Skip to content

12 Comments

Happy Bike Month! Cyclists Must Dismount on Greenway, No One Knows Why

Parks Department officers are ordering cyclists to dismount on the Hudson River Greenway in Midtown and ticketing people who don’t comply.

Streetsblog reader Joanna Oltman Smith tweeted photos of what look like uniformed Park Enforcement Patrol officers issuing a ticket to a cyclist near 45th Street, and another blocking the greenway with a “dismount bike” stop sign. She says the dismount zone is in effect between 46th and 49th Street, interrupting the biggest transportation artery for bikes in the city, if not the nation.

We contacted the Parks Department and the Hudson River Park Trust about the dismount zone. No one who answered the phone could say why cyclists are being asked to dismount, but it seems probable that whatever is happening is related to Fleet Week. The Parks Department press office and the Hudson River Park Trust have both said they’re looking into it.

Making people walk their bikes is not a rational response to past incidents. In 2011 a motorist killed Steve Jorgenson, a Marine in town for Fleet Week, as he and his shipmates exited a cab on the West Side Highway at W. 49th Street.

The greenway is controlled by city and state agencies, and the state has jurisdiction below 59th Street. Whatever the intent behind the dismount zone may be, it’s emblematic of greenway managers’ longstanding failure to recognize this route as a vital bike transportation corridor.

1 Comment

Health Department: Car Crashes Remain Leading Injury Killer of NYC Kids

The blue line represents the total number of children killed by motorists. The brown, orange and peach lines line represent non-Hispanic black, non-Hispanic white, and Hispanic victims, respectively. Graph: DOH

The blue line represents the total number of children killed by New York City motorists. The brown, orange and peach lines line represent black, white, and Latino victims, respectively. Graph: DOH

Fewer New York City children are dying in traffic, but car crashes continue to be the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among kids ages 1 to 12, according to an annual child mortality report issued by the Department of Health [PDF].

New York City motorists killed 44 children between 2009 and 2013, according to the DOH. That’s a decrease from 67 deaths between 2004 and 2008. Fires were the second leading cause of unintentional child injury death during the latest reporting period, with 16 fatalities between 2009 and 2013.

The report distinguishes between “unintentional” injury deaths and deaths that were classified as homicides and suicides.

The decline in deaths caused by motor vehicle collisions occurred mainly among black children, the DOH reports. However, disparities probably remain. The report doesn’t spell out per capita traffic fatality rates by race or income, but kids living in the poorest neighborhoods are more likely to suffer unintentional fatal injuries, and the fatal injury rate among black children is higher than among white, Asian, or Latino children:

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
View Comments

Talking Headways Podcast: Moneyball for Transit

Laurel Paget-Seekins joins the podcast this week to talk about her days as a transit activist in Atlanta, what Santiago, Chile, taught her about transit networks, and her current work on data collection and dissemination as the director of strategic initiatives at the MBTA in Boston.

We discuss the MBTA’s data blog and dashboard, how the agency collects information, and the way it makes data available for people outside the agency to use it. Laurel is also the co-editor, along with Juan Carlos Munoz, of the recently published Restructuring Public Transport through Bus Rapid Transit. She shares her thoughts on BRT and its role in urban transportation networks.

It’s a can’t-miss episode for all you transit lovers out there.

4 Comments

Van Bramer + 24 Council Members Call on Albany to Allow More Speed Cams

Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer standing in support of speed cameras at every school earlier this month alongside Transportation Alternatives' Paul Steely White and members of Families for Safe Streets. Photo: David Meyer

Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer (second from left) with Transportation Alternatives Director Paul White, Public Advocate Tish James, and members of Families for Safe Streets calling for speed cameras at every school earlier this month. Photo: David Meyer

City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, 24 of his colleagues, and Public Advocate Letitia James are calling on the state legislature to expand NYC’s life-saving automated speed enforcement program.

Assembly Bill 9861, sponsored by Deborah Glick, would allow New York City to expand its speed camera program to every school in the five boroughs. It would also allow the cameras to operate at all hours, instead of only during school activities, and make the program permanent (it’s currently set to expire in 2018).

Van Bramer introduced a resolution yesterday with 25 co-sponsors calling on the state legislature to do away with the limit on the number of speed cameras NYC can employ. A separate resolution from Council Member Carlos Menchaca, with eight co-sponsors, calls for the elimination of the time-of-day restrictions on automated speed enforcement.

Van Bramer, James, and the two dozen other sponsors of the resolution — including Public Safety Committee Chair Vanessa Gibson and Deputy Leader for Policy Brad Lander — also sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo urging him to support the expansion of the speed camera program [PDF].

