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Posts from the DOT Category


NYPD Conspicuously Absent From City Council Vision Zero Hearing

How seriously does Police Commissioner Bill Bratton take Vision Zero? The City Council transportation committee held a hearing today to gauge the city’s progress in reducing traffic injuries and deaths, and NYPD didn’t send a single person to provide testimony or answer questions.

Hard to imagine NYPD skipping a council hearing on shootings or terrorism, but it seems traffic violence is not a priority for Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. Photo: Clarence Eckerson

Hard to imagine NYPD skipping a council hearing on shootings or terrorism, but it seems traffic violence is not a priority for Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.
Photo: Clarence Eckerson

In NYPD’s absence, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg — as she often does — had to field council member queries pertaining to police traffic enforcement. Transportation chair Ydanis Rodriguez wondered if NYPD is making progress in keeping dangerous violations down, and how often police are ticketing motorists for blocking bike lanes. James Vacca wanted to know if speeding ticket counts increased after the new 25 miles per hour speed limit took effect last year. Not surprisingly, Trottenberg didn’t have responses, and deferred to NYPD.

DOT does manage the city’s traffic enforcement cameras, which are making streets safer, Trottenberg said, but they could be doing more if not for arbitrary restrictions imposed by state lawmakers.

Trottenberg said violations are down 60 percent at fixed speed camera locations. Red light camera citations have dropped 71 percent since that program started in 1994, Trottenberg said. In 2014, when less than half of the city’s speed cameras were operational, cameras ticketed almost four times as many speeding drivers as NYPD.

Yet in addition to limiting the number of cameras the city is allowed to use — 140 speed cameras and 150 red light cameras — Albany limits when and where speed cameras may operate. Albany allows cameras do be turned on during school hours only. Trottenberg said location restrictions mean that in some cases, DOT is not permitted to place a speed camera on the most dangerous street that kids actually cross to get to a school. Also thanks to Albany, drivers have to be speeding by 11 miles per hour or more to get a speed camera ticket.

Council members asked Trottenberg if expanding the speed camera program was on the de Blasio administration’s Albany agenda for next year, but she didn’t give a definitive answer.

Trottenberg also said DOT has completed 26 street safety projects since the agency released its Vision Zero borough action plans, including the ongoing revamp of Queens Boulevard and 300 leading pedestrian intervals. But since DOT puts all Vision Zero projects in the same basket — from major changes to Queens Boulevard to tweaking a single intersection — a single number doesn’t convey much information.

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34th Precinct Cracks Down on Drivers Double-Parked in Inwood Bike Lanes

A 34th Precinct officer cites a driver blocking a bike lane on Sherman Avenue in Inwood. Photo: 34th Precinct/Facebook

A 34th Precinct officer cites a driver blocking a bike lane on Sherman Avenue in Inwood. Photo: 34th Precinct/Facebook

When DOT installed new bike lanes on Sherman Avenue in Inwood a few weeks back, it didn’t take long before they were blocked by double-parked drivers.

Sherman is one of many Inwood streets that effectively has four parking lanes. This isn’t good for anyone, as it makes it dangerous to walk and bike, and creates aggravation for drivers — which, in turn, makes it dangerous to walk and bike.

Responding to residents’ complaints, on Friday the 34th Precinct announced a double-parking crackdown. Deputy Inspector Chris Morello, the precinct’s commanding officer, posted photos of officers issuing tickets on Facebook.

Well, you asked for it, and you got it: we had a double parking initiative yesterday in the 34 Pct. Summonses were issued for double parking (particularly in bike lanes) on Broadway, Sherman, Dyckman and Post (these are our most congested and dangerous roadways).

In the past month, we have issued 632 double parking summonses, up 10% from last year. And we have issued a total of 7,711 parking summonses this year. This is all done in an effort to keep traffic moving and keep our residents safe.

Hats off to Deputy Inspector Morello and precinct officers for taking on what is mainly a symptom of dysfunctional curb management. Now if DOT would help out by swapping private car parking for commercial loading zones, traffic would flow more smoothly and Inwood streets would be safer.


DOT Secures Federal Grant to Add More Sidewalk Seating

DOT officials and others with CityBench number 1,500, at MS 22 in the Bronx. Photo: DOT

DOT officials and others with CityBench number 1,500 at MS 22 in the Bronx. Photo: DOT

A federal grant will bring more public benches to NYC sidewalks, DOT announced yesterday.

