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Posts from the "Christine Quinn" Category

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How a DOT Parking Rule Change Made NYC Streets Less Safe

Photo: Brad Aaron

Prompted by Council Member Vincent Gentile, in 2009 DOT made it legal to park in unmarked crosswalks, satiating demand for free on-street parking once and for all. Photo: Brad Aaron

I violated a traffic rule on the day I moved to New York City.

I parked a minivan, rented for the move, in this spot on Seaman Avenue. I locked up the van and was headed to my apartment when a passerby informed me that I would get ticketed, if not towed, if I left it there. I didn’t notice the pedestrian ramp, which leads to Payson Avenue across the street, and I’d blocked the crossing.

As noted recently on Urban Residue, in 2009 DOT adopted a rule change that allows drivers to park at T intersections. The change was prompted by Council Member Vincent Gentile, who had introduced a bill to make it legal to park in unmarked crosswalks across the city.

According to a Brooklyn Eagle report, Gentile wanted “to open up more parking spaces” — and, of course, keep pedestrians from putting themselves in harm’s way.

Sloped curb cuts where vehicles are now permitted to park, Gentile explained, are “unfit for safe pedestrian crossing” because they there are no traffic signals or stop signs to slow down oncoming traffic. And there are no crosswalk lines marking where pedestrians should cross, he added.

You’ll recall that in the days before Vision Zero, as far as transportation policy was concerned, the City Council was focused on little else besides making it easier to park. With Speaker Christine Quinn and transpo committee chairs John Liu and Jimmy Vacca trying to score points by addressing one car owner gripe after another, Gentile’s bill might have passed even if DOT hadn’t beaten him to the punch.

We don’t know how many parking spaces were created by this rule change, but one thing’s for sure: The headaches for NYC car owners aren’t going away as long as curbside parking is totally free.

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Here’s How Quinn and de Blasio Answered the StreetsPAC Questionnaire

Yesterday StreetsPAC endorsed Bill de Blasio for mayor in the Democratic primary, after narrowing their choice down to him and Christine Quinn. The decision was based on the candidates’ responses to a written questionnaire and sit-down interviews with the StreetsPAC board.

Below are the responses that de Blasio and Quinn gave to the “policies and priorities” section of the StreetsPAC questionnaire. Click on their names for PDFs of their full submissions. We’ve also uploaded responses from Bill Thompson and Sal Albanese. The other Democratic mayoral candidates did not return the questionnaire.

Questions and answers posted here have been formatted for WordPress, but have not been edited in any way.

StreetsPAC: Whom do you plan to appoint as Transportation Commissioner? If you don’t have a specific person in mind, please describe the skills and experience you are looking for in a potential appointee and the top priorities you would direct that person to pursue.

Bill de Blasio: I have not decided. I believe in choosing someone who views our streets in their totality and is committed to making our transportation network function for all modes of transportation — walking, bicycling, driving and public transit. They must have a commitment to working with all stakeholders to balance those needs fairly — with safety as their top priority. Given our aging population, I believe we also need a commissioner committed to improving the accessibility of our streets for seniors and people with disabilities.

Christine Quinn: The transportation commissioner in my administration will share my view that a reliable, safe, and clean transportation system is vital to our economy and to maintaining a good quality of life. He or she will be committed to expanding our existing infrastructure in order to decrease the time New Yorkers spend commuting. I will pursue an individual who is open­-minded and forward-­thinking with the skills to manage a large agency, works well with other agencies and stakeholders, and the vision to move the agency forward. As Mayor, my Transportation Commissioner and I will pursue the following agenda, working with the MTA and Albany where necessary:

  • Ensure that no New Yorker has to spend more than one hour commuting in either direction by 2023.
  • Reduce pedestrian, cyclist and driver fatalities 50 percent by 2021.
  • Give New York City control of the MTA.
  • Launch 10 new Select Bus Service routes in the next 4 years.
  • Install Metrocard kiosks above ground at major bus stops and along select bus service routes.
  • Expand five borough ferry service, to provide more transportation options and stimulate the local economy.
  • Install countdown clocks outside of subway stations, so New Yorkers can see when the next train is coming before they enter.
  • Save commuters valuable travel time from the Bronx and West Side of Manhattan.
  • Provide additional bicycle parking options at transit hubs for New Yorkers who want to commute part of the way to work on a bicycle.

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What Might “Brooklyn Bridge Beach” Mean for the East Side Greenway?

Will the roll-out of splashy projects like the beach proposed for this site by the Brooklyn Bridge help advance a continuous greenway along the East River? Image: WXY architecture + urban design

This morning, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced that collectively, they had dedicated $7 million in capital funds to build what’s being called Brooklyn Bridge Beach. The aim of the new site beneath the iconic span is to attract New Yorkers to the East River waterfront and blunt the impact of storm surges.

