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Tremont Avenue in Line for New Cross-Bronx Bike Route

DOT's plan for Tremont Avenue will install a number of treatments, primarily dedicated lanes and sharrows, to create the first east-west bike route in the western Bronx. Image: DOT

DOT’s plan will add painted lanes and sharrows to Tremont Avenue in the West Bronx. Image: DOT

Last month, when Council Member Ritchie Torres lambasted DOT’s deference to community boards over street safety projects, he anticipated a fight over the agency’s plan for bike lanes on Tremont Avenue.

DOT presented its design for the western segment of Tremont Avenue to Bronx Community Board 5 on January 20 [PDF] and, the following day, presented the design for the eastern segment to Community Board 6 [PDF]. The project follows up on a 2014 request from Torres for a Tremont Avenue bike route spanning the width of the South Bronx, though it only covers the section between the Harlem River and the Bronx River.

The redesign calls for painted bike lanes and sharrows along a 4.1-mile stretch of Tremont Avenue between Cedar Avenue and Boston Road. Once the new designs are implemented, Tremont Avenue will be the northernmost crosstown bike route in the West Bronx.

DOT has identified Tremont as a Vision Zero priority corridor. From 2010 to 2014, 10 cyclists, 33 pedestrians, and 36 motor vehicle occupants were killed or severely injured in the project area. The proposal includes safety improvements at multiple intersections: Sedgwick and Undercliff, the Grand Concourse underpass, and Tremont’s intersections with Grand Avenue, Jerome Avenue, Park Avenue and Crotona Avenue.

Most of the route will be painted bike lanes, with sharrows accounting for a little less than a mile. Moving east from Cedar Avenue, the design consists of a shared lane before shifting to dedicated lanes that run from M.L.K. Boulevard to Morris Avenue. Beginning at the Grand Concourse underpass, cyclists will again have to share a lane with cars, but DOT is installing traffic-calming treatments, including narrower motor vehicles lanes and curb extensions.

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Streetsblog USA
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Obama’s Politically Impossible Transpo Plan Is Just What America Needs

Even with a tax on oil, the U.S.'s effective gas tax rate would be the lowest in the industrialized world. Graph: Tony Dutzik via FHWA

Even with a tax on oil, the U.S.’s effective gas tax rate would be the lowest in the industrialized world. Graph: Tony Dutzik via FHWA

It may be “seven years too late,” as tactical urbanist Mike Lydon put it, but President Obama has released a transportation proposal that calls for big shifts in the country’s spending priorities.

Obama’s proposal would generate $30 billion annually from a $10-per-barrel surcharge assessed on oil companies. More importantly, the revenue is linked to a substantial shift in what transportation projects get funded. It’s the kind of thorough proposal, on both the revenue and spending sides of the equation, that Obama shied away from for most of his presidency. (It would only have stood a chance during his first two years in office.) While this Congress would never pass it, the proposal does lay down a marker for what smart federal transportation policy could be.

In a rough sketch laid out by the White House yesterday of the upcoming proposal, Obama calls for major increases in transit funding and investing in a network of efficient high-speed rail. Perhaps even more innovative is a $10 billion program to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector. This program, among other things, would fund states to better coordinate housing and job development with transportation. Obama’s proposal also calls for $2 billion to support research and development and the implementation of autonomous vehicles.

Not surprisingly, what has gotten the most press is the oil tax, which even Obama admits would likely be passed on to consumers through higher gas prices. Already, Republican Congressional leaders have called the proposal “DOA.”

Obama’s people have acknowledged the bill faces long odds in Congress, describing it as a conversation starter. An unnamed administration official told Politico the plan would help shift the nation’s transportation policy out of the Eisenhower era.

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Friday Job Market

Looking to hire a smart, qualified person for a position in transportation planning, engineering, IT, or advocacy? Post a listing on the Streetsblog Jobs Board and reach our national audience of dedicated readers.

Looking for a job? Here are some current listings:

Store Manager, PUBLIC Bikes, Santa Monica
PUBLIC Bikes seeks a a results-driven, marketing-oriented, high energy Store Manager to lead a new Santa Monica store scheduled to open in late February. This person will be the literal face of PUBLIC bikes in the Santa Monica-area market, manage the local team, and work closely with that team to engage local merchants, neighborhood and city influencers, cycling advocacy groups to plan community-based events and partnerships in and out of the store.

5278 Planner II, San Francisco Planning Department, San Francisco
This position performs difficult city planning work and participates in all phases of city planning; assists in the preparation of planning, research, surveys and projects; conducts investigations, collects and analyzes data on zoning, subdivision design, urban renewal, rapid transit and other land use problems; assists in the conduct of environmental impact reviews; assists in the preparation of written and graphic reports; may supervise subordinate survey, clerical and office personnel; and performs related duties as required.

Public Service Director, City of Columbus, Columbus, Ohio
The City of Columbus is seeking a strong manager and a collaborative and innovative leader with previous executive leadership experience to serve as the Director of the Department of Public Service. This position will serve as an advisor to the Mayor, at the cabinet level, on a wide range of public and infrastructure services essential to the citizens of Columbus. This position directs the activities of four divisions, which have the primary duties of removing solid waste, snow and ice removal, transportation planning and operations, design and construction activities, graffiti removal and pothole repair.

Families for Safe Streets Organizer, Transportation Alternatives, New York
Supported by TA, Families for Safe Streets members engage in advocacy and targeted awareness campaigns to press for changes to eliminate traffic fatalities and injuries on NYC streets. The FSS Organizer will play a critical role in supporting existing FSS members, growing the group by reaching other New Yorkers impacted by traffic violence, and coordinating new support service activities.

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DA Cy Vance Wins Conviction in Washington Heights Hit-and-Run Killing

A driver charged with fatally striking a man in Washington Heights and leaving the scene was sentenced to prison yesterday.

Antonio Ramirez. Image: WNBC

Antonio Ramirez. Image: WNBC

Jesus Fabian pled guilty to evidence tampering in the death of Antonio Ramirez, according to court records and the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.

The crash occurred on Audubon Avenue at W. 176th Street on October 18, 2013, as the victim walked home from the subway at the end of an overnight shift at the restaurant where he worked.

Ramirez, 40, was married with two kids, who were 14 and 9 when their father was killed. In the aftermath of the crash, local electeds noted that speeding is commonplace in the area where Ramirez lived, due in part to its proximity to the George Washington Bridge and the Cross Bronx Expressway.

Video of the crash showed the driver of the vehicle braking after impact, then apparently driving over the victim, according to Vance’s office. No witnesses could identify Fabian as the driver, and the car was not registered in his name, the DA’s office said. But investigators with Vance’s office and NYPD produced sufficient evidence to indict Fabian on charges of leaving the scene and tampering with evidence.

Evidence tampering is a class E felony. Prosecutors sought the maximum sentence of three-and-a-half to seven years, according to Vance’s office. On Thursday, New York State Supreme Court Judge James Burke sentenced Fabian to three to six years.

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In the Works: Better Bike Connections Between East Harlem and the Bronx

The two-way bike lane on First Avenue between 124th and 125th will be protected by a raised concrete barrier. Image: DOT

The two-way bike lane on First Avenue between 124th and 125th will be protected by a concrete barrier. Image: DOT

On Tuesday, DOT presented plans to Manhattan Community Board 11 for two short segments of two-way protected bike lanes to improve connections between East Harlem and the Willis Avenue and Triborough bridges [PDF].

Both bridges link the South Bronx and Upper Manhattan, but the current connections to the Manhattan bike network don’t work well.

DOT's plan for 124th Street requires cyclists to use crosswalks to get onto Second Avenue.

Where 124th Street meets Second Avenue, cyclists would use sidewalks and crosswalks to get onto Second Avenue. Image: DOT

To get to Second Avenue, cyclists coming from Willis Avenue are expected to use 125th Street, where they must contend with cars coming from six different directions at the intersection with the Triborough ramps. Similarly, no safe route exists for cyclists hoping to get from the northbound lane on First Avenue to either bridge.

