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Posts from the "Robert Jackson" Category

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City: Recycling Plastic Foam Would Add 1,000 Deadly Trucks to NYC Streets

Sanitation truck drivers are among the most dangerous to NYC pedestrians and cyclists, and two City Council bills that could lead to recycling — rather than banning — plastic-foam containers may end up putting 1,000 more trash haulers on city streets.

A 1999 report found that garbage truck drivers had the highest fatality rate of any category of NYC motorist. The city says it would take 1,000 new trucks to recycle foam food and drink containers. Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/southerncalifornian/14578962/##So Cal Metro/Flickr##

A 1999 report found that garbage truck drivers had the highest fatality rate of any category of NYC motorist. The city says it would take 1,000 new trucks to recycle foam food and drink containers. Photo: So Cal Metro/Flickr

Mayor Bloomberg wants to stop the use of polystyrene foam food and drink containers, as they add waste to landfills and are often mistakenly mixed with recyclables. Other cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle, already have bans in place.

As part of a lobbying effort, the foam container industry, which wants the city to recycle rather than ban its products, has given thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate-elect Letitia James, and several council members.

Both de Blasio and James have come out in support of Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed ban, but it was weakened by a council amendment that would give the city a year to determine if foam can be recycled ”in a manner that is environmentally responsible” and “economically practical.”

Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway has told the council it would take $70 million a year and an additional 1,000 sanitation trucks to pick up, sort, and process “clean foam” products for recycling. The city says foam containers dirtied by food can’t be recycled.

In the 1990s, street safety group Right Of Way found that sanitation truck drivers kill more city pedestrians and cyclists per mile driven than any other motorist category. Here is Charles Komanoff, citing the 1999 report “Killed By Automobile” for Streetsblog in 2010:

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What the Manhattan BP Candidates Said About Bike-Share Last Night

Manhattan borough president candidates Julie Menin, Robert Jackson, and Gale Brewer. Photo: Camila Schaulsohn/AIA-NY

Borough presidents have limited power, but the influence they wield can still make a big difference for livable streets, especially by making community board appointments and weighing in during the city’s land use review process. The four Democratic candidates for Manhattan borough president – City Council members Gale Brewer, Robert Jackson, and Jessica Lappin, plus former Community Board 1 chair Julie Menin — often sound very similar to each other, and few distinctions emerged at a forum hosted last night by the Center for Architecture featuring Brewer, Jackson, and Menin. But telling differences emerged when the candidates were asked for their thoughts about the bike-share program and the planning process that preceded the launch of the system.

Over the course of 2011 and 2012, DOT hosted more than 150 meetings with business interests, neighborhood organizations, and community boards, including public meetings where residents could suggest bike-share station locations. The outreach effort included an online suggestion map for people who couldn’t make the meetings. All told, you’d be hard-pressed to identify a transportation initiative in New York City that underwent a more extensive public engagement process.

DOT hosted a bike-share planning workshop in March 2012 in partnership with CB 1, and also made two presentations — one to the planning and infrastructure committee, and another to the full board, according to the agency’s website. But that wasn’t sufficient for Menin, who chaired CB 1 until June 2012. “There wasn’t enough community outreach,” she told Streetsblog after the forum. “I fully support the idea of bike-share,” she said. “That said, it’s got to be put in places where the community is supportive.”

“You heard about it all on the news. The community wasn’t consulted,” Jackson said during the forum, asserting that powerful people were able to get stations moved after they were installed. “It needs to be a plan where the community board says okay, here are the areas where we’re going to put them,” he told me after the event. “It was obvious to me as an elected public official, that not enough was done.”

Brewer was the candidate who didn’t equivocate in her support of bike-share. “Some people would make Janette Sadik-Khan a dartboard, but I like her and I think she’s done a great job with the bike-share program,” she said. “I will get in trouble for saying that. But I believe in it, and I think that it’s terrific.”

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Denny Farrell at Uptown Ped Safety Meeting: “I Drive Everywhere”

A DOT plan for a complex intersection on 155th Street includes three major components: 1) closing a "slip lane," 2) new pedestrian islands and curb extensions, and 3) "squaring off" crosswalks. Original image: Bing Maps

The intersection of 155th Street, Edgecombe Avenue, St. Nicholas Place, and Harlem River Driveway is a busy, complex web where pedestrians jockey with turning drivers to cross wide expanses of asphalt. DOT began studying the location after a request from Council Member Robert Jackson. A final design and community board review is months away, but at a meeting two weeks ago, DOT outlined some suggested fixes. Another notable development at the meeting: The Assembly member representing the area — Herman “Denny” Farrell, the powerful chair of the Ways and Means Committee — declared that he drives everywhere in his transit-dependent district.

Crash statistics for the intersection are relatively good, compared to other major intersections in the area. “Surprisingly, for the craziness of this intersection, these numbers are pretty low,” said DOT’s Kelly Yemen. However, 26 percent of crashes involve left-turning drivers, far higher than the Manhattan average of 10 percent. “It’s just a very wide-open intersection,” she told the audience of about 20 people.

Denny Farrell in his days on the Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission. He was one of two commission members to vote against congestion pricing. Photo: Aaron Naparstek

“Not surprisingly, it’s failing. We can make it fail a little bit less,” said Sean Quinn of DOT’s pedestrian projects group.

DOT has not released a copy of the presentation at that meeting or its current proposal for the intersection, despite multiple requests from Streetsblog. As explained at the meeting, the plan includes three major changes to the intersection’s layout:

  1. Closing the Edgecombe Avenue slip lane: Currently, westbound drivers on 155th Street turning south on Edgecombe Avenue use a “slip lane,” making a left turn before the intersection and cutting across a triangle-shaped sidewalk on a short, one-lane roadway next to a heavily-used bus stop. DOT would close the slip lane and eliminate this turn, cutting down on conflicts between drivers and pedestrians. The left turn from westbound 155th Street to southbound St. Nicholas Place would also be eliminated.
  2. Adding pedestrian islands and curb extensions: In addition to the new pedestrian space created by the closure of the slip lane, the southern side of the intersection would also receive a curb extension on the triangle-shaped sidewalk between Edgecombe and 155th, as well as two pedestrian islands. One pedestrian island would be located between northbound and southbound traffic on St. Nicholas Place. The second would be carved out of what is currently open asphalt, forming the edge of a new right-turn and slip lane for drivers turning from eastbound 155th to southbound St. Nicholas Place. Other corners of the intersection, including the northeast corner, would receive smaller curb extensions.
  3. “Squaring off” the intersection’s crosswalks: Some of the intersection’s crosswalks are angled, lengthening crossing distances — currently 95 feet on the intersection’s southern side — and positioning pedestrians at locations where drivers are already beginning to speed up as they come out of a turn. This adds risk for pedestrians, especially on the intersection’s west side, crossing 155th Street, and on its southern side, crossing St. Nicholas Place. Both of these crosswalks will be “squared off” so they meet the intersection’s corners at 90-degree angles.

The proposal received a generally positive reaction from the audience, with Bernadette McNear, president of the Rangel Houses Resident Association, and Barbara Williams, president of the Polo Grounds Towers Resident Association, telling DOT that many of the proposals would make it safer for people going to and from the bus stops on 155th Street.

Most of the meeting’s question and answer session was dominated by Farrell, who represents a district where, according to 2009 Census data, 74 percent of households do not own a car. Farrell began with a simple statement about how he gets around the neighborhood. “I drive everywhere,” he said.

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Who Killed 125th Street SBS: A Timeline

After years of advocacy and months of meetings, 125th Street bus riders will still be stuck with bus rides that are often slower than walking. Image: DOT

Throughout the development of the 125th Street Select Bus Service project, local elected officials and community boards never came out in support of actual bus improvements. Instead, they cloaked their opposition in concerns about “process.” Following yesterday’s announcement from the MTA and NYC DOT that they will no longer pursue Select Bus Service on 125th Street, now is a good time to review that process.

Here is a timeline of events, from initial advocacy to the end of SBS on 125th Street. Which parts look broken to you?

  • Summer 2011: WE ACT for Environmental Justice launches its Transit Riders Action Committee (TRAC) in response to fare hikes. Reaching out to neighborhood riders at bus stops and subway platforms, TRAC decides to make better bus trips on 125th Street one of its priorities.
  • Spring 2012: TRAC focuses its 125th Street advocacy on bringing Select Bus Service to the corridor.
  • September 19, 2012: DOT and the MTA launch the 125th Street SBS project with a public workshop sponsored by elected officials and all three community boards to identify problems on 125th Street and solicit feedback on how SBS measures could be implemented.
  • October 11, 2012: DOT and the MTA announce that SBS routes on 125th Street and Webster Avenue in the Bronx, as well as buses in Queens, will tie into a comprehensive plan for improved access to LaGuardia Airport. (Only 10 percent of M60 riders are airport-bound.)
  • November 28, 2012: The project’s Community Advisory Committee (CAC), which included elected officials, business interests, transit advocates, and community boards, holds its first meeting. The project team provides updates on its parking and traffic analysis, and merchant and shopper surveys. After the meeting, WE ACT’s Jake Carlson tells Streetsblog that he is concerned about the role of community input in the planning process.

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Council Member Jackson “Pleased” With Cancellation of 125th Street SBS

Reactions have been rolling in since DOT and the MTA announced this morning that they are canceling plans for Select Bus Service on 125th Street.

Council Member Robert Jackson, whose district includes West Harlem, welcomed the news. “He’s pleased that they listened to concerns and didn’t move forward with Select Bus Service,” Jackson spokesperson Frances Escano told Streetsblog. “He hopes that they come together and move forward with a whole study to come to complete solutions.” According to the 2000 Census, 78 percent of households in Jackson’s district do not own a car [PDF].

