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If Cuomo Wants City Funding for the MTA, He’ll Need to Compromise

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s months-long attempt to squeeze money out of City Hall for the MTA appears to be reaching its end game.

Cuomo and his people at the MTA — which, despite what the governor says, is a state entity under his control — have been asking Mayor de Blasio for ever-increasing amounts of money to fill the gap in its capital program. Earlier today, Cuomo went on WNYC to bash the mayor for not handing over the dough.

The governor says the city should pony up because it relies on the MTA more than any other jurisdiction. But the city has good reason not to hand over significant sums to a state-controlled agency, no strings attached. Transit riders will be better off if de Blasio negotiates a good deal with Cuomo instead of capitulating.

First, there’s the lockbox question. Cuomo has a history of siphoning funds out of the MTA to paper over gaps on the state budget. City Hall likes to note, for example, that Cuomo has raided $270 million from the MTA since taking office in 2011. That same year, the state legislature passed a lockbox bill that would sound an alarm whenever the governor attempts to sneak his hand into the MTA’s cookie jar, but Cuomo neutered the bill. The legislature tried again two years later. Cuomo vetoed the bill and denied he’d ever raided the MTA’s budget.

Now de Blasio seems to be seeking a lockbox-type guarantee as part of the deal. “I’m not comfortable with paying — you know, paying out of the New York City budget, New York City taxpayer money, only to see it taken out of the MTA and into the state budget. So, you know, there’s real discussions that have to be held about how to reform that situation,” de Blasio told Brian Lehrer on Friday. “We’ve got to see those issues resolved upfront.”

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Thursday: Come On Over to Streetsblog’s Goodbye Party for Stephen Miller

At the end of the week, Stephen Miller is hanging up his Streetsblog cleats after three-plus years of powerhouse reporting. Before we post his final byline, come join us at Streetsblog HQ Thursday evening for a farewell party celebrating Stephen’s time here and wishing him the best as he heads over to Council Member Jimmy van Bramer’s staff.

The party will kick off at 5:30 p.m. on the roof deck of 148 Lafayette Street (the top floor). We’ll have beer, snacks, and other refreshments, plus some rousing toasts. Please RSVP by Wednesday at 5 so we won’t run out of supplies and can make sure you’re on the list at the front desk.

To RSVP, send an email to the man himself: Once he gets off the phone with this source, he’ll be standing by…


See you Thursday!

Streetsblog USA
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Salt Lake City Cuts Car Parking, Adds Bike Lanes, Sees Retail Boost

The new 300 South, a.k.a. Broadway. Photos: Salt Lake City.

pfb logo 100x22Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.

Protected bike lanes require space on the street, and removing curbside auto parking is one of several ways to find it. But whenever cities propose parking removal, retailers understandably worry.

A growing body of evidence suggests that if bike lanes and parking removal contribute to a street with calmer traffic and a better pedestrian environment, everybody can win.

In an in-house study of its new protected bike lane, Salt Lake City found that when parking removal was done as part of a wide-ranging investment in the streetscape — including street planters, better crosswalks, public art, and colored pavement — converting parking spaces to high-quality bike lanes coincided with a jump in retail sales.

On 300 South, a street that’s also known as Broadway, SLC converted six blocks of diagonal parking to parallel parking and also shifted parallel parking away from the curb on three blocks to create nine blocks of protected bike lanes on its historic downtown business corridor.

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Two More Killed on Hylan Boulevard — Who Will Act to Stop the Carnage?

Update: Mayor de Blasio tweeted that he has instructed NYPD to increase enforcement on Hylan Boulevard and has directed DOT to “pursue safety fixes.” We’ve asked the mayor’s office for details.

Motorists killed two people last night in separate crashes on Hylan Boulevard — the third and fourth fatalities on the street this year.

Steven Turetsky was crossing Hylan at Bay Street at around 7:30 p.m. when a driver hit him with a Honda compact, reports said.

Shannon Lies had two young daughters and was expecting a son when a driver killed her just after she left a shift at one of her two jobs. Photo via Staten Island Advance

Shannon Lies had two young daughters and was expecting a son when a driver killed her just after she left a shift at one of her two jobs. Photo via Staten Island Advance

From the Advance:

The 73-year-old driver was traveling southbound on Bay Street in the left lane, police said. He approached the intersection at Hylan Boulevard at the same time Turetsky was crossing Bay Street, from west to east, outside the crosswalk, according to police.

As the vehicle approached the intersection, Turetsky walked out into the path of the car and was struck by the front bumper, police said.

