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Posts from the "Linda Rosenthal" Category

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Scott Stringer, Linda Rosenthal Push DOT to Install Promised Ped Safety Fix

Borough President Scott Stringer and Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal press the DOT to install promised safety improvements at the dangerous intersection of Broadway, Amsterdam, and 71st Street on the Upper West Side. Behind them are neighborhood residents and members of Community Board 7. Photo: Noah Kazis

One year ago, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal stood on a traffic island in the middle of the intersection of Amsterdam Avenue, Broadway, and 71st Street to urge the Department of Transportation to install a slew of safety features at what they called “the bowtie of death.” That September, DOT put out a plan to expand sidewalks, add crosswalks and remove traffic lanes from both Broadway and Amsterdam.

This afternoon, Stringer and Rosenthal stood with Upper West Side community leaders on that same traffic island, urging DOT to finally put that safety plan into place. “Not next year, not during the fall, but now,” said Stringer.

Over the last two years, there have been 34 crashes at the intersection, according to Stringer’s office.

DOT had promised to make the safety improvements by this spring, Stringer said. The only change that’s been made so far are the installation of countdown timers on the walk signals. Knowing how much time you have to cross, he said, “is not the same as actually having more time.” Stringer explicitly called for each piece of the DOT safety plan to be installed, including the curb extensions, crosswalks, and the removal of traffic lanes.

“We shouldn’t be standing here today,” said Rosenthal. She’s been pushing for a safety fix for the intersection since 2007, when her office released a report on senior pedestrian safety in the neighborhood with Transportation Alternatives. The dangers of the crossing are so glaring that the Los Angeles Times led off a story on unsafe streets for the elderly with a discussion of that very corner, Rosenthal pointed out.

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Upper West Side Leaders Calmly Study, Tweak Columbus Ave Lane

The Upper West Side is offering the city a lesson in what a mature and constructive response to bike lane growing pains looks like.

Upper West Side leaders present their recommendations to tweak the Columbus Avenue bike lane. Photo: Noah Kazis

While the new protected bike lane on Columbus Avenue received community support throughout the process, once installed many local businesses along the corridor began to complain that the design was making it harder to park or make deliveries along the east side of the street. In response, elected officials and the community board developed a working group, surveyed those businesses and developed a set of tweaks intended to make the street design work better, which DOT has quickly accepted. That collaborative process has now set the scene for a continued expansion of the bike network on the Upper West Side.

The Columbus Avenue Working Group, made up of Community Board 7, the Upper West Side Streets Renaissance, and the offices of Borough President Scott Stringer, State Senator Thomas Duane, Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, and Council Member Gale Brewer, canvassed the blocks of Columbus between 77th and 96th streets, asking those businesses on the east side of the street what they thought of the bike lane. They announced the results of that survey at a press conference yesterday.

Of the 65 businesses they surveyed, 36 responded. And while that wasn’t a random sample, the results were pretty clear: 72 percent said the redesign had been bad for business. Of those negative responses, 86 percent identified reduced space for parking or loading as a concern and 53 percent said they’d had issues receiving deliveries.

No member of the working group, however, blamed the bike lane or called for a return to the more dangerous Columbus Avenue of the past. When asked by one reporter where things went wrong, Stringer answered, “I don’t think that things went wrong.” The only disconnect, he said, was that community consultation needed to be ongoing.

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Twenty-One NYC Reps Back Brodsky’s Student Fare Falsehood

On Friday we noted that Assembly Member Richard Brodsky's latest anti-transit argument -- that "the actual cost of free and discounted student fares is close to zero" -- doesn't hold water. A letter from Brodsky addressed to MTA CEO Jay Walder calls for reinstating student MetroCards, laying blame for the program's potential elimination at the MTA's feet while neglecting to mention Albany's leading role in reducing funds for student transport

Brodsky's office sent us a copy of the letter [PDF], which is copied in full below. Among its 24 signatories, the overwhelming majority represent New York City:

Dear Hon. Walder,

We write to you as long-standing advocates for mass transit funding, as those who have regularly supported state funding for the MTA's capital and operating needs, and as those who represent students and parents across the MTA region.  We understand the continuing difficulties caused by the national recession, and the difficult decisions you are making as a consequence.  We believe that we share a desire to reform, expand, and improve the MTA, even as new leadership takes over, and as PARA 2009 makes real changes in legal, operational and fiduciary practices at the MTA. 

That being said, we write to make sure you understand the depth of our concern about MTA plans to end free and discounted student travel.  We cannot criticize any exercise that reviews all MTA expenditures and services in the face of the economic downturn.  But we reject any decision by the MTA to end free and discounted student travel as an element of a final package of changes. 

We reject that decision because it is not an accurate or intelligent analysis of the MTA's fisc [sic]. While the MTA asserts it needs $214 million in additional state and city aid to preserve the program, the actual cost of free and discounted student fares is close to zero.  We reject the MTA's assertion that the program must be valued at the ostensible lost revenue, and point out that state and city funding for the program actually exceeds the cost of providing the service. 

We reject that decision because it is a dangerous, unfair, and self-defeating political tactic. We understand the use of political tactics in budget controversies.  But there are limits, and the decision to put students and families out there as a pawn in the struggle to increase City and State funding crosses a line.

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86th Street: The Congestion Pricing Battle Line

The 86th Street border of Mayor Bloomberg's proposed congestion pricing zone is emerging as the northern front of an increasingly intense political battle. Last week, Upper East Side City Council Member Jessica Lappin worried that congestion pricing would bring a "crush of cars circling around 86th Street looking for parking spots." Over on the West Side Council Member Gale Brewer and Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal expressed similar concerns.

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On Memorial Day, I had a chance to speak with Micah Kellner, the Democratic Party's candidate for the New York State Assembly seat left vacant by Pete Grannis who was such a strong environmental advocate Gov. Spitzer elevated him to the head of the Department of Environmental Conservation. I asked him to clarify the report in the New York Sun that he opposed Bloomberg's congestion pricing plan, despite supporting the plan "in concept." He said:

The purpose of congestion pricing is to reduce traffic and congestion, not just shift congestion to a different neighborhood. I believe having the border at 86th Street will be a disaster for the people living between 86th and 96th Streets. It will create gridlock there and turn the area into a parking lot. I think the border should be at 59th Street. I also want the mayor to commit to incentives for night deliveries and to support the cross-harbor freight tunnel, which he continually flip flops on.

When I challenged him on his vision of Carmmegedon in Yorkville and Carnegie Hill he responded with a few ancedotes of comments he's heard on the campaign trail: People looking for parking on 88th Street would not be able to look below 86th Street. People working near 86th street would exit the FDR at 96th street, park and walk the rest of the way.

I told Kellner that my greatest concern was that the bickering over where to draw the line would delay or sink the whole plan. He was not worried. "I think we will see congestion pricing of some type get implemented. There will be a vote and it will pass."