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Citi Bike Arrives on the Upper East Side and Upper West Side

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer at the first Citi Bike station on the Upper East Side. Photo: NYC DOT

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer at the first Citi Bike station on the Upper East Side. Photo: NYC DOT

Citi Bike has begun its expansion to the Upper East Side and Upper West Side.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Council Member Ben Kallos, DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione, DOT Deputy Commissioner for Policy Michael Replogle and Citi Bike General Manager Jules Flynn celebrated the first Citi Bike station on the Upper East Side with a photo-op this morning at 67th Street and Lexington Avenue.

As of this afternoon, stations have also been installed on the Upper West Side at 63rd and Broadway and along Central Park West at 68th and 72nd streets. In the coming weeks, a total of 47 stations will be installed as far north as 86th Street. Next year, 31 additional stations will bring Citi Bike as far north as W. 110th Street and E. 96th Street.

While the latest expansion is exciting, the station density on the Upper East and Upper West sides is lower than both the existing Citi Bike service area and DOT’s own density targets. This makes bike-share less convenient, potentially hampering ridership in two of the city’s densest neighborhoods. At this morning’s event, Daily News transit reporter Dan Rivoli asked about station density, and Kallos said he would welcome additional bike-share stations in the neighborhood.

Most stations in Citi Bike’s latest round of expansion have already been installed in Long Island City, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and Bed-Stuy. Expansion will continue next year, with stations in Harlem, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, and Red Hook by the end of 2017.

New York isn’t the only city in the area getting bike-share stations: The first of 35 Jersey City bike-share was installed today.

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James Oddo Calls for Wider Roads Hours After SI Traffic Violence Claims Life

A UPS worker who lost a leg when a Staten Island driver slammed into him in April has died. NYPD and Staten Island prosecutors issued no summonses and filed no criminal charges in the case.

Tom Ryan. Photo via SI Advance

Tom Ryan. Photo via SI Advance

Tom Ryan, 52, was unloading packages from his truck at 2044 Hylan Boulevard on the morning of April 6 when a driver hit him with a Toyota sedan, according to the Staten Island Advance. NYPD told the Advance the driver was in the left, northbound lane and “tried to avoid hitting a pedestrian who crossed in front of his vehicle.”

The driver lost control of his vehicle and it swerved into the right lane, striking and pinning Ryan against the back of the UPS truck, police said.

Ryan, of Bayonne, died this week, the Advance reported.

The impact from the crash severed one of his legs, causing him to bleed profusely and go into cardiac arrest. He slipped into a coma due to the loss of oxygen to his brain, and never regained consciousness, his wife [Elise Ryan] said.

“He had an anoxic brain injury — that was more of his injury than even the leg,” the grieving wife explained.

The driver who killed Ryan was not identified. Despite indications that driver speed contributed to the crash — and was likely the difference between whether Ryan lived or died — no charges were filed by police, former district attorney Dan Donovan, or acting DA Daniel Master Jr., who took office in May, after Donovan was elected to Congress.

The crash that killed Tom Ryan occurred in the 122nd Precinct — where as of July local officers had ticketed 1,180 drivers for speeding in 2015 — and in the City Council district represented by Steve Matteo.

According to DOT, while overall NYC pedestrian deaths have dropped by nearly 50 percent in the last 30 years, the number of people killed by drivers while walking in Staten Island has not declined. But making streets safer is not a priority for Staten Island electeds.

Matteo has one of the worst records in the council on safe streets legislation. He was one of four council members, along with former Staten Island rep Vincent Ignizio, to vote against lowering the city speed limit. Matteo has said he believes speed cameras are a revenue scam.

When he was on the council, Matteo’s predecessor James Oddo, who is now borough president, called for requiring an environmental review for new bike lanes. Hours after news broke of Tom Ryan’s death, Oddo took to Twitter to brag about upcoming road widenings and call for more such projects on Staten Island.

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32nd Street Finally Has Enough Space for Walking. Will It Last?

This pedestrian space could be replaced with loading zones. Photo: Stephen Miller

This pedestrian space, installed for a summer trial period, may give way to parked trucks because building owners on the south side of 32nd Street want more loading zones. Photo: Stephen Miller

New pedestrian zones near Penn Station have given people more breathing room on some of the most crowded streets in the city. Will they stay or will they go after a trial period wraps up in October?

At a Community Board 5 committee meeting last night, nearby property owners weighed in on the projects. It was smooth sailing for the new plaza on 33rd Street at Seventh Avenue, but a much-needed sidewalk expansion on the north side of 32nd Street faced pushback from property owners who aren’t pleased with how it’s changed the use of the curb in front of their buildings.

