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No Right-of-Way Charge for Cab Driver Who Killed Senior in UES Crosswalk

An unidentified cab driver fatally struck 76-year-old Amelia Sterental in an Upper East Side crosswalk. NYPD and Cy Vance filed no charges. Image: WABC

An unidentified cab driver fatally struck 76-year-old Amelia Sterental in an Upper East Side crosswalk. NYPD and Manhattan DA Cy Vance filed no charges. Image: WABC

A yellow cab driver fatally struck a senior in an Upper East Side crosswalk Saturday, and no charges were filed by NYPD or Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance. The crash occurred in the 19th Precinct, where as of March officers had issued just 10 speeding tickets in 2015.

At around 2:43 p.m. Amelia Sterental, 76, was walking north across 60th Street when the cab driver hit her with a Ford SUV while turning left from Madison Avenue, according to NYPD and published reports.

From the Daily News:

The Miami woman was thrown over the taxi and ended up crumpled on the road in front of high-end clothing stores like Barneys and Calvin Klein, witnesses said.

“It smashed her and she went airborne and went over the back (of the car),” said Frank Semmel, 39, a retired New Jersey policeman.

“A street vendor who didn’t give his name said the cabby had ‘made a fast turn’ before he struck the unidentified woman in the crosswalk,” the Post reported.

“I heard screeching of the brakes,” another witness told the Post. “People started screaming. I turned around and there was a woman on the floor.”

Sterental, who lived in Bal Harbour, Florida, died at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NYPD told Streetsblog.

Police and press accounts of the crash suggest Sterental was crossing with the right of way and the cab driver was traveling at an unsafe speed. But as of this morning, NYPD and Vance had filed no charges against the driver, whose name was withheld by police.

Cab drivers turn onto 60th Street from left turn lane on Madison Avenue. Image: Google Maps

Cab drivers turn onto 60th Street from left turn lane on Madison Avenue. Image: Google Maps

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Driver “Flying” Through Harlem School Zone Kills Child — Tabs Blame Victim

The car involved in the collision that killed Ervi Secundino had extensive damage to the hood and grille, indicating the crash likely occurred at a high rate of speed. Witnesses said the driver was “flying” through a school zone at dismissal time. Image: WNBC

The car involved in the collision that killed Ervi Secundino had extensive damage to the hood and grille, indicating the crash likely occurred at a high rate of speed. Witnesses said the driver was “flying” through a school zone at dismissal time. Image: WNBC

A driver operating a TLC-licensed vehicle killed a 12-year-old boy outside a school in Harlem Wednesday.

The crash occurred in the 32nd Precinct, where officers issue an average of between one and two speeding tickets per day.

Ervi Secundino was hit at approximately 3:15 p.m. in front of Frederick Douglass Academy, where he was in the sixth grade, the Times reported. He was crossing Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard at 150th Street, west to east, when the southbound driver struck him and dragged him for one block, according to NYPD and media reports.

Ervi lived on 145th Street, near the school. He was pronounced dead at Harlem Hospital. Ervi was at least the second child age 14 and under killed by a New York City motorist this year, and the tenth since January 2014, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog.

The driver was a 23-year-old man who lives in Brooklyn, a police spokesperson said. His name was not released by NYPD or the Taxi and Limousine Commission. NYPD had no information on the driver’s speed or who had the right of way, and police had filed no charges as of late this morning. The NYPD spokesperson said the investigation was ongoing.

Images from the scene show the car, a Toyota livery cab, with extensive damage to the hood and grille, indicating the driver was likely exceeding the 25 miles per hour speed limit. While the Post and the Daily News blamed the child for being in the street, WNBC spoke with witnesses who said the driver was speeding.

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CB 6 Panel Unanimously Backs Plan to Fill Gap in 1st Ave Protected Bike Lane

Image: DOT

A shared lane will be replaced by a protected bike lane on 10 blocks of First Avenue. Image: DOT [PDF]

DOT is set to fill a key 10-block gap in the First Avenue protected bike lane this summer, but cyclists might have to wait until the fall for the final piece of the missing link.

