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What’s Up With the Short Raised Bike Lane By Times Square?

Yes, there is now a short segment of raised bike lane on Seventh Avenue at Times Square. TransitCenter’s Jon Orcutt tweeted the picture above last month.

The Department of Design and Construction, which is building the permanent pedestrian plazas and other street improvements at Times Square, has so far only put down the raised lane between 46th Street and 45th Street. It’s supposed to be part of a short detour for cyclists using the Broadway bike lane to bypass the pedestrian plazas.

We checked in with DDC about the project, and a spokesperson directed us to DOT. DOT said more is coming. The finished product will provide a contraflow protected lane from Broadway to Seventh on 47th Street. From there cyclists would be directed to the eastern side of Seventh, and for the block between 47th Street and 46th Street there would only be sharrows. Then the raised lane will extend from 46th to 42nd, and the detour will conclude with sharrows on 42nd Street from Seventh to Broadway.

Bike lanes were not in the original design for the permanent plaza project but were added later in the process at the request of DOT, according to a spokesperson from the Times Square Alliance. Raised bike lanes are unusual in NYC but there are a few precedents, like the block of Sands Street between Navy and Gold near the Manhattan Bridge.

I checked in on the progress along Seventh Avenue recently and there was some construction going on south of 46th Street, where the rest of the raised lane is supposed to be built.

DDC’s online database of capital projects list an April 14 completion date for the plaza construction, but judging by the current conditions it will likely finish later than that.

Streetsblog USA
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Talking Headways Podcast: New Tactics for Transportation Ballot Measures

This week we’re chatting with Jason Jordan, director of the Center for Transportation Excellence (CFTE) and policy director at the American Planning Association. Jason tells us how CFTE got started and why ballot measures for transportation have been so successful compared to other types of spending. He also describes scenarios where transportation ballot measures tend to do well and those where they tend to fail.

Political action networks opposed to public investments like transit are getting more sophisticated in their opposition to these ballot measures. We discuss how to combat these new networks, often backed by dark money, and how local champions and coalitions can lead to victory.

You’ll also hear about the measures on the docket for 2016, which is shaping up to be one of the busiest cycles ever for transportation ballot measures.

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Eric Adams Proposes Downtown Brooklyn Car-Share Fleet for City Agencies

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is open to clearing Borough Hall Plaza of parked cars, and he also wants City Hall to study a car-share system for government agencies in Downtown Brooklyn.

We reported last November that Adams and his staff resumed using the plaza as a parking lot after an $11 million rehab, following the lead of his predecessor, shameless space hog Marty Markowitz.

In a recent letter to Mayor de Blasio, Adams said he is considering an internal survey to determine how Borough Hall employees get to work and looking at using off-site garages instead of the plaza.

He also suggested that city agencies with offices in Downtown Brooklyn may be able to consolidate their fleets. Adams wants to the city to investigate a “municipal car share system” to consolidate the vehicles of the half-dozen or so agencies located downtown. The Department of Buildings, the Department of Education, and DOT are among the agencies with offices in the area.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Traffic Engineers Still Rely on a Flawed 1970s Study to Reject Crosswalks

When St. Louis decided not to maintain colorful new crosswalks that residents had painted, the city’s pedestrian coordinator cited federal guidance. A 2011 FHWA memo warns that colorful designs could “create a false sense of security” for pedestrians and motorists.

Shoddy, 50-year-old research is an obstacle to grassroots street safety efforts like this fleur-de-lis crosswalk in St. Louis. Photo: Rally St. Louis

That may sound like unremarkable bureaucrat-speak, but the phrase “false sense of security” is actually a cornerstone of American engineering guidance on pedestrian safety.

You’ll find the words “false sense of security” in Washington state DOT’s crosswalk guidelines too. The city of Stockton, California, makes the same claim. The list goes on.

What gives? Well, you can trace this phrase — and the basis of some engineers’ reluctance to stripe crosswalks — to one very influential but seriously flawed study from the 1970s.

In 1972, a researcher named Bruce Herms conducted a study of crosswalk safety in San Diego. He found that intersections with marked crosswalks had higher injury rates than ones with unmarked crosswalks. He concluded that marked crosswalks should only be installed where they are “warranted” because they can give pedestrians a “false sense of security,” encouraging risky behavior.

But there were problems with the study. For one, Herms didn’t actually study why people made certain decisions at crosswalks — that “false sense of security” was just speculation on his part.