The projects were conceived and funded by real estate giant Vornado Realty Trust, which owns a number of properties near Penn Station, including Penn Plaza, the Manhattan Mall, and the Hotel Pennsylvania. The new pedestrian areas relieve crowding on sidewalks near the rail station, where people on foot overflow into the street.

The temporary public spaces, approved by NYC DOT and supported by CB 5 in June, were installed about a month ago and are set to be removed October 11. Based on the results of this evaluation period, the additional pedestrian space could be brought back and made permanent.

Property owners along 32nd Street want to see some adjustments. Fetner Properties owns The Epic, a rental residential tower with its back door on the south side of 32nd Street, across from the Manhattan Mall and the sidewalk extension. “We love the idea,” President and CEO Hal Fetner told a joint meeting of the CB 5 parks and transportation committees last night. “[But] we’re all fighting for the same sidewalk space.”

To replace the parking lane on the north side of the street with pedestrian space, the project shuffled curbside uses, shifting an MTA bus layover and reducing the length of the street’s loading zones from 680 feet to 180 feet. Now, Fetner says, his building’s trash is collected on the same curb where people wait to board the M4 and Q32 buses. When new tenants move in, he has to send staff to sit on the curb until the moving truck arrives, keeping others from taking the space. Fetner said that wasn’t an issue when the street had more loading zones.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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3 Reasons Politicians Like Building New Roads More Than Fixing Old Ones

The cost to construct this bridge ($600 million) is more than the estimated $500 million it would cost to bring Minnesota's 1,191 "structurally deficient" bridges into a state of good repair. Guess which the state is moving ahead with. Image: Minnesota DOT

The $600 million it will cost to build this one bridge is more than the estimated $500 million needed to bring all of Minnesota’s 1,191 “structurally deficient” bridges into a state of good repair. Guess which project Minnesota is moving ahead with. Image: Minnesota DOT

American transportation policy places a premium on delivering big, shiny new things.

As much as the big state transportation agencies and their political bosses love pouring concrete, they tend to avoid keeping the things they build in good working condition. Many state DOTs still spend upwards of 90 percent of their annual budgets on new construction, according to Smart Growth America, despite all the ink that’s been spilled about structurally deficient bridges across the land.

The question is why? Why do new projects continue to hold such political appeal, even while the public is bombarded with messages about the fragile state of American infrastructure and business-as-usual practices bankrupt the current system of transportation funding?

We reached out to civil engineer and big thinker Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns for his take. Drawing from his experience as a municipal engineer, he said the problem boils down to three factors.

1. Building new infrastructure is less complicated than fixing existing infrastructure

“From the position of the construction worker on the ground, it’s so much easier to do something new because you don’t have to deal with all of the existing problems. You have the elevation of people’s sidewalks, you have people who don’t want to have the street shut down. It is just like a logistical nightmare to do maintenance. When you’re doing something new, where you control the site, it takes away the messiness.”

2. New projects tend to be more popular with the public

“People almost always respond positively to new stuff. They’ll tolerate the hassle of construction when you’re doing something that’s new. But if you say we’re going to take this bridge and tear it down and put it back the way it was, it doesn’t make anything better for them. It’s just maintenance. You don’t have anything new tomorrow that you didn’t have today. When you do maintenance projects you get pushback from people. They’ll tolerate new stuff because they perceive it as the necessary thing for things to get better. You know in like three months you’ll be able to drive a lot quicker.”

3. New construction is easier to finance

“Why do you rob banks? Because that’s where the money is. Most federal and even state funding programs assume maintenance to be a local issue, so it is easier and more streamlined to get money for new stuff than for maintenance.”

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DOT: Drivers Injured 1,305 Pedestrians and Cyclists in July, and Killed Six

Killed by NYC drivers in July: Aron Aranbayev, Kevin Lopez, and Alberta Bagu.

Killed by NYC drivers in July: Aron Aranbayev, Kevin Lopez, and Alberta Bagu.

Editors’ note: Beginning with July, we are basing our monthly fatality and injury data posts on DOT’s compilation of crash data instead of NYPD’s. DOT data gives a more complete picture of citywide injuries, though accounting of fatalities may be delayed in cases where the victim died days or weeks after the crash. Known discrepancies will be noted.

Eighteen people died in New York City traffic in July, and 4,911 were injured, according to DOT’s Vision Zero View crash data map.

As of the end of July, DOT reported 71 pedestrians and cyclists killed by city motorists this year, and 7,815 injured, compared to 82 deaths and 8,407 injuries for the same period in 2014.