The CityBench program, a PlanNYC initiative launched in 2011, has brought hundreds of steel benches to streets across the boroughs. DOT marked the installation of the 1,500th bench yesterday, at MS 22 in the Bronx, and said the Federal Transit Authority has awarded the program an additional $1.5 million. The FTA provided 80 percent of the initial $3 million CityBench budget.

CityBench targets commercial districts and areas where seniors and people with impaired mobility lack places to sit. Bench sites can be requested via the DOT web site.

“New York’s CityBench program is a welcome reprieve for many who pound the pavement every day,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “The additional funding for this program will benefit many, especially those in my district of East Harlem, which has a prominent and growing senior population.”


DOT: NYC to Install Record Number of Protected Bike Lanes in 2015

DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, center, arrives with City Council Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez, left. Council members Ben Kallos and Helen Rosenthal are behind. Photo: Stephen Miller

Think DOT’s bicycle program has lost its mojo? Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg begs to differ, and she made her case today at an event highlighting bike projects that are now in progress or have recently been completed.

Last year, Bicycling Magazine named New York the best American city for biking, just nine months after Trottenberg took over at DOT. “We felt an obligation to double down on our efforts to encourage and support bicycling in New York City,” Trottenberg said at a press conference this morning touting the administration’s bike lane progress. “Expanding and upgrading the bicycle network is an important step.”

The city is on track to install 12 miles of protected bike lanes by the end of the year, above its five-mile annual target and the highest amount ever installed in a calendar year. The city has also surpassed 1,000 miles of bicycle facilities, DOT said, with 1,010 miles citywide.

DOT counts bike lanes on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, W. 170th Street, Fort George Hill, Seaview Avenue, Edgecombe Avenue and Clinton Street toward its tally of protected lanes completed this year. Work on Queens Boulevard, Lincoln Square and First Avenue is expected to wrap by the end of the year. In addition, Pulaski Bridge and Bruckner Boulevard protected bike lanes, already under construction, are slated to open next year.

There’s no doubt that protected bike lane mileage is expanding at a healthy clip this year, but there are some asterisks.

Not all of these bike lanes are protected from car traffic by parked vehicles or concrete barriers. Some are separated from moving cars only by flexible posts. DOT also includes Vernon Boulevard, a two-way bikeway from 2013 that received concrete barriers this year, and E. 37th Street, which was striped last November, in its totals for this year.

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DOT Commits to Sixth Ave Protected Bike Lane From 14th to 33rd Streets

What Sixth Avenue could look like. Rendering: The Street Plans Collaborative and Carly Clark for Transportation Alternatives [PDF]

What Sixth Avenue could look like. Rendering: The Street Plans Collaborative and Carly Clark for Transportation Alternatives [PDF]

DOT says it will begin planning and outreach later this year for a protected bike lane on Sixth Avenue between 14th and 33rd Streets in Manhattan.

The announcement comes after years of advocacy by the Transportation Alternatives Manhattan activist committee, which called for protected bike lanes and pedestrian islands on Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue. The effort garnered support from local community boards, business improvement districts, and City Council members Corey Johnson and Dan Garodnick. Now, DOT is officially on board.

Currently, there are northbound protected bike lanes on the east side (First Avenue) and west side (Eighth Avenue) of Midtown, but not in between. Nevertheless, there’s a huge appetite for cycling along the spine of Manhattan, and many people on bikes have to mix it up with car traffic on some of the city’s widest and most chaotic streets. In May, DOT added buffers to the existing bike lane on Sixth Avenue between Christopher and 14th streets.

DOT hasn’t committed to a southbound protected bike lane on Fifth Avenue. The agency instead views the Sixth Avenue project as a pair with the southbound protected bike lane on Broadway in Midtown. There is also a buffered bike lane on Fifth Avenue south of 23rd Street.

Will the Sixth Avenue bike lane extend north of 33rd Street, where cyclists face the most intense car traffic? “One step at a time,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. “The goal is, we’ll continue to work our way north, as we have on a lot of these projects.”

Transportation Alternatives has an online petition to thank City Hall for the Sixth Avenue project and urge the city to bring protected bike lanes to more Midtown avenues.

