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Posts from the Janette Sadik-Khan Category


Bloomberg Was on Fire at Yesterday’s Bike-Share Presser

Photo: Dmitry Gudkov

Yesterday’s Citi Bike announcement was maybe the last occasion to see Michael Bloomberg answer a whole string of bike-related questions from the NYC press corps in one sitting. The mayor has a reputation for jousting with reporters at these events, sometimes more crankily than others. Yesterday he was combative but clearly enjoying himself. He had solid responses for just about all the questions that came at him.

Here are some highlights from the Q&A with Bloomberg and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. In most cases the reporters weren’t clearly audible from my vantage point, so the questions are paraphrased.

The first question was about dedicating officers to ticketing Citi Bike users.

Michael R. Bloomberg: Everyone’s going to be more aware of this. I’m sure there will be people who will, just like they are today, take their bicycles and do things that break the law. This will shock you but there are even people in automobiles who do the same thing. When you take a look at the number of people killed in automobiles, it sort of dwarfs everything put together on the road. I’m sure there’ll be some teething pains, there will be some people who need a wake-up call, and we’ll try to do it to the best extent we can.

Next question was about maintaining the system and referred to the Citi Bike that was stolen Sunday evening while crews were setting up stations.

Janette Sadik-Khan: It was taken off the truck as it was being loaded, not from the station itself.

MRB: I’m sure that’s the first bicycle that’s been stolen in this city. So I’m sure we’ll go back and look at your coverage, and you’ve been covering every one of those, is that correct? And it was recovered, incidentally. And it wasn’t ours, it was the private sector’s, not government property. Somehow or other you can make a bad story out of that, I don’t know, but we’ll pay attention, and it will be fascinating to see how clever you are.

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New York City Sets in Motion America’s Largest Bike-Share System

Mayor Bloomberg addresses the press corps with Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson by his side. Photo: Dmitry Gudkov

Five years ago, the New York City Department of Transportation signaled its interest in creating an extensive bike-share system “to accommodate a wide range of potential short trips.” Now New Yorkers have that system at their fingertips. With today’s launch of Citi Bike, there’s a new travel option in the mix — 6,000 bikes at 330 stations that will extend the reach of the transit system and expand access to the point-to-point convenience of bicycling.

“I am thrilled to declare that as of this moment, Citi Bike, the largest bike-share network in the country, is officially launched,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced at a press event outside City Hall this morning. Touting a 75 percent reduction in the cycling injury rate over the past decade and the improved safety outcomes for pedestrians along the city’s protected bike lanes, Bloomberg said that “Citi Bike will make our streets safer,” and reiterated the city’s commitment to ramp up to a 10,000-bike/600-station system.

While transportation funding stagnates and mega-projects run billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule, the Bloomberg administration has delivered a new transit option at minimal public expense, with the potential to expand relatively quickly into other parts of the city. So far, more than 15,000 New Yorkers have signed up for the $95 annual pass, and about 13,000 now have access to the system using Citi Bike key fobs. On Sunday, June 2, the system will open up to weekly and daily members.

The culmination of intense study, planning, and public outreach, the bike-share launch marks the birth of a new transit network. “It’s a rare thing to see a brand new transportation system become unveiled before our eyes,” said Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “We have the A Train, and the New York City cab, and the Staten Island Ferry, and now Citi Bike joins the ranks of the transportation icon family in New York City.”

Bloomberg and Sadik-Khan prepare to ride for the cameras. New York City bicycling has perhaps never been in the public eye more than today. Photo: Dmitry Gudkov

Within the service area, which at the moment extends from 59th Street in Manhattan to Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, bike-share gives New Yorkers the ability to go directly from point A to point B without the expense, hassle, and space-gobbling footprint of driving a car. The bike-share option is especially well-suited for some of the city’s most vexing types of trips — like getting across town or going anywhere on a weekend when subway service is disrupted. Soon GPS units embedded in each bike will provide a wealth of data about how New Yorkers use the system.

From the outset, Sadik-Khan, DOT Policy Director Jon Orcutt, and DOT bike-share program director Kate Fillin-Yeh strove to make a system that would be big enough to succeed. Since the bike stations are sited closely together, subscribers know they will be able to find a dock near their destination, as long as it’s in the service area. And because the service area covers a big chunk of the city (though it could, of course, grow considerably over time), including the biggest job centers, a huge number of short trips are now feasible using the system.

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Vacca Looks to Squeeze $ From Bikes, But Won’t Touch the Price of Parking

The headline from today’s City Council transportation committee oversight hearing was Janette Sadik-Khan’s announcement that the official launch date for Citi Bike is Memorial Day. Meanwhile, for Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca, it was another occasion to flail at bikes and defend cheap parking under the guise of holding a budget hearing.

Council Members Vacca and Recchia want to make sure that cyclists are a revenue source for the city — and that the parking status quo is maintained. Photos: NYC Council

Sadik-Khan kicked off the hearing with prepared testimony on the agency’s $732.9 million 2014 executive budget, including everything from public plazas and Select Bus Service upgrades to bridge repair and street lights.

But the bulk of council members’ questions revolved around bikes. The first came from an incredulous Vacca, who challenged Sadik-Khan’s statement that more than 70 percent of New Yorkers support bike-share. “How do you know that?” he asked, before she pointed him to polling from Quinnipiac University.

After asking about the $9.4 million budgeted for bicycle network expansion — 80 percent of which is covered by federal funds — and questioning whether a safety plan for the Grand Concourse should include bike lanes (Sadik-Khan noted that the street already has them), Vacca came to the heart of his questioning: How can the city get more revenue from bike riders?

“I didn’t see any projections in your budget based on revenue from the commercial cycling program,” Vacca said, referencing a package of laws the City Council passed last year that create new mandates for delivery cyclists and their employers. But it’s not just food delivery cyclists that Vacca sees as a revenue source. “When will we see revenue into the city’s coffers from bike-share?” he asked.

“[The Office of Management and Budget] does not include funding for new programs,” Sadik-Khan said. “They need to have a year to understand what the budget impact is going to be.” She added that any bike-share profits will be split evenly between the city and system operator Alta.

Finance committee chair Domenic Recchia, meanwhile, said he’s concerned about reduced parking revenue as a result of Citi Bike stations being installed on the street. “Less than one percent of parking spots were removed,” Sadik-Khan said, adding that not all on-street bike-share stations are in formerly metered spaces. “The contract provides that the operator has to make up the lost revenue to the city.”

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Sadik-Khan, Wolfson Invite New Yorkers to Sign Up for Bike-Share

Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan hold a giant Citi Bike key this morning. Photo: Stephen Miller

In 2009, the Department of City Planning released an ambitious blueprint for bike-share in New York, and in 2011, the Department of Transportation began an extensive public process to site actual bike-share stations. Now the planning is giving way to implementation, with North America’s largest year-round bike-share system set to launch in May. Today, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson marked an important milestone: New Yorkers can now sign up for annual bike-share memberships.

Annual membership sign-ups have been open since early this morning, and more than 2,500 people have already subscribed at the rate of about $103 per year (including tax), which entitles users to unlimited rides up to 45 minutes long.

The other big news from DOT today is that the system will be launching with 6,000 bikes at 330 stations, about 10 percent larger than the most recent launch plan. It looks like damage from Hurricane Sandy won’t impede the rollout of the system as much as originally thought.

Approximately 60 stations are already on the ground, and the system will launch in May, though Sadik-Khan didn’t specify a date. For the first week of operation, Citi Bike will be open exclusively to annual members; after that, 24-hour and seven-day passes will be sold at bike-share stations.

Sadik-Khan also announced a few perks for the first 5,000 people to sign up, including blue-colored “founding member” keys, discounts on certain brands of bike helmets, and a free 24-hour membership pass to share with a friend. Additionally, the first 500 members will be invited to the launch ride, when bikes will be distributed to stations across the service area on the system’s first day of operation.

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LaHood Announces Safety Summits to Help Shape New Bikeway Standards

In 2010, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood mounted a table at the National Bike Summit and proclaimed, “I’ve been all over America, and…people want alternatives. They want out of their cars, they want out of congestion, they want to live in… livable communities.” He added, to thunderous applause, “You’ve got a partner in Ray LaHood.”

Shortly thereafter he blogged, “People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.”

Last night, LaHood addressed the same conference for his fifth and final time as DOT secretary. He echoed that sentiment: People across the country are hungry for safer streets for bicycling. He reflected on what he and the Obama administration had accomplished over the past four years, including awarding a record $3.8 billion of FHWA funding and $130 million in TIGER funds for bicycle and pedestrian projects.

But the secretary recognizes there is still more to be done. Bicyclists deaths grew by 9 percent from 2010 to 2011. And while LaHood is well known for his campaigns against unsafe behaviors like distracted driving, last night he called for increased, high-quality infrastructure to protect people who bike and prevent crashes.

LaHood told AASHTO last week that “DOT is looking to create a standard guide for how we will build modern streets that work for everyone who depends on them.” Last night, he told the crowd that DOT would hold two bike safety summits this spring, in which DOT will convene experts and advocates to get input into these new standards.

NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan followed LaHood. As the head of the National Association of City Transportation Officials, Sadik-Khan helped oversee the development of the Urban Bikeway Design Guide, which sets forth a well-conceived precedent for the feds to follow. She thanked LaHood heartily for his service and presented him with an honorary New York City street sign, and an offer to rename a real street after him. Maybe Prospect Park West, she joked, to the delight of the crowd.


City Receives Federal Funding for Full Nostrand Avenue Select Bus Route

The SBS stop coming to the corner of Nostrand Avenue and Empire Boulevard. Image: NYC DOT

The first Select Bus Service route in Brooklyn is on track to start speeding bus trips next year, after Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and NYC Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced yesterday afternoon that the project has secured a $28 million federal grant.

The B44 route on Nostrand, Rogers, and Bedford Avenues, which runs between Sheepshead Bay and Williamsburg, is one of NYC’s most used but least reliable bus lines. Plagued by bus bunching, the B44 took home the Straphangers Campaign’s “Schleppie Award” in 2009 and consistently ranks as Brooklyn’s most unreliable route. After it’s converted to Select Bus Service, the B44 will feature off-board fare collection, dedicated bus lanes along most of the corridor, and 12 bus bulbs to improve speeds and cut down on the amount of time buses spend standing still.

The B44 links Brooklyn residents to Medgar Evers College, Brooklyn College, Kings County Hospital, and SUNY Downstate Hospital, as well as several subway lines. Weekday ridership currently stands at about 44,000 passengers. Not only will they see faster, more reliable service, but the improvements should attract more riders. Following SBS upgrades in Manhattan and the Bronx, more passengers started riding those routes, cutting against a citywide trend of declining bus ridership.

“I think everyone who saw Sandy from near or afar recognized the critical role buses played once the subway system went down, underscoring the value of these types of investments in our transportation infrastructure,” Sadik-Khan said in a press statement. “SBS continues to bring enhanced service to densely populated areas in need of transportation enhancements.”

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NACTO Wrap-Up: Cities Are Doing It For Themselves

Five city transportation chiefs -- Phildelphia's Rina Cutler, Chicago's Gabe Klein, NYC's Janette Sadik-Khan, San Francisco's Ed Reiskin, and Boston's Tom Tinlin -- shared their perspectives today on how cities have innovated by necessity.

The leaders of the nation’s big city transportation agencies have formed a tight-knit circle, brought together by the National Association of City Transportation Officials to share best practices, and yes, battle scars.

As NACTO’s first ever national conference drew to a close today, transportation chiefs from Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Chicago and New York all talked about the progress their cities have made and shared their frustration at the lack of attention to cities and transportation in the state and national political arenas.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg set the tone by blasting the state government in his introductory remarks. “Our economy is dependent on transportation,” he said. “But our state refused to give us money for a new subway line, so we said ‘screw you’ and took city taxpayer money to extend a subway line.”

NYC Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan put it even more starkly. She said that instead of the old New Yorker cartoon, a New Yorker’s view of the world, in which the map falls off dramatically after the Hudson River, “Washington’s view of the world is made up of Iowa, Ohio and lots of highways. And some dollar signs on the map where New York and Los Angeles are.”

Despite the lack of attention from Congress and the presidential contenders, Sadik-Khan explained that transportation innovations at the city level can cumulatively affect the nation’s economy, echoing yesterday’s plenary speaker Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution. “You’ve got two-thirds of Americans living in top 100 metropolitans areas, where three-quarters of US GDP is generated,” Sadik-Khan said. “Yet there is no mention of cities in presidential debates.” Added San Francisco Municipal Transportation Commissioner Ed Reiskin, “There was no mention at all of transportation in any of the debates.”

Given the progress that cities across the country are making on transportation reform, the question arises: How much more can cities do without the active support of Washington and state governments?

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NACTO Previews a Progressive Design Guide for City Streets

One of the interesting developments to come out of the National Association of City Transportation Officials “Designing Cities” conference (currently in its second day) was the announcement of a wide-ranging new design guide to be released next year. NACTO’s “Urban Streets Design Guide” will show how streets of every size can be re-oriented to prioritize transit, safe walking and biking, and public activity.

In much the same way that NACTO’s “Urban Bikeway Design Guide” helped cities implement projects like protected bike lanes, which aren’t included in more conservative engineering manuals, the Urban Streets Design Guide will help accelerate the adoption of a range of multi-modal improvements, from bus lanes to curbside public spaces. As NYC DOT chief and NACTO President Janette Sadik-Khan writes in the foreword:

These innovations are at the center of improvements for urban roadways in the U.S., but they are still often treated as marginal or exceptional by other national design guides. This guide will fill that gap and give cities the tools they need as they strive to make the most of their streets.

The full Urban Streets Design Guide is slated to come out in March. For now there’s a short overview and some excerpts online, which give a sense of what will be in the finished version.

