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FDNY Ambulance Driver Kills Gen Zhan, 81, in East Village Crosswalk

An FDNY ambulance driver turning left fatally struck Gen Zhan as he crossed E. 14th Street at Second Avenue. The white arrow represents Zhan’s path, and the red arrow indicates the path of the driver. Image: Google Maps

An FDNY ambulance driver turning left fatally struck Gen Zhan as he crossed E. 14th Street at Second Avenue. The white arrow represents Zhan’s path, and the red arrow indicates the path of the driver. Image: Google Maps

An FDNY ambulance driver struck and killed a senior in the East Village yesterday.

The crash happened at around 1:20 Monday afternoon. Gen Zhan, 81, was in the crosswalk on 14th Street at Second Avenue, walking south to north, when the driver, who was southbound on Second, hit him while turning left onto 14th, according to NYPD.

Photos and video of the scene show the ambulance sitting in the crosswalk on 14th Street, on the east side of the intersection.

Zhan, who lived in Kips Bay, was transported in critical condition and died at Bellevue Hospital, DNAinfo reported.

The driver was identified only as a 22-year-old man who, according to the Daily News, had been on the job “less than a year.”

The News said the driver was responding to a “non-priority call” and was not using lights and sirens. NYPD had no information on who had the right of way. Police had issued no summonses and filed no charges as of this afternoon. An NYPD spokesperson told Streetsblog the Collision Investigation Squad is still working the case.

Gen Zhan was killed in the 9th Precinct, and in the City Council district represented by Rosie Mendez.

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MTA Teams Up With City DOTs. Which Transit Agency Will Join Next?

Last week, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority joined the National Association of City Transportation Officials, the federation of local DOTs whose policy guidance and street design manuals are popularizing a more multi-modal approach to urban transportation policy.

Until now, NACTO members have all been city agencies in charge of streets. While some members also operate transit (most notably SFMTA), New York’s MTA is the first “transit-only” agency to join.

If more transit agencies follow the MTA’s lead, this could be an important precedent with big implications for city streets and transit across the country — here’s why.

Teamwork between streets agencies and transit agencies matters.

This is the angle NACTO emphasized in its announcement. Most city transit service in America runs on streets, and, as former NYC DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan put it, “transit must be designed into the street from the centerline to the sidewalk, not tacked on as an afterthought.” To implement service improvements like transit lanes, better bus stops, or signal priority for transit vehicles, DOTs and transit agencies need to collaborate.

Transit agencies need to share expertise. NACTO excels at that.

NACTO’s bread and butter is sharing good ideas and helping them spread. Applied to streets, that’s come in the form of training, policy guidance, and design manuals about how to make transportation systems more multimodal. More cities are overhauling streets to create safe conditions for walking and biking thanks to NACTO. If other transit agencies follow the MTA and join, the same tactics could accelerate changes that significantly improve service, like redesigning bus networks or procuring modern fare payment systems.

A new type of political muscle for transit.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • FDNY Ambulance Driver Strikes and Kills Gen Zhan, 81, in East Village Crosswalk (DNAPost)
  • Parade Organizers Claim No Knowledge of Eastern Parkway Ped Island Removal (Gothamist)
  • Brooklyn Paper Says de Blasio’s Waste Hauling Reforms Are an Invitation to Organized Crime
  • Daily News Thinks Cuomo’s Q70 “LaGuardia Link” Should Be Free
  • Today in Terrible Ideas: Subsidizing Uber SUV Rides in New York City (Post)
  • Citi Bike Starts Valet Service at West and Chambers Street Station (News)
  • Cops Shamed Into Arresting Black Car Driver for Assault of Cyclist in Williamsburg (Gothamist)
  • Five Thirty Eight Tries to Nail Down Just How Much New Yorkers Value Transit Access
  • The Times Examines the Race to Succeed Shelly Silver
  • Groups of Young People on Bikes Are Freaking Out Staten Island Motorists (Advance)
  • U.S. DOT Out of Ideas on How to Prevent Traffic Deaths, Asks for Help (NPR)
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Eyes on the Street: Phase 2 of Queens Boulevard Redesign Takes Shape

Green paint is down on a new section of the Queens Boulevard bike lane in Elmhurst.