The Manhattan Community Board 6 transportation committee voted 12-0 last night to support the plan [PDF], which replaces sharrows with a dedicated protected bike lane. It also includes major curb extensions and pedestrian islands to shorten crossing distances and calm traffic at the intersection of First Avenue and 49th Street.

The changes cover one of the most dangerous sections of First Avenue: There have been five traffic fatalities between 49th and 59th streets — all pedestrians — since 2009, according to DOT. Three of those deaths were at 56th and 57th streets. In contrast, on the rest of First Avenue, between First and 125th streets, six people, including five pedestrians, were killed over the same period on its 115 blocks — a much lower fatality rate per mile.

The project extends the protected bike lane to 59th Street, where it would connect to the Queensboro Bridge bike path. DOT is proposing to do it in two phases, with a brief pause for a couple of weeks after adding protection up to 56th Street, so the agency can assess the traffic impacts of going from five car lanes to four. The second phase would extend the protected bikeway the remaining three blocks.

Last night, CB 6 asked DOT to stop a block early, at 55th Street, before coming back in September or October with a plan for the final few blocks, parts of which are undergoing utility construction.

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DOT Vision Zero Ad Targets Drivers Who Speed and Fail to Yield

DOT has released the first in another round of ads for its “Your Choices Matter” Vision Zero education campaign. It’s an effective and reality-based video spot that targets drivers who speed and fail to yield — leading causes of death and injury for people who walk and bike in NYC.

The 30-second PSA depicts a driver adjusting his radio and accelerating down a city street before making a fast right turn into a crosswalk and striking a child on a bike. “He wasn’t racing,” reads the title card. “The driver was. Slow down. Your choices matter.”

A DOT press release says the new ads “specifically identify driver behaviors,” and that “[r]eckless or dangerous driving decisions by motorists are key factors in 70 percent of pedestrian fatalities citywide.”

Motorists hurt and kill thousands of pedestrians on city streets every year, and most victims who are struck in crosswalks have the walk signal.

“While NYC DOT redesigned more streets than ever and NYPD increased traffic enforcement, bringing safer streets to the five boroughs is also the responsibility of drivers,” Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said in the press release. “Drivers’ choices behind the wheel matter and these television advertisements will remind millions of people that their actions can have fatal consequences for New Yorkers and their families.”

A second video ad will be released later this week, according to DOT. The video spots will run on broadcast and cable television through the end of June.

Other ads “will feature images of items found at crash scenes and tell the stories of the pedestrian-victims,” and relate findings from DOT borough pedestrian safety action plans, the press release says. Ads will be placed on radio, in newspapers, online, on billboards, and at street-level locations including busses and bus shelters, phone kiosks, and along priority corridors identified in the pedestrian safety action plans.

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Monday: See DOT’s Plan to Complete the First Avenue Protected Bike Lane

Image: DOT

Mark your calendars for early next week, when DOT will be presenting its plan to replace sharrows with a parking protected bike lane on First Avenue, filling a gap between protected bikeways south of 49th Street and north of 59th Street.

This 10-block gap in the First Avenue bike lane is a key missing link, and would give cyclists coming from below 49th Street safe passage to both the Upper East Side and the Queensboro Bridge. These blocks were left out of previous plans for First Avenue. In 2011, CB 6 favored buffered lanes for this stretch, not protected lanes, but DOT eventually went with sharrows.

Upgrading to a parking protected bike lane will also bring pedestrian islands, which shorten crossing distances on this extra-wide section of First Avenue.

Even if First Avenue is upgraded to a protected bike lane, southbound cyclists on Second Avenue will continue to be stuck with sharrows north of 34th Street, where the protected lane begins.

DOT is presenting its plan at the next Community Board 6 transportation committee meeting, scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at the NYU School of Dentistry, Room 611, located at 345 E. 24th Street.

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Can New York City Reform Its Dysfunctional Community Board System?

