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Eyes on the Street: Red Paint for “Queue-Jump” Bus Lanes on the M86

A new bus lane next to the right-turn lane keeps buses from getting stuck at the back of the line as they exit the 86th Street Transverse at Fifth Avenue. Photo: Stephen Miller

A “queue-jump” bus lane next to the right-turn lane keeps buses from getting stuck at the back of the line as they exit the 86th Street Transverse at Fifth Avenue. Photo: Stephen Miller

Select Bus Service on 86th Street in Manhattan won’t be getting full bus-only lanes, but riders will benefit from short bus lanes at busy intersections. DOT has added two “queue-jump” lanes where 86th Street and 84th Street meet Fifth Avenue, to keep buses from getting stuck behind traffic waiting at lights.

The most important component of the M86 SBS upgrade is off-board fare collection. The sidewalk fare machines have been installed, but are not yet turned on for passengers.

When the upgraded service launches, the SBS vehicles will also receive flashing blue destination signs so riders can easily distinguish them from local buses. The new signs have begun rolling out on the M15 SBS on First and Second avenues.

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Streetsblog USA
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19’s Plenty: Toronto Drops Speed Limit to 19 MPH on Residential Streets

“There is no war on the car,” said Toronto City Councillor Paula Fletcher. “There’s basically been this continued war on people who don’t have a car.”

30 km

The new speed limit is 30 kph, or 18.6 mph.

To remedy that situation, Fletcher, along with all of her colleagues on the Toronto and East York community council, voted last week to reduce speed limits to 30 kph (or 18.6 mph) on 240 miles of residential streets in the central districts of the city.

The lower speed limits are expected to encourage more people to bike and walk, and to improve air quality and noise conditions in the affected neighborhoods.

Toronto Mayor John Tory opposes the plan, preferring a neighborhood-by-neighborhood approach. Previous Mayor Rob Ford was (not surprisingly) more blunt, called the idea “nuts, nuts, nuts.” But on this issue, the mayor doesn’t get a vote.

Opponents of the plan argued that it will backfire since some streets are designed for faster speeds. It’s true that lowering the posted speed limit is no substitute for street designs that slow motorists. That’s why 20 mph zones that have saved lives in London include engineering changes as well. But it’s also true that blanket speed limit reductions, with no additional interventions, have a track record of success.

The lower speed limits in Toronto will make difference, and hopefully will serve as an impetus to redesign streets for safer driving speeds too.

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DOT Opens Greenpoint Ave Bridge Bike Lanes — Now With Flex-Posts

Cyclists, led by DOT Assistant Commissioner Ryan Russo, ride over the newly-completed Greenpoint Avenue Bridge bike lanes. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

DOT Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo leads the pack over the newly-completed Greenpoint Avenue Bridge bike lanes. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

DOT staff led a celebratory ride on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge over Newtown Creek this morning to mark the completion of new bike lanes between Brooklyn and Queens.

The lanes provide safer passage on what had been a nerve-wracking crossing next to fast-moving traffic and lots of trucks. The project was first proposed in 2010 and revived earlier this year in a modified plan that called for curbside buffered bike lanes. Cyclists this morning discovered the final project has an extra bit of protection from traffic on the bridge: DOT has added plastic bollards to keep drivers out of the bikeway.

The plastic bollards continue even when the bike lane buffer disappears. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

The plastic bollards continue where the buffer tapers away at the ends of the bridge. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

On the Brooklyn side, the bridge connects to reconfigured bike lanes on Greenpoint Avenue. On the Queens side, sharrows are being added as part of a separate project.

Now, attention shifts to the other bike project linking Brooklyn and Queens: the long-awaited Pulaski Bridge bikeway. The early stages of construction have begun on that project, which involves more heavy-duty roadwork than the Greenpoint Avenue bike lanes. It’s set to open by the end of this year.

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Killing a Transit Project Isn’t Going to Fix Your City’s Parking Crunch

Broad Street in Richmond. Photo: Jeff Auth/Wikimedia Commons via GGW

Yesterday we ran a post from Michael Andersen about how Newark fixed the glut of parked cars on Mount Prospect Avenue, the first street in New Jersey to get a protected bike lane: Instead of letting people park in the bikeway, the city started charging for parking. With a price on parking, people stopped storing their cars on the street all day long, and there was finally some turnover. Problem solved.

The same approach makes sense any time free or cheap on-street parking gets stuffed with cars, but street redesigns often intensify the need to get parking prices right. Canaan Merchant at Greater Greater Washington reports on another case in point — a Bus Rapid Transit project called The Pulse in Richmond, Virginia.

On some sections, The Pulse will run on dedicated bus lanes along the median of Broad Street, and the city will remove some parking spaces to make room. That has a neighborhood association in the nearby Fan District riled up, but as Merchant points out, parking dysfunction can’t be pinned on the transit project:

It may be harder to park in the Fan in the future, but the Pulse won’t be to blame if that happens. Lots of people park on the street because parking there is usually convenient and cheap, or even free. In most cities, parking is drastically underpriced given how valuable the space spots take up is.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Turning Driver “Loses Control” and Seriously Injures Two in East NY; “No Criminality” (WCBS)
  • Two Killed, Four Injured in Two-Car Crash Outside Middle School in Bayside (News, WABC)
  • Queens BP, Council Members Use Budget to Fund Bus Countdown Clocks (News, Gothamist, TL)
  • Judge Dismisses Case Against DMV for Extra Fines, Points for Bicycle Tickets (Gothamist)
  • East Side Pols Fear Delays Mean 2nd Ave Subway Won’t Open As Promised by End of 2016 (News)
  • Slate Joins Uber In Its Skepticism of City’s Case for Cap on New FHV Licenses
  • Behavior Like This Is What It Takes for TLC to Revoke a Hack License (News)
  • NYPD Officer Arrested for Third Time in Eight Months After Crashing Motorcycle (Post)
  • East Harlem Residents Turn Out for Citi Bike Station Planning Workshop (DNA)
  • More Coverage of Town Hall on 111th Street Safety Plan from Times Ledger
  • Trottenberg, Reynoso, NYPD Talk Transportation at Myrtle Ave BID Meeting (Times Newsweekly)
  • Witold Rybczynski Sets the New York Times Straight About Cars in Central Park (NYT)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Ferreras: “My Focus Is to Make 111th Street One Hundred Percent Safe”

Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Council Member Julissa Ferreras, left, listens in during a workshop about a plan for 111th Street yesterday. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

A grassroots effort to improve safety on extra-wide 111th Street in Corona yielded a DOT plan for a road diet, better pedestrian crossings, and a protected bike lane this spring. Then two members of Queens Community Board 4 stymied the proposal, at least for the time being. To keep the project moving forward, Council Member Julissa Ferreras has organized two neighborhood town halls this month.

Nearly 50 people turned out yesterday afternoon for the first meeting at the New York Hall of Science. DOT gave a presentation before splitting participants into small groups to get feedback on the proposal [PDF] and hear concerns about safety on 111th Street, which widens to become a multi-lane divided road alongside Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

The heart of the plan is reducing the street to one motor vehicle lane in each direction and adding a curbside protected bike path next to the park. With fewer car lanes, speeding will be reduced and crossing the street to get to the park won’t be so challenging.

Most attendees were in favor of the change. “It’s going to be safe for me and my kids,” said Delia Tufino, who began bicycling a year ago as part of a program launched by Immigrant Movement International and the Queens Museum. “I think it’s important to bring the community out,” she said of the workshop.

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Cooper’s Law Is Not Getting Dangerous Cab Drivers Off NYC Streets

A Vision Zero law intended to get dangerous cab drivers off the road has been applied just two times since it took effect nine months ago, according to the New York Press.

TLC vehicles were involved in thousands of crashes in the months after Cooper’s Law took effect. The TLC has applied the law two times. Image: CBS 2

TLC vehicles were involved in thousands of crashes in the months after Cooper’s Law took effect. The TLC has applied the law two times. Image: CBS 2

Adopted last September, Cooper’s Law gives the Taxi and Limousine Commission discretion to suspend or revoke the TLC license of a cab driver convicted of a traffic violation or a crime following a crash that causes death or critical injury. The law was named after Cooper Stock, a 9-year-old Manhattan boy who was fatally struck by a yellow cab driver who failed to yield.

In a recent story on the Transport Workers Union’s campaign to weaken traffic safety laws, New York Press reporter Daniel Fitzsimmons spoke with Dana Lerner, Cooper’s mother, about the law named after her son. “An investigation by this paper found that since the law went into effect nine months ago,” Fitzsimmons wrote, “it has only been used twice.”

According to agency crash data issued in compliance with city transparency laws, TLC-licensed vehicles were involved in over 18,000 crashes between last October and March of this year. TLC drivers were involved in eight crashes resulting in critical injury, and five crashes resulting in death, during that period.

Of the crashes that caused death or critical injury, NYPD determined three cab drivers to be at fault. The agency reported that the TLC licenses of all three drivers were “summarily suspended” — but not revoked, as Cooper’s Law allows for. It is conceivable that not a single cab driver has lost his TLC license under Cooper’s Law after injuring or killing someone.

Before Cooper’s Law took effect, Streetsblog reported that its effectiveness would depend on NYPD, which rarely tickets or charges drivers involved in serious crashes. TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi confirmed months later that application of the law would hinge on how often NYPD issues summonses and charges

We contacted TLC to confirm that the agency has used Cooper’s Law just two times. We’ll update this story if we get a response.