Update: Jackson’s office contacted us after publication, seeking to clarify his position. ”DOT was only going to do Select Bus Service for the M60,” Escano said in a follow-up call. “If you’re going to do SBS, do it for all of them, don’t just do it for one.” While the M60 has a reputation as serving only LaGuardia customers, only one in ten M60 riders are going to the airport. Riders on local routes would also see faster service thanks to the bus lanes and parking management proposed in the SBS project. Scuttling the SBS project deprives all bus riders on 125th Street of faster service.

When Streetsblog asked whether Jackson believes dedicated bus lanes would benefit all 125th Street bus riders, Escano said only that the council member supports a comprehensive study. Escano would not say whether the council member supports specific improvements — such as dedicated lanes — that would improve trip times for bus riders.

At a forum last week, most candidates looking to succeed the term-limited Jackson, who is running for Manhattan borough president, said they support SBS on 125th Street. Council candidate Mark Levine e-mailed a statement to Streetsblog this afternoon calling the SBS cancellation “outrageous [and] nonsensical.”

After today’s SBS cancellation, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, the local advocacy group that initially led the push for better bus service in Harlem, said it will re-evaluate its approach. After Senator Bill Perkins hosted a town hall meeting where DOT announced that it had trimmed the bus plan, WE ACT did not host a counter-event or action. “We have to have a conversation about what strategy looks like moving forward,” said Jake Carlson, WE ACT’s transportation equity coordinator.

“We knew that there had been concerns from the community about the process around this project,” he said, adding that, despite numerous community meetings, a number of residents felt that DOT and the MTA were unresponsive. “We want to work to play a better role in trying to lead those conversations,” Carlson said.

Update: Carlson e-mailed Streetsblog with a clarification: “We stand with Senator Perkins in calling for a comprehensive planning process,” he said. “We also aren’t looking to ‘lead’ the conversations and be out in front of anyone… I don’t want folks to get the impression that we’re presuming to be out in front of the community boards and elected officials.”

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Ray Kelly’s NYC: No Charges for Driver Who Dragged Woman Under Cab

Emergency responders work to free Amy Fass from beneath a cab, after she was struck at W. 181st Street and Haven Avenue. The driver was not charged. Photo: Andrew Adams

A reader has identified the woman wounded by a cab driver in Upper Manhattan Sunday evening as Amy Fass of Washington Heights. The crash occurred in the 34th Precinct, where officers issued two speeding tickets in the last three months of 2012.

Fass was crossing 181st at Haven Avenue, near her home, at approximately 6:45 p.m. when she was struck as the cab driver appeared to be en route to the West Side Highway. Andrew Adams writes:

Amy, in her late 50s, was in the crosswalk when a driver of a SUV taxi struck her and drug her approximately 40 feet before he stopped when pedestrians screamed at him to do so. She was pinned underneath the taxi until emergency services responded to rescue her.

Another witness posted this account on a neighborhood parent list:

I saw when she was trapped under the taxi on Haven Ave. where it leads to the West Side Highway. The cab must have been speeding downhill on 181st. She lives on Haven in the building next to the highway entrance. My impression was that she was very badly hurt.

A third witness, James Ribas, told the Post: ”I saw a cabby going real fast. He didn’t know he hit her.”

Fass was conscious at the scene, but at some point went into cardiac and respiratory arrest, according to an FDNY spokesperson. She was considered “not likely” to die when transported to Lincoln Hospital.

Adams heard from a family member today that Fass remains hospitalized. Her release date is uncertain, but she will require physical rehabilitation, the family member said.

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Three City Pedestrians Killed in Five Hours; No Charges Filed

Linden Boulevard at Rockaway Parkway, where pedestrian Gerald Green was killed by a motorist who "had the light." Image: Google Maps

Three pedestrians were killed in separate crashes in Manhattan and Brooklyn last night.

At around 7:50 p.m., 85-year-old Richard Griffin was on his way to visit a hospital patient, according to the Post, when he was apparently struck head-on by the driver of a Jeep SUV on York Avenue at E. 69th Street. Griffin, of Staten Island, was taken to Cornell Medical Center and died soon after.

At approximately 11:30, Gerald Green was hit by the driver of a Jeep SUV while attempting to negotiate the hellish intersection of Linden Boulvard and Rockaway Parkway. Here’s how the crash was described by DNAinfo and the Daily News.

Green, who cops said was crossing against the light, was taken to Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center and pronounced dead, police said.

Gerald Green, 52, was hit in East Flatbush as he tried to cross … against the light … cops said.

The Daily News story reported that another pedestrian was killed, in Harlem, some 90 minutes later. According to NYPD, a 35-year-old man was crossing W. 125th Street at Broadway when he was hit by a yellow cab driver at around 1 a.m. He was pronounced dead on arrival at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt. Police had not released the victim’s identity as of early this afternoon.

No drivers were charged for any of these crashes, despite the fact that there is no indication that the fallen Harlem pedestrian or Richard Griffin were violating any traffic rules. That’s because NYPD tends to cite possible causal factors — who “had the light,” for example — only when they are attributed to the victim, i.e. the dead or wounded pedestrian or cyclist.

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