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  1.  

    Bolwerk

    There is a shitload they could do. They could respond to car alarms going off, noise complaints, any number of civil violations other city departments deal with, do POP collection, enforce littering statutes, and clamp down on traffic violations. This is even in line with the broken windows theory, which may have a few ounces of actual academic merit. Alas, they’re all too white for such menial work.

    But in an actual community, there is little need for policing. Having people around who know and trust each other does most of the work. Even when people don’t know each other, they generally aren’t inclined to victimize each other. Suburban malls (and suburbs in general) need so much security precisely because they aren’t communities. Healthy urban neighborhoods need little to no formal policing.

    I don’t have a problem with having police, but I do have a problem with a special class of people with rights I don’t have. One really obvious reform to me is is the inspectors/detectives should be thought of separately from the police/sheriffs/constables. When the latter misbehave, the former should be investigating them.

  2.  

    Bolwerk

    Modern traffic planning science points to that concern being entirely wrong. When a big, complicated, traffic-infused artery is reduced in scale or is removed, the traffic mostly dissipates as people find other options (e.g., transit) and adjust. And since the surface transit works better on the route, it might even attract some former car commuters.

    It’s why Times Square’s ped plaza both improved traffic flow and reduced congestion. It’s why SBS isn’t a big deal for drivers.

  3.  

    Bolwerk

    Yeah, I’m fairly here nor there about the horses being in Manhattan; the park is fine for them to do their jobs, in any case, if not the street, but their living conditions do seem concerning.

    I’m looking past their jobs, which they may indeed enjoy to so some extent. My judgment on the matter mainly comes down to the living/storage conditions. I just don’t see much potential for pasturing horses in Manhattan, and proper pasturing does matter to their health no matter how conditioned they are by breeding.

    As for the neoliberal-coddling New York Daily News complaining about the loss 300 jobs? Irony duly noted.

  4.  

    Bolwerk

    Yeah, but that’s still incredibly bad news. Unless (until?) the status quo changes markedly, the suburbs’ sinking won’t benefit cities. Instead, Washington and Albany will start taking more and more to prop them up.

    Really we need to find a way to at least make inner suburbs sustainable. Maybe outer suburbs can’t be saved.

  5.  

    lop

    That section has a lot of car traffic during rush hour heading to the bridge. Doubtful you’d get enough cars to take other routes even with a bridge toll for two lanes to be sufficient. Sure you might push them off QB, but then side streets nearby might suffer extensively. if you kill both parking lanes during rush hour for two extra travel lanes that problem would go away somewhat. Would you keep all the cross streets intact? Wouldn’t be a spectacular canopied linear park if it’s broken up every few hundred feet, though would it really be great to make QB a bigger neighborhood divider? Not to mention all the trucks speeding down that part of QB. Even if separated from this ‘park’ by a parking lane and a travel lane it wouldn’t be so great. Extensive plantings in the current left most travel lane might help though not sure how much.

  6.  

    Nathanael

    With some work, this could be a spectacular “canopied linear park”. Queens Boulevard would need to have some lanes removed from the center to make it attractive, though.

    This section doesn’t seem to have much car traffic, frankly, and could easily lose one or even two lanes in each direction. Slice off the inner two lanes from Van Dam St. to 49th St. and you could really do something with this.

    (One lane on each side for an extension of the plaza into sunlight; one on each side for parking, to appease everyone who will complain about parking. Still leaves two lanes each way, which is frankly more than enough moving lanes for any surface road.)

  7.  

    Nathanael

    Apparently it varies wildly by precinct. Someone made a map which was posted on Streetsblog.

    Different precinct captains apparently have different attitudes. Getting the ones with bad attitudes to have good attitudes requires… management. Of the sort we would never see from a Ray Kelly.

  8.  

    Nathanael

    Bolwerk — it has actually been demonstrated that uniformed police (unarmed!) act as a deterrent for minor crime. This was the original motivation for “beat cops” back in the 19th century.

    It’s *also* why malls and so forth hire “security guards” who are practically untrained, and it works — the job of the security guards, most of the time, is to stand around looking like security guards.

    This is, essentially, a form of “security theater” which works. The knowledge that there *are* police around reduces vandalism and harassment. It’s actually best if the police aren’t doing anything (unless, of course, they actually witness a crime while standing around). If they feel the need to do something, they start harassing people. If they’re eating donuts and reading a novel, they’re doing it right.

    This also eliminates the PTSD-inducing character of the police job. If most of it really *is* walking around doing nothing, it’s not an “especially dangerous job” — it’s just dangerous occasionally, like it is for firemen.

    And such police should be paid a lot less than the exorbitant salaries which they currently get for beating people up, obviously.

    NY probably *still* has too many police. But I hope you see my point about the way a functional police department in a peaceful town should operate: there should be guys just *there*.