“All pedestrians, particularly children, are at a heightened risk of traumatic injury and death in speed-related crashes,” the letter says.

State law currently limits the city to 140 speed cameras for its 6,000 miles of streets. The cameras can only be used during school activities — even though most fatal crashes occur at night.

Speeding has dropped by 60 percent in locations with automated enforcement since the city first began using the cameras in 2013, according to NYC DOT. In 2014 and 2015, traffic deaths in New York City reached historic lows, but more than 200 people each year still lose their lives to motor vehicle crashes on city streets.

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
View Comments

No, Seattle Isn’t Waging a “War on Cars”

The most efficient way to move people in a crowded city simply isn't cars that are three-quarters empty. Graphic: Fehr & Peers via The Urbanist

The most efficient way to move people in a crowded city simply isn’t cars that are three-quarters empty. Graphic: Fehr & Peers via The Urbanist

It’s cliché at this point for newspapers to label any effort to improve walking, biking, or transit as a “war on cars.” The latest in this proud tradition is Seattle Times columnist Brier Dudley, who wrote recently that the city is waging “a shock-and-awe campaign targeting anyone who dares to drive in, through or around Seattle.” What was it exactly that set him off?

The offense Seattle committed was to shift away from measuring streets using “Level of Service,” which prioritizes the movement of vehicles. Instead the city will measure how many people are moving on streets, regardless of the mode they’ve chosen, writes Scott Bonjukian at the Urbanist:

This is indeed a novel approach to measuring the performance of local streets. The traditional Level of Service (LOS) tool ranks roadways based on how fast cars move; free flowing traffic gets an A, and gridlock gets an F. As demonstrated by over 60 years of post-WWII sprawl, the problem with this is it leads to an infinite loop of congestion, construction, and poor urban environments. Cities set a high standard for LOS, see that traffic is congested, widen roads or build new ones, see that the roads fill up with more cars due to induced demand, and repeat ad nauseam. This is also results in limited, if any, consideration for other users of the street: people walking, bicycling, and riding transit.

Read more…

57 Comments

Today’s Headlines

  • Eric Adams Wants Bike Lanes and Other Traffic Calming Measures on Flatbush Avenue (AMNY)
  • Driver Strikes Child Boarding a School Bus in Stapleton Section of Staten Island (Advance)
  • No One Is Stepping Up to Address the Northeast’s Deteriorating Transit Infrastructure (NYT)
  • WTC Concourse Linking PATH and the Subway Opens Today (CBS, NY1); News Not Impressed
  • The MTA Is Holding an L Train Meeting in Canarsie This Evening (AMNY)
  • The Second Avenue Subway Is Officially on the Map (NY1)
  • Daily News Story on de Blasio’s Stalled MTA Board Nominations Is Clear as Mud
  • Citizens Budget Commission Questions de Blasio’s BQX Cost Estimates (Crain’s)
  • More Coverage of Council Reform Package for Minor Offenses: NYT, Gothamist; Post Yells at Cloud
  • New York Spends Less on Parks Than Other Major U.S. Cities (Politico)
  • If You Can’t Add Density on Broadway in Manhattan, Where Can You Do It? (Politico; DNA 12)
  • Welcome to New York, Where Widened Highway Bridges Are Considered “Green” (ENR via @capntransit)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

73 Comments

Sidewalk Biking Enforcement and NYC’s New Criminal Justice Reforms

The City Council just passed a package of bills — collectively known as the Criminal Justice Reform Act — encouraging police officers to issue civil instead of criminal summonses for “quality-of-life” offenses like possessing an open container of alcohol or littering. Sidewalk biking wasn’t one of the offenses included in the bills, but a reform NYPD made to its enforcement of sidewalk cycling appears to have served as a proof of concept for the rest of the package.

Spearheaded by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the legislation aims to reduce NYPD’s issuance of criminal summonses that have disproportionately penalized communities of color for minor offenses. By issuing civil instead of criminal summons for transgressions like public urination, possession of an open container of alcohol, littering, excessive noise, and violating park rules with civil penalties instead of criminal summonses, the intent is to reduce the severe impact of enforcement.

While council members had initially hoped to eliminate criminal penalties for these offenses altogether, the version of Intro 1057-A passed today requires NYPD to develop guidelines dictating when to apply civil or criminal summonses for each offense. The bill states that the City Council has “concluded that criminal enforcement of these offenses should be used only in limited circumstances.”

A major impetus for the reforms is the disproportionate impact that enforcement of those five offenses has carried in communities of color. Sidewalk biking has historically been enforced in much the same wayA 2014 study showed that from 2008 to 2011, 12 of the 15 NYC neighborhoods where police issued the most sidewalk biking summonses were majority black or Latino.

