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Private Trash Haulers Pollute Low-Income NYC Neighborhoods of Color

The air quality in low-income communities of color in the South Bronx and North Brooklyn is severely impacted by the city's private trash carters. Image: Transform Don't Trash NYC

The air quality in low-income communities of color in the South Bronx and North Brooklyn is severely impacted by the city’s private trash carters. Image: Transform Don’t Trash NYC

With the city preparing reforms for the commercial waste carting industry, the Transform Don’t Trash NYC Coalition of labor and environmental justice groups released a report today calling attention to how private trash trucks disproportionately harm air quality in a few specific low-income communities of color [PDF].

The report, “Clearing the Air,” shows the high concentration of asthma-inducing pollutants at truck-heavy areas in the South Bronx and north and southwest Brooklyn, as well as inside the trucks themselves. To combat those dangerous emissions, the coalition is calling on the city to not only pursue “zone-based” commercial waste collection, but to further incentivize the use of clean-fuel technologies, barges, and trains.

More than 250 private carting companies handle commercial waste across the city (residential and government waste is collected by DSNY). But the city’s current commercial waste policies allow private carting companies to contract with businesses anywhere in the city, resulting in vast inefficiencies.

Last month, the city announced plans to shift the commercial waste collection to a zone-based system over the next six years. A report from the city’s Department of Sanitation and Business Integrity Commission released concurrently with the announcement found that zone-based collection would cut private carriers’ total annual miles travelled by 49 to 69 percent, or between 11.27 and 15.64 million miles per year.

The DSNY-BIC report also showed an overwhelming concentration of truck mileage in the areas studied by Transform Don’t Trash NYC.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Seattle City Council Approves 20 MPH Speed Limit on Residential Streets

Residential streets in Seattle will have 20 mile per hour speed limits. Graphic: City of Seattle

Residential streets in Seattle will have 20 mile per hour speed limits. Graphic: City of Seattle

20 is plenty for Seattle.

The City Council voted unanimously yesterday to lower speed limits on residential streets to 20 miles per hour.

On all other streets, the default speed limit will be 25 mph, though speed limits may vary on major roadways.

The change is part of the city’s Vision Zero effort, aimed at eliminating traffic fatalities by 2030. Every year about 20 people are killed and 150 are injured in traffic crashes in Seattle. About 50 percent of victims in fatal crashes are people walking and biking.

Gordon Padelford, policy director with Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, which led the push for the legislation, said he’s thrilled with City Council’s decision.

“We’re already working on the city’s annual budget process to find additional funding for traffic-calming along arterials that will help implement the policy,” he said.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is asking for $1 million for “Vision Zero spot improvements” — traffic-calming elements in key locations.

The group is also seeking $2 million for a road diet on Rainier Avenue South — a particularly dangerous corridor.

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Bronx Electeds Call for “Complete” Concourse for Buses, Bikes, and People

Council Member Andrew Cohen speaks in favor of the "Complete the Concourse" in front of the Bronx County Courthouse. Photo: David Meyer

Council Member Andrew Cohen speaks in favor of making the Grand Concourse a complete street. Photo: David Meyer

With momentum building for a complete street and fully-protected bikeway along the Grand Concourse, Council Member Andrew Cohen joined Bronx activists on the steps of the Bronx County Courthouse this morning to call on the city to redesign the street thoroughly and expeditiously.

“The entire length of the Concourse… [represents] a design from the 1950s — all about moving cars as quickly as possible without regard for pedestrian safety.” Cohen said. “We really need to make sure that we’re getting the resources, our fair share of Vision Zero improvements to make this Concourse everything it has been in the past and everything it will be in the future.”

More than 1,000 people have been injured and 13 have been killed on the Concourse in the last four years, according to city data. In light of the staggering losses, Transportation Alternatives has called on the city to bring protected bike lanes, dedicated bus lanes, and safer sidewalks and crosswalks to the entire length of the Grand Concourse. So far, more than 3,000 people have signed on to TA’s “Complete the Concourse” campaign.

The effort also has the support of the Bronx Health REACH Coalition, which aims to combat the high rates of diabetes and heart disease in the southwest Bronx. “We have one of the highest rates of obesity in the Bronx, and having a safe Concourse means people will want to get out, they’ll be able to ride their bikes and they’ll feel much safer,” said Amril Hamer, who lives near the Concourse at 165th Street and Gerard Avenue.

Hamer, who bikes in the neighborhood, said the Grand Concourse’s current un-protected bike lanes leave much to be desired. “They don’t have that bike lane infrastructure in place, so we’re competing with the double-parked cars, somebody maybe opening a car door on you or something like that, so it’s not safe at all,” she said.