Along with other projects on the East River, the beach could contribute to a high-quality, continuous greenway. But even as individual projects like the hypothetical beach gather momentum, planning for an East Side complement to the Hudson River Greenway remains scattered among a constellation of agencies and projects.

The beach is the first project to receive funding among the recommendations in the Blueway Plan, a vision for the waterfront between 38th Street and the Brooklyn Bridge released by Stringer and Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh in February. (The plan’s pricey highlight is a bridge deck over the FDR Drive near 14th Street that would improve access to East River Park and eliminate a pinch point in the greenway route.)

In February, Stringer said he was committing $3.5 million in capital funds to the construction of marshland along the riverfront; Quinn’s beach announcement signals the arrival of matching capital funds from the City Council, and Stringer hinted that more money could be on its way. ”This is now money that we can leverage with the state and federal government,” he said.

Despite the commitment of funds, there are still important details missing from the proposal for the 11,000 square-foot beach. Conceptual renderings were produced for the Blueway Plan by WXY architecture + urban design, but the proposal does not include a more developed design. There is no timeline for completion of the project, nor is there an estimate of how much it will cost. And it remains to be seen whether the beach project would bring significant upgrades to the East River Greenway, which currently runs underneath the FDR Drive at this location.

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Quinn Proposes Triboro BRT Line With Separated Bus Lanes

Since Scott Stringer left the mayoral field for the comptroller race, the mayoral candidates haven’t spoken much about the Triboro RX, a plan to bring circumferential rail service to Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx using existing tracks and rights of way. But they have spoken highly, if not very specifically, of Bus Rapid Transit. And a few have zeroed in on the transit needs of outer-borough communities, where job growth is outpacing Manhattan, but commute times are lengthening.

Quinn would build a Bus Rapid Transit line instead of rail along the Triboro RX route. Image: Quinn campaign via Capital NY

Today, Christine Quinn came forward with a proposal that merges the Triboro transit concept and her campaign’s emphasis on speedier bus routes. Her proposal would link the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn with a more robust version of Select Bus Service.

Dana Rubinstein at Capital New York reports:

Quinn said that her Triboro line would differ from the city’s existing and relatively ineffective Select Bus Service lines, because it would have real, protected bus lanes, allowing buses to move in rapid succession like street-level subway cars.

The route overlaps part of a plan from the MTA and DOT to extend SBS to LaGuardia Airport. In a policy book released earlier this month, Quinn said her first priority for BRT would be a primarily physically-separated line on the North Shore of Staten Island that is already being planned by the MTA.

Joan Byron of the Pratt Center for Community Development told Rubinstein that the general concept of linking the three boroughs is sound, but said it might make more sense to provide some of this service as separate routes. (The Quinn campaign’s map shows several zigzagging turns in Brooklyn.)

Quinn’s proposal comes the day after Council Member Brad Lander introduced a bill that would require DOT to create a comprehensive plan for citywide BRT. When asked about the potential of local political opposition to derail efforts for dedicated bus lanes on city streets, Quinn didn’t exactly strike a politically fearless tone, saying the city should do a better job involving communities in planning the system.

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Quinn’s Policy Book Skews Toward Transpo Issues the Mayor Can’t Control

Slowly, the major mayoral candidates are fleshing out their platforms, including their positions on transportation issues. Last month, Bill de Blasio used his policy book to stake out street safety goals. This morning, Anthony Weiner stumped for a bike commuter subsidy he proposed in April. Last week, Christine Quinn released her own policy book, in which she adds some new information about her previously-announced policy goals.

As with many of the mayoral candidates, some of Quinn’s key transportation promises are about things the mayor does not control, like MTA commuter rail investments. Her planks on bus improvements and pedestrian safety fit better with a mayoral policy platform. However, her policy book does not discuss the expansion of bike lanes, public plazas, or bike-share, all of which are up to City Hall.

Before getting to campaign promises, the document provides an overview of legislation that passed during Quinn’s tenure as City Council speaker. She trumpets her support for congestion pricing in 2009, the passage of the Bicycle Access Bill, laws requiring NYPD to make crash data public, legislation targeting commercial cyclists and e-bikes, and laws mandating DOT data collection and consultation with community boards and other agencies.

Quinn also highlights her record of “improving parking for city drivers,” with nine bullet points devoted to things such as five-minute grace periods at parking meters, the elimination of “humiliating” stickers for alternate-side violators, and the creation of parking passes for clergy. She does not discuss expanding PARK Smart meter reforms or eliminating off-street parking requirements.

