains also forbid people without cars from using the drive-through windows, citing liability concerns.

Now Portland is tackling both of those issues in a new zoning proposal. Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland reports:

Last June City Council adopted the 2035 Comprehensive Plan. Policy 4.24 prohibits drive-through facilities in the entire Central City and limits their development in close-in commercial districts in order to “support a pedestrian-oriented environment.”

The commission’s Comp Plan Early Implementation Package Recommendation (avaliable here) includes two new zoning code changes we’ll likely be hearing about a lot more in the weeks to come: An outright ban on new drive-throughs east of 80th Avenue, and a policy that would require businesses to serve customers who show up on bike, foot, or mobility devices. (You can see the language starting on page 192 of this PDF.)

One of the many subtle forms of discrimination that exists in our transportation system is how some retail businesses close to certain customers based soley on how they get around. You might have experienced this before at your local pharmacy or fast food restaurant: Only the drive-through window is open but you get denied service simply because you’re not in a car. This common practice discriminates against customers who show up via their feet, a bicycle, or a mobility device.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Shocker: No One Knows How the MTA Will Pay for Cuomo’s Penn Station Overhaul (WNYCNY1, WSJ)
  • De Blasio Signs Bills to Expand Pedestrians’ Right of Way and Allow More Bikes in Buildings (@ydanis)
  • Just in Time for Fall, Prendergast Acknowledges Recurring Hot Car Problem on the 1 Train (NY1)
  • MTA Might Close Columbus Circle Subway Entrances at Night, Because of Shops (WSR)
  • DOT Official Says Federal Driverless Car Guidelines Not a Fit for Walkable NYC (AMNY)
  • Wheelchair User Advocate: Uber No Substitute for Access-A-Ride (Crain’s)
  • DOT Replaces Gowanus Bond Street Sharrows With Painted Bike Lane (DNA)
  • Complaints Prompt Parks Department to Rework Wheelchair Ramp for UES Waterfront Bridge (DNA)
  • Richard Brodsky Chimes In on Cuomo Scandals and Empire State Development Corp. (News)
  • Meadowlands Mall Clears Suit and Taxpayers Might End Up Subsidizing Construction (WNYC)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Eyes on the Street: New Bike Lanes Around Union Square

DOT crews installing a new protected bike lane on 4th Avenue between 12th and 13th Streets earlier this week. Photo: NYC DOT

DOT crews installing a new protected bike lane on Fourth Avenue between 12th and 13th streets earlier this week. Photo: NYC DOT

DOT began installing new bike lanes leading to and around Union Square this week.

The project — which will eventually include a two-way protected lane around the park’s eastern and northern edges — is not nearly complete, but fresh paint along Fourth Avenue between 12th and 15th heralds bigger changes on the way.

In addition to the new protected lanes, the project adds painted lanes on 15th Street between First Avenue and Union Square East, on 16th Street between Stuyvesant Square and Union Square East, and on 17th Street between Union Square West and Sixth Avenue.

Riding on Fourth Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets. Photo: David Meyer

Fourth Avenue between 14th and 15th streets. Photo: David Meyer

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Streetsblog USA
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Adieu, Cars: Paris Riverfront to Be Permanently Returned to the People

A rendering of the Right Bank of the Seine -- sans highway. Rendering: Luxigon

A rendering of the Right Bank of the Seine — sans highway. Credit: Luxigon

After years of experimentation, the Paris City Council this week committed to the permanent conversion of two miles of the Georges Pompidou expressway along the River Seine into a waterfront park.

The 1960s expressway carried two lanes of traffic and about 43,000 vehicles a day along the Right Bank of the river. But beginning in 2011, the highway had been converted for part of the summer each year to a beach and waterfront promenade. The “Paris-Plages,” as it was called, was popular with tourists and locals as well, seeing as many as four million visitors annually.

The Georges Pompidou expressway carried about 43,000 vehicles daily. Photo: Preservation Institute

The Georges Pompidou expressway carried about 43,000 vehicles daily. Photo: Preservation Institute

During the past few months, Mayor Anne Hidalgo piloted a temporary closure to test conditions for permanently opening the space to pedestrians and cyclists.

Although there was some outcry from motorists, they were overshadowed by supporters of the conversion. According to the UK Independent, 55 percent of Parisians supported the conversion plan. Support for the project reflects Paris’ progress in shifting away from motor vehicles. According to Slate‘s Henry Grabar, 60 percent of Parisians do not own cars. That’s up from 40 percent just 15 years ago.

The conversion to a park will cost about $50 million, an investment that is expected to benefit the city’s tourism-based economy.

The park plan is part of a wider set of efforts by Mayor Hidalgo aimed at reducing air pollution and dependence on cars. She has also presided over the city’s first car-free days and intends to eventually limit the famous Champs-Élysées to electric vehicles only. Her predecessor, Bertrand Delanoë was the original proponent of converting the highway into a park, and was responsible for beginning the “Paris-Plages.”

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How to Keep Buses Moving on the 14th Street PeopleWay

Passing lanes, spread out stops, off-board fare collection, and at-level boarding could all help keep buses moving on 14th Street. Image: BRT Planning International

This rendering of a potential eastbound BRT stop at 14th Street and Irving Plaza includes a lane for buses to pass each other. Image: BRT Planning International

As the city and MTA consider how to move thousands of L train passengers across Manhattan when the subway line shuts down for Sandy-related repairs, momentum is growing for a 14th Street “PeopleWay” free of private motor vehicles. But with 10,000 passengers during the peak hour in the peak direction, prohibiting cars alone won’t prevent 14th Street from becoming a bus parking lot, according to Annie Weinstock and Walter Hook at BRT Planning International.

