Skip to content

Posts from the "News" Category

6 Comments

Bike-Friendly Zoning Amendment Clears City Council

bike_parking.jpgPhoto: Department of City Planning [PDF].
Yesterday the City Council approved a zoning change that mandates secure bike parking in new construction, putting the rule into effect. The amendment will help cyclists avoid the risks of locking up on-street by requiring new apartment buildings and offices to provide space for people to put their rides. (Check out this table from the Department of City Planning [PDF] for details.)

We've said it before and it's certainly worth repeating: This zoning change is a good step forward that will bear fruit in the long run; the missing piece -- and it's a big one -- is bike access to existing buildings. To that end, the Bicycle Access Bill (Intro 871) would provide a much more substantial and immediate benefit to bike commuters by allowing them to bring their rides inside the workplace, if their employer consents. The legislation aims to reverse the policies of New York City landlords and property managers, most of whom don't allow bikes inside. By drastically reducing the risk of theft, the bill could boost bike commuting by as much as 50 percent.

After holding a committee hearing on Intro 871 last fall, legislators are currently tweaking the bill's language. We have a request in with sponsor David Yassky's office to determine when the revised bill will come up in committee.

22 Comments

City Council Proposes Slashing Funds for Bike Network

quinn_large.jpgCity Council Speaker Christine Quinn and her city-owned Chevy Suburban. Photo copyright Steven Hirsch.

New bike infrastructure in New York City could be on the chopping block as the City Council and Mayor Bloomberg revise spending projections downward. On Sunday, Speaker Christine Quinn and the City Council released $495 million in proposed budget cuts over the next two years, including an item that would slash spending on bike network expansion in half. DOT's bike network funds would drop from $9.6 million to $4.8 million in 2009, and from $11 million to $5.5 million in 2010. Download this PDF and scroll down to the first item numbered 841, "Reduce Bike Network Development Funding."

A spokesman for Speaker Quinn's office did not specify why the bike network was targeted for spending cuts, saying only that painful steps were necessary to close the city's budget gap. In an interview on WNYC earlier this week, Quinn said that the council's financial staff were charged with identifying programs that are "not necessarily the core function" of city agencies.

The proposals now enter the ongoing budget negotiation process between the council and the mayor's office. In November, Bloomberg released a separate list of budget fixes, which did not include cuts to bike network funding. (Interestingly, the mayor's proposals did include a measure to raise more revenue from parking meters below 60th Street [PDF, page 24].) Yesterday Bloomberg ordered city agencies to identify additional spending reductions by December 22.

If you believe a safer bike network is a core function of DOT, contact information for Speaker Quinn's office and your council member can be found on the City Council website.

12 Comments

Obama Names Transpo Transition Team

The Obama-Biden transition team today unveiled its "Agency Review Teams" -- the people charged with "a thorough review of key departments, agencies and commissions of the United States government, as well as the White House, to provide the President-elect, Vice President-elect, and key advisors with information needed to make strategic policy, budgetary, and personnel decisions prior to the inauguration."

We skipped right to the transportation team, of course, and here are the names we found, with biographical info pulled directly from the change.gov website. We'd love to get your intel in the comments.

  • Seth Harris is a member of the Obama-Biden Transition Project’s Agency Review Working Group responsible for overseeing review of the transportation agencies.
  • Mortimer Downey is a self-employed transportation consultant who served for eight years as the Deputy Secretary of Transportation under President Clinton, and was an Assistant Secretary of Transportation during the Carter Administration. He has also been the Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and held various planning positions at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
  • Jane Garvey is the Head of the U.S. Public/Private Partnerships at JPMorgan. In this role Garvey advises states on financing strategies to accelerate project delivery for governments. Garvey was the 14th Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, nominated by President Clinton. Prior to becoming FAA Administrator, Garvey was Acting Administrator and previously Deputy Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration.
  • Michael Huerta is Group President of ACS Transportation Solutions, a company that provides technology solutions for collecting revenue, enhancing safety and promoting security for the transportation industry. From 1993 to 1998, Huerta served in senior positions at the Department of Transportation. Previously, Huerta served as the Executive Director of the Port of San Francisco and Commissioner of the City of New York Department of Ports, International Trade and Commerce.
  • Federal Maritime Commission Review Team Lead John Cullather has worked for the House of Representatives for over 31 years, specializing in Coast Guard and maritime transportation policy.
  • NTSB Review Team Lead Carol Carmody currently works as a consultant in international aviation and aviation safety. In 2000 she was appointed by President Clinton and confirmed by the Senate to a five-year term on the National Transportation Safety Board.
16 Comments