The East River Ferry features prominently; Quinn wants to expand the heavily-subsidized service north to Roosevelt Island, Queens, and the Bronx, and south to Atlantic Avenue and Red Hook.

Quinn’s top goal is for all one-way commutes for city residents to clock in under 60 minutes. To accomplish this, Quinn says she would make “targeted investments in the boroughs outside Manhattan,” but her policy book does not say what those investments might be. It does, however, promise ten new Select Bus Service routes in four years, and the goal of SBS expansion is one thing the mayor can actually deliver on by setting aside the street space for dedicated bus lanes. The route Quinn says she would start with, though, is Staten Island’s North Shore, which would not use city streets, for the most part. The MTA is currently planning a bus rapid transit project for that route, mainly on what used to be an elevated rail right-of-way.

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Quinn Says She Would Aim to Cut Traffic Fatalities in Half by 2021

Mayoral candidate Christine Quinn said today that if elected, she would appoint an interagency “Safe Streets Working Group” tasked with cutting traffic fatalities in half by 2021. The working group, featuring “high level staff” from DOT, NYPD, City Planning, and the Department of Health, would coordinate automated enforcement, police enforcement, street design, and traffic calming interventions.

Achieving that goal would entail a significant acceleration in the reduction of citywide traffic deaths, which dropped 17.5 percent — from 297 to 245 — between 2004 and 2011, then increased to 274 last year.

The news was featured in the transportation section of a mobile app Quinn’s campaign released this afternoon. The app also lays out a few other ideas related to transit and bicycling: installing countdown clocks outside of subway stations, installing MetroCard vending machines above ground at transit hubs along Select Bus Service routes, reducing the amount of time between a bike rack request and its installation, and increasing the amount of bike parking at train stations, bus stops, and ferry landings.

Quinn made a major transportation speech last month in which she focused on expanding ferry service, increasing city control of the MTA, rolling out 10 new Select Bus Service routes in the next four years, and an already-planned expansion of Metro-North service through the Bronx to Penn Station.

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How Many NYC Children Were Injured or Killed by Muni-Meters Last Week?

It barely made news and we didn’t hear a peep about it from any elected, but at least three children were seriously injured by drivers in Brooklyn and the Bronx late last week.

At least three kids were put in the hospital by drivers last week. No press conferences were held. Photo: Post

On the morning of Thursday, May 2, a 12-year-old boy was hit by a motorist at Bath Avenue and 24th Street, near Bath Playground and Joseph B. Cavallaro Junior High School. According to the Post, the child suffered head trauma, and was “expected to survive.”

At around the same time, another 12-year-old boy was hit by a school bus driver while riding his bike on 12th Avenue at 40th Street in Borough Park. From the Post:

Witnesses said he was struck by the rear tire while the bus was making a wide turn.

She Rosenbaum, 38, said the child stopped in his store to buy a soda before the accident, and then got on the bicycle.

“I saw the kid’s leg under the bus. I called the Hatzollah ambulance,” said She Rosenabum, 38. “He was screaming and yelling in pain.”

Rosenbaum said the child’s mother came to see him, and was distraught. “She was definitely crying ‘what happened? What’s going to be? I want you to live’,” he said. “He comes here every morning.”

On Saturday, a 7-year-old boy was struck by a driver on East Gun Hill Road at Decatur Avenue in the Bronx. News 12 reported that the child exited a double-parked van before he was hit. He was hospitalized in stable condition.

Traffic crashes have for some time been the leading cause of injury-related death for children in New York City. According to the latest report on child injury deaths from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene [PDF], 144 kids aged one through 12 were killed in crashes from 2001 to 2010. Of those victims, 93 — or 65 percent — were pedestrians.

Since January 2012, no fewer than 11 kids aged 14 and under have been killed by city motorists, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog.

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Now That Parking Is Played Out, Will the Council Tackle Traffic Violence?

From what we’ve seen, the scrum at yesterday’s City Council parking presser did a commendable job calling out Christine Quinn, James Vacca, and David Greenfield for their latest ploy to curry favor with motorists.

Basically, Quinn and company want muni-meters programmed to turn off when they run out of paper and during free parking hours, but when asked to quantify the extent of the problem, all they could offer was anecdotes and hearsay.

This is what passes for City Council transportation policy these days: Take a niggling motorist annoyance and play it up as a matter of major, if not historic, importance. But maybe the city press corps has seen this show one too many times. Here’s Dana Rubinstein at CapNY:

These are only the latest in a series of bills the speaker has championed that would lessen the parking meter burden on drivers.

Whether that burden is actually a very large one, or merely one that is extremely irritating to a vocal constituency of outer-borough drivers whose votes Quinn believes will be important in this year’s mayoral election, seems to be an open question.

Ticking off the list of parking bills passed by the council in recent years, many of which had the effect of making it easier for drivers to skirt the law, the NYT’s Matt Flegenheimer wrote: “In a fraught election season, there are quite likely few stances as uncontroversial as a populist knock against the city’s parking rules.”

This latest bill is the brainchild of David Greenfield. Asked about his obsession with parking legislation, Greenfield said: “I get people who criticize me on Twitter and say, ‘Why are you all about the cars?’ Because I drive a car. And my constituents drive cars.”

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Quinn Ties Transit Growth to NYC’s Economic Health, Stops Short on Funding

Christine Quinn outlined her transit platform at a campaign event at LaGuardia Community College this morning. With a focus on Select Bus Service and ferries — elements of the transit system that the mayor can actually control to a large degree — Quinn’s proposals tie the expansion of transit to the city’s economic health. She also called for local control of the MTA.

Transit users in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island have commute times that average 20 minutes longer than those in Manhattan, Quinn noted, echoing data from a 2009 report by the Center for an Urban Future. Most who commute for more than an hour make less than $35,000 a year.

Quinn said that by 2023 no New Yorker should spend more than an hour commuting in either direction. To that end, she unveiled a five-point plan called “Fair Ride NYC”:

  • Quinn says NYC should “be given control of the MTA,” and the mayor should have the authority to appoint the president of New York City Transit. She likened this proposal to mayoral control of city schools.
  • Quinn proposed the rollout of 10 new Select Bus Service routes in the next four years, with routes based on potential travel time savings and where the city sees potential for job growth. Quinn specifically called for SBS on Staten Island’s North Shore.
  • Ferry service should be expanded with stops at Atlantic Avenue, Red Hook, Astoria, Roosevelt Island, 91st Street, and Ferry Point Park in the Bronx. Quinn has been a big booster of the East River Ferry service that launched in 2011, which is subsidized directly by the city and requires much more public funding per passenger than subways and buses.
  • The MTA would extend Metro-North service to Penn Station, with new Bronx stops at Co-Op City, Parkchester, Morris Park, and Hunts Point. This plan is already in the works, and though it isn’t something she could control, as mayor Quinn would be in a position to counter opposition from Long Island politicos who don’t want to share space in Penn Station.
  • The fifth spoke of the plan would “bring targeted economic development strategies” to areas with the longest commute times. “It’s not just about getting people to their jobs,” said Quinn. “It’s also about bringing jobs to where people live.”

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With Speed Cams in Silver’s Budget, Council Calls on Albany to Take Action

This morning, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca, and council members Jimmy Van Bramer, Stephen Levin, and Leroy Comrie joined street safety advocates in calling on Albany to pass legislation allowing a speed camera demonstration program in New York City.

“Speeding is the number one cause of fatal crashes in New York City,” Quinn said in a statement. “Speed cameras are a smart detriment that will reduce speeding and help save lives.”

Council Members Stephen Levin, James Vacca, and Jimmy Van Bramer join Speaker Christine Quinn this morning, calling on Albany to pass speed camera legislation. Photo: @ChrisCQuinn/Twitter

The push comes as Speaker Sheldon Silver has included speed cameras in the Assembly’s budget. The measure could be enacted if it survives budget negotiations with the Senate over the next week, followed by Governor Cuomo’s signature.

A majority of the New York City Assembly delegation supports the speed camera bill, sponsored by Assembly Member Deborah Glick. An accompanying bill is expected to be introduced soon by State Senator Andrew Lanza, a Staten Island Republican. Previous automated speed enforcement efforts have stalled in committee, but advocates hope the swell of support will put the effort over the top this year.

“We’re closer than we’ve ever been,” said Transportation Alternatives Legislative Director Juan Martinez.

The program would be limited to no more than 20 cameras in operation at any given time, with a cap of 40 cameras deployed citywide. Fines would not exceed $50 for driving 10-30 mph over the speed limit, and not more than $100 for speeding more than 30 mph over the limit.

In a press release today, Transportation Alternatives included supportive statements from Assembly members representing a broad swath of the NYC region: Jeffrey Dinowitz and Luis Sepulveda of the Bronx, Richard Gottfried, Micah Kellner, Dan Quart, and Linda Rosenthal of Manhattan, Alan Maisel of Brooklyn, Araella Simotas of Queens, and Harvey Weisenberg of Nassau County.

Council Member Van Bramer has a resolution dating to 2011 that urges Albany to pass speed camera legislation. His office expressed confidence today that the resolution will pass the council soon.

Yesterday in Van Bramer’s district, 16 year-old Drudak Tenzin was killed on the sidewalk by a driver who jumped the curb. Police say he was speeding through the intersection, but will not face charges.