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Seniors Are Not to Blame for NYC’s Failure to Make Streets Safer

The white arrow indicates the approximate path of Lubov Brodskaya - it’s unknown if she was walking north or south - and the red arrow indicates the approximate path of the FedEx driver who killed her at E. 12th Street and Avenue J. Image: Google Maps

The white arrows indicate the approximate path of Lubov Brodskaya — it’s unknown if she was walking north or south — and the red arrow indicates the approximate path of the FedEx driver who struck her at E. 12th Street and Avenue J. Image: Google Maps

In response to motorists fatally striking seniors in the Brooklyn South command, NYPD admonished seniors to be more careful when going outside. A recent fatality in the 70th Precinct is a prime example of how focusing on the behavior of victims is a wrongheaded and ineffective approach to street safety.

One of the victims cited in last week’s DNAinfo story was Lubov Brodskaya, age 90, who was struck on August 19. NYPD told JP Updates Brodskaya was crossing at the intersection of Avenue J and E. 12th Street at around 1:35 in the afternoon “when she was hit by a FedEx van turning right into the avenue.” She died the next day.

The 27-year-old FedEx driver remained on scene and the investigation is ongoing by the NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad, a police source said, adding that the CIS was not immediately requested by the 70th precinct for an unknown reason.

The driver is not expected to face any charges, the source said.

Brodskaya was at least the second city pedestrian in four months killed in a crash that involved a FedEx driver. I asked FedEx about the crash and received the following generic statement: “First and foremost, we extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Ms. Brodskaya. FedEx Ground cooperated fully with all authorities who investigated the accident.”

Avenue J at E. 12th Street is a signalized intersection with marked crosswalks, and E. 12th Street is one-way with no turn lanes or dedicated turn signals. If the FedEx driver had a green signal while turning right from E. 12th onto Avenue J, Brodskaya should have had a walk signal, meaning it’s likely she was crossing with the right of way.

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Empire Boulevard Reconstruction Will Create Two Plazas

A reconstruction project will add pedestrian plazas to Empire Boulevard, including this one at Remsen Avenue. Images: DOT [PDF]

A street reconstruction will add plazas to Empire Boulevard, including this one at Remsen Avenue. Images: DOT [PDF]

Dangerous intersections at each end of Empire Boulevard, which stretches east-west across the southern edge of Crown Heights, are set for some major new pedestrian space.

A street reconstruction project will reconfigure the area where Empire Boulevard, East New York Avenue, Remsen Avenue, and Utica Avenue converge. There, DOT will reroute traffic, creating a new pedestrian plaza. Similar changes are coming to the intersection of Empire Boulevard, Franklin Avenue, and Washington Avenue.

From 2009 to 2013, there were 490 injuries at the two locations combined, including 29 serious injuries, placing them in the most dangerous 10 percent of Brooklyn streets, according to DOT [PDF].

The changes are part of a multi-agency capital project to rebuild utilities and roadbeds on both ends of Empire. The project will also repave the 1.5-mile street, which received a road diet, pedestrian islands and bike lanes in 2009.

Today, the intersections where Empire Boulevard meets Utica Avenue are a mess. East New York Avenue and Remsen Avenues slice diagonally across Empire, creating triangles surrounded by car traffic and forcing pedestrians to make multiple dangerous crossings.

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Mayor’s Report Card: Traffic Deaths Falling, But Policy a Mixed Bag

Each year, the City Charter requires the mayor to issue a report showing whether city agencies are meeting their goals. This year’s report card is a mixed bag for street safety, DOT, and NYPD. While fatalities are down, the direction of the enforcement and street design policies behind Vision Zero is less clear.

Moving violations are down overall, but up for the most dangerous violations. Yet cell phone tickets are in a free-fall. Photo: NYC DOT/Flickr

Moving violations are down overall, but up for “hazardous violations.” Photo: NYC DOT/Flickr

The document, called the Mayor’s Management Report, gathers data for each fiscal year. The latest edition covers fiscal year 2015, which ended June 30.

During that period, traffic fatalities declined 13 percent compared the year before, including a 20 percent drop for motor vehicle occupants and an 8 percent drop for pedestrians and cyclists. Only fiscal year 2011 saw fewer traffic deaths. (The report does not measure serious injuries, which are subject to less statistical noise than fatalities.)