Streetsblog USA
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Newark Clears Bike Lane of Cars, Solves Parking Problem With Meters Instead

walk bike jersey good lane

Newark’s stopgap solution to a parking crunch was to allow parking in the bike lane (see upper right). Since then it’s found a more sensible option: meters. Photo: WalkBikeJersey

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.

Three months after Newark drew national attention for considering removal of New Jersey’s only protected bike lane in order to allow illegal double-parking, the city has found a different solution.

Instead of designing the Mt. Prospect Avenue commercial strip around letting people park their cars two rows deep along the curb, the district is installing parking meters.

“Simply by adding parking meters and limiting parking to two hours, legal parking spots are now freed up for shoppers, rather than being occupied for hours or days at a time by residents and shop owners,” reports the New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition. “As a result, bike riders regained access to New Jersey’s first parking-protected bike lane, and newly-enacted street parking regulations will ensure that there is an ample supply of parking for customers of businesses along Mt. Prospect Avenue.”

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Motivate and DOT Squabble, Jeopardizing Success of Bike-Share Expansion

A dispute between NYC DOT and the company that runs Citi Bike threatens to rob New York City’s bike-share expansion of the very quality that’s made the existing service so useful. The key issue is station density, and whether the stations where Citi Bike expands will be within easy walking distance of each other like in the rest of the system.

UWS_station_deficit

DOT’s expansion plan for the Upper West Side falls 10-13 stations shy of the recommended standard, and that could spell trouble for the bike-share system as a whole. Map: Transportation Alternatives

The density of stations in the current Citi Bike network sets it apart from other American bike-share systems and helps explain why it’s used much more intensely. You can go anywhere in the service area and know that a station to pick up or drop off a bike is a short walk away. But DOT’s bike-share maps for the Upper East Side and Upper West Side abandon this core design principle.

The expansion plans for these neighborhoods each fall about a dozen stations shy of the density recommended by the National Association of City Transportation Officials, 28 per square mile [PDF]. On the Upper West Side, for instance, you can see the station deficit in this visualization produced by Transportation Alternatives — each orange disc represents a zone that should have a bike-share station in DOT’s plans but doesn’t.

The dearth of stations has been abundantly clear to participants at public meetings about the expansion, but when Streetsblog asked for comment from City Council members Helen Rosenthal and Ben Kallos, neither office wanted to speak up on the issue.

The Upper East Side and Upper West Side are two of the most densely populated neighborhoods in New York, right next to Midtown and all its jobs. Both areas also have large museums and hospitals and lots of latent demand for convenient cross-town travel. The appetite for bike-share should be enormous, and so should the revenue from Citi Bike memberships and day-passes — revenue that can, in effect, subsidize bike-share service in less dense parts of town.

That’s why thinning out the network in these expansion areas risks more than inconveniencing bike-share users who live in the neighborhood. If people can’t expect a short walk to and from stations, and if they can’t count on a redundant station nearby in the event their preferred station is full or empty, they won’t pay for bike-share and there won’t be much revenue to redirect toward service in other areas of the city.

DOT’s reluctance to go with the NACTO-recommended station density is tied to a dispute with Motivate, the company that runs Citi Bike.

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Your City Has a Complete Streets Policy. But Does It Have Complete Streets?

Is this a complete street? Image: Google Maps via Urban Indy

Is this a complete street? Image: Google Maps via Urban Indy

Indianapolis passed a Complete Streets ordinance in 2012 to much fanfare. Three years later, how well is the city designing streets for walking and biking?

Mayor Greg Ballard shepherded the fantastic Indianapolis Cultural Trail through to completion in 2013, but Emily Neitzel at Urban Indy says recent street revamps outside the downtown area are hit and miss.

The Emerson Avenue project between Shelbyville Road and I-65 brought a sidewalk to the east side of the road where there previously was no sidewalk, and in this case a strip of grass if not a tree well was added to separate the sidewalk.

However, sidewalks are still lacking on the west side of the street. Furthermore, at the intersections where major businesses like Target, Aldi, and Home Depot are located on both the east and west sides of Emerson, there is no crosswalk to go from east to west. The intersection at Emerson and Southport Road, where more businesses are located on both sides of the street, also lacks an east-west pedestrian crosswalk.

The project document from DPW notes that traffic along this corridor has increased by 600% in two decades, and the project’s increase from two lanes for automobile traffic to five makes this a priority. In fact, the summary of the benefits listed in the document does not even include benefits for pedestrians or bikers; instead highlighting “reduced traffic congestion and better driving conditions” in addition to a longer life for the roadway.

Neitzel notes that, per Smart Growth America, a complete street corridor should “make it easy to cross the street” and “walk to shops.” Indianapolis’s Emerson Avenue project doesn’t do that.

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