Skip to content

Posts from the "Vincent Ignizio" Category

5 Comments

Sidewalk-Jumping Driver Kills One Pedestrian, Injures Another in Great Kills

Photos from the scene of a Monday afternoon crash show a Honda on the sidewalk on the northeast corner of Hylan Boulevard and Cleveland Avenue. Image: Google Maps

The northwest corner of Hylan Boulevard and Cleveland Avenue. Image: Google Maps

Update: The victim who died in this crash was identified as Christal Aliotta, 31. As of Tuesday the driver, 23-year-old Michael Fox, was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation and drug possession, according to the Advance.

Police say charges are pending after a curb-jumping driver killed one pedestrian and injured another in Staten Island this afternoon.

At around 1:44 p.m. a motorist drove onto the sidewalk at Hylan Boulevard and Cleveland Avenue in Great Kills, striking two women, according to the Staten Island Advance. An FDNY spokesperson said two people were transported but did not have information on their conditions. The Advance reported that, according to NYPD, one victim died at the scene, and the other was hospitalized in stable condition.

A photo published by the Advance shows a tan Honda sedan with extensive front end damage on a sidewalk surrounded by police tape. ”Several personal items, including a bag and shoes, were strewn about the sidewalk nearby,” the Advance reported.

NYPD told Streetsblog charges against the driver were forthcoming. Police had not released the names of anyone involved in the crash as of this writing.

New York City motorists have fatally struck at least 17 pedestrians on sidewalks, in open fields, and in places of business since January 2013, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog.

This fatal crash occurred in the 122nd Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Captain Robert Bocchino, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 122nd Precinct council meetings happen at 8 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month at the precinct, 2320 Hylan Blvd. Call 718-667-2292 for information.

The City Council district where this fatal crash occurred is represented by Vincent Ignizio, one of the council’s most outspoken street safety critics. To encourage Ignizio to take action to improve street safety in his district and citywide, contact him at 212-788-7390, vignizio@council.nyc.gov, or @VincentIgnizio.

28 Comments

Ignizio Bill Would Turn Pedestrian Timers Into Countdown Clocks for Drivers

City Council Member Vincent Ignizio has another red light camera bill — one that seems to be a variation on a failed bill from six years ago.

Council Member Vincent Ignizio says NYC owes speeding drivers a chance to get away with endangering lives. Photo: ##http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20131211/tottenville/councilman-ignizio-elected-city-council-minority-leader##DNAinfo##

Vincent Ignizio wants the city to prioritize pedestrian countdown clocks at intersections with red light cameras. In 2008 he tried to get signal timers for drivers at the same locations. Photo: DNAinfo

In addition to a bill that would require DOT to post warning signs where red light cameras are stationed, Ignizio last month introduced legislation that would mandate pedestrian countdown signals at those same intersections.

We’ll get to that second bill in a moment, but first some background. As we reported in February, Ignizio is known for opposing measures to make streets safer and improve transit. He wanted to subject NYC bike lanes to environmental review, and succeeded in erasing the bike lane on Father Capodanno Boulevard, watering down Select Bus Service on Hylan Boulevard to preserve parking, and degrading SBS service citywide by getting the MTA to shut off the flashing blue lights on all SBS buses.

Ignizio premised his pedestrian countdown bill on street safety. Here’s an excerpt from an Advance story that mentioned the bill:

The pedestrian countdowns have been shown to decrease crashes at intersections, and those with red light cameras have already been identified as high-risk spots.

“We’re deploying countdown clocks throughout the city, all I’m saying is deploy them in areas where you have red light cameras first,” Ignizio said.

A couple of things about this proposal don’t make sense. One, Ignizio is not a fan of automated traffic enforcement. In that same Advance story, he said of red light cameras, ”These ‘safety devices’ — in quotes — sometimes are causing more accidents than they’re trying to avoid.” In fact, NYC’s red light camera program has led to a significant drop in dangerous T-bone crashes – and if Ignizio thinks cameras are causing crashes, how would pedestrian countdown signals help?

Read more…

20 Comments

Ignizio: NYC Should Tell Drivers Where It’s OK to Run Reds

You’ve got to hand it to City Council Member Vincent Ignizio: If nothing else, the man is consistent.

Council Member Vincent Ignizio says NYC owes speeding drivers a chance to get away with endangering lives. Photo: ##http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20131211/tottenville/councilman-ignizio-elected-city-council-minority-leader##DNAinfo##

Vincent Ignizio says NYC owes drivers a chance to get away with endangering lives. Photo: DNAinfo

Ignizio has a long history of opposing measures to make streets safer and improve transit. The Staten Island rep’s greatest hits include a proposal to subject NYC bike lanes to environmental review, killing the bike lane on Father Capodanno Boulevard, watering down Select Bus Service on Hylan Boulevard in order to preserve parking, and degrading SBS service citywide by cowing the MTA into shutting off the flashing blue lights on all SBS buses.

For his next trick, Ignizio wants to take the teeth out of NYC’s automated traffic enforcement program. The Daily News reports:

New York City Councilman Vincent Ignizio (R-S.I.) will introduce a bill Wednesday to require the city to post signs alerting drivers at intersections where there are red-light cameras.

The city’s current policy is not to reveal the cameras’ locations in order to maximize the deterrent effect.

“We owe it to the motorists to let them know this is a camera-enforced intersection,” said Ignizio. “It’s not about revenue-generating, it’s about slowing people down and getting them to stop.”

This bill probably won’t go anywhere, in part because, as the News points out, it would make the city’s small number of enforcement cameras far less effective. After all, signs telling drivers where cameras are would also tell them where cameras aren’t.

Ignizio is right, of course, that the traffic camera program is all about getting people to drive safely — and as a council member, he must be aware that speeding is the city’s leading cause of traffic deaths. But how will NYC get people to obey traffic laws on 6,000 miles of streets if motorists know exactly where they’ll never get caught?

5 Comments

Manhattan CB 6 Urges MTA to Restore Blue Lights to Select Bus Service

Manhattan Community Board 6 has adopted a resolution in support of a state law to bring back flashing blue lights on Select Bus Service buses. The reso also urges the MTA to explore options to restore the lights in lieu of legislative action.

A bus at the launch event for the first Select Bus Service line, in the Bronx, in 2008. Photo: Brad Aaron

SBS buses went into service in 2008. The buses and their flashing blue lights — which help riders distinguish between SBS and local buses — operated without incident for four and a half years, until the MTA brought SBS service to Staten Island’s Hylan Boulevard. Last January, the lights were switched off after City Council Member Vincent Ignizio complained that motorists, himself included, were confusing SBS buses with emergency vehicles.

Though an obscure state law limits the use of flashing blue lights to volunteer firefighters, no legal action was taken to get the MTA to stop using the SBS lights. A 2010 Daily News story about the regulation provoked no official response. No bus driver was ever ticketed for using the lights. An MTA spokesperson told Transportation Nation that the agency had received all of one complaint from the public, after the launch of the inaugural SBS line in the Bronx.

Ignizio was a leading critic of the effort to bring SBS service to Hylan Boulevard. In 2009 he co-signed a letter to NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan complaining about proposed median bus lanes and boarding platforms on the grounds that they would take away parking. In response, DOT and the MTA altered Hylan Boulevard SBS significantly, nixing the median lanes in favor of non-continuous curbside lanes. Ignizio purportedly approved of the watered down version of Hylan Boulevard SBS, which launched last August.

According to Ignizio himself, his argument against SBS lights amounted to anecdotes and the support of 100 people on Facebook. Ignizio told Transportation Nation that he personally asked then-MTA chief Joe Lhota, currently a Republican candidate for mayor, to have the lights turned off. In January the MTA issued this statement:

Reacting to specific concerns, MTA New York City Transit has agreed to turn off the flashing blue lights that have served to alert riders to the arrival of Select Bus Service buses (SBS) since the speedier service was introduced. This measure is being taken to eliminate the possibility of confusing the vehicles with volunteer emergency vehicles, which are entitled by law to use the blue lights. We are currently in the process of developing an alternate means of identifying SBS buses.

Read more…

17 Comments

Enviro Law Experts: Review For Bike Lanes a Waste of Taxpayer Money

James Oddo

City Council Minority Leader James Oddo. Photo: SI Advance

You know something’s amiss when you hear Republicans calling for more red tape and government bureaucracy, as Staten Island Council Members James Oddo and Vincent Ignizio did earlier this week with their call to require environmental review for all new bike lanes. But let’s indulge Oddo and Ignizio and take their proposal seriously for a moment. Does it have any merit?

We asked some top legal and planning experts for their opinion, and they agreed: Bike lanes generally don’t and shouldn’t need to go through environmental review.

Oddo’s office didn’t respond to Streetsblog’s request to see the letter outlining his proposal, but it seems as though he would have to pass new legislation. It’s fairly clear that under current law, striping a bike lane generally doesn’t require environmental review. There’s a presumption that small street changes like signage are exempt from environmental review, said Columbia Law School professor and environmental law expert Michael Gerrard.

Specifically, the law exempts the “installation of traffic control devices on existing streets, roads, and highways.” Pavement markings are included in the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, suggesting that bike lanes fall under that exemption.

Even if bike lanes aren’t categorically exempt, continued Gerrard, a given project may not be predicted to create a significant enough impact to require environmental review. That determination would be made, in this case, by the city DOT.

Bike lanes not only don’t need to go through environmental review, they shouldn’t, said former DOT First Deputy Commissioner Sam Schwartz, now the head of Sam Schwartz Engineering. “EIS laws and guidelines were established to protect the environment. If an action is not likely to meet the threshold set by regulation (and few if any bike lanes do), then why waste a ton of money?” Schwartz said. “Ironically, it would probably mean more work for my firm, but it’s a waste of taxpayer money.”

“No bike lane would fail an environmental review,” said Michael King, a principal at the transportation planning firm Nelson\Nygaard.

Read more…

36 Comments

Council Mem James Oddo: Require Enviro Review for All New Bike Lanes

Last week’s release of “before” and “after” stats on the Prospect Park West bike lane tells an increasingly familiar story: A DOT redesign has increased cycling while making the street safer for pedestrians and drivers. Since safer streets make it easier for New Yorkers to get around without a car, and since biking and walking are emissions-free modes, it’s safe to say that this is good news for the environment.

James Oddo

Staten Island Republican James Oddo. Photo: SI Advance

Well, City Council Member James Oddo begs to differ.

The Post reports that Oddo and fellow Staten Island rep Vincent Ignizio want to require time-consuming environmental reviews for future NYC bike projects:

Staten Island Councilman James Oddo, the Republican minority leader, said plans for new bike lanes should undergo the city’s lengthy environmental-assessment process, or the city should allow other, more minor traffic changes to bypass the review.

Oddo and Councilman Vincent Ignizio (R-SI) penned a letter last week demanding an explanation from Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, an avid cyclist and bike-lane proponent, of why the lanes don’t require the scrutiny.

“The creation of bike lanes and the removal of vehicle travel lanes represent a major reordering of Department of Transportation priorities that may affect the environment and appear to qualify” for a formal environmental review, the letter reads.

Oddo was part of the team that successfully lobbied to kill the Father Capodanno bike lane late last year. The city erased that decades-old cycling route — in what you might call a “major reordering” of the street — without any public hearing or environmental review. Now, under the guise of environmental review, Oddo and Ignizio want to throw more monkey wrenches at bike projects.

Read more…

2 Comments

After NYPD Kills Bill, Council Pushes for Traffic Safety Data From DOT

Jimmy Vacca presides over a meeting of the City Council transportation committee, discussing four bills to provide more information about traffic safety and traffic calming. Photo: Noah Kazis.

Chair Jimmy Vacca at yesterday's City Council transportation committee hearing. Photo: Noah Kazis

The City Council Transportation Committee held a hearing yesterday on four bills that would release new information about traffic crashes and how the Department of Transportation decides whether to install traffic calming measures and traffic control devices like stop lights and stop signs. All together, the bills would cover a wide spectrum of information, but committee chair Jimmy Vacca said the goal of each is “empowering citizens who want to fight for traffic calming measures in their own community.” The measures drew opposition from DOT representatives, however, who seemed to bristle at the prospect of Council-imposed mandates even while pledging support for the intent of the bills.

The first two bills, Jessica Lappin’s Intro 370 and Rosie Mendez’s Intro 374, would both open up data about traffic crashes to the public. Intro 370, an amended version of Lappin’s “Saving Lives Through Better Information Bill,” would require DOT to publish on its website weekly information about all traffic crashes and traffic fatalities in the city, searchable by intersection. Intro 370 would also mandate the creation of an interagency traffic safety plan, developed and implemented jointly by all the relevant city departments.

Lappin’s original bill would have placed the responsibility for publishing crash data on the NYPD. The police came out against that bill and effectively killed it earlier this year, even though a former NYPD traffic chief said the agency could have easily complied. During today’s hearing, Lappin said that she amended the bill “based on feedback we’ve received from the Administration.”

Intro 374 would fill a big hole in the city’s crash data, requiring DOT to gather information on all bike crashes that get reported to the city. Currently, no data are reported about collisions between cyclists and pedestrians or other cyclists.

These bills each got a lot of support from the committee and those testifying. “Think about it,” said Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White, explaining the need for Intro 370. “Right now, community groups and elected officials like yourselves are often forced to make decisions that directly affect life and death, based on information from 2008, at best.” White also said he believed it would be more appropriate for the NYPD to be in charge of releasing crash information, as that department already collects and compiles it.

Read more…

27 Comments

Electeds, Local Media Wage War on Staten Island Cyclists

The recent motorist assault on a Staten Island cyclist is a symptom of anti-bike bias routinely displayed by local politicians and the Staten Island Advance, as chronicled on a web site encouraging action for safe streets.