Those conditions lead cyclists to seek safer routes that violate the letter of the law. According to DOT, 40 percent of cyclists on First Avenue between 125th and 124th travel against northbound traffic. In the last few years, cyclists have been injured at all four intersections of 125th and 124th with First and Second.

DOT’s plan calls for a barrier-protected two-way bike lane on First between 125th and 124th and a parking-protected two-way lane on 124th Street between First and Second. This will create safer connections for southbound cyclists from Willis Avenue and northbound cyclists heading to the Triborough, especially.

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Progress on Detroit’s Effort to Fix Its Badly Broken Transit System

Detroit’s transit system has been in crisis now for years. Among the horror stories chronicled by riders: Buses that never come, two-hour commutes, jobs lost to unreliable service.

Ann Arbor transit alum Michael Ford was tapped to help Detroit achive its vision for a better connected regional transit system. Image: We Are Mode Shift

Michael Ford is in charge of creating a better-connected regional transit system for Detroit. Image: We Are Mode Shift

But there’s hope in an effort to integrate the region’s disjointed urban and suburban transit systems into a unified regional network. David Sands at Network blog Mode Shift gives an update on what the new Regional Transit Authority is doing:

In May of last year, the agency kicked off an effort to develop a unified multi-modal transit vision for the region, which it’s calling the BEST (Building Equitable Sustainable Transit) plan.

Its goal is to figure out the best mix of services for the region. This will likely include creating new rapid transit services along major corridors and establishing better coordination between existing providers. The plan also involves coming up with a viable funding strategy to realize its vision.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Streetcar! (NYT 1, 2, 3, 4; 2ASTransitCenterBklyn Paper, GothamistPost)
  • More State of the City: Politico, NYTDNA, AP
  • 100 Bus Clocks Allocated for Staten Island (Advance); Oddo: Where’s Our Streetcar?
  • Horse Carriage Deal Tanks (Politico 1, 2, 3; NYT), But Mayor Says He Isn’t Done (Politico)
  • Snow Led MTA to Announce Delays on Every Subway Line This Morning (DNA)
  • Community Board 4: Don’t Build New PABT on Port Authority-Owned Property (DNA)
  • Driver Attempting to Elude Cops Hits Woman and Her Dog on East New York Sidewalk (WABC)
  • Post Op-Ed: Giving Away Curbside Space to NYC Motorists Is “Anti-Free Market”
  • Groups Ask for More Rezoning Hearings Before Council Vote (News)
  • Jersey Lawmakers: Let’s Hike Transit Fares and Reduce Tolls (Politicker, NJ, via MTR)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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What’s Next for 6th Ave Protected Bike Lane and Crosstown Routes on UES

At the request of community advocates, DOT wants to install three new crosstown dedicated bike routes on the Upper East Side. Image: DOT

DOT’s plan calls for three painted crosstown bike lane pairs on the Upper East Side [PDF]. Image: DOT

Two Manhattan bike projects went before community boards last night. The CB 8 transportation committee heard from DOT about the agency’s plan for crosstown bike lanes on the Upper East Side, and CB 4 endorsed the protected lane on Sixth Avenue, which DOT plans to install in the fall.

The crosstown painted lanes would span the width of the Upper East Side, providing safer east-west access for a neighborhood that currently has only one bike lane pair — 90th and 91st streets. The new bike lane pairs are East 67th and 68th streets between Fifth and York, 77th and 78th Streets between Fifth and John Jay Park, and 84th and 85th Streets between Fifth and East End. After the eastern termini at Cherokee Place and East End Avenue, shared lanes will guide cyclists to parks and the East River Esplanade greenway.

On the western side, all three routes terminate at Central Park. A 72nd Street bike lane could feed into the only major on-street bike path that cuts directly across the park, but DOT is not pursuing that.

