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Welcome Back, Streetsblog Chicago!

Congratulations to John Greenfield, Steven Vance, and the readers and supporters who enabled Streetsblog Chicago to pull off a rousing comeback and resume regular publication today.


Congrats, John.

At the beginning of the year, budget constraints compelled OpenPlans to sever our relationship with the Chicago team after two years of publication. Right off the bat, John told me he would revive Streetsblog Chicago under the umbrella of a new non-profit organization. Volunteering his time, he proceeded to set up a 501(c)3 from scratch and raise the funds necessary to reboot the site. It was a big personal risk for John, and he embraced it. (He even kept posting headline stacks every weekday morning!)

With an outpouring of reader donations, a surge of local sponsorships, and key support from the Chicago Community Trust, which provided a $25,000 challenge grant, the Chicago team has met its initial fundraising targets. Streetsblog Chicago will now be getting back into the swing of chronicling the city’s progress toward more walkable, bikeable, transit-friendly streets.

John will continue to serve as both editor- and fundraiser-in-chief for the Chicagoland Streets Project, his newly-formed non-profit. We’re looking forward to more excellent coverage from him, Steven, and the roster of contributors they work with.

In other news from the Streetsblog publishing world, Damien Newton and Melanie Curry launched a new flavor yesterdayStreetsblog California will combine Melanie’s coverage of statewide news out of Sacramento with local stories from the Central Valley, the Inland Empire, and other regions outside the beats of Streetsblog LA and Streetsblog SF. Streetsblog California is funded by The California Endowment and produced by the California Streets Initiative, the non-profit run by Damien that also produces Streetsblog LA.

We’ll have Streetsblog California up in our top menu shortly. No other state is connecting the dots between transportation, land use, and climate change like California right now. We’re seeing momentous changes like Level of Service reform that should be a model for the rest of the country. If you want to keep up with the latest on these advances (as well as helmet law stupidity), Melanie’s coverage is a must-read and you should check it out.

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Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards Select Bus Service Public Workshop: Woodhaven Blvd, Queens Blvd to Union Turnpike

Join the NYC Department of Transportation and the MTA to give feedback on the first round of block-by-block street designs and proposed Q52/53 SBS bus stops for the Woodhaven/Cross Bay Boulevards Select Bus Service project. Each workshop will focus on the section of the corridor noted below; however, input on the entire corridor is welcome.

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Riders Alliance’s Strategize for Better C Train Service

Riders Alliance members have been working hard with our local elected officials and the MTA to win better C train service.

Brainstorm with your neighbors and fellow riders for faster and more reliable C train service!

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Manhattan Community Board 4 Transportation Committee Meeting

The agenda includes:

  • Discussion/Vote: Megabus operations at W. 34th Street
  • Discussion: Addition of a bus shelter on W. 42nd Street and 9th Avenue (near Manhattan Plaza)
  • Discussion: Response to MTA letter re M11 feasibility study request
  • Discussion: Preservation of protected bike lanes during street fairs
Streetsblog USA
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It’s Time to Vote for the Sorriest Bus Stop in America

We asked you to point us to the nation’s worst bus stops and you answered. After receiving dozens of nominees from our readers, Streetsblog editors narrowed the pool down to eight very sorry bus stops.

These bus stops are ugly. Ugly! In a transportation system where public agencies never seem to lack the money for $800 million interchanges or $2 billion highway tunnels, bus stops become an afterthought. Many of these contenders are situated in the midst of car-oriented development without so much as a sidewalk or bench nearby, let alone a shelter. To make transit dignified and comfortable, we need to do better.

Help us crown America’s sorriest bus stop by voting below. Here are the contestants:

Pennsylvania Avenue in Forestville, Maryland

This entry comes to us from author and transit advocate Ben Ross. This is the same Pennsylvania Avenue that runs past the White House:


Google Street View via Ben Ross

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A New Type of Streetsblog in St. Louis, Ohio, Texas, and the Southeast? Yep.

A little more than six years ago, we launched the Streetsblog Network as a way for people across the country writing about livable streets, sustainable transportation, and smart growth to band together and share ideas. There are many wonderful things about the Streetsblog Network, but I would put this is at the top of my list: It is both profoundly local, full of people working on the nitty-gritty of street design, transit service, and planning issues in their hometowns, and broadly distributed, with hundreds of members operating in cities all over the nation.

For a long time we’ve been thinking about how to build on these strengths. And today we’re going live with a new way to channel the energy of the Streetsblog Network and broadcast it to the world.

We are launching affiliate sites that combine the work of Streetsblog Network members in four regions: St. Louis, Ohio, Texas, and the Southeast. These sites run on a different model than our other city-based Streetsblogs with full-time staff. Each Streetsblog affiliate syndicates material from several blogs in its region and runs a daily dose of headlines to satisfy the universal craving for morning news. Have a look. (Doesn’t it blow your mind to see the words “Streetsblog Texas” in a site banner?)



Our partners in this endeavor are volunteers writing in their spare time, independent media entrepreneurs, and people working at non-profit advocacy organizations and academic institutions. By running their work in this format, on the Streetsblog platform, we aim to help build their audience both nationally and in their home regions. The geographic scope of most of these sites is bigger than the usual Streetsblog city-based beat, but the writers are addressing overlapping issues — a Paleolithic state DOT, for instance, or city leadership that struggles to get Complete Streets right. We believe there will be strength in numbers like there’s been with the national Streetsblog Network.

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Auto-Free New York/vision42 Working Group Meeting

Join the next Auto-Free New York/vision42 working group to discuss opportunities to advance vision42:

“Light Rail — Superstar of Urban Planning” highlights of a forum held last month featuring a presentation made by one of the four winning teams from the recent vision42 urban design competition, KB Architecture from France, a firm with many years of experience designing and actually building light rail in France, Germany and Jerusalem.  Roxanne Warren and George Haikalis will summarize the results of the forum and show some of the extraordinary slides prepared by this winning team.



Changes at Streetsblog in 2015

When Streetsblog launched in 2006, the site made an impact almost immediately. The daily scrutiny of NYC transportation agencies and elected officials created new opportunities for policy reform, leading to real change in the design and operation of our streets. It wasn’t long before advocates from out of town contacted Streetsblog about bringing this model of advocacy journalism to their cities, and where we could assemble the resources to pull it off, we did. In the course of a few years, Streetsblog became a truly national voice for overhauling our car-based transportation system.

With growth come risks. Our team knows how to make an impact with our reporting and commentary, but like many other media outlets, we’re still figuring out how to make the business of our journalism work. This process isn’t a straight line — there’s bound to be some trial and error.

In 2015, we’re making key changes based on what we’ve learned so far. While this will entail some difficult transitions, the new approaches Streetsblog is adopting position us to continue making an impact in more places over the long run.

Yesterday, we announced that Streetsblog Chicago is suspending publication after two excellent years of coverage from John Greenfield and Steven Vance. We hope this will be a temporary situation as John rustles up the financial support to revive the site under the umbrella of a new 501(c)3 separate from OpenPlans, the non-profit that publishes Streetsblog. (In Los Angeles, Streetsblog’s Damien Newton weathered the same transition a few years ago by starting up the Southern California Streets Initiative, which today runs a thriving local transportation news site at Streetsblog LA.)

Given current budget constraints, we’ve also had to cut two other valued members of our editorial staff, Tanya Snyder and Payton Chung.

We hired Tanya in 2010 as editor of our national site, called Streetsblog Capitol Hill at the time. Her leadership and energy built it into a compelling news source, with a broad and influential audience.

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Keep Streetsblog Going Strong – Donate and Enter to Win a New PUBLIC Bike

If you look at the state of American streets, the scale of our transportation dysfunction is epic. Nothing conveys the failure of the car-based system better than this: More than 30,000 people lose their lives in traffic annually — which means the U.S. could prevent about 20,000 premature deaths each year if we catch up to the nations that are leading the way on street safety.

