Nothing About Public Transportation in Chris Quinn’s Transportation Report

This is not a graphic from Christine Quinn's transportation report. In fact, the report says nothing at all about transit.

If you’re like most New York commuters, you took a train or bus to get to work today. And like most New Yorkers, you are invisible to the City Council and speaker Christine Quinn.

On Tuesday, Quinn issued a letter, co-signed by transportation committee chair James Vacca, bragging about the accomplishments of a council obsessed with the perceived needs of city drivers. You know the bills: the muni-meter grace period, the elimination of the alternate side violation sticker, the loosening of parking fine deadlines. While she makes mention of the law that requires NYPD to post traffic crash data online, Quinn also touts the council’s success in adding red tape to the installation of bike lanes, a proven safety measure.

November 2010: Quinn and Vacca take aim at safer streets.

The council’s transportation achievements add up to three bills written to address the pet peeves of certain car owners, three bills that allow council members to grandstand for codifying existing DOT protocols, and one genuinely useful bill to help make streets safer.

More broadly, Quinn’s “Transportation Report” contains not one word about public transportation. Framing the council’s transportation agenda as a win for “nearly every New York City driver,” Quinn ignores the 55 percent of commuters who rely on transit. Quinn and the City Council are kowtowing to the city’s motoring elite the same way Republicans in the House of Representatives are writing legislation to please oil companies.

You can find the full text of Quinn’s missive after the jump. Have at it.

January 31, 2012

Dear New Yorker,

A special thank you to everyone who responded to our first NYC Council Transportation Report! We were thrilled with the positive response, and the feedback we received was very helpful and informative.

There’ve been a number of important transportation-related developments since then, many of which you’ll find detailed in our newest report below.

As we explained in our first issue, our goal with these reports is to stay better connected and engaged with you and other New Yorkers about the important and challenging transportation issues affecting our city and communities, so please keep the comments and feedback coming!

If you have any questions about the initiatives below, please feel free to contact either Lyle Frank or Nivardo Lopez in the Council’s Human Services Division at lfrank@council.nyc.gov or nlopez@council.nyc.gov.

Thanks so much, and we look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

Christine C. Quinn
Speaker
NYC Council

James Vacca
Chair, Transportation Committee
NYC Council

Making Parking Enforcement in NYC Fairer for Motorists

Nearly every New York City driver has a story about getting a ticket they clearly didn’t deserve.

To help make parking enforcement in our city fairer, the City Council recently passed a series of bills, collectively known as the “Fair Parking Legislative Package.”

The first bill, Intro. 490, presented by Speaker Quinn during her 2011 State of the City address and introduced by Council Member James Gennaro, is aimed at helping drivers who receive a parking ticket while in the process of paying for a muni-meter spot.

Right now, traffic cops aren’t allowed to cancel tickets for any reason, forcing drivers to dispute tickets at a later date.

Under our new law, anyone who receives a ticket while doing what they’re supposed to do – purchasing parking time from a muni-meter – won’t have to fight it later on if they present their time-stamped muni meter ticket to the agent within 5 minutes of the ticket being issued.

This legislation only applies to tickets written electronically (which account for about 85 percent of parking tickets written in the City), so there shouldn’t be any dispute over the time stamped on the ticket and the muni-meter receipt.

The City will also be required to report the number of cancelled tickets annually to the Council, providing us with valuable information about any trends.

Intro. 610, introduced by Council Member James Sanders, prohibits the City from charging drivers late fees on parking tickets until 30 days after a ruling is made

Motorists have every right to dispute parking tickets and shouldn’t be penalized before a final determination is made in their case.

The way the law currently works, drivers begin to accrue fees 30 days after a ticket is written, regardless of whether they’re fighting the ticket in court.

Our bill will provide parking ticket recipients a greater degree of fairness as they await the ruling of an Administrative Law Judge.

Finally, Intro. 546, introduced by Council Member David Greenfield, prohibits the City from placing adhesive stickers to mark vehicles purportedly violating alternate side parking rules.  These stickers are attached even before motorists are given the chance to prove their innocence.  Besides the fact that many people successfully challenge alternate side tickets, cars shouldn’t be subject to such a nuisance before a finding of guilt.  Actions like these are unnecessarily punitive, and our bill will end this practice once and for all.

We’d like to Council Members Gennaro, Sanders and Greenfield for all the hard work and effort they put into the passage of these bills.  Our Fair Parking Legislative Package will provide relief to motorists while promoting more judicious parking enforcement and ticketing practices citywide, and we urge Mayor Bloomberg to sign all three of these bills into law.

Increasing Community Input on Bicycle Lanes

According to the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT), since 2008, over 200 miles of bicycle lanes have been installed, and the City is planning to have installed 1,800 miles of bicycle lanes by 2030.  The City’s bicycle lane network has now been expanded to all five boroughs, including:

  • Flushing Avenue (Brooklyn);
  • Grand Concourse-Mosholu Parkway (Bronx);
  • Columbus Avenue (Manhattan);
  • Center Boulevard (Queens); and
  • North and South Railroad Avenues (Staten Island).

Now, there’s no disputing that the development of a safer, more accessible biking infrastructure is good for our city.  In addition to the recreational benefits that bicycling offers, bicycle lanes also provide an important, environmentally friendly alternative form of transportation.  However, the expansion of these bicycle lanes has also raised a number of safety and community consultation concerns.