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Paying for Parking in NYC Is About to Get Easier, But Will It Get Smarter?

Last week, Mayor de Blasio and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced the implementation of a new payment option for all of the city’s 85,000 metered parking spaces. By the end of the year, people will be able to pay for parking using a mobile app.

Parkmobile, the likely contractor for DOT's new pay-by-cell parking, will allow users to pay via mobile app or phone call. Image: Parkmobile

Parkmobile, the likely contractor for DOT’s new pay-by-cell parking, will allow users to pay via mobile app or phone call. Image: Parkmobile

Mobile payment is a lot more convenient for drivers than Muni meters and paper receipts. On its own, however, it can’t change the fact that most metered spots are underpriced, which makes it hard for drivers to find open spots and causes a significant share of traffic in commercial districts. The big promise of mobile payment is that can be the spoonful of sugar that helps dynamic meter pricing go down.

Will mobile payment be rolled out at the same time as expansions of Park Smart, DOT’s dynamic meter pricing program? DOT hasn’t tied the two together yet, but the agency did tell Streetsblog that this year, it “will be collecting parking metrics in neighborhoods across the city to build parking profiles which may influence changes that NYC DOT may make in the near future to parking rates and regulation.”

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A Bigger Transit Benefit Is No Match for America’s Parking Tax Perk

In almost every U.S. metro area, more people drive to work thanks to a commuter tax benefit that helps cover parking and transit-related expenses. Graph: Transit Center

Even with “parity” between parking and transit, the federal commuter tax benefit leads more people to drive to work than if there were no such benefit at all. Graph: Transit Center

Late last year Congress finally moved to boost the maximum commuter tax benefit for transit riders to the same level that car commuters receive. That means transit riders can buy up to $255 in fares each month with pre-tax income, just like drivers can pay for $255 in parking expenses with pre-tax income.

Great news, right? Well, it’s definitely a step in the right direction (for years transit riders had their benefit capped at $130 compared to drivers’ $250), but in a lot of places it won’t have a big effect on how people commute. As TransitCenter noted in a 2014 report, eliminating the subsidy for parking altogether would be a much more effective way to cut traffic.

Now a new TransitCenter study examines exactly how “transit benefit parity” changes the equation:

We project that the expanded transit benefit will help cities and suburb-to-city transit commuters — but still won’t counteract the big pro-driving incentive created by the parking subsidy.

We simulated the impact of parking and transit benefits on five commute markets. In every case, the net effect of the parking and transit benefits together was more driving than in a world with no commuter tax benefits at all.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Truck Driver Kills Critically Injures Tribeca Cyclist, Blames Victim, Cops Send Him on His Way (News)
  • Mark-Viverito Dings de Blasio Rezoning Plan in SOTC Address (DNA)
  • Here It Is, the Streetcar Headline You’ve Been Waiting For (DNA)
  • TLC Says It Will Crack Down on Driver Hours, But Wage Relief Isn’t on the Table (Post, News)
  • Electeds Expect L Train Shutdown Details Sometime in the Next Month (Bklyn Paper)
  • Bronx CB 8 Full Board Endorses Paving of Putnam Trail (@Daverro)
  • Hit-and-Run Drivers Have Injured 3 People in Crown Heights Since Last Week (DNA)
  • Manhattan CB 7 Members Look at Broadway Crash Data, Blame Pedestrians for Walking (DNA)
  • Treehugger: Someone Is Responsible for the Death of Peter Romano
  • Nassau Driver Convicted of Manslaughter for Death of Cop Who Stopped Him for DWI (WCBS)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Truck Driver Kills Maria Minchala, 63, in Washington Heights Crosswalk

Though it has center islands, Broadway at W. 165th Street, where a driver killed Maria Minchala, is inhospitable to people on foot. Image: Google Maps

Though it has center islands, Broadway at W. 165th Street, where a driver killed Maria Minchala, is inhospitable to people on foot. Eight people were injured in crashes at the intersection in 2015. Image: Google Maps

A truck driver killed a woman in a Washington Heights crosswalk Wednesday night — the second pedestrian fatally struck by New York City motorists yesterday.

Maria Minchala was crossing at Broadway east to west at W. 165th Street, near New York-Presbyterian Hospital, at around 8:45 p.m. when the driver, turning right onto Broadway, struck her with a flatbed truck, according to reports.