Can we do it? Well, when you look at the changes happening on city streets, you know this is a time of tremendous ferment and progress. Deadly, car-centric streets are being replaced by human-centric designs that barely existed in America a few years ago. More cities are waking up to the fact that they can’t address issues of transportation, housing demand, and access to jobs by building more parking and highways — they need better transit, biking, and walking.

Streetsblog and Streetfilms are playing a critical role in this transition. Our reporting, commentary, and videos connect people to the information they need to be effective advocates for safe, livable streets. We create pressure on public officials to shake up the way streets work instead of letting the status quo continue. We expose the failures of bad transportation policy. We help good ideas spread fast.

And we need the support of our readers to make it all work. Streetsblog is powerful because elected officials know that our readers care deeply about the issues we cover. And the whole site functions, on the most basic level, because readers fund what we do.

Our year-end pledge drive starts today, so if you value the impact of Streetsblog and Streetfilms, I hope you’ll contribute. The shift to a safer, more sustainable transportation system is just getting started, and we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.

For good measure, our friends at PUBLIC Bikes have donated a brand new R16 bicycle that we’ll be giving away to one lucky reader who contributes before the end of the year. Thank you PUBLIC! Here’s a look at their handiwork:



Thanks as always for supporting Streetsblog and Streetfilms.

— Ben


NYC Motorists Have Killed Five Pedestrians and One Cyclist in 10 Days

At least five pedestrians and one cyclist have been killed by motorists since November 15. Of the six drivers involved, four left the scene. Of the four who were either caught by NYPD or remained at the scene, only one has been charged for causing a death.

One three-hour span on Monday was especially violent. At 6:50 p.m., the driver of a BMW sedan struck 57-year-old Robert Perry on the Bowery near Rivington Street on the Lower East Side. “The car kept going until it crashed into a fire hydrant a block away at Stanton Street,” reported DNAinfo.

The driver who killed Mohammad Uddin, 14, in Kensington was only charged with leaving the scene. Photo via DNAinfo

The driver who killed Mohammad Uddin, 14, in Kensington was only charged with leaving the scene. Photo via DNAinfo

Perry, who often stayed at the Bowery Mission, was pronounced dead at Lower Manhattan Hospital, according to DNAinfo. Police charged Danny Lin, 24, with homicide and leaving the scene.

Council Member Margaret Chin, who represents the district where Perry was killed, issued a statement Tuesday:

I was encouraged to learn this morning from an NYPD official that the driver who hit and killed Mr. Perry — and who apparently unsuccessfully tried to drive away — was arrested at the scene for criminally negligent homicide by NYPD officers. However, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office will of course still need to file charges against the driver for there to be a real step toward justice in this case. I will be contacting the DA’s office very soon to strongly advocate for the driver to be charged and held fully accountable for this incident.

As of Wednesday morning, Lin’s name did not appear in an online database of court records, though active cases are not always accessible to the public.

“Everyone [at the Mission] knows him,” witness Indio Bryan told DNAinfo. “This has been his home. He eats here, sleeps here. He was a good guy, harmless. He liked jazz a lot.”

Perry was at least the fifth fourth pedestrian to be killed by a motorist this year in the 5th Precinct, where ticketing cyclists is a top priority.

“Mr. Perry’s name must be remembered alongside Sui Leung, Sau Ying Lee and other traffic victims in Lower Manhattan and across the city who simply did not deserve to have their lives ended in this tragic manner,” said Chin. “My thoughts are also with the friends and family of Shan Zheng, the cyclist who was hit and killed by a car last night just outside my district in Lower Manhattan.”

Approximately three hours after Perry was killed, a livery cab driver hit Zheng, 61, as he rode on Pitt Street at E. Houston. Zheng, who lived in Ossining, was pronounced dead at Bellevue, according to the Journal News. NYPD filed no charges against the 50-year-old cab driver, whose name was not released. The crash occurred in the 7th Precinct, in the City Council district represented by Rosie Mendez.

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