Citywide, at least six pedestrians and three cyclists were fatally struck by drivers. Among the victims were Marcia Arthurs, Alberta Bagu, Alejandro Moran-Marin, Ka Chor Yau, Aron Aranbayev, Robert Kunz, Kevin Lopez, David Rodriguez, and an unnamed female pedestrian in Brooklyn. Motorists killed at least one senior in July: Ka Chor Yau, 83.

Two cyclists who were struck in July and died of their injuries in August are not included in DOT’s July data. Aronbayev, who police say was intentionally struck, also is not accounted for.

Across the city, 720 pedestrians and 585 cyclists were reported hurt in collisions with motor vehicles. Per NYPD policy, few of these crashes were investigated by trained officers.

Of nine fatal crashes on surface streets reported by Streetsblog and other outlets, one motorist was known to have been charged for causing a death. Charles Jordan was charged with murder in the crash that killed Aron Aranbayev.

Based on NYPD and media accounts, at least three victims were likely walking or cycling with the right of way when they were struck, but police and district attorneys are known to have applied the city’s Right of Way Law in none of those crashes.

Marcia Arthurs was on the sidewalk when she was hit. The man who killed Alejandro Moran-Marin injured several other people. The driver of a private sanitation truck ran over Alberta Bagu, who was using a walker, and left the scene. NYPD and Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson filed no charges in any of those cases.

Historically, nearly half of motorists who kill a New York City pedestrian or cyclist do not receive so much as a citation for careless driving.

In two cases, immediately after a pedestrian was killed, police exonerated the driver by telling the press the victim was not in a crosswalk.

Twelve motor vehicle occupants died in the city in July, according to DOT, and 3,606 were injured.

Streetsblog.net
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Biking the Last Mile in Suburban Copenhagen

Bike parking at the Friheden Street transit stop in suburban Copenhagen. Image: Google via Greater Greater Washington

Bike parking at the Friheden Street transit stop in suburban Copenhagen. Image: GGW

Tooling around on Google, Dan Malouff at Greater Greater Washington stumbled on the above image from suburban Copenhagen.

What’s right with this picture? Note the (a) bike parking lot at the Friheden Street transit station, just across the (b) sidewalk from the (c) bike lane.

Writes Malouff:

One of the most important uses for bicycles is as a last mile tool, to get from one’s home to a transit station, or from a transit station to one’s final destination.

Anywhere you have a transit station with a lot of other buildings a mile or two away, bikes can help connect one to the other. That includes suburbs.

If you provide the necessary infrastructure, and treat bicycling like a serious option, people will use it.

Unlike central Copenhagen, which is dense and difficult to drive a car through, the area around Friheden Street is suburban and relatively low density. Actually it looks a lot communities around the Washington Beltway. [See Malouff’s post for images.]

I admit I’ve never been to Friheden Street. I’ve never even been to Denmark. Frankly I have no idea if it’s a pleasant community, or what the less desirable things about it may be. I’m sure there are trade-offs to it, compared to an American suburb.

But I happened to be on Google Earth looking at Copenhagen, which is famously a bike paradise, and wondered what its suburbs look like. I turned on Google’s transit layer and started looking at the areas around suburban stations. Friheden Street just happens to be one I zoomed in on.

And look at all those beautiful bike racks.

Elsewhere on the Network: Walkable West Palm Beach on why the Dutch don’t need helmets or high-viz clothing to bike (hint: it’s street design), and ATL Urbanist reports that someone on Twitter is trolling Atlanta.

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City Hall and TWU Reach Settlement in Suit Over Right-of-Way Law

The de Blasio administration has reached a settlement with TWU Local 100 over the union’s lawsuit against the Right-of-Way Law, ostensibly bringing an end to a rancorous political fight that sapped energy from the city’s street safety efforts for the better part of a year.

On its face, the settlement maintains the integrity of the law, which was intended to ensure a basic measure of accountability when drivers harm people who are following all the rules. In practice, NYPD has rarely applied the law, and with this settlement the key question remains whether rank-and-file officers will be trained to enforce it properly.

The city enacted the Right-of-Way Law last summer, making it a misdemeanor for drivers to strike pedestrians or cyclists with the right-of-way. The law was supposed to address the vexing lack of police investigations into the thousands of crashes each year in which pedestrians and cyclists suffer non-life-threatening injuries. (As opposed to fatal crashes, which are investigated by a specialized unit, the Collision Investigation Squad.)

But after some MTA bus drivers were charged under the law for injuring or killing pedestrians, TWU 100 made gutting it a top priority. In the press, the union accused the law’s backers of “criminalizing” bus drivers. In Albany and the City Council, TWU threw its muscle behind multiple bills to render the law unenforceable. And in the courts, it tried to get the law nullified on constitutional grounds.