From the Daily News:

“She went to church to get her ashes, and then she was on her way to work,” said her distraught son, Manuel Minchala, 36, crying as he spoke. Minchala worked for a private office cleaning company.

“I took the turn real slow, three miles an hour. I never saw her. I felt a bump. It wasn’t right. I pulled over and went back and saw the lady,” said the driver, who didn’t give his name.

“She is a mother of five. She has four grandchildren. We are from Ecuador,” Manuel Minchala said. “She brought us here for a better life. She was a good, hard-working woman.”

The driver’s name was not released by police. Though it appears likely the victim would have been crossing with the right of way, no charges were filed and no tickets were issued as of this afternoon, NYPD told Streetsblog.

Much of Broadway in Upper Manhattan is a chaotic and dangerous mess, with motorists slaloming around double-parked cars. Though Broadway has center islands at W. 165th Street, with five lanes of motor vehicle through-traffic and no bike infrastructure it’s a foreboding crossing to navigate on foot.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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How Cities Clear Snow From Protected Bike Lanes: A Starter Guide

A Kubota sweeper/plow, center left, clears the sidewalk at 300 South and 200 West, Salt Lake City. Image: SLC

pfb logo 100x22This post is by Tyler Golly of Stantec and Michael Andersen of The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes.

As protected bike lanes have spread from city to city across North America, a problem has followed: snow.

Most protected bike lanes are too narrow for standard street plows. So how are cities supposed to keep them clean?

Last year, the two of us decided to try and help more cities solve this problem by researching the best equipment to use for clearing snow from protected bike lanes. We wanted something like PeopleForBikes’ past post about the best sweepers for clearing protected bike lanes of leaves and debris.

But after talking to city staffers across North America and Europe, we realized that the challenges of winter are different than the challenges of fall. The reason is that winters themselves are so different from city to city.

The snow that piles into a protected bike lane in Chicago is very different in quantity, weight and thaw pattern than the snow in Calgary, which is very different than the snow in New York City.

Moreover, there’s just not as much variation among snow-plowing equipment. As one staffer we spoke to put it, the perfect plow rig for your bike lane is the biggest one that isn’t too big.

Read more…

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Safer Streets for Corona and Elmhurst vs. Queens Community Board 4

111th Street would receive a two-way protected bike lane, expanded pedestrian space, new crosswalks, and added parking. But CB 4 members are worried about reducing the number of car lanes. Image: DOT [PDF]

DOT’s plan would calm traffic on 111th Street by adding a two-way protected bike lane, pedestrian space, crosswalks, and parking. Image: DOT [PDF]

This could be a big year for safer street designs in Corona and Elmhurst. DOT’s plan for a protected bike lane on 111th Street is poised to improve access to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and the agency is expected to move ahead with the second phase of its Queens Boulevard redesign. The way things are shaping up, however, it looks like DOT may have to take the initiative without waiting for Queens Community Board 4 and chair Louis Walker to sign off on these projects.

On Tuesday, two local residents spoke in favor of the 111th Street safety improvements [PDF] at a CB 4 meeting. Martin Luna said that when he and his family bike or go to the park for baseball practice, getting across 111th and its highway-like design is nerve-wracking. “If something happened to me it’s nothing, right, but my kids are more important for me,” he said. “We don’t feel safe in this area.”

But Walker denied that dangerous conditions on 111th are an impediment to park access. “We have access to the park. Don’t say that we don’t have access to the park,” he said. “The park’s not closed, it’s open all the time. It’s very used.”

luna

Martin Luna, left, says he doesn’t feel safe crossing 111th Street with his kids to get to Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Photo: Luke Ohlson

Walker was not in the mood to listen to people talk about the plan, which would narrow the traffic lanes and add a two-way protected bike lane along the border of the park. “Just remember, it has not been presented to us — whatever the latest official plans are — and we’ve not voted on it, so that’s the end of that discussion for now,” he said. “I frankly am getting a little tired of hearing about [111th Street], when it hasn’t been presented to us. When it is presented to us we will see what is presented and debate it at that time.”

DOT already presented a plan for 111th Street to CB 4 twice last year, but board members have so far failed to advance it. The department has also conducted two traffic studies because the board is worried that 111th Street can’t handle traffic from major sporting events if the car lanes are trimmed. (Video captured by Transportation Alternatives volunteers during the World Series suggests this is an imaginary problem.) In addition, Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland hosted multiple public design workshops with DOT last summer.

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