    “The biggest use I could think for some of them is they could
    do POP collection work or traffic enforcement, but that’s the useful
    work they’ve probably been taught is demeaning.”
    Yeah, stuff like this. Or, say, giving people warnings for street harassment — you think women on the street would appreciate that? I do. Or defusing potential fights (the primary job of the policeman).

    Or there’s another entire class of work: they could work with the Department of Buildings, identifying dangerous and unsafe structures and dealing with the landlords to force them to renovate.

    Heck, they could respond to tenant complaints about abuses by landlords — seems like nobody else responds.

    But you’re right. The police have been taught that all this “low-level” work which is actually useful is demeaning. They’re told that they’re there to “go after bad guys”. Which is WRONG. 90% of the time, there should be no “bad guys” and they should be acting as “peace officers”. They should have negotiation training and spend their time defusing situations.

    This obviously isn’t the case. It may be necessary to sack the entire NYPD and hire a new one with properly trained peace officers.

  9.  

    Nathanael

    I suggest reporting the crime. (The crime is police harassing and threatening people.) I know the criminals at the precinct office are unlikely to do anything about crimes committed by their “buddies”, but it’s worth starting to accumulate a record of citizen complaints.

  10.  

    Nathanael

    (Rowhouses seem to command huge prices, so they must be quite popular. They are unfortunately banned by many zoning laws these days.)

  11.  

    Nathanael

    Rowhouses can also create a pretty high population density. So can duplexes. Both seem to be *very* popular where they exist.

    It doesn’t have to be all apartment buildings.

  12.  

    Nathanael

    Soon, that won’t be a difference. As suburbs become poorer, suburban schools are sinking in quality very fast and becoming awful. (And as for rural schools… oy vey. They’ve been awful for a very long time.)

    I wish this wasn’t the way the suburban and urban schools were equalizing; I’d prefer to see the urban schools going up, rather than watching the suburban schools go down. But this IS what is happening.

    In a few years the suburban schools will suck badly enough that nobody will consider moving to the suburbs “for the schools”. There will simply be a lot more parents saving for private school. There may be a lot more private schools; the cheaper “second tier” and “third tier” of private schools will probably make a comeback.

  13.  

    Nathanael

    I suspect them of suffering from lead poisoning. Cuomo’s the right age to have inhaled a lot of lead fumes as a kid, old enough to predate the banning of leaded gasoline.

    People with brain damage shouldn’t be in elected office. (Sadly, this country made a man with an obvious advanced case of Alzheimer’s into the President of the US back in 1980, so I’m not holding out much hope for avoiding this problem.)

  14.  

    Nathanael

    If the MTA manages to hold a tough line with the LIRR unions, that should make up the necessary savings.

    The LIRR unions are awful featherbedders and don’t deserve a penny:

    http://www.thelirrtoday.com/2013/10/lirr-unions-helping-or-hurting.html

  15.  

    HamTech87

    My teenager, a bit of a foodie, takes me to restaurants and storefront windows in neighborhoods I would have avoided 25 years ago.

    What are the “ingredients” for his exploration of NYC?
    (1) Safety: An assuredness of safety, wherein he and his friends don’t worry about being mugged or worse the way we were;
    (2) Transit: A robust transit system, especially the subways, that take him almost anywhere;
    (3) In-for-ma-tion (I’m hearing Seinfeld’s Newman in my head): Specifically, websites like Yelp that tell him where the best places are, and suggestions on what to order.

  16.  

    Jeffrey Baker

    Well it’s a bit of a catch isn’t it? I live within walking distance of what is thought to be the best elementary school in my city, but I still send my daughter to a private school. In theory I could send my kids there, get involved, and by the time they are leaving the school will be looking up, but that only helps the average person several years down the road and isn’t the best thing for my own children individually.

  17.  

    Nick

    Maybe they avergae out bikes they count on the ferry. You’re braver than me. I live near Tysens Lane and I can’t imagine your bike commute. I stick to casual rides on local streets or in Great Kills park, even avoiding the bike lane streets.

  18.  

    Nick

    Not a poor decision if you frequently visit people outside of ‘Brownstone Brooklyn’ or want to load up on stuff at Costco, Home Depot, etc. Last time I was in Park Slope the residential streets were packed with cars, many quite expensive. IIRC Park Slope was one of the neighborhoods that successfully got it’s Alt Side Parking regs reduced from 4 days/week to 2 days/week.

  19.  

    Joe R.

    I agree here. I personally think the main criteria for giving a cyclist a ticket for running a red light should be 1) whether or not there were any pedestrians or motor vehicles in the intersection and 2) the lines of sight. The speed of the bike is secondary. There are some intersections with not so great lines of sight where it really is necessary to slow to walking speed in order to safely pass a red light. In that case any cyclist going much above walking speed might merit a ticket. On the other hand, I’ve been through quite a few intersections where I can safely pass reds even at my normal 18 to 23 mph pace. I’m referring to intersections where the lines of sight aren’t blocked by parked cars or buildings and I can clearly see motor vehicles a block away long before I’m in the intersection. In these cases nothing except entering the intersection while pedestrians or motor vehicles are present in it should merit a ticket.

    Unfortunately, most NYPD officers are incapable of operating at this high a level of discretion, so a reasonable compromise might be to slow down to no more than 10-12 mph, even at intersections where you know you can safely go faster. The act of slowing down at least shows a police officer that you’re aware there’s a red light, and are actively taking precautions in case anything is coming.

    All that said, I’m not seeing why NYC can’t start using sensors at all traffic signals so lights never go red unless something is actually crossing the intersection. The very reason why cyclists pass red lights is because of the sheer number of red lights they encounter, along with the fact that 95% of the time a light turns red even though the intersection is empty. It’s incumbent upon the state to engineer safety in the least obtrusive manner possible. Dumb, timed signals are not the least intrusive way to do this. We’ve had the ability to link traffic signals to sensors for at least 4 decades. We now have the ability to intelligently keep traffic signals red for only as long as it takes a vehicle (or pedestrian) to cross the intersection). You can also give one direction of traffic the green early once a crossing pedestrian clears the lanes going in that direction. There’s no excuse for what NYC does, even for motor vehicles, never mind for cyclists or pedestrians.

  20.  

    Kid Charles

    ” How long does it take when educated, affluent people move into an area to improve schools?”

    This is where the insidious effect of private schools comes in. The option (and the perceived necessity) of private schools for young professional urban parents will slow the improvement of urban public schools. If every one of these parents sent their kids to their local public school, stayed involved, and exerted political pressure to improve the schools, it could happen in a few short years, and could benefit all children who go there. If instead they all send their kids to private schools, the problem will persist indefinitely.

  21.  

    Joe R.

    I definitely agree with you about keeping the things which make New York distinct. In the last 20 years I’ve seen the city gradually being transformed into a Disneyfied, commercialized, soulless version of itself. Thankfully, it’s looking like this trend has run its course if for no other reason than the fact that NYC can’t do suburbs (i.e. strip malls, big box stores) better than the suburbs, so it has to go back to being a city. That said, I’m on the fence here about the horses. What you say may be true, but I also consider forcing horses to pull carriages among auto exhaust, horns, and general mayhem something which can’t be good for them. These horses may have been bred to endure urban conditions, but they were the urban conditions of old which existed in cities before the automobile era.

    Fortunately, what would be good for the horses is also good for human beings-namely get rid of as many motor vehicles as possible, starting with private automobiles. If we can do that, then I really would have no rational objection to keeping the horses around.

  22.  

    walks/bikes/rides

    I agree. NYPD tends to take an all or nothing approach. I drive, bicycle, and walk in NYC. While I try never to break any rules while driving, I definitely jaywalk and go through red lights on bike. But as mentioned, I always slow at lights and only proceed when the way is clear of vehicles and pedestrians. That didn’t stop an NYPD officer from chasing me down with lights and siren, doing a 180 degree turn in rush hour traffic, to give me a red light ticket for stopping at the red on 96 and Amsterdam, and then making the right turn when it was clear. Since the light was against me, he risked the safety of others to give me a ticket.

    But jaywalking is a problem in the city, and should not be ignored. Just not all jaywalking is a problem. Those people jaywalk with the attitude of cars with the right of way should stop for them are dangers to themselves and others. And also those that step out into the street without even looking, often because their eyes are glued to their phone, are just as dangerous.

  23.  

    Wilfried84

    That was pretty ridiculous. The bike lane went through the pedestrian islands! And cars were still parked against the curb, so you couldn’t use the bike lane, or the space inside the islands, leaving only the first lane of traffic.

  24.  

    Joe R.

    Human beings can be conditioned to tolerate, even enjoy, conditions we might consider unnatural or brutal. That doesn’t necessarily make it right to force people to live under these conditions. I tend to think even the modern 5 day a week hourly wage slave is enduring a set of conditions our descendants might regard as unnatural or even cruel. Human beings are at their best in settings where they’re not tied to a rigid schedule or forced to do repetitive, uncreative work.

    As for the horses, I tend to agree here. If the horses were pulling carriages in pastoral settings I might feel differently, but Manhattan with its heavy auto traffic, pollution, and in general controlled mayhem is not a great environment for horses (or human beings). Get rid of most of the cars and it might be but not now.

  25.  