Hillary Clinton Introduces Senate Version of Transit Relief Bill

hillary.jpgTransit operators struggling to keep pace with demand as rising fuel costs strain their budgets received some welcome news on Friday. New York's junior senator has introduced a version of the Saving Energy Through Public Transportation Act. The bill, which would provide $1.7 billion for local transit agencies over the next two years (including $237 million for New York City), passed the House in June but lacked a Senate sponsor until now.

If the bill makes it through the Senate, the Oval Office figures to be a major hurdle. President Bush has signaled his reluctance to subsidize operating costs for transit, although that philosophy seems not to apply when it comes to subsidizing the habits of America's motorists.

Meanwhile, in places like Louisville and the Denver suburbs, the prospect of service cuts and fare hikes continues to loom at precisely the moment that more people are depending on transit to get around.

13 Comments

Robert Novak Cited in Possible Hit-and-Run

080723_novak_car.jpgPolitico is reporting that conservative columnist Robert Novak, a.k.a. "The Prince of Darkness," hit a 66-year-old pedestrian with his black Corvette this morning in Washington D.C. and then drove away.

Some of the facts don't quite seem to add up just yet -- specifically the part about the Novak not knowing he hit someone and an eye-witness saying the victim was "sort of splayed onto the windshield."

"I didn't know I hit him. I feel terrible," a shaken Novak told reporters from Politico and WJLA as he was returning to his car. "He's not dead, that's the main thing." Novak said he was a block away from 18th and K streets Northwest, where the accident occurred, when a bicyclist stopped him and said, "You hit someone." He said he was cited for failing to yield the right of way.

The bicyclist was David Bono, a partner at Harkins Cunningham, who was on his usual bike commute to work at 1700 K St. N.W. when he witnessed the accident.

As he traveled east on K Street, crossing 18th, Bono said a "black Corvette convertible with top closed plowed into the guy. The guy is sort of splayed onto the windshield."

Bono said that the pedestrian, who was crossing the street on a "Walk" signal and was in the crosswalk, rolled off the windshield and that Novak then made a right into the service lane of K Street. "The car is speeding away. What's going through my mind is, you just can't hit a pedestrian and drive away," Bono said.

Apparently, Novak's got a rep as an "aggressive" driver, Again, from Jonathan Martin and Chris Frates at Politico:

Read more...
15 Comments

Can’t We All Just Share the Road?

Two recent road rage incidents are all over the news in Portland. Earlier this month, a drunken man on a bike became aggravated when a driver, himself a self-described bike advocate, reprimanded the cyclist for blowing a stoplight. The cyclist threatened the driver, picking up his bike and hitting the car with it. Then this week, a driver struck a cyclist and continued to drive as the victim, who escaped without serious injury, clung to the windshield.

The aggression on display is hard to fathom, but does it merit front page coverage? The breathless headlines pitting cyclists against drivers have led BikePortland's Jonathan Maus to critique the local press for exacerbating the us-versus-them mentality.

There's no excusing dangerous behavior on the road, no matter how you choose to get around, but the level of violence people are capable of when they're driving is, by the nature of the vehicle, quite considerable. As one commenter on the Oregonian's web site put it, "A drunk cyclist is clearly a menace, but a drunk driver can be downright deadly."

And then there's this story (via Tom Vanderbilt) out of Seattle last Wednesday, when a man was killed for setting up orange cones while he gardened in a traffic circle near his house, showing that people don't always have to be behind a wheel for their entitlement to the road to turn fatal.

Here's a question for Vanderbilt, whose new book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What It Says About Us), will be released later this month. What is it about automobiles or the road or human psychology that makes people behave like sociopaths at times?

20 Comments

Governors Island to Serve as Testing Ground for NYC Bike-Share

gov_island_bikes.jpg
Visitors to Governors Island will get to ride these bikes for free on Fridays this summer.

Last December Streetsblog noted that a new park planned for Governors Island would include a bike-share fleet, scheduled to debut in 2012. Turns out the wait for free bikes will be a lot shorter. Starting this week, 250 bikes at the island's rental outfit, Bike and Roll, will be available to visitors at no charge on Fridays, thanks to sponsorship from Transportation Alternatives.

While it may not measure up to Vélib, "Free Bike Fridays" is vying with a new NYU student program for the distinction of launching New York's first bike-share. The Governors Island initiative may also have a lasting impact on the rest of the city. According to a press release, the results will be watched intently by DOT:

"Spaces like Governors Island serve as great training areas for the next generation of New York City cyclists," said City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. "This summer the Island will also serve as a great testing ground -- we'll be evaluating the bike share program to see if it is something that may be successful in other parts of the city."

Today, Governor's Island. Tomorrow, the East Village?

10 Comments

New Law Encourages DOT to Set Traffic Reduction Targets

intro199_signing.jpg

Yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg signed into law Intro 199, a bill requiring New York City's Department of Transportation to collect and monitor data specifically aimed at helping the city "to reduce automobile traffic and encourage more sustainable means of transportation vital to combating congestion, pollution and improving the City’s long term economic health." The new law could signal a significant change for a city agency that has typically measured its own performance based on how many potholes it fills, street lamps it fixes and how well it keeps motor vehicle traffic flowing through the city's over-burdened street grid. 

"You measure what you care about," said Transportation Alternatives executive director Paul Steely White, an architect of the new legislation. "Traditionally DOT has not cared enough about bus riders, cyclists, and pedestrians. The bill is really seeking to understand more about how much bicycling there is now, how much walking activity, and to look at bus ridership and bus speeds. Armed with this information, DOT can set targets for improving those modes."

Read more...
13 Comments

Coming Soon: A Major Car-Free Event in NYC

722696492_0e9c285ce0.jpg
Cyclists enjoy Bogotá's weekly Ciclovía. Which New York streets will host a similar event this summer?

Speaking at Tuesday's Fit-City Conference, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced that a Ciclovía-style car-free street event is in the works for this summer. New York is not alone. According to a story published earlier this week on RedOrbit, several other American cities are considering the same thing:

Others are planning ciclovia, or "bike path," programs in which networks of streets are temporarily closed to driving and open for non-motorized play. Last summer El Paso, Texas, staged the first ciclovia in the United States, and now Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Portland, Ore., are working on similar events.

Details of the New York Ciclovía have yet to be revealed. Streetsblog will fill in the blanks as this story develops.

Photo: themikebot / Flickr 

31 Comments

Open Thread: Spitzer Prostitution Scandal

As most of you no doubt know by now:

Gov. Eliot Spitzer has been caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet with a high-priced prostitute at a Washington hotel last month, according to a person briefed on the federal investigation.

The wiretap recording, made during an investigation of a prostitution ring called Emperors Club VIP, captured a man identified as Client 9 on a telephone call confirming plans to have a woman travel from New York to Washington, where he had reserved a room. The person briefed on the case identified Mr. Spitzer as Client 9.

The governor learned that he had been implicated in the prostitution probe when a federal official contacted his staff last Friday, according to the person briefed on the case.

The governor informed his top aides Sunday night and this morning of his involvement. He canceled his public events today and scheduled an announcement for this afternoon after inquiries from the Times.

Spitzer's brief announcement, delivered around 3:15 p.m., expressed remorse for betraying the trust of his family and the public, but did not acknowledge any involvement in prostitution. Nor did the governor immediately resign, as some pundits speculated.

The implications here extend far beyond the livable streets corner of the universe, obviously, but since it's our beat, consider this an open thread to discuss the potential fallout. Item one: congestion pricing.