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Streetsblog.net
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City Streets in State Officials’ Hands Can Be a Recipe for Disaster

Cyclists rally for a safer Carson Street in Pittsburgh. Photo: Bike PGH

People rally for a safer Carson Street in Pittsburgh. Photo: Bike PGH

Cities shouldn’t have to fight with state departments of transportation to ensure streets are safe for their residents. But too often that’s exactly the case, and when cities lose, the result can be deadly.

A tragic story from Pittsburgh illustrates the problem. Just a week after Pennsylvania DOT debuted a car-centric redesign of iconic Carson Street, a motorist struck and killed cyclist Dennis Flanagan there. More than 1,200 people have now signed a petition demanding a safer design. Here’s an excerpt from a letter from Bike PGH Executive Director Scott Bricker to PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards:

West Carson was closed for approximately two years, and while inconvenient for many, it did not create the predicted traffic nightmare associated with a typical blocked arterial. In the lead up to the closure and during construction, Mayor Bill Peduto, Councilwoman Kail-Smith, Senator Wayne Fontana, Representative Dan Deasy, community leaders, residents, City of Pittsburgh Departments of City Planning and Public Works, and Bike Pittsburgh unsuccessfully lobbied PennDOT District-11 to create a more inclusive design that would connect these communities via bike to other bicycle facilities only a stone’s throw away, namely the Station Square Trail and the Montour Trail to the Pittsburgh International Airport. In fact, the City of Pittsburgh pitched PennDOT District-11 a conceptual design eliminating the needless turning lane for most of the distance and using the remaining width for bike lanes, only to be silently rebuffed. Instead, PennDOT’s engineers decided to go against these wishes and charge ahead with a design that only exacerbates the speeding problem, and which gave no dedicated safe space for people who ride bikes to get around.

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Today’s Headlines

  • The Q70 Is Now LaGuardia Link SBS (NY1)
  • MTA Testing Second Avenue Subway Tracks (NY1); December Opening Looks Doubtful (DNA)
  • Garbage Truck Traffic Poisoning the Air in Poor Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens Neighborhoods (News)
  • New Taxi Tech Will Include Fingerprint Scanners to Verify Who’s Driving (Verge)
  • City Council Weighs Tour Bus Cap and Other Reforms (AMNY)
  • Schneiderman Charges Off-Duty Cop Who Shot Motorist Delrawn Small With Murder (NYT, DNA)
  • DOT Installs 31st Avenue Bike Lanes Over Objections of Queens CB 1 Concern Trolls (DNA)
  • DOT Could Still Make Improvements to Metropolitan Avenue Crossing Before Someone Dies (DNA)
  • Bronx Times Reporter Patrick Rocchio: Why Didn’t East Tremont Road Diet Prevent DWI “Accident”?
  • A Year After Installation, Cyclists Evaluate Disconnected Clove Road Bike Lane (Advance)
  • Motorist Strikes, Injures “at Least Two” People, Including a Child, in Borough Park (Post, DNA)
  • People You Share the Streets With (Post, Post, Advance)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Shame Bike Lane Blockers — and City Hall — With This Interactive Map

A new web site lets people publicize incidents of motorists blocking NYC bike lanes. The developer hopes the site will draw attention to bike lane obstructions as a serious safety issue, leading Mayor de Blasio to devote more resources to improving bike infrastructure.

Cars in Bike Lanes allows users to upload photos of offending vehicles to an interactive map, along with time and location info, and a description of each incident. Posts are vetted before they go live. Clicking on the license plate number shows whether the motorist is a repeat violator.

Developer Nathan Rosenquist told Gothamist he developed the site in response to City Hall’s “lack of leadership” on keeping bike lanes free of cars. During a recent appearance on WNYC, Mayor de Blasio said it was OK for motorists to park in bike lanes in certain cases. But parking in bike lanes is illegal, and poses a safety risk regardless of driver intent. “I don’t think he understands that it takes a lot less time to be killed on a bike than it takes to let the kids off at home,” Rosenquist said.

Rosenquist said his map, which is based on OpenStreetMap, is “more complete than both the DOT’s 2016 [bike] map and Google Maps.”

Ultimately Rosenquist would like to collect enough data to pressure City Hall to build more protected bikeways and keep motorists out of painted lanes. “New York City’s streets and traffic management need radical permanent changes to stay sustainable,” he said.

Streetsblog USA
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White House: Make Cities Affordable By Building for Walkability, Not Parking

The Obama administration is taking on the crisis of rising rents in American cities, releasing a series of recommendations today to spur the construction of more affordable housing. Among the many ideas the White House endorses: allowing more multi-family housing near transit and getting rid of parking minimums.

Rising rents are putting pressure on American families. Graph: White House

Rising rents and stagnant incomes are putting pressure on American families. Graph: White House

Since 1960, the share of renters paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing — the baseline for what is considered “affordable” — has risen from 24 percent to 49 percent, the White House reports in its new Housing Development Toolkit [PDF]. There are now 7.7 million severely rent-burdened households, defined as those paying more than 50 percent of their income for rent — an increase of about 2.5 million in just the past 10 years.

In the toolkit, the Obama administration acknowledges the links between housing and transportation, saying that “smart housing regulation optimizes transportation system use, reduces commute times, and increases use of public transit, biking and walking.”

The toolkit is full of policy recommendations to make it easier to build multi-family housing, incentivize the construction of subsidized housing, and shift away from the single-family/large lot development paradigm.

The document is merely advisory — federal officials don’t have the power to supersede most local zoning laws. But the White House does say that U.S. DOT will evaluate cities’ approaches to new housing development when it considers awarding major grants for new transit projects.

Here are a few of the highlights from the recommendations.

Read more…

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Expanded Citi Bike Routinely Hitting 60,000 Trips Per Day

With 67,489 trips last Wednesday, Citi Bike hit a new daily ridership peak for the ninth time this month, according to an email sent to members this morning. Riders have made 10 million Citi Bike trips so far in 2016, reaching the milestone more three months earlier than last year.

Citi Bike has broken its daily ridership record nine -- nine! -- times this month. Photo: Jon Orcutt

Citi Bike has broken its daily ridership record nine — nine! — times this month. Photo: Jon Orcutt

NYC’s bike-share system is in the middle of a three-year expansion plan, with the service area now extending up to 110th Street in Manhattan and into the Brooklyn neighborhoods between Prospect Park and the Red Hook waterfront. Record ridership should be expected as the system grows, but it’s notable just how many people use the system now. On days with good weather, notes Citi Bike, ridership is comparable to the Staten Island Ferry or the boro taxi program.

For international comparison, London’s bike-share program, which is three years older than New York’s and has more stations and bikes, has only topped 60,000 rides twice in its entire history, according to Transport for London data. Only Paris’s Velib and China’s massive bike-share systems get more ridership.

After declining in 2014, Citi Bike ridership started to turn around last summer when new ownership made a slew of improvements to the system’s hardware and software and began to add new stations.

The question now is how the city and Motivate will keep the momentum going after next year’s round of expansion in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn. DOT says its goal is to bring bike-share to all five boroughs, though it has yet to provide a timetable for doing so.

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Livable Streets Events

This Week: Get the Ball Rolling on the 14th Street PeopleWay

Gondolas and self-driving taxis are not going to cut it during the L train shutdown. When the line goes out of service for an 18-month repair job, the city will need a system in place to move massive numbers of people. The only way to do it is to set aside street space for faster buses and safer biking and walking.

To get people excited about the possibilities, Transportation Alternatives has teamed up with Gothamist on a contest to envision “L-ternatives” for 14th Street. If you’ve got ideas, you can share them with professional planners and students at a workshop tonight about the 14th Street PeopleWay.

Check the Streetsblog calendar for the full list of this week’s events.

  • Monday: T.A. hosts a workshop for the 14th Street PeopleWay at Town and Village Synagogue. 6:30 p.m. — RSVP required.
  • Tuesday: It’s the Tri-State Transportation Campaign annual benefit! Support advocacy for effective transit and safe streets throughout the region. New Jersey state senators Loretta Weinberg and Bob Gordon are among the honorees. 6 p.m.
  • Wednesday: The MTA holds a public hearing on access changes to the 59th Street Columbus Circle station. 5 p.m.
  • Saturday: Want safer streets in Bushwick? Brainstorm biking and walking improvements for the neighborhood at. 10 a.m.

Watch the calendar for updates. Drop us a line if you have an event we should know about.

Streetsblog.net
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More Evidence That Speed Cameras Work

The evidence is clear: Speed cameras save lives.

Photo: PBOT via Bike Portland

Photo: PBOT via Bike Portland

Here’s the latest success story — an update from Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland on the city’s first speed camera, which was installed on Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway last month:

Here are some facts about the BHH camera released by PBOT today:

  • Before the cameras were installed, an average 1,417 vehicles a day traveled 51 mph or faster, according to readings by a pneumatic tube laid across the roadway.
  • During the warning period from Aug. 24 to Sept. 18, an average 93 vehicles a day were found traveling 51 mph or faster — a 93.4 percent reduction from the tube count.
  • In the first week of the warning period, cameras recorded an average 115 violations a day. Violations dropped to an average 72 a day by the week of Sept. 12 to 18.

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