Weinstock and Hook say bus stop design will be key to keeping buses moving.  The above image shows their proposed design for a station at 14th Street and Irving Plaza, which they anticipate will be the busiest westbound stop on the corridor. The stop has space for four buses, with a passing lane so buses that have completed their stops don’t get stuck behind those that are still boarding. To make space for passing lanes, the corresponding eastbound stop would be on another block.

A bus with no passengers takes about 18 seconds to pull up to a stop and open and close its doors. With about 85 buses an hour needed to meet the demand created by the L train closure, according to Weinstock and Hook, bus stops will be occupied 25 minutes out of the hour, leading to congestion along the corridor.

Even with passing lanes and effective stop placement, Weinstock and Hook’s analysis shows that buses would be delayed at almost every major intersection. To further improve bus speeds, they suggest at-level boarding and off-board fare collection, ideally with pre-paid fare zones rather than ticket inspectors.

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Want Better Bus Service? Share Your “Woes on the Bus” With NYC Electeds

NYC's buses are the slowest in the nation. Image: TransitCenter

NYC’s buses are the slowest in the nation. Image: TransitCenter

If you’ve ever taken a New York City bus, you probably have a horror story. Maybe you were late to school thanks to a double-parked motorist idling in the bus lane, or missed an appointment after you waited 20 minutes for a bus to show up, then three arrived all at the same time, already packed with riders. Now you can tell your elected representatives to fix these problems via the Riders Alliance’s “Woes on the Bus” campaign.

With an average speed of 7.4 miles per hour, NYC’s buses are the slowest in the nation. The good news is that there are lots of proven ideas to turn around the system. A coalition of transit advocates is calling for “tap and go” fare collection and all-door boarding, more dedicated bus lanes, improved dispatching and scheduling practices, and the redesign of the city’s bus network, which hasn’t changed much since the streetcar era.

To win those improvements, advocates have to convince elected officials to make them happen, but a lot of New York pols don’t have bus horror stories, because they don’t ride the bus. If they did, they wouldn’t be promoting Wi-Fi and charging stations as “21st century transportation” or attempting to thwart dedicated bus lanes.

As part of the campaign to turn around NYC bus service, the Riders Alliance wants to hear your “Woes on the Bus” horror stories, which will help make the case for change to elected officials.

You can submit your stories on the Riders Alliance website, and they’ll be compiled and shared with elected officials.

In the meantime, stay tuned next Thursday, when the City Council transportation committee will hold an important oversight hearing on NYC bus service.

Streetsblog.net
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Why Are American Traffic Fatalities Rising So Quickly?

What's causing the steep rise in traffic fatalities? Graph: State Smart Transportation Initiative

What’s causing the steep rise in traffic fatalities? Graph: State Smart Transportation Initiative

Summer is barely over but this much is already clear: Traffic safety on American streets is taking a big step backward in 2016.

During the first five months of the year, traffic deaths rose 9 percent over 2015 levels, reports Bill Holloway at the State Smart Transportation Campaign. It’s even worse if you compare to 2014 — traffic deaths have increased a staggering 17 percent since then.

One factor is that people are driving more as gas prices plunge and the economy grows. But the increase in mileage isn’t large enough to fully explain the mounting death toll. And in a disturbing related trend, pedestrian and cycling deaths are rising faster than overall traffic fatalities.

What is going on? Holloway searches for potential explanations:

Although there is no good data available on bicycle and pedestrian miles traveled, the number of bike and pedestrian commuters estimated in the American Community Survey shows the rough magnitude of changes in bike and pedestrian activity in recent years. Between 2010 and 2015 the number of bicycle commuters in the U.S. increased by 30 percent, climbing from 685,000 to 890,000; while the number of people walking to and from work increased by 8 percent, from 3,834,000 in 2010 to 4,153,000 in 2015 — a roughly 11.5 percent gain in total non-motorized commuters. However, during this same period, while total annual VMT climbed by only 4.9 percent, the number of fatal crashes involving bikers and walkers climbed by 27 percent, according to SSTI’s analysis of FARS data.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Cuomo Pledges New Penn Station by 2020 (PoliticoNYT, Crain’s, GothamistAMNY)
  • De Blasio Plan to Cut Carbon Emissions Includes Transit, Biking, Walking, EV Charging Stations (Politico)
  • Ydanis Bill Would Require DOT to Rethink NYC’s Most Cramped Sidewalks (AMNY)
  • ATU Wants to Unionize Uber and Lyft Drivers (Crain’s, News)
  • Paul Vallone, Principals Get DOT to Install Slow Zone Where Flushing Driver Hit Kids (QNS)
  • DOT to Paint Bike Lanes in Ridgewood and Middle Village (Ridgewood Times)
  • Suffolk Prosecutors Obtain EDR Data to Help Convict Hit-and-Run Killer (AP)
  • Suspect Fleeing Cops Drives Toward Officer on Bed-Stuy Sidewalk, Is Shot (NYT, Post)
  • SUV Driver Crashes Into MTA Bus in Williamsburg, Critically Injuring 1 (DNANews, NY1)
  • Felony Charge for Staten Island DMV Employee Who Rang Motorist for a Date (Post)
  • Kabak Explains Why the Second Avenue Subway Might Not Be Ready in December (2AS)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA