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Posts from the "Eric Adams" Category

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Eric Adams Calls on Brooklyn Community Board 3 to Back Bed-Stuy Slow Zone

After a setback at Brooklyn Community Board 3 in February, Bed-Stuy and Clinton Hill residents asking for a 20 mph Slow Zone stepped up their organizing efforts. But a last-minute decision by CB 3 chair Tremaine Wright has stalled any action by the board until at least September. Faced with Wright’s obstruction, advocates turned to Borough President Eric Adams, who wants the project to move forward.

“I’m in support of the Bed-Stuy Slow Zone, and I will work in partnership with Community Board 3 to expedite this action,” Adams said in a statement. “The only thing that should be speeding in this community and others is the approval and implementation of these slow zones.”

The Slow Zone had been on the agenda for CB 3′s general board meeting Monday night, but the item was struck before the meeting, the last one before the board’s summer break. “[DOT was] going to come back, but the board changed its mind,” assistant district manager Beryl Nyack said. Nyack referred questions about who made the decision to Wright, who has not replied to requests for comment.

Wright is a co-founder of the Brooklyn Alliance for Safer Streets. The group ”educates and advocates for roadways which promote walking, cycling and other forms of active transportation,” according to a description on its Facebook page. “BASS provides community residents and leaders with the tools to envision and create a safer and healthier urban streetscape.”

Despite this role, Wright told Streetsblog after the board voted against the Slow Zone in February that traffic safety is “not an issue in our community, by and large.”

Supporters of the Slow Zone say the board is opposing the project for the wrong reasons. Leah Bassknight has lived on the corner of Jefferson Street and Franklin Avenue for the past decade and has a 7-year-old son. She doesn’t agree with CB 3′s opposition to the Slow Zone. “I think their concern is that this is not a real concern of people who live in the community — just of parents whose kids go to the Waldorf School,” she said. “People who live in the community and don’t attend that school care about this.”

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In Effort to Pander to Drivers, 48 Senators Vote to Up Oil Company Profits

Adriano Espaillat voted for a gas tax holiday -- which won't even help lower costs at the pump -- on the dime of the 70 percent of his constituents who don't own a car. Photo: Chu for Daily News

The New York State Senate voted for a “gas tax holiday” yesterday, moving to eliminate the three state taxes on fuel for the busy Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day weekends this year. The estimated loss of revenue would be $60 million.

The 48 state senators who voted for the gas tax holiday wanted to ensure that drivers didn’t have to pay for the environmental and social costs of their actions — a misguided enough goal — but their desperate attempt to pander wouldn’t even have been a success on those grounds.

As economists from across the political spectrum have stated, a summertime gas tax holiday wouldn’t reduce the price at the pump. Oil companies would charge the same rate and pocket the difference. The libertarian Cato Institute, no friend of taxes, called gas tax holidays a “holiday from reality” in 2008. If we really must pander to motorists, surely we can all agree that New Yorkers deserve better panderers.

Those state senators, however, are savvy politicos. They can’t deliver the goods, but they know their audience. That’s where the gas tax vote is especially revealing.

Even if a gas tax holiday worked as promised, reducing the price at the pump instead of increasing Exxon’s profit margins, it’s a sure thing where the money comes from: the state’s transportation budget. If the gas tax holiday costs $60 million, that’s $60 million in new revenues needed for the MTA and state DOT, or $60 million more in cuts to things like education. While only drivers would even theoretically benefit, everyone else would pay the price.

Voting for a gas tax holiday means you’re worried about appeasing drivers in your district and not too concerned with sending everybody else the bill. That’s probably good politics if you’re Patrick Gallivan, the Western New York senator whose district has a 96 percent car ownership rate according to Streetsblog’s analysis of Census data. More outrageous is the fact that many New York City senators seem to agree.

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Eric Adams Talks Speeding and Street Safety on a Neighborhood Walkabout

In September, State Senator Eric Adams introduced a bill that would add a component about interacting with pedestrians and cyclists to the licensing course for first-time New York State drivers. He said he’s pushing for better driver education to “make the roads safer for those who use the roads other than vehicles.”

Adams’ interest in increasing driver awareness dovetails nicely with the street safety initiatives that came out of NYC DOT’s landmark pedestrian safety report, released this summer. The action plan that accompanied the report recommends establishing a 20 mph speed limit in one New York City neighborhood — a pilot program that could be expanded elsewhere if successful. Slow-speed zones have been sweeping the UK and in London have prevented dozens of serious injuries and deaths each year.

Yesterday, Adams took a walking tour of Park Slope with Rod King, director of the UK’s 20′s Plenty for Us campaign, Noah Budnick of Transportation Alternatives, and local civic groups. Clarence Eckerson brings us these highlights from the walk.

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Take a Look at Eric Adams’ Bike Safety Bill (and a German Driving Test)

For everyone curious about the bike safety bill from State Senator Eric Adams that we mentioned on Monday, here are the basics.

The bill would add a bike and pedestrian safety component to the five-hour course that New Yorkers must take before obtaining their first drivers license. This course currently includes sections educating prospective motorists about drunk driving, road rage, and driving in work zones. New Yorkers who don’t have a license have to complete the course, along with a certain number of practice hours behind the wheel with an instructor, before they can take the licensing exam.

The legalese currently looks like this.

This bill would be a good step forward for driver education in New York. Research by David T. Levy published in the journal Risk Analysis in 2006 indicates that drivers ed laws do reduce fatalities and that “an important part of the effect of curfew laws, driving education laws, and, of course, driving age laws appears to occur through their effect on discouraging early licensure.”

german_drivers_exam

No, this is not on the New York State driving exam. It's a sample exam question from Germany.

As with all things Albany, New Yorkers who care about street safety will probably have to push hard to get this bill through the legislative gauntlet in a form worth enacting. Adams introduced the bill in the second week of September, and there’s no equivalent on the Assembly side yet (things are quiet in Albany this time of year). A member of Assembly member Hakeem Jeffries’ staff was on the line for a conference call about the bill Monday evening, so there seems to be some interest from a potential sponsor in Sheldon Silver’s house.

On Saturday, Adams is hosting a meeting at his district office, starting at 11 a.m., to strategize about how to generate momentum for the bill. He described his motivation like so on Monday’s conference call: “Throughout the city we’ve witnessed a large number of bike lanes and just people who use the roads in many different fashions. It’s time to go back to the five-hour class and look at how do we make the roads safer for those who use the roads other than vehicles.”

If you want to see more awareness for cyclist and pedestrian safety built into the curriculum that all of New York state’s first-time drivers — mostly teenagers — have to take, I recommend turning out on Saturday to give your feedback.

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New Yorkers Taxed (Again) for Not Owning Cars

zipcar_tax_res_2_.jpg

MetroCard machines aren't the only place where the price of transit is going up. Reader Steven O'Neill points out that New Yorkers who sometimes rely on rental cars are now being hit with an additional five percent "bailout" tax, bringing the total tax for renting close to 20 percent. Says Steven:

This means that I, a very occasional driver who basically only ever rents a car if I'm going somewhere outside of the city, am being forced to pay exorbitant taxes so that daily car commuters can be allowed to continue to drive into Manhattan for free. And it feels like a kick in the teeth.

Eric Adams, I'm pissed off at you personally about this because you are my Senator. If the Senate still exists by the next time you are up for election, I plan to help give you the boot.

Bravo to Steven for channeling his frustration in the right direction. Any daily reporters out there care to talk to an informed MTA customer?

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Responding to Criticism, Sen. Adams to Hold Transpo Meeting

Sen.AdamsBIOheadshot.jpgWe posted yesterday about proposed legislation by State Senators Eric Adams and Jeff Klein to increase summer driving by suspending tolls on bridges and tunnels, thereby leaving transit riders to pay for their largess. Soon after, Adams constituent Carrie McLaren picked up the news on her neighborhood blog, Hawthorne Street. Now Adams wants to hold a kitchen cabinet meeting about the bill:

This discussion has been so extremely motivating that I would like to take it to the next level. In order to do so, however, we must move from conversation to action. I am not a talker, I am a doer. Therefore, I will open my office 572 Flatbush Avenue Brooklyn, NY (718) 284-4700, on Saturday, June 7th, at 10:00 AM for a meeting with all those who emailed and responded to this issue. I have a group of educators to assist me on educational issues, a group of medical professionals for aid on medical issues, and a group of law enforcement personnel to help me deal with public safety issues. I would like to extend this paradigm and invite those of you who have great ideas on transportation issues to join me next Saturday in an attempt to turn your suggestions into legislation. All are welcome. If you are planning to attend, please email me at my personal email at Voiceofconcern@aol.com.

We're glad to see the senator engage the public on transportation policy. Ideally it would eventually lead to discussion at the state level on the consequences of auto dependence, especially at the expense of transit funding, as this legislation would bring about.

Still, we can't help but notice that while Adams wants to give millions of drivers a pass on tolls, he is a supporter of a bill that would require a handful of current and former MTA board members to give up their own toll and fare privileges. We can only assume that the title of his press release on the subject, "The Free Ride Is Over," is offered without irony.

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Look Who’s Pledged to be an Obama Delegate…

I was surprised to find on my ballot this morning, pledged as a delegate to the National Democratic Convention on behalf of Barack Obama, State Senator Eric Adams, friend of double-parkers everywhere.

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This is How State Senator Eric Adams Celebrates Bike Month?

Sen.AdamsBIOheadshot.jpg Sources say that first-term Brooklyn State Senator Eric Adams has delivered a lengthy letter to Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Judith Bergtraum expressing opposition to DOT's 9th Street traffic safety and bike lane plan. Though the Senator, a former cop, has no urban planning or traffic engineering background, he questions DOT's assertion that its plan is an effective way to calm traffic and make Park Slope's most dangerous and crash-prone street safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

Check that: Adams doesn't seem to be interested in cyclist safety on 9th Street at all, despite the fact that he represents Prospect Heights, Park Slope and Windsor Terrace, districts with some of the highest rates of bike commuting in the entire city, along with Prospect Park -- the number one bicycling destination in Brooklyn. Rather, Adams seems to be angling for a DOT plan that, essentially, de-maps 9th Street as a bike route. Now that's a heck of a way for a public official to celebrate Bike Month and show his support for the Mayor's new Long-Term Sustainability Plan.

If you live in Adams district, now would be a really good time to call, fax or visit his office and let him know of your support for DOT's plan. You might also suggest that he get his mind wrapped around the concept of "Complete Streets" -- the idea that urban streets function better and more safely when they are designed for all different types of users, not just speeding motor vehicles.

572 Flatbush Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11225
Phone: (718) 284-4700
Fax: (718) 282-3585

Senator Adams needs to hear from constituents who support this plan because he spent Saturday morning two weekends ago meeting with a group of about fifteen mostly car- and brownstone-owning 9th Street residents who are deeply opposed to DOT's plan. A source who was at the meeting reports, "everyone kept saying they aren't anti-bike and that this isn't about double-parking, though, it always seemed to come back to double-parking."

Adams, along with his State Assembly colleague Jim Brennan, who has also sent a critical letter to DOT, both seem to have been swayed by Ninth Street residents' factually incorrect claim that the fines for double-parking in a bike lane are higher than the fines for double-parking elsewhere. In fact, it's a $115 fine either way. But more important: The DOT plan does nothing to prevent motorists from double-parking. DOT's presentation actually includes a diagram of vehicles double-parked on the three-foot buffer just outside the bike lane. The DOT plan shows drivers how to double-park (see slide 12)!

Of course, the bigger issue here is the fact that a Brooklyn State Senator, a former law enforcement officer, appears to be prioritizing a fundamentally illegal activity -- double-parking -- ahead of pedestrian safety, bicycling and three years worth of community efforts to get DOT to fix a street where two fifth grade boys and a 77-year-old woman were killed in 2004 while crossing the street, in the crosswalk, with the pedestrian signal giving them right-of-way.

Former Senator Carl Andrews, supporter of Car-Free Prospect Park, we miss you, man.