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Posts from the "Noah Budnick" Category

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Hudson River Park Trust’s Pier 57 Will Add to Car/Bike Greenway Conflicts

Plans for Pier 57 include a two-lane driveway, in teal, separated from 11th Avenue by the Hudson River Greenway, in light green. Red arrows, added by Streetsblog, indicate crossings planned for 17th, 16th and 14th Streets. Image: Philip Habib and Associates

A plan from the Hudson River Park Trust to transform Pier 57 into a retail and food market will add 75 parking spaces and a two-lane driveway to the park between 17th and 14th Streets, creating new points of conflict where people biking on the Hudson River Greenway will have to contend with cars crossing the path.

The crossings will have traffic signals with separate phases for cyclists and drivers, and will include speed tables to bring crossing vehicles up to greenway level. Crossings at 14th Street, where traffic exits the driveway, and 16th Street, where southbound 11th Avenue drivers will use a dedicated turn lane to access the driveway, will both have speed tables.

The widest crossing, at 17th Street, where the Chelsea Piers driveway ends and the Pier 57 driveway will begin, will not have a speed table.

“At the end of the day, having any driveways crossing the greenway is a safety problem,” said Noah Budnick of Transportation Alternatives. As an alternative to adding new crossings on the Greenway, Budnick pointed to the Goldman Sachs driveway on West Street between Murray and Vesey Streets, where the bikeway and sidewalk run between the street-side driveway and the building entrance.

The Pier 57 project also includes 75 parking spaces on the basement level of the pier, with access from the driveway across the sidewalk. “There’s no need for parking there,” Budnick said, adding that it will only serve to generate traffic and “increase the number of people driving across the greenway.”

The Pier 57 spaces will not be open to the public and instead will be reserved for those with business at the pier, according to Christine Berthet, co-chair of Community Board 4′s transportation committee. “Contrast that with Chelsea Piers,” she said, with its large public parking garage.

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Streetfilms: The Sands Street Bike Path, a New Kind of Bridge Approach

Chalk up more bikeway innovation to the folks at the NYC Department of Transportation. Nearly complete, the Sands Street approach to the Manhattan Bridge is now safer and more enjoyable thanks to a New York City first: a center-median, two-way protected bike path. The facility is a perfect solution to counter the dangers posed by a tangle of roads and highway on-ramps that burden the area. Dramatic before-and-afters tell the delicious story.

We'll also take you back into the archives to April 2005, when, following a severe injury to Transportation Alternatives' Noah Budnick, advocates held a passionate rally asking Mayor Bloomberg to not only improve bike access to the Manhattan Bridge, but to all East River bridges. Four years later, there's much to be proud of. As DOT Assistant Commissioner for Traffic Management Ryan Russo points out, back in 2005 about 800 cyclists used the bridge daily. In 2009, those numbers have soared to over 2,600. That gives us a serious case of happiness.

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Amtrak Bill Clears the Way for Bike-Friendly Trains

caltrain_bike_car.jpgThe five-year Amtrak authorization that Congress passed last week includes a nice inter-modal touch. It states in no uncertain terms that funding can be spent on making trains accessible for bikes:

NONMOTORIZED TRANSPORTATION ACCESS AND STORAGE. -- Grants under this chapter may be used to provide access to rolling stock for nonmotorized transportation, including bicycles, and recreational equipment, and to provide storage capacity in trains for such transportation, equipment, and other luggage, to ensure passenger safety.

Queens Congressman Anthony Weiner got the language into the bill after prompting from Transportation Alternatives. President Bush has not yet signed it into law, but according to the Times, the White House has signaled that he will.

"In the past, Amtrak has claimed that because the funding bill did not explicitly say that the money may be spent on bikes that they couldn't make trains bike-accessible," says T.A.'s Noah Budnick. "Now it should be clear to the most bureaucratic bureaucrat: Federal money for Amtrak can be spent on bike-accessibility."

The bill does not mandate bike-accessibility, so riders will have to contact Amtrak to put it on its agenda. I know I'd like to bring a bike on board the next time I visit my grandmother in DC. A SmartBike location right at Union Station would also do the trick.

Photo of Caltrain bike car near Palo Alto: richardmasoner/Flickr

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Manhattan Bridge Bike Path Mired for Years in Construction Bureaucracy

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Construction of the Sands Street bike path was promised to begin in 2006...

The slow pace of safety improvements for downtown Brooklyn streets became tragically apparent earlier this month when eight-year-old Alexander Toulouse was killed by a postal truck on Livingston Street. A $5 million traffic calming project for the area, unveiled in 2007, is not the only livable streets initiative to suffer delays. The Sands Street bike path, a physically protected approach to the Manhattan Bridge, has languished behind schedule for years, held up in the city's construction bureaucracy. The project serves as a prime illustration that livable streets hinge not just on DOT, but on other, more obscure city agencies as well.

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...here's how Sands Street looks today.

In April 2005, Noah Budnick of Transportation Alternatives was riding on Sands Street, after exiting the Manhattan Bridge, and crashed on a dangerous stretch where cyclists often have to contend with deeply pock-marked pavement and cars accelerating onto the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. He sustained severe head trauma, requiring hospitalization and a prolonged recovery.

noahbudnickbridge.jpgTwo years earlier, Budnick had joined other Brooklyn bike advocates in calling on the Department of Transportation to improve the safety of the very same bridge approach. Borough President Marty Markowitz and City Council member David Yassky pledged support (right). DOT, under the leadership of commissioner Iris Weinshall at the time, did announce plans for a protected bike path on Sands Street -- two months after Budnick's crash. Construction would start in 2006, the agency said.

This June marked the third anniversary of that announcement, and construction on the Sands Street bike path has still not begun. (A contractor is slated to begin work in October.) Last year, a new team took the reins at DOT and dramatically accelerated the pace of bike improvements. But getting this critical safety measure through the different stages of government approval has been slow as molasses. Why?

Capital projects like Sands Street are carried out by the city's Department of Design and Construction, which works with contractors to see DOT's designs through to completion.

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Budnick v. Anderson on “Talk of the Nation” This Afternoon

anderson.jpgTransportation Alternatives' Noah Budnick will be on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" this afternoon at 3 p.m. EST. He'll be debating Rob Anderson, the one-man wrecking crew who filed the 2006 environmental impact law suit that stopped San Francisco from building out its citywide bicycle network.

I don't think "Talk of the Nation" is available on WNYC but you should be able to tune in via the Internet. They'll be taking callers as well.

After the jump, you'll find last week's Wall Street Journal article on Anderson and his law suit. And here, to give you a sense of where Anderson is coming from, is a choice quote from his blog:

Riding a bike in SF -- or any American city -- will never really be "a safe, attractive option," regardless of the miles of bike lanes that are eventually painted on city streets. Regardless of the obvious dangers, some people will ride bikes in San Francisco for the same reason Islamic fanatics will engage in suicide bombings -- because they are politically motivated to do so.

It's amazing that the court and 1970s-era environmental regulations have given this local gadfly such power and legitimacy, but there you have it. If you were going on national radio with Rob Anderson, what points would you try to hit?

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City Council Says “Yes” to Car-Free Bus Lanes. Now It’s Up to Albany.

State Assembly Transportation Committee to Decide Today Whether Bill Will Receive Floor Vote

On Thursday, the New York City Council voted 40-7 to approve a home rule message enabling state lawmakers to enact bus lane enforcement legislation. The bill would permit the use of bus-mounted cameras to deter cars from using bus-only lanes. It now moves to Albany, where it has already been introduced in both the State Assembly and Senate. The City Council also voted in favor of a measure that would make it easier to enforce restrictions on blocking the box, which is likewise now in Albany's hands.

With the Assembly set to adjourn on June 23rd, and the transportation committee meeting today to discuss the bus camera bill, one more round of calling and reaching out to key legislators will help move this legislation forward.

Automated bus lane enforcement is a key step toward implementation of Bus Rapid Transit, especially since physically separated lanes do not figure heavily in the city's plans. Similar enforcement legislation was first drafted eight years ago, but, lacking support from the governor's office and high-level MTA management, did not progress this far. The City Council vote indicates that circumstances have changed.

"This is unprecedented," said Noah Budnick of Transportation Alternatives. "City Council is doing the right thing for the millions of bus riders in this city. This is a really good step towards improving mass transit in the short term. For the time being, it's all about buses."

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With Congestion Pricing Dead, a $17 Billion Transit Deficit Looms

We're putting in some calls and getting some initial reactions to the State Assembly's failure to bring New York City's congestion pricing plan to a vote today.

Michael O'Loughlin at the Campaign for New York's Future said:

Congestion pricing is dead. Long live congestion pricing.

The Assembly still has to come up with a plan to deal with a $17 billion transit deficit in a $29 billion capital plan. As Gene Russianoff at the Straphangers Campaign said, 'That's more hole than plan.'

The fundamental facts remain the same. The traffic problem and air pollution problems are real. The need for better transit is real. Two-thirds of New Yorkers support congestion pricing if the funds are used for transit. The success of congestion pricing in other cities is real. The reality is that we have to come up with a plan to solve our traffic and transit crisis, if not today then tomorrow.

Now, the legislature has to confront the MTA capital plan. They have to come up with billions and billions of dollars from somewhere.

It doesn't end here. The issue is engaged and it's not going away. But this is a bad day for 7.5 million transit riders, that's for sure.

Noah Budnick at Transportation Alternatives said:

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City Council Passes Congestion Pricing. Next Stop: Albany.

The City Council has voted 30-20 to approve the home rule message sending congestion pricing to the state legislature. Noah Budnick of Transportation Alternatives gave us the full roll call, after the jump.

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Pricing Clears Committee, Moves to Full Council Tonight

The Committee on State and Federal Legislation has voted in favor of the congestion pricing home rule message. Tonight, the full City Council will decide whether the state legislature can vote on the real bill. Transportation Alternatives' Noah Budnick is on the scene and providing us with updates. The Daily Politics is getting the news out pretty quickly too. Here's the roll call:

Maria Baez (chair), Bronx - yes
Joseph Addabbo, Queens - no
Eric Martin Dilan, Brooklyn - no
Lewis Fidler, Brooklyn - no
Melissa Mark Viverito, Manhattan - yes
Michael McMahon, Staten Island - yes
Hiram Monserrate, Queens - yes
Joel Rivera, Bronx - yes
Larry Seabrook, Bronx - yes

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Sander Makes the Case for MTA Capital Plan and Pricing

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A map presented by Lee Sander shows routes of short-term transit improvements (slide available in this PDF).

MTA chief Elliott "Lee" Sander delivered the first-ever "State of the MTA" address this morning, using the agency's 40th anniversary to urge the enactment of the full $29.5 billion, five-year capital plan unveiled last week. Speaking before a packed house at Cooper Union's Great Hall, Sander argued that the New York metro region needs every tier in the plan to serve a growing population, keep up with global competition, and address the challenge of climate change.

Sander linked the plan to the historical trajectory begun in the early 1980s, when the MTA rolled out successive five-year capital plans, reviving a decrepit system with a $70 billion overhaul. The capital plan now on the table, he said, would "turn the page to the next chapter in New York City's transit history" and create "a world-class, seamless transportation network."

Sander also reinforced the importance of congestion pricing to the MTA's plans, and placed major capital projects within the context of the city's sustainability initiatives. "Inherent in the capital plan and in congestion pricing is the belief that sustainability is critical to the region's future," he said. "Global warming and sea level rise are challenges no enlightened society can afford to ignore."

The presentation depicted three categories of improvements: 1) short-term service enhancements that can be implemented before congestion pricing, 2) major projects in the 2008-13 capital plan, and, looking ahead as far as 2048, 3) long-term system extensions for the five boroughs and surrounding counties that the current proposal would make possible.

The first category will consist of new bus routes in every borough and more frequent subway service on 11 lines. In the second category, big-ticket projects like the Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access -- linking the LIRR to Grand Central -- take center stage. The third category, which Sander called a "long-term vision and action plan for the next 25-40 years," includes ideas like using the Second Avenue Subway as a trunk line for service into Brooklyn and the Bronx, and building a "circumferential" subway line connecting Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx using existing rail rights-of-way (an idea first proposed by the Regional Plan Association). A detailed summary is available in the MTA press release, and City Room has posted a great recap.

Transportation advocates were largely positive, though not without reservation, in their assessments of the speech.

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