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Eyes on the Street: Parking Placard Unicorn Spotted on Smith Street

Photos: Justin Pollock

Photos: Justin Pollock

Speaking at a Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce event this week, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill fielded questions about placard abuse on Atlantic Avenue, which has been a drag on Downtown Brooklyn businesses for years.

O’Neill promised to do something about it. From the Brooklyn Eagle:

Businesses on Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill have complained that they are losing customers because so many city workers are using phony permits and other city ID to park for free all day, according to the Atlantic Avenue BID, the organization that represents more 300 businesses along the avenue.

“I’ll have a conversation with [Deputy Inspector] Sergio Centa of the 84th Precinct and rectify that,” O’Neill promised. “My own precinct up in the 44, we had a similar problem …. We cleaned up the situation. I’ll talk to Serge,” he said.

It looks like O’Neill and Serge had that talk.

Reader Justin Pollock snapped these pics this morning on Smith Street, which crosses Atlantic at the Brooklyn House of Detention. Some of the cited vehicles had Department of Correction placards, while others had clothing bearing the DOC shield placed on dashboards. “I counted 15 tickets just on the east side of the street,” Pollock told us in an email.

We’ll see if the 84th Precinct will keep up enforcement, or if O’Neill will take other steps to finally address the illegal parking scourge. But it’s another sign that NYPD can curb placard abuse when it wants to.

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Toronto’s Simple Measure to Cut Traffic and Improve Transit: Toll Highways

Tolling Toronto's Gardiner Expressway and one other highway could help the city function better. Photo; Wikipedia

Tolling Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway and one other highway could help the city function better. Photo: Wikipedia

American elected officials are notoriously skittish about turning freeways into toll roads, but in Canada’s biggest city the political stars are aligning to put a price on two major highways.

Toronto Mayor John Tory, facing intense budget pressures, has proposed tolling two urban freeways: the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway. Tory is proposing a $2 flat fee, which would generate some $200 million in net annual revenue. While the political decisions to implement tolls are getting made right now, implementation is not expected until 2024.

As a measure to reduce traffic on the highways — and the city streets those highways funnel into — the plan could be better. The tolls would do more to cut traffic congestion if Toronto opted for dynamic pricing that charges drivers more during peak periods. But even if the initial toll is flat, the government could convert it to a sliding scale later on, transportation engineering professor David Levinson told the Globe and Mail.

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The Disappearing Sixth Avenue Protected Bike Lane

The bike lane-less block between 47th Street and 48th Street where the woman was struck yesterday. Photo: Google Maps

The block between 47th Street and 48th Street where a woman on a Citi Bike was struck yesterday. Photo: Google Maps

The new protected bike lane on Sixth Avenue, between 8th Street and 33rd Street, has turned one of the city’s most stress-inducing bike routes into one of its best. But north of 34th Street, Sixth Avenue has no bike lanes whatsoever. What could be a safe, direct connection to the Midtown core and Central Park instead deposits cyclists into five lanes of chaotic car traffic.

sixth_ave_protected

The Sixth Avenue protected bike lane is a huge improvement. Now it needs to extend all the way to Central Park. Photo: David Meyer

We got a stark reminder of the unfinished business on Sixth Avenue yesterday morning, when the driver of a white van injured a 56-year-old woman riding a Citi Bike between 47th Street and 48th Street. The victim survived with her leg badly injured, according to witnesses.

In September 2015, when the Sixth Avenue protected lane was first announced, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said DOT’s goal was to expand it north, but that the agency had to take it “one step at a time.”

Since then, the agency has said an extension from Canal to 8th could happen in 2017. No timetable has been provided, however, for the critical stretch between 33rd and Central Park.

In a statement, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White said the city’s protected bike lane network isn’t expanding fast enough to keep up with the growing bike-share system. Almost 40 percent of the 613 bike-share stations are more than quarter-mile from a protected bike lane, he said.

“Today’s crash reportedly occurred at an unprotected location between 47th and 48th Street, providing more evidence that we need a protected bike lane along the entire length of Sixth Avenue, just as cyclists need protection along all of New York City’s dangerous major streets,” said White.

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How Much of Your City Is Really Urban?

Only a small portion of Seattle is considered "urban" in a new study by the Urban Land Institute. Image: ULI

Only a small portion of the Seattle region is considered “urban” in a new report by the Urban Land Institute. Image via RCLCo

Editor’s note: Read to the end of this post for an important update on the Streetsblog Network.