New York City’s 59 community boards often serve as the sole venues where the public can assess and vet street design projects. But they are also structured in a way that inhibits any sort of change, giving de facto veto power over street improvements to a small clique who can serve for life.

trottenberg_DOT_Bronx

Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg called community boards “a nice bit of urban democracy” that “actually works very well.” Photo: NYC DOT/Flickr

A bill in the City Council would establish term limits for community board members, but the reform would only go so far. Under the bill, current community board members would be grandfathered in, meaning they would face no term limits while new appointees would. Meanwhile, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg shows no inclination to change the agency’s policy of giving community boards the final say on its street safety projects.

The term limits bill, sponsored by Council Member Daniel Dromm, would limit new community board appointees to six two-year terms. After reaching the maximum term, people could still attend and speak at community board meetings but could no longer hold a voting seat.

Despite allowing all current board members to escape term limits, the bill is opposed by all five borough presidents, whom appoint people to community boards. A spokesperson for Eric Adams said the Brooklyn borough president is “supportive of term limits in concept” but opposes this bill. Queens Beep Melinda Katz supported term limits as a candidate [PDF] but now opposes them.

Staff of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer [PDF] joined district managers and board members from Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx testifying against the bill yesterday before the City Council governmental operations committee, saying term limits would decimate institutional knowledge on the boards.

A united front of good government advocates at the hearing, including Citizens Union, New York Public Interest Research Group, Common Cause New York, and Transportation Alternatives [PDF], supported term limits and argued for further reforms to bring more daylight to the appointment process.

“When it comes to Vision Zero and traffic safety, we often see a large divide between members who have been serving for their entire lives and came of age when the car was king in New York City, and members of all ages who think more in tune with the modern state of urban planning and street design,” said TA’s Paul Steely White. “People are prioritizing a single parking space over daylighting an intersection, for example.”

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Trottenberg: DOT Skipped Its Legally-Required Data Report Last Year

DOT is almost six months past due on a report card required by city law that measures whether the city is meeting its goals of reducing car use, improving safety, and shifting trips to walking, bicycling, and transit. Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg says her department is skipping a year and will instead issue a report covering two years of data in the fall.

DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. Photo: NYC DOT

DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. Photo: NYC DOT

A city law passed in 2008, known as Local Law 23, requires DOT to issue an annual report measuring citywide data on car and truck volumes, traffic speed, bus ridership, bicycle and pedestrian crashes, and more. The report is due each November, covering data from the previous calendar year. After years of issuing the report later and later (but still on time) as the “Sustainable Streets Index,” DOT is now almost six months past due in releasing the numbers from 2013. The latest available information is from 2012.

The de Blasio administration has issued other transportation-related reports, including a summary of the first year of Vision Zero. But the report didn’t include many of the metrics required by Local Law 23, and failed to analyze the safety impacts of city programs like speed cameras or improved tracking of city-owned vehicles.

DOT will release an updated version of the Sustainable Streets Index “towards the end of this year,” probably in the next six months, Trottenberg said this morning, after an event hosted by the General Contractors Association of New York.

“We’ve come in and taken a fresh look at it,” Trottenberg said. “It’s going to be two years of data. [We’re going to] try and get ourselves caught back up and retool it and look at some fresh indicators… We’re going to keep some of the indicators, but we’re going to add some of the things that are now more of a focus of this administration.”

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De Blasio Administration Backtracks From Cycling Mode Share Goal

It looks like the de Blasio administration has quietly tamped down its promises for increasing how much people bike in New York City.

Bill de Blasio's new goals for bicycling aren't as ambitious as his old goals for bicycling. Photo: Juha Uitto/Flickr

Bill de Blasio’s new goals for bicycling aren’t as ambitious as his old goals for bicycling. Photo: Juha Uitto/Flickr

During the 2013 race for mayor, candidate Bill de Blasio issued a policy book that included a goal of 6 percent bicycle mode share for all trips citywide by 2020. That’s a lofty goal, and a difficult one to measure: Currently, around 1 percent of city residents commute primarily by bicycle, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Those stats capture only work commutes, which NYC DOT says typically cover 20 percent or fewer of all trips.

Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg stuck by the 6 percent promise when Bicycling Magazine named New York the nation’s best city for bicycling last September: “The de Blasio administration is moving forward with our own bike initiatives, to meet the mayor’s very ambitious goal of increasing the share of all trips in New York City taken by bike to six percent by 2020,” she said. “Do not worry. We will not rest on past accomplishments.”