“There’s been inequitable enforcement of cycling on the sidewalk,” said attorney and bike law expert Steve Vaccaro. “They haven’t been going after senior citizens on the Upper West Side the same as they go after young black men in East New York.”

Subdivision “b” of Section 19-176 of the city’s administrative code levies a maximum civil penalty of $100 for biking on the sidewalk. But subdivision “c” spells out a misdemeanor variation when someone bikes on the sidewalk in a “manner that endangers any other person or property” — and that carries a maximum penalty of 20 days in jail.

Read more…

18 Comments

After Unanimous CB 3 Vote, Chrystie Street Protected Lane Scheduled for Fall

DOT’s rendering of the two-way protected bike lane slated for Chrystie Street in the fall.

This two-way protected bike lane is coming to Chrystie Street in the fall. Rendering: NYC DOT

DOT’s plan for a two-way protected bike lane on Chrystie Street [PDF] got a unanimous vote of support from Manhattan Community Board 3 last night. The project is scheduled for implementation in the fall.

The project will place a two-way bike lane protected by parked cars and concrete barriers on the east side of Chrystie from Canal Street to Houston Street, improving connections between the Manhattan Bridge and protected lanes on First and Second avenues. It promises to be a major upgrade over Chrystie Street’s painted lanes, which are frequently blocked by cars, trucks, and buses. Last year, 16 cyclists and 14 pedestrians were injured on Chrystie Street.

The redesign concept was originally presented at the beginning of 2015 by Transportation Alternatives volunteer Dave “Paco” Abraham. It attracted support from CB 3 and almost every elected official who represents the area.

In addition to the Chrystie Street redesign, DOT plans to install a protected bike lane on Jay Street on the Brooklyn side of the Manhattan Bridge in the fall.

Image: DOT

A typical section in the Chrystie Street redesign. Image: DOT

Streetsblog.net
View Comments

Why Expensive Parking Is a Blessing

Graph: Patrick Kennedy

The more stores packed into a three-mile radius of downtown (Y-axis), the higher the price for a parking space (X-axis). Graph: Patrick Kennedy

Patrick Kennedy at Dallas Magazine’s Street Smart blog says that when parking gets expensive, the conventional wisdom he hears is that more parking should be built. But what high parking prices really signify, he writes, is simply a strong concentration of businesses and/or housing — the parking isn’t even necessary.

To illustrate the point, Kennedy mashed up parking costs compiled by real estate services firm Colliers International with City Observatory’s new “Storefront Index” that maps customer-serving businesses in cities. He explains:

The high cost of parking, to paraphrase the godfather, suggests (at least to the conventional wisdom) that there “isn’t enough parking.” That is incorrect. There is just the right amount of parking, give or take. That parking is substituted by nearby housing and jobs. People are nearby and therefore, those people create demand for services. Thus, storefronts people can walk to.

As you can see, retail density as represented by storefront density rises precipitously as parking costs rise. The best parking spot in service of retail is a nearby bedroom. Ideally, many of them. Like, thousands of them within walking distance, which ensures a measure of stability to those businesses, repeat business, and some protection against cannibalization from the ‘new’…

Space for parking is unproductive real estate. It is space wasted in service of other productive real estate. As it serves other real estate land uses, the conventional wisdom always suggests, “give us parking, so we can get X, Y, or Z land use.” However, that provision of parking is often at the expense of those same X, Y, and Z land uses as well as the stability and predictability of success for those land uses.

Read more…

35 Comments

Today’s Headlines

  • State Approves MTA Capital Plan and Cuomo’s IOU (WNYC, News, AMNY)
  • Second Avenue Subway Construction Costs Still Going Up (DNA)
  • Hudson River Park Trust to Disrupt Greenway Segment for a Year, Give or Take (DNA)
  • DNA Has More Coverage of DOT Union Square Bike Improvements
  • In Albany, Uber Has Taken a Back Seat to Preet (Politico)
  • If You Walk or Ride on NYC Streets, You’ll Want to Read This Politico Exposé on Private Trash Haulers
  • Family of Allison Liao: Fatal Traffic Collisions Aren’t Accidents (PIX)
  • Cops Chase Staten Island Driver as Pedestrians Scurry Out of Harm’s Way (Advance)
  • An Off-Duty NYPD Highway Cop Killed Two People Whose Car Broke Down on the LIE (NewsPost)
  • Chuck Schumer Drops In to Scold the MTA for Last Week’s Metro-North Fire (Post)
  • Parks Without Borders Program Aims to Make City Green Spaces More Accessible (NYT)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA