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  1.  

    Brad Aaron

    If you read what Ben wrote, or look at the new sites, you’ll see they are not the same as Streetsblog Chicago or our other sites. That’s why it says “A New Type of Streetsblog” right there in the headline.

    Probably too much to ask from a guy who upvotes his own comments.

  2.  

    Bolwerk

    I can understand licensing e-bikes, but not banning them. And if someone can wrest my wallet from my hands in a late night park brawl, s/he’s welcome to it!

    Soda taxes? Well, they bother me no more than beer taxes. Which is to say, probably a little. :-p But still, at least that’s public health and not just me-me-me-me-me paternalism.

  3.  

    Bolwerk

    General response to safety objections in this thread, put safety into perspective: people are hurt every day. Chances are pretty good that running the subway when there is 30″ of snow on the ground would have hurt absolutely nobody more than otherwise. Nobody is saying the risk is zero.

    What are chances that people are harmed by an unexpected shutdown? Probably about 100%. Yes, seriously. That decision hurt people who had a choice taken away from them. The press isn’t rushing to report on them, but that’s the reality of it.

    If you don’t care about people’s freedom to make their own choices, you should at least care about that.

  4.  

    WoodyinNYC

    Try to write shorter essays, please.

    One, banning ALL cars and ALL taxies, OMG, sounds extreme, and alienates people before they can hear you out. To get anywhere, propose one or two smaller steps in the direction you want to go. Maybe then some folks will go along with you.

    Two, banning ALL taxis sounds extreme because it is extreme. It’s not the rich who really need them, tho if they price is right let them pay for them. Disabled persons need them.

    Yes, we NEED taxis. I’m 70 with arthritis. I can walk two or three blocks to the subway, the station that has an elevator, so I’m still doing O.K. My friend who lives near me, a brain tumor survivor, can’t walk to the corner to hail a taxi. She calls black cars to pick her up in front of her door. Otherwise she’s homebound.

    So your extremism certainly alienates me. Get over your purity self, and concentrate on non-extreme, popular, and achievable steps like congestion pricing, reducing traffic lanes, adding protected bike lanes, widening sidewalks, eliminating parking requirements, etc.

    But so long as you are shouting for banning ALL taxis, fuhgetabout you.

  5.  

    Bolwerk

    Precaution for whom exactly? How many people had to pick between a few wage-hours they could have used and not sleeping in their beds? Or had to choose between a paycheck and childcare? Couldn’t get childcare suddenly because the childcare had to stay in? Had to make all sorts of sucky decisions they otherwise wouldn’t have had to make?

    And what the hell is so magical about 2.5′ of snow? Upstaters and probably most northerners would say that’s not even that much! It’s a pretty safe bet that kind of storm will be happening a lot in coming decades. We’re going to need to live and work with it.

  6.  

    Joe R.

    See, this is exactly what annoys me about the way people think today, specifically: “There is no way to build sufficient transit to service everyone in the city within 10 years. No way.”

    The good old “can’t do” attitude is alive and well in the US! Why take six months to build something when with a little bickering, politics, and bullcrap you can stretch it out to a decade, and get 20 times as much for building it! This is the same US which put a man on the moon in less than ten years, mobilized its citizenry to defeat two formidable enemies in WWII, built much of the Interstate highway system in a decade (arguably not a good thing in retrospect but impressive nonetheless), built much of the existing IRT in less than ten years, etc. You don’t need top down anything. You need a determined citizenry who will just mobilize and get things the f done instead of making excuses. I don’t know about you but I’ve had it with excuses and nonsense which makes us take well over a decade to build 1.5 miles of new subway. I’ve had it with people who only want to take timid baby steps. If I thought like that in any of my jobs I would be shown the door immediately. 50 to 80 years to build maybe 100 route miles of subway? It took less than 50 years to build most of our existing system. That includes huge gaps to fight two world wars in between or it may well have been done in less than 20. That was with hand labor. If those same people had today’s tools they could probably have built what exists today in 5 years.

    Yeah, telling people who don’t like it to leave is arrogant. But it’s very New York. This is the place where you either lead, follow, or get out of the way. Or at least it used to be. The way you act you would think I’m asking people to join the Pol Pot or die. It’s not that hard to live without a car. I’ve done it my entire life. Sure, it requires some adjustments, sometimes some inconvenience. Arguably, the inconvenience would be a lot less if driving simply wasn’t an option because we would have to fill the gap with something.

    Why couldn’t we immediately start much more comprehensive BRT service now to fill the gap while the subways are being built? And why couldn’t those subways be mostly built in a decade? I’m seeing no technical obstacles here to any of that.

    I might get out of the US myself soon. I’ve had it with our commitment to mediocrity. We’re already a third world country only most of the populace doesn’t realize it yet because we give them bread and circuses. Look at the condition of NYC’s streets or other essential infrastructure as a bellwether. They resemble stuff I’ve seen in pictures from places like eastern Europe or even Africa.

    Your approach is the mirror of the arrogance of car culture in the US – “My way is better – so take it or get out.”

    Cars are fine-where they make sense. In a densely populated urban area they don’t. At best they only benefit a tiny minority but make life miserable for everyone else-sort of like people who smoke in public places. That’s why they need to be removed from cities ASAP. It’s not arrogant. It’s democracy in action. Most people in NYC don’t drive regularly. They benefit little or none from cars, yet are forced to deal with all the negatives. Hardly fair. It’s the minority who is arrogant. Hey, I want my convenience! I want my parking! I want to drive wherever I want as fast as I want! Private cars in NYC make about as much sense as a subway in rural Nebraska.

  7.  

    Ferdinand Cesarano

    I propose simply that the adult fold the stroller and hold the child on his/her lap.

    And I cannot see any sense in the assertion that a child takes up less room in the stroller than on the adult’s lap. The amount of room that any given child takes up is constant (well, within the duration of a subway ride it is). What is not constant is the room taken up by the stroller in the open state versus the folded state.

    Furthermore, a child sitting on an adult’s lap is out of the way both of the other sitting passengers and of the standees in front of the seats, while an open stroller containing a child will by necessity impede the movement of standing passengers inside the car.

    The reference to “older kids” in strollers also is a bit hard to grasp. Strollers are for infants or 2- or 3-year olds. An older child should sit on a seat like any other passenger.

    Finally, the comment about adults knocking kids over seems to envisage children standing. I know that New Yorkers can be pretty rude; but an adult walking with (or carrying) a small child will always be offerred a seat. I can’t think of a occasion when I have seen such an adult/child tandem forced to stand.

  8.  

    molly

    Yet here you are.

  9.  

    Aunt Bike

    “Drivers killed at least three pedestrians in Treyger’s district in 2014, when his answer to Vision Zero was a bill to ban texting while biking”.

    Jeez, what we’re up against. I mean in addition to prosecutors who won’t prosecute.

  10.  

    Ferdinand Cesarano

    While we cannot point to events that didn’t happen, it would be a very safe assumption that the driving ban prevented some injuries and deaths. I was completely in favour of that. Indeed, we should have more of that type of thing — snow or no snow!

    The subway closure is harder to justify on its face, especially considering the fact that the majority of the subway is underground and not affected by snow. But there is much merit to the idea that keeping the subways open would have encouraged more people to travel, thereby subjecting them to becoming stranded.

    As it turns out, the storm didn’t live up to its billing; such is the imprecise nature of weather forecasting. But if the storm had delivered the 2 1/2 feet of snow that had been forecast, then the wisdom of the shutdown would have been unquestioned.

    The 11pm subway shutdown was announced in enough time for people to leave wherever they were and to get home; it had been rumoured since the morning, and was made official in the late afternoon.

    So, despite the ultimate lack of necessity of it, I can accept it as a reasonable precaution.

  11.  

    Kate

    I have not heard anything about the Hudson River Greenway path north of 72nd street, but, my assumption was that it would be largely impassable so, I haven’t been down there to take any photos. I would love to hear if anyone actually knows for sure. Particularly north of 135th Street…

  12.  

    Jonathan R

    As a stroller operator, I vehemently protest your objections.

    Kids take up less room in strollers than they do in laps, and older kids can get squirmy and annoy other passengers. Also, adults can easily knock kids down when rushing into or out of the subway car.

    What do you recommend as an alternative? That we take taxis? Or put the kid in the cargo bike for a 16-mile trip to Brooklyn?

  13.  

    jt

    There is no way to build sufficient transit to service everyone in the city within 10 years.No way. The only way to come close would be with some crazy top-down planning system not that different in process to the one that Robert Moses employed on the city. Maybe in a 50 or 80 year time frame it would be possible but in 10 years? No way.

    “Those who disagree with the idea would have plenty of time to make other arrangements, or just leave”

    The arrogance of this! People who have lived in a place for 40 or 50 years (or more) have ten years to change or go.

    Your approach is the mirror of the arrogance of car culture in the US – “My way is better – so take it or get out.”

  14.  

    Ian Turner

  15.  

    JudenChino

    Nicole, I love that you’re a true conservative who also genuinely cares about livable streets (and not just the rhetoric) and for that, I commend you. If we’re ever going to be successful in implementing livable streets infrastructure on a grand scale, it’s very important that we have allies such as yourself, to make the case to the NYPost readers of the world.

    That being said, the article below, I believe, straight up ethers your argument, because, for many people access to transit is a life line and not everyone else is so tethered to the “moment” like us digital mavens and to be able to just “drop” what we’re doing. What I found disheartening (and counter to conservative principles) is how the policy you endorsed does not comport with reality on how people actually live! It’d be great if everyone could just call it a snow-day, but not everyone is so lucky. Also, your reference to the women who was run over by the snow plow, was totally inapplicable. The snowplow operator was totally negligent. She was in a parking lot. It wasn’t even blizzarding. If it was blizzarding, that pregnant woman would not have been getting groceries. To use that as an example just doesn’t make sense. You might as well ban all cars because they maim and kill on sunny days as well.

    Must Read:
    A Blizzard of Privilege
    https://medium.com/thelist/a-blizzard-of-privilege-424beb8d05b

  16.  

    Ferdinand Cesarano

    Right, the ban on strollers and the enforcement of this ban should be effective only when trains are crowded; there’s no problem with open strollers (nor with manspreading — nor with lying down on the seats, for that matter) during middays or late nights.

    But, in my experience, strollers do often get in people’s way, impeding the progress through a packed rush-hour car. Most egregiously, many times the parent will remove the child from the stroller, but still keep the stroller open.

    As a bicyclist who is occasionally forced onto the train with my bike because of rain or flat tires, I always choose the far end of a car, preferably of the first or last car. Bicyclists who use the middle of a car of a crowded train are acting extremely rudely. But so are people who roll strollers onto crowded cars.

  17.  

    Joe R.

    Welcome to our brave new world where government protects people from themselves! Even in a perfect world where government could accurately identify the real dangers this would be bad policy. It’s horrible policy when government gets it wrong more often than not (i.e. like the former Mayor’s proposed soda tax, as if drinking soda were the primary cause of obesity). Look at all the things our illustrious City Council in its infinite wisdom has banned or restricted (closing parks after dark, banning adults without children from playgrounds, forcing businesses to lock up spray paint, helmet requirements for children under 14, and my favorite-the electric bike ban). That’s just what comes to mind in a few minutes. Think how much safer we all are because of their foresight! NOT! At best, the government should restrict or ban things proven to have negative consequences on others, like smoking in public. Protecting people from themselves, or banning things because they “seem” dangerous, is a great prelude to a totalitarian society. Get people used to a gazillion restrictions and soon you’ll have no trouble controlling them from cradle to grave. In a generation most of those used to any semblance of freedom will be dead or too old to care.