When it comes to re-engineering streets, the importance of this type of design guidance is hard to overstate. At a panel yesterday afternoon, Seleta Reynolds of the San Francisco MTA’s Livable Streets program shared a terrific example of how the NACTO bikeway guide helped accelerate change at her agency.

When SF was planning bike lanes for JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park, she said, the release of NACTO’s guide prompted her agency to reconsider the standard approach — placing the bike lanes between parked cars and traffic. “We decided the regular bike lane wouldn’t be good enough,” she said. “We opted for one-way cycle tracks.”

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Tonight’s Ride and Forum Are About Livable Streets for All

Mayor John Lindsay (center) and Parks Commissioner August Hecksher (in white shirt) lead ride up Sixth Ave. to Central Park, April 1, 1968.

New York City bicyclists will celebrate bike activism’s past, present and future this evening in a ride from Greenwich Village to Central Park South and back to the Village, culminating in a community forum at Cooper Union. These linked happenings come the day after the New York Times managed to twist its big story on the July 2011-June 2012 spike in NYC traffic fatalities into a jab at DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan’s livable streets makeover.

Sadly, the connections between the fatalities story and tonight’s events aren’t just in the timing.

The most obvious connection, and the most painful, is that the Houston Street and Sixth Avenue meetup for tonight’s ride, which was chosen months ago, is where long-time Village resident Jessica Dworkin was run over in late August when the driver of an 18-wheeler steered his rig into her.

There’s a more enduring connection as well, and it’s two-fold: first, there’s the media’s chronic inability to scrutinize traffic-crash data critically to determine, as we at Transportation Alternatives asked a quarter-of-a-century ago, Who’s Really Getting Hurt?; paired with that is the NYPD’s utter unconcern about traffic safety and justice — from its autopilot “No Criminality” statements that appear even before the blood has been washed off the pavement, to its blanket refusals to release crash analyses by its Accident Investigation Squad.

Streetsblog has run dozens of posts on NYPD stonewalling, so let’s focus here on how the Times mis-reported the jump in fatalities.

The raw figures are simple enough: from the 2011 fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, to the 2012 fiscal year ending June 30, 2012:

  • Motor vehicle occupant fatalities rose by 37, from 78 to 115, a jump of 47 percent.
  • Non-occupant (pedestrian and cyclist) fatalities rose by 18, from 158 to 176, an increase of 11 percent.
  • Total traffic fatalities rose by 55, from 236 to 291, an increase of 23 percent.

The takeaways are fairly obvious too:

  • Driving, walking and cycling in New York City were less safe in FY 2012 than in FY 2011.
  • The increase in danger was concentrated in driving, with an increase in fatalities twice as large as that for walking and cycling — and four times as great in percentage terms.

How, then, did the Times story manage to center its lead on DOT’s “roadway interventions,” virtually all of which have been on streets, not highways?

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In Wake of Traffic Fatality Spike, Officials Tout Safer Delancey Street

This morning, elected officials and community leaders unveiled a slate of pedestrian safety improvements to Delancey Street, long ranked as one of the city’s most dangerous places to walk.

Nine people were killed and 742 injured between 2006 and 2010 on Delancey, from the Williamsburg Bridge to the Bowery. In the last six years, there have been 118 pedestrian injuries and six pedestrian fatalities on the corridor, according to DOT.

Local officials cut the ribbon on Delancey Street's pedestrian improvements. Photo: Stephen Miller

The Delancey Street Working Group, convened by State Sen. Daniel Squadron in September 2011, gained new urgency after Dashane Santana, 12, was killed while crossing the busy street in January.

Teresa Pedroza, Dashane’s grandmother, was at today’s press conference, which was convened by DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. Sadik-Khan was joined by State Senator Daniel Squadron, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Rep. Nydia Velázquez, Community Board 3 Chair Gigi Lee and Lower East Side BID executive director Bob Zuckerman.

Delancey Street now has more than 21,000 square feet of new pedestrian space, shorter crossing distances, longer crossing times, new turn restrictions and more consistent lane markings for drivers going to and from the Williamsburg Bridge. Drivers can now access the Williamsburg Bridge via Clinton Street, which also includes a two-way protected bike lane. The improvements were funded through the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program.

Carmen Luna, 60, lives on Clinton Street near its intersection with Delancey, and has lived in the area for most of her life. Her sister was hit by a truck driver while crossing Delancey about two decades ago, she said, and suffered brain damage as a result. Luna welcomed the safety improvements. “This is very important,” she said. “We don’t have enough crossing time.”

Luna also admired the new pedestrian space and seating, which will be maintained by the Lower East Side Business Improvement District.

Traffic enforcement continues to be the missing component for pedestrian safety on Delancey Street. “They don’t do anything,” Luna said of officers directing traffic.

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