Witness and co-worker Tony Thomas told the Advance Turetsky “flew in the air” upon impact, an indication that the driver was traveling at a high speed. “I was standing on the other side of the street … and before I could tell him to look out … the car hit him,” Thomas said.

Turetsky, 61, died at Staten Island University Hospital, according to the Daily News.

At approximately 11 p.m., a 54-year-old woman driving a Mercury sedan hit 31-year-old Shannon Lies as she crossed Hylan Boulevard at Arden Avenue. Reports said Lies, who had two small children and was six months pregnant, was struck after leaving work at a nearby restaurant.

The Advance reports:

She was killed outside the diner when a sedan slammed into her as she was crossing Hylan Boulevard to get to a bus stop, according to police. The driver, a 54-year-old woman, struck Lies as she approached the intersection of Arden Avenue, police said.

“She walked out, said goodbye to me and walked across the street to catch a bus … and got hit,” Salvatore said, noting he had worked with the victim for about two years. “She was a very nice person,” he added.

A co-worker told the Daily News Lies had two jobs and “always came in early to try to make extra money for her kids.”

Police filed no charges and issued no summonses in either crash. The NYPD public information office had no details on driver speeds and withheld their names. Police said the driver who killed Turetsky was not intoxicated.

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Eyes on the Street: Children Play Mere Feet From Citi Bikes — The Horror!

Photo: Joe Enoch

The E. 82nd Street bike-share station, menace to playing children. Photo: Joe Enoch

Let’s take a moment to remember the fury of the Upper East Side parents who discovered last month that a bike-share station had begrimed the same block schoolchildren use for midday recess on E. 82nd Street near Second Avenue, next to P.S. 290.

Here are the fear-mongering quotes reported by DNAinfo:

“I’ve been here 12 years and it’s disgusting,” said Janine Whiteson, mother of a fifth grader at the school. “We have 650 kids, and most of them are really little. They could knock into the bikes or fall and hurt themselves. Who knows what kind of people will come in. It’s disgraceful.”

…”It is ridiculous to even consider putting it on a street that is already closed off for part of the day,” [parent Brian Feldman] said in an email. “Random people are going to be walking through the kids’ recess to get on and off bikes or riding their bikes through.”

…In protest of the new location, the PTA sent out an email to parents on Friday. “This is not in the best interest of the 650 children ages 4-11 that use the street for recess, drop-off and pick-up every day,” the email states. “The staff at P.S. 290 is not equipped to handle the additional burden of making sure that adults walk their bikes safely through the street while the children are using it. Imposing this responsibility on the staff will divert their attention from watching and engaging with the children.”

So how’s it going with the new station? Reader Joe Enoch was walking by the play street and saw the “disgusting” scene unfolding before his very eyes.

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How Engineers Deflect Criticism of Their Dangerous Designs

As people who’ve tried to make their neighborhood streets safer for walking and biking can tell you, engineers are amazingly adept at shutting down dissent.

Chuck Marohn at Strong Towns — an engineer himself — knows the drill inside out (it inspired this classic animation from 2010). In a new post, he explains:

Transportation engineers can be intimidating. They are hard to oppose. When a member of the general public shows up at local meeting to express concern over a project — for example, their quiet local street being widened as if it were a highway — they more often than not find themselves verbally outgunned by the project engineer.

There are a handful of ways engineers deflect criticism. Chief among them is to resort to quoting industry standards. Having a huge budget and all the clout that comes with it doesn’t hurt either. There are, however, a number of reliable threads that I’ve heard engineers use time and again.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Within Hours, Two People Trying to Cross Hylan Blvd Killed in Separate Crashes (Advance, News, WCBS)
  • In Wired, Hsi-Pei Liao Says We Need to Take Traffic Violence Seriously
  • De Blasio, Labor Allies Blast TWU for Doing Cuomo’s Bidding on MTA Funding (AMNYNewsObserver)
  • More Coverage of Ydanis Rodriguez’s Transportation Agenda (Politico, News, Post, AMNY)
  • Toll Reform? Good Luck in Albany, de Blasio Tells Rodriguez (Politico, Observer, WCBS)
  • The U.S. Supreme Court Isn’t Going to Help Up the Ante for Toll Reform (Advance)
  • Police Car Chase After Bronx Shooting Leads to Injured Bystanders (News, DNA, WPIX, WNBC)
  • Suffolk County Lawmakers Go After Red Light Cameras (WCBS)
  • The Post Writes Two Stories About Emergency Response Times Without Blaming Bike Lanes
  • Great Long Read From Adam Sternbergh About Times Square’s Past and Present (NY Mag)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA


Next Up for SBS: 23rd Street in Manhattan, Canarsie to Gravesend in Brooklyn

What people are saying about the B6 and B82

What people are saying about the B82. Image via NYC DOT

Two more enhanced bus routes are entering the project pipeline in NYC, one along a busy Manhattan crosstown street and the other snaking across a transit-hungry stretch of Brooklyn.