The terms of the settlement do not capitulate to the TWU’s legislative agenda, which entailed either carving out exemptions for bus drivers or neutering the law by spelling out a litany of circumstances (wet pavement, for example) in which it would not apply. “Protecting New Yorkers is our top priority and the Right of Way Law is a powerful tool to keep pedestrians safe,” Mayor de Blasio said in a statement. “This settlement makes explicit what the City, the NYPD and District Attorneys mean by ‘due care,’ and the standard we are using as we implement this law.”

The key passage in the settlement states that the law does not “give rise to strict liability,” meaning that to secure a conviction, police and prosecutors need to demonstrate that a driver both failed to yield and failed to exercise due care.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • De Blasio Administration Settles With TWU Over Right-of-Way Lawsuit (AMNY, News, NY1, Post)
  • Tom Ryan, UPS Worker Struck by Hylan Blvd Driver in April, Dies of Injuries; No Charges (Advance)
  • Times Square Isn’t the First Time the Mayor Has Disappointed Livable Streets Advocates (Politico)
  • Gelinas: Even Thinking of Ripping Up Times Square Shows a Stunning Lack of Imagination (Post)
  • Video: Police Seek South Bronx Hit-and-Run Driver Who Backed Into Woman (News, Post, WNBC)
  • Driver Seriously Injures Pedestrian Where City Recently Cancelled Slow Zone (DNA, Advance 1, 2)
  • The Intersection of Guider Av and Coney Island Av Will Become a Little Less Treacherous (Bklyn Daily)
  • Today’s the Day: The Taxi of Tomorrow Is Officially NYC’s New Taxicab (NYT)
  • More Coverage of Bike Racks on Two MTA Bus Routes: News, Post, DNA, WNBC, Gothamist
  • EDC Seeks Affordable Housing Developer for NYPD Parking Lot on Far West Side (Politico)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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MTA: Bike Racks Are Coming to Buses Over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

As of September 6, New York will no longer be the only major American city without bike racks on its buses. The MTA announced this afternoon that it is launching a one-year pilot of front-mounted bike racks on the S53 and S93 routes, which run across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

“Before this program, our customers had no direct way to travel with their bicycles on public transportation between Brooklyn and Staten Island. Now customers can take advantage of the city’s bike lanes and greenways without worrying about how to transport their bicycles,” Darryl C. Irick, Senior Vice President of Buses at MTA New York City Transit, said in a press release. “A future expansion will depend on results of this pilot and will most likely focus on routes that cross bridges.”

Adding bike racks on buses has been a goal of advocates who view it as a stepping stone to building a bicycle and pedestrian path on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

Update 9:55 p.m.: “We are certain Bike & Ride will be a success, just as similar programs have been in cities all over the country that have long had bike racks as standard equipment across their vehicular fleets,” said the Harbor Ring, a coalition of path advocates, in a statement. “However, one bus carrying two bicycles is by no means a solution for our city’s overwhelming transportation deficiencies. We continue our campaign urging the MTA to create separated bicycle and pedestrian pathways across the Verrazano Bridge that would offer toll-free connectivity between Brooklyn and Staten Island.”

Read more…

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Banning Bikes From Roosevelt Island Bridge Ramp Won’t Make Biking Safer

With little car traffic and tree-lined waterfront streets, Roosevelt Island is a low-stress environment for bicycling. The bridge that connects the island to Queens, however, is much less bike-friendly. Claiming that the ramp from the bridge to the island is too dangerous, a residents’ association is weighing whether to call for a total bike ban on the ramp.

The helix ramp, located where the bridge lands at the southern end of the Motorgate parking garage, provides access to the island for drivers and bicyclists. After a motorist struck a cyclist on the ramp in July, the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) public safety committee unanimously passed a resolution recommending that the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC), the state authority that runs the island, prohibit cyclists, wheelchairs and scooters on the ramp [PDF].

The issue, first reported by the Roosevelt Islander blog, now goes before the RIRA common council meeting, scheduled for September 9 at 8 p.m., at the Church of Good Shepherd on Roosevelt Island. The public is invited to attend and speak at the meeting.

Much of the interest in banning cyclists from the ramp appears to be driven by Frank Farance, a public safety committee member who has criticized Bike New York for leading small groups on rides down the helix as part of the bicycle safety courses it offers on Roosevelt Island. To make his case, he’s posted video of the supposedly dangerous cyclists, shot while driving behind them on the ramp:

Scandalous!

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