In response to these concerns, the City Council passed Local Law 61 of 2011, sponsored by Council Member Lew Fidler.  Scheduled to take effect later next month, this law will allow local communities the opportunity for greater input in the process of where and how bicycle lanes are installed and removed.  While Local Law 61 doesn’t prevent DOT from installing or removing bicycle lanes, it formalizes a process of consultation with local community boards.  These community boards can then provide additional input to achieve the best and safest means of bringing bicycle lanes to individual communities.

Specifically Local Law 61 requires the DOT to:

  • give affected Council Members and community boards at least 90 days’ notice before constructing or removing a bicycle lane; and
  • offer to make a presentation at a public hearing held by such affected community board.

If the local community board accepts the DOT’s offer, the hearing must be held within 45 days of the notice given.  The DOT shall then make a presentation of the proposed plans and receive input and will not be permitted to construct or remove such bicycle lane until at least 45 days after the public hearing. However, if no hearing is held, the construction or removal of the bicycle lane may not occur until 90 days after the notification.

Local Law 61 further requires that if the notification is given between June 20 and August 6, the period for a public hearing shall conclude on September 20, and the bicycle lane may not be constructed until 90 days following the notification or 10 days after the hearing, whichever time period is later.  This is done to ensure maximum participation of community boards, most of which are in recess during the summer.

We’d like to thank all of our colleagues, especially Council Member Fidler, for helping us ensure that the DOT is working with community boards and fully considering feedback from neighborhood residents on where, and how, bicycle lanes are installed.

TrafficStat – A Reality!

Good news: Accident and summons data is now available to the public for the first time on the New York City Police Department’s website, thanks to Local Law 12 of 2011, sponsored by Council Member Jessica Lappin.

The crash data, which includes the number of moving violation summonses, the number of traffic crashes, and the number of injuries and fatalities citywide and by borough, can be found at http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/html/traffic_reports/motor_vehicle_accident_data.shtml.  The summons data can be found at http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/html/traffic_reports/traffic_summons_reports.shtml.

Having this data available online to the public will help us come up with better solutions to the many traffic and pedestrian safety issues affecting many of our communities.  Armed with this information, we’ll be better able to make our streets safer for everyone.

A special note of thanks to Council Member Lappin and our colleagues for helping to make this happen.

City Council & Mayor Bloomberg Launch Interactive Street Closures Map

Residents will now find it easier to navigate the City, thanks to the launch of NYC Street Closures – a new interactive website that maps closed-off streets across the five boroughs.

This online tool came out of legislation, sponsored by Council Member Garodnick, requiring the NYC Department of Information Technology and Telecommunication (DoITT) to create an online, interactive map displaying current and planned closings due to construction, street fairs, and parades.

The map is available online at NYC.gov and will be updated as often as practicable and necessary but not less than once a week.  Users can search the map based on date, time, and location.

With this information literally at their fingertips, New Yorkers will be better able to navigate the city and get from point A to B with less hassle.

We’d like to thank the Mayor and his Administration for working with us to help make New Yorkers’ lives a little easier.  Our sincere thanks as well to Council Member Garodnick for his leadership and support authoring the bill that created this new online tool.

Interagency Consultation PRIOR to Major Transportation Projects

In a continuing effort to involve and notify community boards and affected Council Member of transportation projects in their districts, the City Council passed and the mayor signed into law Local Law 64 of 2011, sponsored by Council Member James Vacca.

The law, which goes into effect February 12, 2012, requires the Department of Transportation (DOT) to consult with the Police Department, the Fire Department, the Department of Small Business Services and the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities before undertaking any new projects.   (The term “major transportation project”, is defined as “any project that, after construction, will alter four or more consecutive blocks, or 1,000 consecutive feet of street, whichever is less, involving a major realignment of the roadway, including either removal of a vehicular lane(s) or full time removal of a parking lane(s) or addition of vehicular lane(s).”)

When the City takes on a major transportation project, it stands to reason the DOT would consider input from relevant city agencies.  Thanks to Local Law 64, not only will city departments be involved in the planning of new transportation projects,  but Council and Community Board members will have full access to the data, ensuring that the soundest decisions are made to better our neighborhoods.

Statistic Reporting AFTER Completion of Major Projects

Another new law related to major transportation projects was also recently passed by the City Council and signed by Mayor Bloomberg.

Local Law 66 of 2011, sponsored by Transportation Chair James Vacca and scheduled to take effect February 10, 2012, requires the Department of Transportation (DOT) to provide statistics related to a major transportation project not less than 18 months following the completion of that project.  These statistics must include data on the average number of crashes over the five-year period prior to installation and the one year subsequent to the project.

In addition, DOT must also measure the impact the project has had on the flow of traffic in the area following the completion of the project, most importantly as to emergency vehicles.

All of the information must be made available to the affected community boards and council members and posted on DOT’s website.

Transportation & Our Quality of Life

Transportation-related issues are among the most pressing quality-of-life issues facing our communities today.

In addition to working collectively on these initiatives, the City Council is also working individually in our respective districts to help identify and respond to transportation-related issues and concerns at the local level.

As always, community input and involvement in these efforts are key, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to your local Council Member if there’s a transportation-related concern or issue in your community that needs addressing.  Contact information for all 51 members can be found on the City Council’s website at www.council.nyc.gov.

Together we can make our neighborhood and city a much better place to live!