The second phase of the Queens Boulevard redesign runs from 74th Street to Eliot Avenue [PDF], extending east from phase one, which was implemented in Woodside last year. After construction wraps up this summer, there will be 2.5 miles of continuous median-aligned bike lanes on the most important east-west route in Queens.

In addition to the bike lane, the project calms car traffic and creates safer walking conditions. Below is a new crosswalk at a stop-controlled transition from the center roadway to the service road at Cornish Avenue. Previously, the design enabled drivers to merge quickly, without stopping.

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DOT, NYPD Remove New Eastern Parkway Ped Islands for Once-a-Year Parade

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The city is removing two pedestrian islands from Eastern Parkway to accommodate the West Indian Day Parade, but the parade has passed three other islands for years, including this one by the Brooklyn Museum. Image: Google Earth

DOT and NYPD are destroying two concrete pedestrian islands the city installed less than a year ago on Eastern Parkway at the request of organizers of next weekend’s West Indian Day Parade, the Post reports.

Instead of making the parade accommodate permanent pedestrian infrastructure, the city is undoing safety measures that protect people 365 days out of the year to accommodate an event on a single day.

The medians — at the intersections of Kingston and Brooklyn Avenues — were installed in December as part of a Safe Routes to Schools plan for Arista Prep Academy and Nursery School and the Oholei Torah yeshiva that was in the works for 10 years [PDF]. The intersection of Kingston and Eastern Parkway is also a Vision Zero priority intersection where seven people were severely injured from 2009 and 2013.

The West Indian Day Parade draws more than a million people to Eastern Parkway every Labor Day. DOT must have been aware of the parade when planning the project.

It’s not clear why the parade is incompatible with the islands, especially since the route has already passed by three concrete pedestrian islands west of Washington Avenue for years. Those islands will not be removed. Parade officials were nevertheless able to convince the city to remove the two new concrete islands.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Huge Swaths of Brooklyn Still Have No Bike Infrastructure (NYT)
  • Yellow Cabs Are Occupied Just 46 Percent of the Time They’re on the Streets (WSJ, NY1)
  • The Case Against Fare Evasion Arrests and For Discounted MetroCards (News)
  • Cyclist Doored Then Run Over on Graham Ave in Brooklyn, in Critical Condition (News)
  • Driver Hits and Kills Woman Standing By Disabled Car on BQE (ABC7)
  • Unlicensed Driver Backing Up to Park Minivan Critically Injures 67-Year-Old Man (Post)
  • Court Upholds GPS Tracking in Yellow Cabs (Post)
  • The Petition for a Bike Lane on Classon Avenue Now Has 5,000 Signatures (Bklyn Paper)
  • Assembly Member Ron Castorina Postures Against Red Light Enforcement (DNA)
  • Columnist Michael Goodwin Is a Real Moron’s Moron on Bike Infrastructure (Post — Scroll Down)
  • Amtrak Announces Purchase of Bigger, Faster Acela Trains (NYT)
  • Listen to the Click-Clack of the Amtrak Departure Board While You Still Can (NYT)
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Countdown: The 12 Most Influential Streetfilms of All Time

With the 10-year benefit for Streetsblog and Streetfilms coming up on November 14 (get your tickets here!), we are counting down the 12 most influential Streetfilms of all-time, as determined by the impresario himself, Clarence Eckerson Jr. The countdown starts with the second-most-viewed Streetfilm ever.

Lakewood: The Suburb Where Everyone Can Walk to School

Publish date: April 28, 2014

Number of plays: 470,000 (second all-time)

Why is it here? This Streetfilm struck a nerve with people across the United States, perhaps because many people can still remember walking or biking to school when they were kids, or wish their children could do it safely today. In Lakewood, where the city has preserved and actively encourages walking to school, you can see what the trip to class and back home was like when most students did it on foot.