Last night’s presentation to CB 8 was met with the typical NIMBY response, which NY1 previewed a few weeks ago. According to bike lane supporters who attended, opponents’ arguments focused on reasons why one street or another would not work for the lanes. But Council Member Ben Kallos spoke out in favor of the proposal and vehemently defended the need to ensure cyclists’ safety in the neighborhood. No vote was held, and DOT will present again next month.

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Charges Reduced in Manhattan Hit-and-Run Death of Charity Hicks

Scene of the Midtown crash that killed Charity Hicks. Image: WNBC

Scene of the Midtown crash that killed Charity Hicks. Image: WNBC

Charges have been reduced against a driver who allegedly killed a woman on a Manhattan sidewalk and fled the scene.

On May 31, 2014, Thomas Shanley drove a Dodge SUV onto the curb on 10th Avenue near W. 34th Street, striking a pole that fell on Charity Hicks, according to a criminal court complaint and Gothamist. Hicks, who lived in Detroit and was in the city for a conference, suffered injuries to her head and chest. She died weeks later. A second pedestrian was also injured.

Charity Hicks. Photo via Gothamist

Charity Hicks. Photo via Gothamist

The criminal court complaint said video reviewed by NYPD showed the SUV driver “swerve across two lanes of traffic and onto the sidewalk” on 10th Avenue. Shanley’s cell phone, which was recovered at the scene, indicated that the user was sending a text message at the time of the collision, according to the complaint.

Investigators found Shanley, who fled the scene on foot, in New Jersey and arrested him in August 2014, the Daily News reported. He was on parole at the time of the crash.

District Attorney Cy Vance initially charged Shanley with manslaughter and felony leaving the scene — class C and D felonies, respectively. However, the current charges against him are (class D) felony leaving the scene, criminally negligent homicide (a class E felony), and leaving the scene of an incident without reporting (a class A misdemeanor). Vance’s office declined comment on why the manslaughter charge was dismissed, as the case remains open.

In New York City, motorists accused in deadly hit-and-run crashes usually face a top charge of leaving the scene — assuming they are prosecuted at all — and are rarely charged for taking a life. So though the top charge in this case was reduced to felony leaving the scene, it’s noteworthy that Vance elected to pursue a homicide charge and succeeded in securing an indictment.

Class D felonies carry a maximum penalty of seven years in prison. Shanley is expected to go to trial in March. He has been in jail since pleading not guilty in January 2015, court records say.

Streetsblog USA
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Which Cities Are Adding Walkable Housing the Fastest?

Since 1970, most American metros have seen their share or walkable urban housing decline, according to this analysis by data guru Kasey Klimes.

Since 1970, most American metros have seen walkable housing decline as a share of total housing. Chart: Kasey Klimes

As more Americans look for walkable places to live, cities are struggling to deliver, and a lot of neighborhoods are becoming less affordable. A new analysis by Kasey Klimes of Copenhagen’s Gehl Studio illustrates how major metro areas have let their supply of walkable housing shrink over the years, contributing to today’s housing crunch.

In this chart, Klimes shows how much walkable neighborhoods, which he defines as places with 10 or more housing units per acre, have grown or declined as a share of total housing in the nation’s 51 largest regions, from 1970 through 2010.

In most places, Klimes writes, the trend since 1970 has left cities in bad shape to handle the increasing demand for walkable neighborhoods:

The percentage of housing in walkable neighborhoods has dropped from 19.4% to 12% since 1970. Overall, though the number of housing units in America has outpaced population at a ratio of 3:2 since 1970, the number of housing units in walkable neighborhoods has trailed behind population growth at a ratio of 3:1. Now that market preference has returned to dense housing, this mismatch has left us far behind in adequate supply.

The silver lining is an uptick in decade to decade construction of dense housing. The net gain of housing in walkable neighborhoods as a fraction of total net housing gain by decade has increased from just 0.3% in the 1970’s to 10.7% in the 2000’s.

Despite some recent progress, the mismatch between low supply and high demand is contributing to rising housing prices and burdening people with rents they can’t afford in many cities and neighborhoods. Zoning that outlaws walkable development and the disproportionate political power of development-averse property owners are two factors that have hindered housing development where it is most in demand.

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