Many places that get categorized as “suburbs” are actually pretty urban. They may not be located in a central city, but they are compact, walkable places. But the inverse is also true: Large portions of nearly every American city are pretty spread out and suburban in character.

A new report from the Urban Land Institute [PDF] divides every metro area into a number of classifications based on density and other factors. You can click through ULI’s map and see whether they consider your neighborhood urban or suburban.

Frank Chiachiere at Seattle Transit Blog notes that ULI classifies almost all of Seattle as suburban, and he thinks that’s basically correct:

The report seeks to subdivide suburbia, using census tracts, into five categories — Established high-end, stable middle-income, economically challenged, greenfield lifestyle, and greenfield value — to reflect the diversity of communities that are often lumped together as “the suburbs.”  The modern suburb, they argue, is a hodgepodge of very different housing and land-use types, a continuum that stretches from stately, tree-lined streetcar suburbs close to the center to the sprawling planned communities on the exurban fringe.

What’s interesting its that the report finds that there’s not much different between North Ballard and Bellevue: both are classified as “established, high-end” suburban communities. Seattleites might chafe at the comparison, but there’s something to it.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Cuomo’s AirTrain Is a Poison Pill, Stalling PANYNJ Capital Plan (NYT, Politico, Crain’s)
  • Port Authority Won’t Talk About Interminable GWB Bus Terminal Renovations (Metro, NY1)
  • NYC Press Corps Take Note: Poughkeepsie Journal Still Pushing for Toll Reform
  • Neil deMause to Cuomo: Don’t Trust Trump’s Infrastructure Scheme (Voice)
  • O’Neill Says He Will “Rectify” Atlantic Avenue Placard Abuse (Eagle)
  • UWS NYPD CO Who Cracked Down on Cyclists in Response to Traffic Deaths Is Moving On (DNA)
  • Distracted Driver Seriously Injures Citi Bike Rider at Sixth Avenue Spot That Has No Bikeway (Post)
  • Bklyner Has a Great Profile of Safe Streets Advocate Bahij Chancey
  • Brooklyn Spoke Corrects Alan Dershowitz’s Anti-Bike Screed
  • Post and News Whiff on Opportunity to Delve Into NYPD’s Deadly Drinking Problem
  • UK Lawmakers Want Life Sentences for Distracted and Impaired Drivers Who Kill (Telegraph)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Pedestrians and Cyclists Get Room to Breathe on South Street

The completion of the portion of the East River esplanade to the right means cyclists and pedestrians have plenty of room. Photo: David Meyer

The completion of the boardwalk to the left has opened up room for pedestrians and cyclists… Photo: David Meyer

The pace is slow, but the city is making progress on the East River greenway in Lower Manhattan.

The South Street section of the greenway, a project of NYC EDC, has been under construction for the better part of the last decade. Phase one wrapped up between Wall Street and Maiden Lane in 2011, followed by subsequent projects between Wall Street and Broad Street and between Pike Street and Pier 35 that opened in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

For at least the past few years, crews have been working on an esplanade just north of the old Fulton Fish Market, and during construction people walking and biking had to squeeze into a narrow, poorly paved shared path. Now that work has wrapped up, giving people on foot direct access to the waterfront and giving cyclists a smooth, dedicated two-way path.

People biking and walking no longer have to share this narrow path just north of South Street Seaport. Photo: Jon Orcutt

…while the boardwalk was under construction, people walking and biking had to share this narrow path. Photo: Jon Orcutt

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To This New Yorker, NYC Drivers Seem Almost Homicidal

navigation-car-drive-road

Inspired by Michael Levin’s recent piece in the Daily News. Please read the original to fully appreciate this reverse edit.

Maybe it’s the hot summers.

Are New York drivers out to kill?

Is it just me, or does it seem that drivers no longer have regard for red lights?

It’s one thing to speed through a yellow as it is turning red. I mean that’s common driver behavior nowadays.

I’m talking about ignoring basic traffic law altogether, often with one’s head down, texting on a cellphone, even though the light you just sailed through has been red a few seconds.

Have these individuals forgotten that in New York, driving is a privilege?

And that driving a car recklessly without due care from point A to point B is the fastest way to kill someone?

When cellphones first came out, experts warned that using them while driving was akin to driving while inebriated.

Hey, I thought. This sucks for pedestrians!

Turns out that driving even while talking hands-free is dangerous because when so doing so, drivers lose the ability to pay attention to the road.

And we see evidence of that all over New York City.

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No Charges for Driver Who Killed Senior in Bensonhurst Crosswalk

A motorist fatally struck Antonietta Orlando at 15th Avenue and 76th Street in Brooklyn. The white arrow indicates the approximate path of the victim and red arrow shows the approximate path of the driver, according to NYPD. Image: Google Maps

A motorist fatally struck Antonietta Orlando at 15th Avenue and 76th Street in Brooklyn. The white arrow indicates the approximate path of the victim and red arrow indicates the approximate path of the driver, according to NYPD. No charges were filed. Image: Google Maps

A senior has died from injuries sustained when a motorist hit her in a Bensonhurst crosswalk last month. NYPD filed no charges.

Antonietta Orlando. Photo via Facebook

Antonietta Orlando. Photo via Facebook

At around 9:10 a.m. on November 9, Antonietta Orlando was crossing 76th Street south to north when a 53-year-old woman, northbound on 15th Avenue, hit her with an Audi while turning left onto 76th, according to NYPD.

Orlando was transported to Lutheran Medical Center, police said. She died last Sunday, December 4.

Where the two streets cross, 15th Avenue runs north-south with one general traffic lane in each direction and 76th Street is one-way westbound with a single traffic lane. The intersection has marked crosswalks and is signalized with no designated turn phase. If the driver had a green light, Orlando would have had a walk signal and would have been crossing with the right of way.

The investigation is ongoing, according to NYPD. Police did not release the driver’s name, which is customary when no charges are filed after a fatal crash.

Antonietta Orlando was killed in the 62nd Precinct, where officers ticket between one and two motorists a day for failing to yield, and in the City Council district represented by Vincent Gentile.

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UPS Begins Delivering Packages via E-Trike in Portland

Deliveries by E-bike: Now happening in Portland. It's a beautiful thing. Photo: Bike Portland

Deliveries by e-trike: Now happening in Portland. Photo: Bike Portland

Delivery trucks are terrible for city streets, polluting the air, blocking bike lanes, endangering pedestrians and cyclists. But cities need the goods they carry.

One way around the problem of big trucks is to divide deliveries into smaller loads, carried with smaller vehicles. Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland reports on an encouraging development on that front: UPS is piloting the use of an electric-assist trike for deliveries. There were already independent companies using trikes for deliveries in Portland, and the UPS move suggests larger companies may want to get in on the action, Maus reports:

Using trikes and other small, pedal-powered vehicles to deliver cargo in dense urban areas is relatively common in Europe. The European Cyclists’ Federation (an EU-funded non-profit) says 25 percent of all goods could potentially be delivered bicycles. That number rises to 50 percent when just considering lightweight cargo…

UPS Senior VP of Global Engineering and Sustainability Mark Wallace, UPS senior VP of global engineering and sustainability said using pedal-power gets back to his company’s roots. They started 109 years ago as a bike messenger company. “While we have evolved and developed a vast network of ground and air vehicles,” Wallace said, “the bicycle may be making a comeback as we navigate through crowded urban areas and continue our focus on environmental sustainability.”

UPS’s new trike will share the bike lanes with existing local pedal-powered freight delivery companies like B-Line Sustainable Urban Delivery and Portland Pedal Power — two businesses with successful track records…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Motorist Kills Antonietta Orlando, 72, in Bensonhurst Crosswalk (News)
  • New Yorkers Are Choosing Between MetroCards and Food for Families — Where Is Andrew Cuomo? (TL)
  • Steve Hindy: 14th Street PeopleWay a Must for Manhattan and Brooklyn Businesses (Crain’s)
  • NJ Ethics Board Rebuts Nadler’s PABT Conflict of Interest Charge Against Degnan (Politico)
  • Port Authority Raises Parking Rates to Discourage Driving to LGA (AMNY); Here’s the Post Version
  • Kallos Bill Would Force Building Owners to Take Down Dormant Sidewalk Sheds (Crain’s)
  • “Pedestrian-Focused” Mall on Gun Hill Road in Baychester Will Have 1,200 Parking Spots (NY1)
  • New Elementary School Will Interfere With Driving, Bayside Cranks Say (Times Ledger)
  • “New York” Daily News Runs Op-Ed by Boston Suburbanite Who Threatens to Run NYers Over
  • Thanks Trump (News, DNA, Bklyn PaperDNA)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA