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Posts from the David Greenfield Category

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Greenfield and Treyger Want Higher Speeds on One of NYC’s Deadliest Streets

Council members David Greenfield and Mark Treyger think drivers should be able to go faster on Ocean Parkway, one of the city’s most dangerous streets.

Council Members David Greenfield, left, and Mark Treyger, right, want faster speed limits on Ocean Parkway. Photos: NYC Council

Council Members David Greenfield, left, and Mark Treyger, right, want faster speed limits on Ocean Parkway. Photos: NYC Council

The multi-lane boulevard, running from Church Avenue to Coney Island, is a Vision Zero priority corridor because of its high rate of serious pedestrian injuries and fatalities. Lower speed limits on their own are a proven method of reducing serious crashes. With speed cameras, the the city can enforce the lower limit on Ocean Parkway and reduce the prevalence of driving at lethal speeds.

Greenfield and Treyger claim to be Vision Zero supporters, so why do they want to allow drivers to travel at more dangerous speeds on Ocean Parkway?

“We must recognize the important role that major thoroughfares like Ocean Parkway play in moving high volumes of traffic as efficiently as possible. I am concerned that this lower speed limit will only serve to increase traffic on this extremely busy street without having a real impact on pedestrian safety,” Treyger said in a press release. “I am proud to support Vision Zero and the lower speed limit in appropriate areas where it will protect the public, but I do not believe that Ocean Parkway meets this criteria.”

The idea that lower speed limits are making traffic worse on Ocean Parkway is ludicrous. When there’s a lot of traffic, the congestion is what limits drivers’ speeds. The speed limits and camera enforcement affect driver behavior when there’s not a lot of traffic — when Ocean Parkway is a wide-open speedway inviting drivers to hit the throttle.

The whole press release is littered with ridiculous arguments, like equating Ocean Parkway with the Gowanus Expressway.

After the city’s default speed limit was lowered from 30 mph to 25 mph last year, according to the press release, “the expectation was that major through-routes like Ocean Parkway and the Gowanus Expressway would remain at their previous speed limits since a higher speed is necessary to carry traffic smoothly.”

Let’s see… One of these roads has stoplights, crosswalks, sidewalks, and a bicycle path. The other is an elevated expressway designed solely for moving cars and trucks.

Arterial streets like Ocean Parkway comprise 15 percent of the city’s street mileage but account for 60 percent of pedestrian fatalities, according to DOT. Raising speed limits on these streets would seriously undermine attempts to achieve the city’s Vision Zero goal.

DOT is standing by the 25 mph speed limit in a statement reported by Ditmas Park Corner:

Read more…

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Ridiculous David Greenfield Parking Bills: A Timeline

A few years back Streetsblog ran a post with the headline “Another Year, Another David Greenfield Parking Bill.” And it’s true! Except for 2014, Greenfield has introduced or sponsored legislation intended to somehow lessen the hassle of parking every year since 2010.

While he’s a vocal proponent of Vision Zero, it still seems Greenfield has never heard a parking-related gripe too random or inconsequential to merit legislation. Now he wants the city to let drivers park for free at metered spots on days when alternate side parking is suspended. The reason: It’s too hard to walk to muni-meters when it snows.

Council Member David Greenfield. Photo: NYC Council

Council Member David Greenfield. Photo: NYC Council

The Daily News reports:

Greenfield said his bill would end a longstanding hassle for motorists.

“You’ve got to climb a mountain of snow to get to a Muni-Meter,” he said. “If we get piles that are 3, 4, 5 feet high, you can’t even get to a meter.”

“I’ve gotten tons of complaints about this,” he said.

Greenfield dismissed the potential revenue hit (“The city’s always worrying about making a buck,” he told the Daily News), and apparently isn’t concerned with the impact zero parking turnover might have on businesses.

As silly as this bill is, it’s hard to say where it ranks among Greenfield’s other ill-conceived parking bills. Here’s a recap.

  • 2010: Greenfield sponsors bill to shorten no-parking zones near fire hydrants from 30 to 20 feet. Introduces bill to have fire hydrant zones marked with red paint. FDNY objects to both bills.
  • 2011: Proposes that the city paint broken fire hydrants green and allow motorists to park in front of them. Introduces legislation to “give special parking privileges to pregnant women who get notes from their doctors.”
  • 2011: Leads City Council crusade to end the practice of putting stickers on cars left sitting in the path of street sweepers. Said Greenfield: “I mean, what’s next? We’re going to start slashing people’s tires when they don’t park on the correct side?”
  • 2012: Introduces bill to limit when the city can tow vehicles belonging to motorists with unpaid parking fines. “Greenfield said the bill comes after numerous complaints from residents who accused the city of unfairly targeting them to make cash,” reported DNAinfo.
  • 2013: Greenfield authors bill to deactivate muni-meters when they run out of paper for receipts. Asked about his obsession with parking legislation, he 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.”

Of course, none of these bills would actually solve the root problem of parking aggravation, which is that most parking is free.

As for Greenfield’s latest attempt at governance by pet peeve, the Daily News says that, according to a DSNY spokesperson, the department “would most likely ‘oppose the bill since the department needs access to the curbs in order to effectively clear snow.’”

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Council Members Grill Uber on Prices, But What About Safety?

The City Council transportation committee heard testimony today on a bill to prohibit for-hire vehicle companies from “charging excessive rates.” Council members made no bones about the fact that they are taking aim at Uber, which raises and lowers fares in response to demand. Uber calls it “dynamic pricing.” It’s also known as “surge pricing” and, to some council members and Uber competitors, “price-gouging.”

Council Member David Greenfield, the bill’s primary sponsor, screamed at Uber reps for a good five minutes this afternoon over the prospect of a flip-flop-clad New Yorker fresh off the plane from Miami paying more than the prescribed amount for a ride home from the airport. Greenfield tweeted that traditional cab fleet owners, who donate heavily to local political campaigns, want a 20 percent cap on Uber “surge” rates. His bill would cap them at double the company’s normal price range.

Though it was the first time council members spoke publicly with Uber since company driver Aliou Diallo hit two pedestrians on the Upper East Side, killing Wesley Mensing and injuring Erin Sauchelli, legislators barely touched on the issue of street safety. Transportation chair Ydanis Rodriguez told Meera Joshi, chair of the Taxi and Limousine Commission, that he wants to talk more about the chain of accountability following cab-involved crashes, and a representative from Lyft (to whom Greenfield was far more cordial) said trip data requested by the TLC, and currently withheld by Uber, can help with crash probes. But no one asked the Uber spokespeople about the Upper East Side crash or the company’s safety practices in general.

The next time the council invites Uber to testify at a hearing, here are some things the public needs to know.

  • Does the Uber ride-hailing system create distraction for company drivers?
  • Does Uber collect EDR “black box” readings to ascertain speed and other data after a serious crash?
  • Was the Diallo crash the first fatality involving an Uber driver in NYC?
  • Does Uber keep data on the number and severity of crashes involving Uber drivers?
  • If so, is that data available to the TLC and/or the public?
  • Are Uber drivers trained by Uber for safe driving in urban environments?
  • Are drivers who are involved in serious crashes allowed to keep driving for Uber?
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De Blasio Signs Transit Benefit Bill, Says 25 MPH Limit Will Save Lives

This afternoon, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation requiring companies with 20 or more full-time employees in New York City to offer the federal transit tax benefit to their workers. The measure, which takes effect in 2016, is expected to save employers and workers millions of dollars each year. He also held a hearing on New York City’s new default speed limit of 25 mph, which goes into effect November 7. The mayor will hold a formal bill signing before that date.

Mayor de Blasio speaks at today's bill signing. Photo: NYC Mayor's Office/YouTube

Mayor de Blasio speaks at today’s bill signing. Photo: NYC Mayor’s Office/YouTube

“Reducing speed is a key part of Vision Zero,” de Blasio said, thanking advocates and families of traffic violence victims for their efforts to get the speed limit bill through Albany. He noted that traffic fatalities are down more than 8 percent since last year, and pedestrian deaths have fallen 23 percent. “That’s before we put the default speed limit into place. The 25 mph speed limit will make our streets even safer,” he said. “Speeding is fundamentally dangerous and can, in fact, be deadly.”

Council Member David Greenfield proposed lower speed limit legislation in the City Council in 2013. “I don’t like to call them accidents, because when someone speeds and gets into what people call an ‘accident,’ it wasn’t an accident,” Greenfield said at today’s hearing. “You shouldn’t have been speeding.”

At the hearing, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White urged de Blasio to ensure that the 200,000 drivers under city purview, either as municipal employees or licensed livery drivers, set the tone on the city’s streets by obeying the new 25 mph speed limit. He also made the case for capital funding for reconstruction of major arterial streets, where half of all traffic fatalities occur in New York.

The mayor will sign the speed limit bill before it takes effect November 7, a tactic City Hall has used before to generate more media coverage for Vision Zero bills.

The transit benefit bill requires companies with 20 or more full-time staff in New York City to allow employees to pay for transit commuting costs using pre-tax income. Someone making an average NYC wage who purchases a monthly unlimited MetroCard could save $443 annually, according to Riders Alliance, while the average employer would save $103 per employee per year [PDF].

By saving commuters money, tax-free transit helps boost ridership. A 2004 survey of NYC employers by Transit Center, which administered transit benefits on behalf of employers, found a 16 percent increase in transit ridership among employees after companies started offering transit benefits [PDF].

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Got a Parking Problem? David Greenfield’s Purported Solution Won’t Fix It

Six months ago, when Council Member David Greenfield got the chair of the land use committee, it looked like a bad sign for parking reform in New York City. Can the city eliminate costly parking minimums if the land use committee is led by an elected whose approach to every parking problem seems to be “add more”?

Greenfield’s recent response to parking issues in his district adds more cause for concern: He has joined Brooklyn Community Board 12 in pushing a developer to add as much new parking as possible to a project on Coney Island Avenue in Midwood.

Council Member David Greenfield wants more parking. Photo: NYC Council

Developer Baruch Singer is proposing a nine-story building containing mostly retail and medical offices at 1504 Coney Island Avenue, by the corner of Avenue L [PDF]. New York’s zoning code mandates 346 parking spaces for the project. Singer is planning to build an automated parking facility to squeeze as many cars as possible into an underground garage [PDF], but that still can’t fit all the required spaces.

Building to the parking mandate would require a deck at least three levels deep, and that’s not going to happen. “It is simply not possible to dig another level,” said Howard Goldman of real estate law firm Goldman Harris, representing Singer at the Board of Standards and Appeals last Tuesday. “The second level is right at the water table, so any further excavation will be into the water.”

So the developer is looking to build 74 fewer parking spaces than required. The developer says 272 spaces would still be more than enough to accommodate the peak-hour demand from the project, which it calculated at 198 spaces.

That’s not enough for Greenfield and CB 12, which see Singer’s project as the solution to parking dysfunction near the popular Pomegranate grocery store across the street. During busy shopping hours, Pomegranate’s 30-space surface lot overflows as shoppers park at on-street meters and delivery drivers double-park along Coney Island Avenue. Greenfield and CB 12 want to maximize the amount of parking at the new development. They don’t seem to be aware that adding more parking will simply induce more traffic and won’t solve the problems they want to address.

The curbside problems will persist as long as curbside parking remains underpriced, so I asked if CB 12 has ever approached DOT about adjusting parking rules. By altering meter rates and delivery hours, curbside spaces could turn over more frequently, double-parking could be reduced, and more loading zones would be freed up. “I’m not aware of any requests made to change the meter regulations,” CB 12 district manager Barry Spitzer said.

What about Greenfield?

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Traffic Violence Victims’ Families Tell Their Stories at City Hall

The family of Kelly Gordon, killed on York Avenue three weeks ago, joined council members and other victims' families outside City Hall today. Photo: Stephen Miller

The family of Kelly Gordon, killed on York Avenue three weeks ago, joined other victims’ families and City Council members outside City Hall today. Photo: Stephen Miller

Before the big City Council hearing on street safety legislation this afternoon, elected officials joined families of traffic violence victims outside City Hall to push for speed camera and speed limit bills in Albany, along with more traffic enforcement and better street designs from the de Blasio administration.

Three weeks ago, 22-year-old Kelly Gordon was struck and killed on York Avenue. She was going to graduate from Boston College in May. Today, her family came to City Hall to tell her story.

“To clear up the record, it was reported in the press that Kelly was jaywalking. She was not. The police report reflects that. Witnesses reflect that. Kelly was not jaywalking,” said Gordon’s aunt, Lori Centerella. “She was standing just off the curb when a driver sped through the yellow light, struck her, and sent her into the path of another driver.”

Both drivers were operating yellow cabs. “These two taxi drivers left that scene with not even a single summons,” said her father, Donald Gordon. “For all we know, they could’ve picked up another passenger a block away.”

Centerella was overwhelmed by the number of families at City Hall this afternoon who had also lost loved ones to traffic violence. “When we came here today, we thought we would be the only ones,” she said. “Look at all the families that have walked this road before us.”

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Meet Your New Transportation and Land Use Committee Chairs

Ydanis Rodriguez, left, is the new chair of the city council's transportation committee, and David Greenfield, right, is now chair of the land use committee. Photos: NYC Council

Ydanis Rodriguez, left, is the new chair of the City Council transportation committee, and David Greenfield, right, is now chair of the land use committee. Photos: NYC Council

It’s official: Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez is chair of the transportation committee, and Council Member David Greenfield will head up the powerful land use committee. While Rodriguez’s appointment has been greeted mostly with optimism by street safety advocates, Greenfield’s ascendance raises flags about whether the city will be able to get much-needed parking reforms through the council.

Rules changes under consideration by the council would increase the power of committee chairs, making these appointments that much more relevant to the prospects for any given piece of legislation.

Rodriguez has publicly aligned himself with Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero objectives, issuing a statement last week in support of more traffic enforcement and slow zones, as well as home rule over automated traffic enforcement.

“We will seek to focus this committee on accomplishing Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, placing a premium on pedestrian safety to avoid any further avoidable loss of life,” Rodriguez said in a statement today. “We will seek to cut travel times for New Yorkers to increase the efficiency of our city as a whole; and strike a suitable balance between the thousands of bicyclists and motorists who use our streets.”

Rodriguez is on the record supporting Vision Zero, surface transit improvements, and the expansion of bike-share to his northern Manhattan district, but his close ties to the livery industry raise questions about how he might approach certain proposals, like stronger safety protocols for drivers of for-hire vehicles. Rodriguez himself is a former livery driver, and he received significant campaign contributions from the industry.

While the transportation chair has limited ability to directly affect City Hall policy, it’s a powerful bully pulpit. Mayor de Blasio has pledged to build at least 20 “world-class” Bus Rapid Transit lines, and any efforts to reallocate street space from cars to BRT will be a test of the new chairman’s commitment to transit.

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Council Passes Hit-and-Run Bill; Greenfield Tables Speed Limit Legislation

The City Council yesterday passed legislation requiring NYPD to post regular reports on the most serious hit-and-run crashes, while a bill to lower speed limits on certain streets has been set aside until next year.

The hit-and-run bill would mandate that NYPD report in writing quarterly on the total number of “critical injury” hit-and-run crashes, the number of crashes that resulted in arrest, and the number of crashes for which no arrest was made. NYPD would further be required to provide the council with crash locations, and “a brief description of what steps were taken to investigate” each incident. Crash data are to be disaggregated by precinct and posted online.

Critical injury status would be determined by emergency responders. FDNY EMS guidelines define a critically injured person as “a patient either receiving CPR, in respiratory arrest, or requiring and receiving life sustaining ventilator/circulatory support.”

If signed by Mayor Bloomberg, the bill would take effect in July 2015. The hit-and-run bill was authored by Council Members Leroy Comrie, Peter Koo, and Rosie Mendez.

“The sad and unfortunate case of Dante Dominguez — who was struck and killed by a hit and run driver last fall — along with the tragic deaths of many New Yorkers brings us together for today’s vote,” said Mendez, in a written statement. “This action is the very least that can be done to make sure that Dante’s untimely passing was not in vain and will, in fact, be the first step toward systemic change and additional measures led by the NYPD.”

“Furthermore,” said Mendez, “I hope the State Senate will adopt legislation to strengthen the investigative measures taken by the NYPD within the vicinity of any hit and run accident that results in a fatality or severe injury.”

Dante Dominguez was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Flushing in November 2012. Patrick Dominguez, the victim’s brother, told council members earlier this month that the NYPD investigation did not begin until a week after the crash. The driver was not caught.

NYPD currently investigates a tiny fraction of total pedestrian and cyclist injuries. According to Transportation Alternatives, of some 300 investigations conducted by the Collision Investigation Squad in 2012, around 60 involved hit-and-run drivers. Just 15 of those investigations resulted in arrest.

In other council news, a bill that would lower speed limits to 25 miles per hour on narrow one-way streets has been shelved. Sponsor David Greenfield issued the following statement Thursday:

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Council Now Wants to Set Speed Limits at 25 MPH Citywide

A City Council effort to lower speed limits to 20 miles per hour on residential streets citywide has been dropped in favor of a bill that would set limits at 25 mph on narrow one-way streets.

The original bill, sponsored by Council Member David Greenfield, would have set speed limits no higher than 20 mph “on all streets fewer than sixty feet wide in areas zoned for residential purposes.” But DOT told the council in October that state law permits the city to set speeds at 15 to 24 miles per hour only if other physical traffic-calming treatments are also implemented, or if a street is within a quarter-mile of a school.

To set speed limits at 20 mph citywide, DOT suggested lobbying Albany to change the state law before passing a local law.

When WNYC produced a map indicating that most city streets are close enough to a school to be eligible for a 20 mph limit (though only during school hours), council transportation chair James Vacca said he would “push legislation in the council to limit speeds in those areas.” Then last week, Vacca told WNYC the council was “aiming for 25 miles per hour on narrow, one-way streets.” Greenfield told the Times yesterday that the revised bill would set speed limits at 25 mph on one-way streets with one lane of traffic.

Speaker Christine Quinn says council members want to pass the bill before the year is out. We have a call in with Greenfield about the revisions and will have a full report next week.

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At City Council Hearing, Impassioned Appeals for Lower Speed Limits

City Council reps and members of the public spoke unanimously today in support of a bill to lower speed limits to a life-saving 20 miles per hour in neighborhoods citywide. But if the council adopts the measure, it will do so over the objection of DOT, which said the proposal would create conflicts with state law.

The family of Samuel Cohen Eckstein testified at today's hearing. Photo: @bradlander

During an emotional two-hour hearing, council members on the transportation committee heard from advocates, neighborhood groups, and individual citizens, virtually all of whom implored lawmakers to see the bill passed.

Proposed by Council Member David Greenfield, Intro 535 would require DOT to set speed limits no higher than 20 miles per hour, down from the current citywide 30 mph limit, “on all streets fewer than sixty feet wide in areas zoned for residential purposes.”

Kate Slevin, assistant commissioner for intergovernmental affairs, and Ryan Russo, assistant commissioner for traffic management, testified on behalf of DOT. Slevin said 20 mph speeds in tandem with other traffic-calming measures is not only “a common sense approach to saving lives,” it’s a required combination under state law. State traffic code allows New York City to set speeds from 15 to 24 miles per hour, Slevin said, only if other physical traffic-calming treatments are also implemented, or the street in question is within a quarter-mile of a school.

“Unfortunately, not every residential street is appropriate for speed bumps, roadway narrowing, or other traffic calming treatments,” said Slevin. “As such, DOT would be unable to comply with Intro 535 as currently drafted.” Slevin and Russo did not specify how DOT or state law define “other traffic calming treatments” — whether they include paint, for instance, or other low-cost improvements.

Slevin said that, instead of passing the Greenfield bill, the council might consider lobbying the state for permission to lower the speed limit citywide.

Committee Chair James Vacca told Slevin and Russo he is frustrated by the gradual pace of the Slow Zone rollout — the timetable for currently approved zones now stretches to 2016 — the limited number of approved zones, and the backlog of requested speed bumps. He pledged to push the next mayor to accelerate the implementation of Slow Zones, but in the meantime, Vacca asked if DOT could lower speeds on certain streets to 25 miles per hour. Slevin replied that DOT could do that, but said the department prefers a more holistic approach. Slevin said DOT meets frequently with other agencies, including the Department of Education, the Department of Health, and especially NYPD, to address traffic safety — a process Vacca said should be formalized.

Council Member Brad Lander requested that DOT provide information on what could be done to lower speeds under current law, including an analysis of streets that are now eligible for 20 miles per hour speeds.

Vacca and Lander acknowledged that NYPD, which did not send anyone to the hearing, does not prioritize traffic enforcement. Lander complained that offenses including speeding, red-light running, and failure to yield are rampant. Of NYPD’s enforcement stats, Lander said, “Anyone who took street safety seriously and believed in data would be appalled.”

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