The Manhattan project will run across 23rd Street. The Brooklyn project would tackle a long route following the B6 and B82 between East New York and Gravesend, which carried a combined 69,586 riders on an average weekday last year, according to the MTA.

The general sweep of the southern Brooklyn route was first identified in the 2009 SBS “phase two” expansion plan. A more fine-grained map emerged in the de Blasio administration’s OneNYC environmental and equity plan, released in April.

DOT and the MTA have already gotten started on the southern Brooklyn route. The project website includes reports from the field, where staffers set up tables at busy bus stops in August and September to find out what riders want. The top complaints: Buses are too slow, too crowded, and not running frequently enough.

There are also online maps — one for the B6, another for the B82 — so riders can pinpoint areas in need of improvement.

The B82 seems to offer the best opportunity for bus lanes, especially along Flatlands Avenue and Kings Highway. Getting these changes might take some effort: The route crosses City Council and community board districts where representatives don’t have a great record on reallocating street space.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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500 People Ate Dinner on a Freeway in Akron This Weekend

"500 Plates" brought together people from all over Akron to have a meal together on the to-be-closed "Innerbelt Freeway." Photo: Jason Segedy

“500 Plates” brought together people from all over Akron to have a meal together on the Innerbelt Freeway, which is not long for this world. Photo: Jason Segedy

How’s this for a creative reuse of outdated 20th century infrastructure? This weekend, 500 people in Akron, Ohio, sat down and had dinner together on the Innerbelt Freeway.

The event, dubbed “500 Plates,” brought together people from all over the city to talk about the future of the Innerbelt. The city is planning to decommission the lightly-used 1970s-era highway and redevelop the land — but exactly how is still under discussion.

Photo: Jason Segedy

Photo: Jason Segedy

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Rodriguez Champions Toll Reform in Broad Vision for NYC Transportation

Reforming New York’s broken road pricing and parking policies top an extensive list of transportation priorities from City Council Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez, which he unveiled this morning in a speech at New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation.

City Council Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez outlines his transportation vision this morning. Photo: Stephen Miller

City Council Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez outlines his transportation vision this morning. Photo: Stephen Miller

The most pressing item on Rodriguez’s agenda is the Move New York toll reform proposal, which would put a price on the four East River bridges and a cordon at 60th Street while reducing tolls on outlying crossings. “There is no longer a question of should we pass this plan, but when,” he said. “I will commit myself, over the coming weeks and months, to ensure that my council colleagues get behind this transformative plan.”

If City Hall coalesces behind the road pricing plan as a way to fill the gap in the MTA’s capital budget, it still must gain the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has a famously rocky relationship with Mayor Bill de Blasio. So far, the mayor has indicated that he is open to the idea of toll reform, but has not made it one of his priorities in Albany.

With a champion in Rodriguez, it’s conceivable to see a path forward for Move New York through the City Council. Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito reportedly has a more genial relationship with the governor than de Blasio does.

Rodriguez is seeking to leave his own mark on Move New York, proposing that a portion of toll revenue be set aside in what he’s calling a “Community Transit Fund.” Through a to-be-determined mechanism — Rodriguez has previously suggested community boards or participatory budgeting — neighborhoods would be able to steer funds to local transportation priorities.

Rodriguez laid out ambitious goals for traffic reduction in a plan that goes beyond road pricing. He’d like to cut the number of households in the city that own cars from 1.4 million in 2010 to 1 million in 2030. That would drop New York’s car ownership rate from 45 percent to 30 percent when the city’s projected population increase is taken into account.

By 2030, Rodriguez wants NYC to reach 12 percent bicycle mode share and 2,000 total miles of bike lanes, including 400 miles of protected bikeways. (De Blasio had initially aimed for 6 percent by 2020, then his administration scaled-back its targets.) Rodriguez also called for a car-free Earth Day next year.

Reducing the number of cars in the city will be tough as long as New York requires the construction of parking in new development. The de Blasio administration has proposed eliminating parking mandates for affordable housing near transit, a measure Rodriguez said should also apply to market-rate units. Rodriguez said he’s looking to hold a hearing soon on off-street parking reform.

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