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    How about having some leading intervals for both crosswalks and for turning motor traffic, as appropriate? Maybe peds alone could go during the first 5 seconds of the signal cycle, then only motor traffic could go (and turn) during the last 5 seconds of the cycle. Or something like that. If everyone knows they will get an opportunity to go, that would probably stop people from taking risky, if not illegal, actions in traffic.


    Christopher D. Ramos

    So glad I found this fascinating blog. My anecdotal observation is that there is no punishment for aggressive driving in NYC. A few months back, a turning motorist very narrowly missed impacting me as I made my way through the crosswalk. So intent was he to cut me off that he passed through the opposing lane.

    Yes, statutes say that motorists must yield, but what constitutes a *failure* to yield? Is it only a failure if the motorist impacts a pedestrian with the RoW? What if the motorist is reckless, though injures no one? Law enforcers have wide latitude here and should be cracking down on this.


    Joe R.

    There’s one big flaw with your reasoning. The “car” generation is slowly but surely dying off or moving out of NYC. Those our ages or younger see the value of not catering to cars in cities. In a decade the news media will be hard-pressed to find people in NYC supporting the motorist’s point of view. They’ll also find most of their audience will go elsewhere if that’s all they continually air. Granted, we don’t have much media support for cyclists these days, but I’m not seeing the anti-bike bias of the media lasting for much more than a few years.


    Joe R.

    Yes, it’s a shame few here see the big picture. By pushing recreational cyclists to train elsewhere, you end up with a situation which is probably bad for them, and bad for those around them. Besides that, unless you’re not far from a greenway, it’s really difficult in NYC to find a decent place to ride recreationally. I suppose it’s passable out in Eastern Queens where I live after maybe midnight, but there are still issues (potholes and the need to at least slow down at red lights for safety reasons). Central Park without traffic signals could offer recreational cyclists as much non-stop riding as they want, free of motor vehicles. If you keep the park open all night, the rides would be mostly free of pedestrians also. I’m not a big fan of mindless laps myself, but in NYC there probably aren’t a whole lot of decent alternatives to laps in parks if fast, non-stop riding is what you enjoy. It’s a pity there’s little interest in building more non-stop greenways to form a citiwide connecting system much like our highway system.

    Regarding my use of language here, I did a search and was actually surprised to find out how I used it is considered offensive these days. Remember I’m 52, not from a generation where people are generally politically correct. And frankly, I think the PC movement is ridiculous anyway. It has people on pins and needles, worrying every common word might have some negative connection with a particular group. Anyway, language aside I hope we can all agree Blonsky and Silver are being unbelievably unreasonable here. In fact, it seems to me most of the people in NYC who make infrastructure and laws for bikes have never actually tried riding one. A bike isn’t something which can stop and start every three blocks repeatedly like a motor vehicle. And then you have little issues like sometimes when you stop you put your foot right down into a pothole, causing leg strain, possibly even a fall.


    Joe R.

    In the document I linked to:

    According to EPA estimates, in many large urban areas, pre-1997 lawn and garden equipment accounts for as much as 5 percent of the total man-made hydrocarbons that contribute to ozone formation.

    They also mention new pollution controls will decrease emissions by one-third. That still means these engines may account for over 3% of pollution. That’s pretty unbelievable when you think about the very small total number of hours these engines are used compared to engines in motor vehicles.


    Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    I agree. That language is uncalled for.



    Have a source on what share of pollution they’re responsible for?

    Don’t necessarily need high end batteries, plenty of corded electric leaf blowers on the market today.


    Opus the Poet

    So, as a compromise instead of arresting and locking up drivers who hit people crossing with right of way or riding a bicycle in a bike lane. Permanently take away their driver’s license, and make driving without a license the same as possessing an unlicensed firearm. I think a zip gun is at least a couple of magnitudes less fatal than a small car, and even more so than a bus.


    Ferdinand Cesarano

    Ah, I didn’t realise that the word “forever” was used by the DOT itself. So my apologies for calling the headline “silly”.

    Nevertheless, there is no way that this change lasts “forever”. There is bound to be a mayor who will find it expedient to reverse this, knowing that he/she will be applauded by the idiot media. Surely you can see the on-the-street interviews on the local “news” shows in which all the people interviewed from behind their steering wheels say that it’s about time that the City did something for the hard-working New Yorkers who need to get around town, rather than catering to those crazy bicyclists who just get in the way.

    I am very pleased to see more sections of the parks become car-free. But the idea that this is permanent is delusional. As vulnerable as our on-street bike lanes are, the car-free park lanes are doubly so. I’d bet that this parks decision will be reversed by the next mayor — perhaps as a fulfillment of a campaign promise.


    Simon Phearson

    Yes – well, personally, I gave up on CP when the limit was cut to 20. I debated some advocates at the time over the wisdom of pushing down the limit, and they assured me the next step would be working out an arrangement for training cyclists to use the park early in the morning. I’m sure that’ll happen any day now!

    It’d be nice if someone could keep the big picture in view. Cyclists using the Park for training or exercise aren’t going to stop wanting to ride just because you kick them out of the park. If anything, they’re the ones who work hard to find alternatives (like I have). So they end up all over the street, instead, negotiating potholes, traffic, exhaust fumes, etc. I’ll admit that I find that I prefer visiting all kinds of neighborhoods to doing mindless laps. Still, I’m out there most mornings with a lot of commercial truck traffic.

    By the way – I don’t want to make a big deal out of this, but your derogatory use of the word “retarded” makes me uncomfortable.


    Joe R.

    The irony here is you still need to eventually bag the leaves. That and blowing the leaves into a pile takes as much time as just raking and bagging them. Of course, the gardeners save labor by not bagging the leaves. They just blow them onto someone else’s property so it’s no longer their problem.


    Joe R.

    While we’re on that subject, no lights anywhere in NYC should ever go red if nothing is crossing. We have the technology for traffic lights to only go red as needed. Moreover, doing that encourages compliance by all groups. Seeing a traffic signal red when nothing is crossing 99% of the time does the opposite. Moreover, it’s incumbent on the state to engineer safety in the least intrusive way possible. That’s not being done now.


    Joe R.

    No need to think creatively at all. Just do exactly what the park’s designer did in areas with lots of pedestrians crossing, namely put up bridges. I don’t know why there should even be any discussion otherwise. So long as even one traffic signal remains, the loop will not be a pleasant place to exercise. 47 of them is totally over the top. That makes the loop worse than a lot of surface streets in terms of traffic signal density. An escape from the stupid mechanization of traffic flow is one of the reasons people come to the park. What a shame we have such a bunch of brain-dead morons running things.


    Joe R.

    This is NYC, land where traffic light manufacturers give elected officials kickbacks. There’s no rationale at all for NYC having more traffic signals than upstate NY and the neighboring states combined other than some people are profiting handsomely off it. Once cars are removed from the picture, you don’t need traffic signals, period. Even where cars are allowed, there are only rare cases you really need traffic signals. To paraphrase a famous quote, NYC never met a traffic signal it didn’t like.


    Joe R.

    Not hard to figure this out. Repeatedly stopping at best makes cycling a chore. At worst it makes it impossible or impractical. The goal here is to eventually get cyclists out of the park altogether. Enforcing the red lights will get a significantly number to eventually just ride elsewhere. Once the numbers are down, you can use that as a rationale for closing the park to cyclists “because hardly anyone cycles here”.

    I’m really, really disappointed here. It’s charitable to say the reasoning of Blonsky and Silver is retarded.



    Thanks, that’s an interesting publication; one more than I was able to find. But without regular emissions testing (like the annual inspection required for motor vehicles) those regulations are pretty useless after the equipment is sold; after all, who actually verifies that the repair shops follow the rules or that the users don’t modify the emissions controls?

    My initial thinking was that leaf blowers and similar gasoline powered apparatus would have been prohibited within NYC but I haven’t found anything to back that up. And the worst part is that these things seem to be getting more and more prevalent, probably because they are so cheap relative to hiring someone to manually sweep up fallen leaves.



    Yes . IN Chelsea and Hell’ kitchen we have number of split phases and the seniors love them…
    As far as the pedestrians who do not respect them, they are putting their own lives at risk when crossing illegally. No right of way for them.


    Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    The word “forever” was used by the NYC DOT on their website in promoting it. Their words, not ours.

    I would be willing to wager ANY amount of $$$ this will NEVER be reversed. There are far too many people that use the park, that love the park, even elected officials that would defend it to the end. Not a chance. Okay, maybe 0.01% chance, but to state “will be reversed” is a little bizarre =.


    Kevin Love

    What is interesting is that the cyclist has a passage through the speed hump. The cyclist experiences level pavement all the way.


    Kevin Love

    This is mildly crazy. Even in the most densely populated of car-free downtown zones, I have never, ever seen a traffic light in any city that I have ever been in, anywhere. Nowhere in Europe. Nowhere in Asia. Nowhere.

    Or perhaps I should write “motor vehicle free,” since there are lights with tram systems. Otherwise, no.

    Modern street redesigns usually lead to traffic light removals. See:


    Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    Hey I know that photo, I took that! :) “Speed Lumps” they called them in Alameda, CA!



    NYC cyclists already ride across speed humps on streets

    While cyclists elsewhere do not.


    Simon Phearson

    D’you notice how Blonsky’s statement almost seems to prioritize observance of the lights to actual pedestrians? He doesn’t say, “We’ve got to make sure that cyclists and pedestrians behave safely around one another, with cyclists ready to defer to pedestrians as conditions warrant,” which would have been an eminently reasonable thing to say about Park traffic. No, he says that his next priority is to get cyclists to stop for lights – the protection of pedestrians being entirely secondary, a great side benefit, maybe.

    Just another driver trying to regulate cyclist behavior, I’d suspect.



    How about raised crosswalks at major crossings on the loop? NYC cyclists already ride across speed humps on streets with no problem. Bike racers in Europe race on raised crosswalks with no problem in historic races like Paris-Roubaix, Flanders and E3, no problem for runners. Yeah, it will be different, but anything is better than traffic signals, which create unrealistic expectations for cyclists and pedestrians alike and thus contribute to danger and police harassment ticketing.



    NYC pedestrians have a hard time obeying split phase signals from what I have seen, but I agree with you that trying to fix one problem turn by introducing three new turns (net increase of two) will probably make the problem worse.



    Eight dead last year, none this year. It seems like the law is working exactly as intended.


    Kevin Love

    A great big thank you to Families for Safe Streets. This is New York’s equivalent to Stop de Kindermoord. Cyclists may be a despised out-group, but child safety affects everyone. I totally agree with David Hembrow at:


    Ferdinand Cesarano

    It’s true that the lights, which were installed for auto traffic, should be replaced with ones that are appropriate for bike traffic. Which is to say: lights that stay green, but turn red right away when a pedestrian pushes the button to cross.

    But really, we’re going to be stuck with the current lights, because this decision on freeing the park drive from cars can be reversed — will be reversed — in future administrations.

    This is why the inclusion of the word “forever” in the headline is silly. The move towards better quality of life for bicyclists is a beautiful trend; but we shouldn’t act as though it is some inexorable force of nature. All the improvements that we have seen since the beginning of the Bloomberg era are vulnerable to the (inevitable) shift in the political winds.

    In any case, no matter what kind of lights are on the park drive, we bicyclists do indeed have to stop at them, despite the inconvenience. First of all, it’s simply good citizenship for us to follow the rules while we are insisting on the provision of bike infrastructure. And it would be strategically sound for us to use our good behaviour as political capital to be deployed as a defence against future rollback. Alas, it’s a pity that so many of us are going to ignore this reality, and that this opportunity will be missed.



    Amen. Central Park’s six-mile loop has no fewer than 47 lights, all put there to manage car traffic. Now that the cars are gone forever from the North Loop, the Parks Dept. and the Conservancy need to think creatively about how to ensure safety while allowing the loop to fulfill its main role as a place to get some exercise. Removing some lights and installing “yield to ped” lights elsewhere will force the CP precinct to focus on dangerous behaviors, not harmless red-light running.



    “We’ve got to make sure everybody stops at the traffic lights when you’re riding a bike,” Blonsky said. “That’s the next thing we’ve got to do.”

    These lights need to be swapped out for auto-activated flashing yield-to-ped lights as soon as money is available. I don’t know Central Park that well but if its like Prospect Park there are probably locations where the lights can be removed altogether as well as locations that need a light added.

    In Prospect Park most pedestrians press the button and cross when there is a gap in bikes, because it takes so long for the light to change. Then the light turns red and people on bikes are expected to stop with no pedestrians around. It’s ridiculous and the kind of location where the NYPD has a field day with harmless jaybiking.


    Joe R.

    No, I was doing about 25 mph and this guy flew past me. I counted how long it took him to get a block ahead. It wasn’t much over 3 seconds, which basically implies he was going 55 or 60 mph more than I was.

    For what it’s worth I’m also a railroad buff. I’ve spent many an hour watching trains go by, to the point my eyeball estimate of their speed agrees to within 5 mph of what my stopwatch says.

    Another thing worth noting here is average driving speeds on the street in question (164th Street between Union Turnpike and the LIE) at that time of night are about 50 to 55 mph. This vehicle was going quite a bit above average. I’ve seen the NYPD doing 70+ mph on the LIE service road a few times. And then if you want outliers, back in the 1980s there was a Corvette on Union Turnpike going an easy 100 mph. That car was 5 blocks past me in less than 10 seconds.



    I dunno – the religious issue is separate to me. These cab drivers are on their shifts, I think, double-parking while they’re on the job, and the neighborhood is asking for enforcement.

    I totally agree that there’s no excuse for this on behalf of any religion or faith.



    You often complain that people think you are going at say 50 mph on your bike when you are really going at 20 mph or less. Are you sure the same doesn’t apply when you see a motorist going fast and you think they are going at 80 mph? :-)


    Kevin Love

    Yes, the First Amendment forbids “…an establishment of religion…”

    So what we have in an illegal “de facto” establishment of some religions… but not others.

    Looks like religious discrimination to me. Ticket them all.



    Still no progress on the Lafayette and Centre St. bike lanes.



    Nothing to be ashamed of. Kevin’s comment was a good parody.

    Poe’s Law.


    Joe R.

    One of the witnesses said the VW was doing at least 80 mph. I believe it, too. Just a few days ago while biking at around 4 AM I was passed by some jerk doing around 80. My thoughts at the time were if the driver had been a few feet to the right I easily could have been killed. If drivers want to do 80, well, that’s what we have highways for.

    At least the driver in the Marble Hill crash will never get another chance to endanger or kill anyone else. What’s frightening here was he apparently tried to run a red light at that speed. My vote is the guy was either high or drunk.



    I owe you an apology. I was so shocked I missed the sarcasm in your post. Sorry about that!



    Yeah that was my bad. I totally missed that.



    I think what Kevin was suggesting was that the government is unconstitutionally favoring certain religions, that is, violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.



    re: the fatal Marble Hill crash: I walk by this exact location every day on my way to the train. This area is absolutely teeming with school-aged kids walking to the nearby JFK school campus every morning, and had it been just a few hours later, we would be talking about a massacre. Those photos of the crash aftermath show a vehicle that must’ve been traveling at least 60mph, an unthinkable speed in such a densely populated neighborhood.



    How the hell is Islam not an established religion? What rock did you crawl out from underneath?


    Kevin Love

    Because those first two are “established” religions in the meaning of the First Amendment. And Islam is not.



    Why not put one-hour meters on Riverside and the streets near the mosque?



    I think you’re worrying too much. Uber doesn’t let upper income people shortcircuit traffic congestion anymore than they could before. I doubt they’re making a huge difference in demand for road usage – though, I admit, a small difference could still have a big impact on traffic congestion.

    They seem like a shitty company with shitty ethics, but they probably aren’t exactly an existential threat to transit or other urbanist principles. They aren’t exactly promoting them either.



    They don’t want, and we’re not supposed to tell them what to do. It’s not like they’re supposed to serve us or anything. We’re animals.



    Uber may be quicker more convenient than taxis in many NYC areas and more ‘innovative’ technologically, but it also represents a huge potential expansion of the town-car-ization of upper-income avoidance of public transportation, increasing congestion of the streets that are built and maintained with public money without contributing commensurately to those costs or those of city buses and subways – ultimately, more privatization of public space. There are other good reasons to push back against Uber – such as their bullying tactics against critical journalists and local politicians and their circumvention of labor and tax law through their ‘individual contractor’ fictions – but this issue is much broader than the behaviosr or misbehavior of any one company. The question is whether cars transporting passengers for a fee are simply private enterprise or a public service. For example: Would an Uber driver face suspension of a driver-for-hire permit if he/she declined a customer request to go to the Bronx?


    Joe R.

    As far as I know, there is no regulation because it wouldn’t be cost effective, or even possible, to control noise/emissions on a small, handheld engine. Of course nobody has periodically reexamined this exemption to see if electric motors and batteries had reached the point where they could replace small engines in power tools. In my opinion they can. These small gas engines are major sources of noise and pollution. I vaguely recall that one small leaf blower can put as much junk in the air as a few dozen modern cars. It’s high time tools using these engines were regulated out of existence.



    My neighborhood has several large churches that double park multiple times a week. Including one which takes up over half the sidewalk. Yet the NYPD will never ticket them because they are Christian Churches. The police allow Jews to park all over the Kent Ave bike lane during holy days and ignore 311 complaints. But Muslims are fair game huh?

    There is so much that is disguising with this. Why can’t they just enforce the law fairly across all religious groups? Why is it OK for 2 religious groups to endanger others but not a third?



    Are the gas powered gardening tools (leaf blowers especially) legal within city limits?

    There is strict regulation of automobile emissions. Is there no regulation of small gasoline powered engines?

    (When I called “311” to ask about this they didn’t know. I emailed EPA and got no reply. So I’m asking here.)