NYPD issued 4 percent fewer traffic tickets last year, but 11 percent more summonses for “hazardous violations,” which include failing to yield to pedestrians, improper turns, double parking, and running red lights. Still, police issued slightly more hazardous violations in 2011 than last year [PDF].

Tickets for using a cell phone while driving fell 11 percent last year to 125,787, continuing a downward trend from a peak of 231,345 in 2010 [PDF]. Interestingly, the report says the “desired direction” for hazardous violations and cell phone summonses is “neutral” rather than “up.”

Moving violations issued by the Taxi and Limousine Commission to for-hire drivers jumped 113 percent last year to 10,738, and cell phone violations increased 25 percent to 5,690 tickets. At the same time, summonses for unlicensed for-hire operation fell 16 percent to 12,497 [PDF].

The police made 8,155 drunk driving arrests, down from the previous two years. Last year, 31 people died in DUI crashes, also down from the previous two years but up from 2011 and 2012.

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Rodriguez Bill Would Mandate Daylighting at 25 Intersections Per Year

City Council transportation chair Ydanis Rodriguez introduced legislation today intended to improve pedestrian safety along bus routes and at intersections with high crash rates.

Ydanis Rodriguez, with Council Member Brad Lander at right, outside City Hall today. Photo: @ydanis

Transportation chair Ydanis Rodriguez, with Council Member Brad Lander at right, outside City Hall today. Photo: @ydanis

Intro 912 would require DOT to daylight the five “most dangerous intersections” in each borough annually, as determined by the number of fatalities and injuries. Curb extensions would be installed to prevent parking within 15 feet of selected crossings.

Twenty-five intersections a year isn’t a large number, but by codifying the selection process based on crash data, daylighting projects would not be subject to the whims of community boards, which routinely prioritize parking over street safety. It would also compel DOT to make more consistent use of an effective and relatively simple street safety tool.

A second bill, Intro 911, would require DOT to study pedestrian and cyclist safety along bus routes and implement traffic-calming measures — including turn restrictions, neckdowns, daylighting, and leading pedestrian intervals — at “high risk intersections.” It would also require DOT to develop a comprehensive strategy for bus route safety.

Finally, Reso 854 calls on the MTA to study measures to reduce “blind spots” on buses and install audible warnings to alert drivers to the presence of pedestrians.

“The most important is the one that will mandate DOT to remove two parking spots in each of the five most dangerous intersections in [each borough],” Rodriguez told Stephen Miller today, following an event on Manhattan traffic congestion organized by Borough President Gale Brewer. “The reason why this legislation has strong merit is because 74 percent of pedestrians killed in New York City are killed in intersections. Eighty-nine percent of cyclists killed in New York City also are killed in intersections.”

“We believe that we, working together with DOT, will be able to do daylighting,” said Rodriguez. “It will improve visibility for drivers.”

The bills have support from several council members, including Brad Lander, Margaret Chin, Helen Rosenthal, and Rory Lancman.


First Avenue Bike Lane Fix on Hold Until Pope and UN Leave Town

Image: DOT

Wait until next month for safety improvements on First Avenue. Image: DOT [PDF]

DOT was supposed to start filling the gap in the First Avenue protected bike lane in Midtown this summer, but the agency says it’s waiting until the Pope leaves town and the UN General Assembly adjourns before moving forward.

When the First Avenue bike lane was installed in 2011, DOT left a gap of 10 blocks south of 59th Street, instead going with sharrows to maximize the number of car lanes approaching the toll-free Queensboro Bridge. Then this May DOT came back and got Community Board 6’s backing to fill the gap.

The plan was to install a protected bike lane and pedestrian islands from 49th to 55th streets over the summer, before coming back to CB 6 in September or October with a design for the final few blocks. That segment, from 55th to 58th streets, is clogged with multiple lanes of drivers turning left across the paths of cyclists.

DOT Bicycle Program Director Hayes Lord explained the process at a meeting of the New York Cycle Club last night. “We couldn’t even model the portion from 55th to 59th,” he said of the traffic challenges. “[CB 5 members] were very pleased that we were taking this approach, that we weren’t just ramming it through. We want to do it right. So we will take our time.”

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