STATEN_ISLAND_POLS.jpgCouncil Members Vincent Ignizio (l) and James Oddo scientifically prove that bikes can't fit on Jefferson Avenue in Dongan Hills. Photo: SI Advance
Drawing exclusively on Advance coverage, Islander Rob Foran's site, called "Life or Death?," notes that City Council Members Vincent Ignizio and James Oddo, along with Borough President James Molinaro, have called on NYPD to excuse illegal bike lane parking, for the elimination of "sharrows" on Jefferson Avenue, and for the removal of the bike lane on Father Capodanno Boulevard, where Gregory DeRespino was allegedly yanked off his bike by irate driver Michael Graziuso in July. Graziuso now faces charges of assault and harassment.

For its part, three times in the past two months the Advance has editorialized against bike infrastructure, while criticizing NYPD for enforcing laws intended to keep drivers out of bike lanes. Here's a passage from the first screed, published July 4, entitled "The City's Bike Obsession":

More people should ride bicycles, for a number of reasons. But in the real world, that's not going to happen to the degree the cycling true believers fantasize about. Many people simply can't. And the great majority of those who have the physical ability have no desire to ride bicycles for transportation or sport -- especially on city streets. So hard-core cyclists will always be a finite minority, no matter how many bike lanes the city creates. And the notion that all these new lanes will promote a massive surge in cycling is pure fantasy.

Not only do they object to safer cycling conditions on the grounds that so few Staten Islanders bike -- in part because it isn't safe -- Advance editors claim that helpless motorists are bound to occasionally act out against cyclists who insist on exercising their right to the road.

Read more...
25 Comments

Staten Islanders Keeping an Open Mind on Congestion Pricing

"Walking is Transportation" blogger Dan Icolari has extensive coverage of last night's seventh and final Traffic Mitigation Commission hearing on Staten Island. He reports "a notable unanimity" among Staten Island's elected representatives. "Even South Shore Republican Councilman Vincent Ignizio -- a reliable foe of government whose salary is paid by government -- said that despite great skepticism, he was determined to keep an open mind."

All elected officials who attended (Borough President James Molinaro sent a representative) declared their support for some sort of congestion mitigation program––but only if Staten Island's share of the dollars on offer from the Feds were made commensurate with the problems of a borough whose average commute is acknowledged to be the longest in the entire country.

Staten Island may be New York City's most car-oriented borough, but Icolari notes that many of those who testified at last night's hearing advocated for improving mass transit:

Patrick Hyland of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce expressed his organization's support for Congestion Pricing, provided five thoughtful recommendations that address a range of transit-related problems experienced island-wide are implemented. Significantly, every recommendation involves mass transit.

•Reinstitution of rail service (roadbeds are deteriorated but right-of-way is intact)
•Increase in the number of Bus Rapid Transit routes (the first and so far the only such route was instituted earlier this year; ridership was surprisingly strong from the beginning and continues to grow)
•Fast ferry service to and from the South Shore--the most remote and least well served by mass transit of the island's three community board areas
•Full extension of the currently limited-distance express bus lane on the Staten Island Expressway, and
•A fourth bus depot (the third, already in the MTA capital budget, has already been outpaced by demand for express bus service)

The hearing, amazingly, adjourned 10 minutes early, at 8:50 pm. Icolari writes:

I took the bus home. No one else from the hearing joined me. We've obviously got a lot of work to do on Staten Island. But the (very) conditional willingness of many Staten Islanders to at least consider some sort of pricing scheme to reduce traffic and improve local mass transit services was encouraging.

15 Comments

The Perfect Argument for Congestion Pricing

Verrazano_Bridge_Dawn.jpg

The Staten Island Advance ran an article last Thursday about a "perfect storm" of crushing Staten Island-bound traffic on the Gowanus Expressway and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. To give you a sense of the frustrated tone of the article, it was entitled "21-Month Nightmare: Agency Offers Zero Solutions for Verrazano Lane Mess." Here's how it began:

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- A best man missed his nephew's wedding rehearsal.

A truck driver was forced to pull over and cool his heels.

Countless commuters rued that extra cup of Joe before leaving work.

And then there was the pizza delivery to a group of exasperated bus riders left stewing in the parking lot that was the Gowanus Expressway last Friday afternoon.

Experts say there's no way to fully manage the crush of rush-hour traffic expected to continue for the next 21 months while lanes are closed on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

Island commuters don't care what the experts have to say.

Their bottom line: Fix this mess.

Otherwise, it will be a long, hot summer.

"I could have gone to Florida in as long as it took me to get home," fumed Grasmere's Marlee Tanenbaum, who was stuck for two and a half hours aboard an X2 express bus Friday evening. "It is so insane that it's unbelievable. I am outraged!"

If this isn't the perfect argument for why we need congestion pricing, I don't know what is. The fact that so many people are crushing onto the bridge shows that it is too cheap to travel over it. The toll is $9 (charged toward Staten Island, the direction of this jam), but that obviously is not enough to prevent this kind of traffic. Motorists want travel to be cheap and fast, but one who demands cheap travel can't turn around and complain about how slow it is.

Read more...