Fun fact: This film nearly didn’t happen. Why? I was in Cleveland to shoot video for three days, and it rained almost the entire time — except from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. on this day!

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Vanessa Gibson Endorses Grand Concourse Protected Bike Lane

Council Member Vanessa Gibson wants protected bike lanes on the Grand Concourse. After meeting with Bronx Transportation Alternatives volunteers this week, Gibson signed onto the campaign, joining four other council members whose districts include the Concourse.

Below 162nd Street, there is no bike infrastructure whatsoever on the Grand Concourse. Above 162nd, where the street becomes a divided road with service lanes, there is a buffered bike lane that’s frequently obstructed by double-parked cars.

The Grand Concourse is one of four “Vision Zero Great Streets” in the city supposed to receive safer designs as part of upcoming reconstruction projects. It consistently ranks as one of the state’s most dangerous roads for pedestrians.

Gibson joins council members Fernando Cabrera, Andrew Cohen, Rafael Salamanca, Ritchie Torres in supporting TA’s “Complete the Concourse” campaign, which has amassed 2,500 petition signatures. The effort also has the tacit support of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., who committed to safer bike lanes on Grand Concourse in his February “State of the Borough” address.

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Engineers to U.S. DOT: Transportation Is About More Than Moving Cars

A trade group representing the transportation engineering profession thinks it’s high time for American policy makers to stop focusing so much on moving single-occupancy vehicles.

Should roads like this be considered a "success?" ITE doesn't think so. Photo: Smart Growth America

Should roads like this be considered a success? ITE doesn’t think so. Photo: Smart Growth America

U.S. DOT is currently deciding how it will assess the performance of state DOTs. Will it continue business as usual and equate success with moving huge numbers of cars? That’s what state transportation officials want, but just about everyone else disagrees — including professional transportation engineers.

In its comments to the Federal Highway Administration about how to measure performance, the Institute of Transportation Engineers — a trade group representing 13,000 professionals — said that, in short, the system should not focus so heavily on cars [PDF].

Here’s a key excerpt:

Throughout the current proposed rulemaking on NHS performance, traffic congestion, freight mobility, and air quality, an underlying theme is apparent: these measures speak largely to the experience of those in single occupancy vehicles (SOVs). While such a focus is understandable in the short-term, owing largely to the current availability of data from the NPMRDS and other national sources, ITE and its membership feel that FHWA should move quickly within the framework of the existing performance management legislation to begin developing performance measures that cater to multimodal transportation systems.

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DOT Posts East River Bridge Bike Counts, But Not as Open Data

DOT has posted detailed bike counts from the four East River bridges from April through July of this year, a promising new step in making its data on bicycling publicly available. The data was released as monthly PDFs that include bike counts on each bridge, cumulative precipitation, and temperature ranges for each day.

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The increasingly crowded Queensboro Bridge north outer roadway. Image via Streetfilms

It’s the first time DOT has published such granular information. But the release would be better if the counts were published as a feed on the city’s open data portal, which would make it much easier to analyze the information.

DOT has been counting bicyclists on the Manhattan, Brooklyn, Williamsburg, and Queensboro bridges since the 1980s, but only since 2014 has it deployed automated counters to collect a more robust data set. The city used to only count bicyclists a few days out of each month. Now it counts every day.

Last year’s “screenline” bike counts (which include the Staten Island Ferry Whitehall Terminal and the Hudson River Greenway at 50th Street, in addition to the bridges) were not released until this past May. Not only will the timely release of data speed up public access, but the greater detail in these spreadsheets can also lead to a better understanding of how factors like temperature or precipitation affect cycling rates.

To measure changes in cycling volumes, DOT uses counts from weekdays without precipitation, to ensure that it is comparing apples to apples. Using this method, the new counts show that the number of cyclists riding over the bridges increased by 7.9, 7.2, 10.3 percent respectively in April, June, and July, compared to the same months the previous year. In May, the count decreased 3.7 percent.

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