  18.  

    qrt145

    I agree that courtesy counts, but let’s not be dogmatic. Strollers on the subway don’t even inconvenience anyone unless the train is crowded. And the same argument applies to any bulky item, most of which are allowed on the subway (although in the case of bikes the MTA asks that people try not to bring bikes during “rush hour”, whatever that means), so I don’t see the need to single out strollers. The only rule should be “don’t get in other people’s way gratuitously”.

  19.  

    Bolwerk

    There is truth that there are people who struggle in the middle class, and people outside it who do too. NYC is not so unique in that respect.

    I think framing it in terms of class like that is dangerously imprecise at best. What people see in the term “middle class” is usually themselves and people immediately like them, not the reality of how most people live.

  20.  

    Ben Fried

    Funding for each site comes from separate sources.

    We did not have a sufficient source of funding for Streetsblog Chicago in the form that we’d been running it. (John G is pulling together the funding to reboot in a slightly different form.)

    We do have funding to run these sites.

  21.  

    linstur

    The vision of a car free city is amazing – better for business, health, and stress levels. We as Americans value our personal freedom to act (drive where we want, live where we want) but we don’t value our freedom from things — freedom from traffic, smog, pollution. Incorporating the cost of these things will drive development back to NYC- how about putting your business in The Bronx?

    We are also paralyzed by our system of governance where communities can stop all change, but can never can act for the greater good. The bureaucracy inhibits building affordable housing, or a protected bike path, or pay for a bike share. Can you imagine a neighborhood council being able to BUILD a bike lane soup-to-nuts, instead of just stopping one?

  22.  

    Ferdinand Cesarano

    This surprises me. It says, with respect to subways, that strollers should be folded on stairs and elevators. And then it says “Strap your child in snugly at all other times”, implying that one may indeed have the stroller open on the train.

    Is this new? Hadn’t it been the case that open strollers were not officially allowed on the subway at all?

    Whether the permission for strollers is new or not, it’s a very bad policy. Strollers should be disallowed on the subway; and we should have an awareness campaign about the requirement to fold them under the “Courtesy Counts” rubric similar to the current one about manspreading.

    Anyway, thanks for the correction.

  23.  

    Adam Herstein

    You can’t afford to keep Streetsblog Chicago running, and three weeks after shutting it down, you’re launching four new blogs? What a joke Streetsblog has become.

  24.  

    Angie Schmitt

    Please email angie at streetsblog dot org.

  25.  

    Joe R.

    There is a bit of truth to that article, though. Many of the middle class who live here, like my mom and me in Flushing, and my brother in the Rockaways, are only here because we bought our homes long ago, are living with people who did, or in the case of my brother with some help from family. Mom’s house cost $52,000 in 1978, about $225,000 in inflation adjusted dollars. Good luck getting even a small condo for that much these days. So many people who are middle class in NYC literally couldn’t afford the roof over their head if they had to buy it at today’s prices. It wasn’t easy to live on one’s own even two decades ago on a middle class income. Now it’s impossible unless you want to use 75% of your take-home pay for housing.

  26.  

    dporpentine

    What support can you adduce for the claim that our tolerance for death and injury has declined in recent decades? Success at achieving declines is not the same as a change in personal or social tolerance causing that change.

  27.  

    M1EK

    Hey, please consider me for inclusion in the Texas site:

    m1ek.dahmus.org

    Been blogging on Austin, mostly transportation and urbanism, since 2004.

  28.  

    qrt145

    Cuomo’s protocol is to estimate the publicity and electoral consequences of each course of action.

  29.  

    Joe R.

    The central cores of the city are where we would start. To be sure I wouldn’t wave a magic wand and have cars everywhere one day, totally banned from NYC the next. The logical start is to ban them in Manhattan south of maybe 60th Street, and downtown areas of other boroughs like downtown Flushing. After that you start working your way out, first banning curbside parking, then eventually just banning private autos altogether. You do this over a 5 to 10 year period, both so you have time to build more transit, and to allow people to adjust. In a city eventually freed from private automobiles, you would have exponential growth, plus a much higher quality of life than now. Those who disagree with the idea would have plenty of time to make other arrangements, or just leave. A car free Manhattan was being talked about before I was born. It’s not a new concept. Cars simply don’t work well in a place which was never really designed for them. In NYC by definition they can’t work well fo everyone. When even a tiny fraction of city residents drive, the streets become a congested hell.

  30.  

    SteveVaccaro

    Congratulations and best of luck! Looking forward to lots of great cross-listed content.

  31.  

    Reader

    Whether people would have been safe or not is up for debate and there’s no way to prove it, other than with anecdotes. The people killed by snowplows who should have stayed home or the people who walked for miles to get home or to work because the subway shut down…there’s no way to control for any and all behavior.

    The bigger issue is whether or not Cuomo followed any established protocol whatsoever in making his decision, especially when the MTA already has numerous plans in place for all kinds of weather events. I’m not comfortable with the mayor going with his gut to protect people and overriding the experts. That seems to be a more interesting problem to explore.

  32.  

    Eric McClure

    Great stuff, Ben! Taking back America’s streets, one region at a time.

  33.  

    Adrian

    When this is unploughed I normally just use the road. This morning though, the bike lane appeared to be completely clear. So I joined at Canal Street, only to find that the last 20 meters before Grand St were still unploughed and my subsequent efforts to get back on the road were distinctly ungraceful. Why on earth would they completely clear most of it, but then leave a 20m stretch unploughed? What a nasty trick!

  34.  

    jt

    No, Hamburg is not car-free yet. We’ll see.

    And there is a huge difference between eliminating cars in the congested core of a city (like car-free midtown and financial district in NYC), and in the city as a whole including all residential areas. Can you point me to cities in the Netherlands that have banned cars everywhere?

  35.  

    Ferdinand Cesarano

    In a better New York City freed from personal autos, no businesses would set up in New Jersey (outside the easily-reached sections served by the PATH train) or in Connecticut with the idea of attracting workers from New York City. These firms would set up in New York itself. So its very likely that your wife’s job or an equivalent would be reachable by New York City’s transit network.

    Also, as Joe said, if we had the sensible policy of no private cars, we’d have a much more extensive transit network than the (already impressive) one that we have now. The transit wastelands of eastern Queens or southern Brooklyn would be as heavily served by the subway as places such as Forest Hills and Park Slope are today; the entire City would be blanketed by subways.

    So, even if a New Yorker did work outside the City, he/she could take our subway right up to the City’s border with New Jersey or Long Island or Westchester, and then use cabs for the final leg of the journey. (This might appear to be an expensive way of doing it; but this expense would be more than offset by the savings of not having to maintain a private car.)

    Unlike Joe, I would not ban taxis in the City. I don’t hate taxis as a concept; I only hate the private taxi industry. An MTA-operated fleet of for-hire and street-hail cars and vans could be an unobtrusive part of the transportation network. This fleet of publicly-operated vehicles, when combined with the vehicles necessary for City agencies, for mail and parcel delivery, for maintence by utility companies, and for goods deliveries to stores, would not unduly tax City streets which have been liberated from the pestilence of private autos.

  36.  

    Bolwerk

    It’s a specious point at best. Even if I granted it, the argument that the shutdown added safety is a much bigger stretch. If anything, it increased danger and risk. Even in small ways, like people who left home and expected to be able to get back in time to take a prescription drug or something.

    Nobody died because of it, AFAIK, but then as shutdown proponents are so wont to point out, the storm wasn’t very serious. Had the storm been worse, the subway was at least as likely to save lives.

    So oppress me for my own good? No thanks.

  37.  

    qrt145

    “strollers should be folded and infants should be carried. This is already the rule in the subway, despite its not being enforced as it should be”

    That rule only applies to buses. http://web.mta.info/nyct/safety/

  38.  