At a bicycling forum later that month, Trottenberg again mentioned 6 percent — but referred to “doubling” trips, a less definitive and less ambitious benchmark. “By our measure, the actual percentage of trips taken in the city by bike is now like one and a half percent,” she said. “The previous mayor, I think, had pledged to double it. Our mayor promised to double it again.”

At the forum, Trottenberg also said the city needs to improve the way it counts cyclists. Currently, DOT relies on screenline counts of cyclists accessing Manhattan below 60th Street, leaving out most travel within the Manhattan core and in the other four boroughs. “There’s no question, we’re probably going to need to up our ability to count [cyclists] around the city,” Trottenberg said last September. “I have to confess, we have not fully figured out how we’re going to do that.”

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Bay Ridge CB Overwhelmingly Backs Bike Lanes, Pedestrian Safety Fixes

Bike lanes and pedestrian safety improvements are coming to Bay Ridge after a pair of votes at Brooklyn Community Board 10 last week. It’s a turnaround from just a few years ago, when the board gained a reputation as one of the most anti-bike in the city.

After years of work at the community board, bike lanes are coming to Bay Ridge. Map: DOT [PDF]

After years of work at the community board, bike lanes are coming to Bay Ridge. Map: DOT [PDF]

After voting down a 2011 DOT proposal to add bike lanes to Bay Ridge Parkway, CB 10 went back to the drawing board and came up with its own list of streets where it wanted bike lanes. DOT came back with a plan last summer, and the plan finally passed the transportation committee on April 16 before clearing the full board in a 30-5 vote on April 20 [PDF].

“Most of the people were quite satisfied with the changes that DOT made. The process was very long and cumbersome, but in the end the final proposal that DOT brought forth was perfectly in line with the wishes of the committee,” said CB 10 member Bob HuDock. While a handful of people, led by former transportation committee member Alan Bortnick, voted against the plan, it passed the full board with flying colors last week.

“It was a really stunning turnaround from four years ago,” HuDock said. “It was not a very controversial thing. Everybody had seen this plan evolve over the years.”

The proposal [PDF] forms a loop on the northern, eastern, and southern sides of CB 10. Shared lane markings will be added to Sixth Avenue from Fort Hamilton Parkway to 68th Street. Fort Hamilton Parkway will get striped bike lanes, from Sixth Avenue to 92nd Street, and shared lanes from 92nd Street to Marine Avenue. Shared lanes will also be added to Marine Avenue from Fort Hamilton Parkway to Colonial Road.

In the northern section of the neighborhood, striped bike lanes are being added to 68th and 72nd streets west of Sixth Avenue. Fifth Avenue from 65th Street to 72nd Street will receive shared lane markings.

Some of the biggest changes are coming to Seventh Avenue near the Gowanus Expressway, where extra-wide lanes will be narrowed to make room for striped bike lanes.

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NYC DOT Needs to Turn On the Rest of Its Speed Cameras ASAP

NYC Traffic Injuries January-March 2012-2015

Total traffic injuries and fatalities in NYC declined in the first three months of 2015 compared to the same period last year, according to NYPD crash data. While it’s too early to isolate the effect of the city’s speed camera program on street safety, the available evidence strongly suggests cameras are a factor in the city’s continued improvement.

And yet more than half the speed cameras at NYC DOT’s disposal are still dormant. If speed cams are saving people’s lives, then the sloth-like rollout is also costing lives.

As of the end of March, there were 40 traffic fatalities in NYC this year, compared to 51 through March 2014, a 22 percent decrease. Motorists killed 24 people walking and biking through March, compared to 33 for the same period last year, a 27 percent decline.

Injuries, which are less prone to random variation, were also down through March. The total number of people injured in crashes decreased by 6 percent from the same period in 2014, and injuries to pedestrians and cyclists dropped 14 percent.

What’s making streets safer? The increase in speed cameras, paired with the lowering of the city’s default speed limit to 25 mph last fall, is the single most significant change to NYC’s streets in the past year.

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