    Ferdinand Cesarano

    Your visitors from outside the City are certainly welcome — provided they leave their cars at home. They can drive to the train station in their areas, and then board the train to come in here to civilisation.

    Once here, they’d use the subway. Please note that little kids, tots in strollers, and the elderly use the subway every day; many stations are disabled-accessible. (Though, if you want to be polite and considerate, strollers should be folded and infants should be carried. This is already the rule in the subway, despite its not being enforced as it should be.)

    And when you go to visit your mother, you can get a cab from the station. There are waiting cabs at every LIRR station at almost all hours; or else you can call ahead and have one meet you there.

  39.  

    pelican58

    “Bike-share riders may be hitting the streets of the Upper West Side and Upper East Side as early as this spring or summer as part of the company’s uptown surge, The Post has learned.”

    Has Alta/Motivate already found a new source for bikes and equipment? Mia Birk said in July 2014 that the supplier hadn’t shipped any bikes since before the bankruptcy: http://www.marketplace.org/topics/sustainability/bike-sharings-big-problem-missing-bikes.

  40.  

    Nicole Gelinas

    It’s a non-sequitur if you cannot grasp the straightforward point that over the decades, our tolerance for accepting various types of preventable death and injury has fallen, even though preventing death and injury inconveniences some people.

    No different than saying that people can’t drive fast because it endangers others. It is just on a difference scale because of the potential for a historic storm.

  41.  

    Nicole Gelinas

    “When is it ever the city’s business to keep people off streets?”

    During a historic storm …

  42.  

    Bolwerk

    Yes, I agree, that was silly. There is actually a significant middle class here.

    But overall at least the article focused on the victims.

  43.  

    Jonathan R

    If Lentol and Nolan are such paragons of transportation thinking, how come they let Shelly Silver have his way with the MTA capital budget?

  44.  

    Jonathan R

    Glynnis MacNicol says righteous-sounding things but sandbags herself by claiming, “There is no longer anything even resembling a middle class in the city
    itself; the people who live there now, the ones posting the “magical”
    pictures of the city in the snow (and to be sure it was magical, and
    post away!) can either afford the seven figures it now takes to support a
    family…”

    I hope the IRS doesn’t read this and audit my family for not reporting 9/10ths of my income.

  45.  

    BBnet3000

    Its either already in there or has been added, but my comment on the headline is this:

    Cuomo Oblivious to NYC’s Transit-Dependent Subway Riders

    The story makes the same statement, but that’s missing the point. He’s oblivious to people with non-conventional work hours and who are paid hourly instead of salaried (the story does mention this). “Transit dependent” is nonsense, and what does that even mean in a city with the best transit in the country? Since all travel except presumably walking was banned, this keeps anyone in the region who lives farther than walking distance from their jobs from working non-conventional hours whether they’re “transit-dependent” or not.

  46.  

    Bolwerk

    I enjoyed this read, a critique of the powerful/media’s cavalier attitude about shutting everything down.

  47.  

    Daniel S Dunnam

    Lentol is my assemblyman and has always been great on transportation stuff as well. Many years ago I met with him at his office to discuss public financing for elections and he was great and ultimately really took up that issue. I think he’s pretty great.

  48.  

    Bolwerk

    Heh, I saw that. It was practically a non-sequitur.

    That anecdote at the end, about that family went to renovate their apartment in a snowstorm, practically undermines her argument too. Well, duh, they had a reasonable expectation that transit would keep working. Their stories don’t seem to be making it into the press (shocker?), but I’m sure a lot of other people had the same expectation and got screwed for it.

    NYC isn’t Buffalo, but most of us who’ve been here more than an undergrad term realize there can be heavy snow now and then. Gelinas seems almost surprised.

  49.  

    Jonathan R

    Great comment. How about that rhetorical flourish linking the declining number of murders and traffic deaths to the imposition of movement controls? Stay at home! We must keep you safe from the dangerous streets and runaway snowplows!

  50.  

    vnm

    Please let it be Nolan. She is great on transpo stuff.