    Sabina

    I find it problematic that the bit of no-parking right before the mixing zone (at least in, for example, the 1st Ave design) has become a truck loading/unloading zone. So, right at the point where I should be able to see the cars (and vv), there is a huge truck in the way. Unless we can change people’s attitudes, I think it might require some physical thing (planters or islands) to enforce the no-parking.

  26.  

    Kevin Love

    Don’t forget entitlementitis, which manifests itself in acute selfish attacks.

  27.  

    Nathan

    Right. I will be sure to take the “parallel” lane on Bergen, especially when I need to get to the greenway at Columbia St. Perhaps the committee can direct me to their teleporter at Court St?

    I also like how Schermerhorn’s bike lane ends right before the block I live on. But as long as there’s a 4 block long bike lane somewhere in the vicinity, Those Cyclists are presumed to be satisfied and politically taken care of.

  28.  

    Bolwerk

    So you believe they are well-cared for because they are allowed to gallop, exercise, and socialize? Or do you believe they are well-cared for in-spite of not being allowed to gallop, exercise, and socialize? And does being bred to enjoy a mix of confinement and brutish, soul-crushing labor also work for people?

  29.  

    qrt145

    It’s insensitive to assume that someone doesn’t suffer from a disability just because they don’t “look” disabled. What if it’s a mental disability? Some people suffer from sociopathic ruleabidingphobia, a crippling mental disability.

  30.  

    Ben Kintisch

    The proposed sharrows are not great, but they begin to lay the groundwork for a continuous bikeway spanning Brooklyn. Once Atlantic becomes wider (near 4th) it is far more do-able to install fully protected curbside bike lanes that would continue all the way across the borough.

  31.  

    petercow

    I saw an official NY plate the other day that has the designation “NY Senator Emeritus”.

  32.  

    Sean Kelliher

    Eliminating placards (city issued and otherwise) and the reserved curbside space that comes with some of them would be ideal. In the meantime, while this is being debated, maybe the city could simply universally enforce parking rules.

    No parking means no parking
    No standing means no standing (and no parking either)
    Loading zones are for vehicles being loaded and unloaded
    Commercial parking zones are for commercial vehicles
    Sidewalks and cross walks are for pedestrians
    Bike lanes are for bicyclists

    Currently, these are the rules UNLESS you have a parking placard from somewhere, a patch or pin from a uniform, a PBA card, or a brightly colored safety vest to stick on your dashboard. Then, the rules no longer apply, park wherever you want, and everyone else is expected to work around you. This is wrong.

    Additionally, the screening process for “handicapped” parking privileges should be examined. Walk around for a few hours and it often looks like NYC has been recently devastated by a crippling epidemic. A few times, I have seen a handicapped person entering/exiting a handicapped vehicle. However, most of the time, I see able-bodied people springing to and from their cars, presumably scamming the system.

  33.  

    Kevin Love

    A “mixing zone” deters a vast number of people from cycling. One of them is my 75-year-old mother. Her exact words “At my age, I am not going to play tag with two-ton lethal weapons.”

    A lot of people are like my mother. In The Netherlands, 25% of all trips taken by people over the age of 65 are on bicycles. I feel it safe to predict that this will never, ever, ever happen in any city that does not have protected cycle infrastructure.

  34.  

    davistrain

    I looked at a review of “America’s Undeclared War” and the reviewer mentioned a “collectivist ethic” that espoused “social efficiency” over “private freedom”. I can just imagine what the reaction of my right wing colleagues would be to this point of view, probably starting with “Over My Dead Body!!!”

  35.  

    Andy B from Jersey

    You know, it seems that one MAJOR advantage of protected lanes is that the paint doesn’t get worn away from all the heavy motor vehicles. Ben’s photo above shows how totally useless that conventional bike lane is after a few years.

  36.  

    Andy B from Jersey

    Good idea! I still have drivers trying to hook me in NYCDoT’s mixing zones. I applaud NYCDoT for coming up with the design. It’s a good idea but it needs to be made better.

    Also, I never seen NYCDoT install a mixing zone on a right-side save for Grand St. I don’t think they work as well in that situation due to drivers being on the other side of the car. The mixing zone design needs to be made better so it can be more universally applied.

    I would like to see a mixing zone design that leads cyclists into the middle of the zone/lane in a more controlling position. The current “gutter bunny” position leaves cyclists in a very submissive location and at the will of the driver.

  37.  

    _okra

    yes! that would be the ideal.

  38.  

    Kevin Love

    Or, better yet, if there was no mixing zone. By following the world-class CROW traffic engineering design standard. So that cyclists are protected through intersections when they most need protection. Like this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlApbxLz6pA

  39.  

    Joe R.

    You also need to look at fare collection costs. There’s a veritable army of people involved maintaining the fare collection apparatus, policing fare evaders, etc. I read somewhere (although I don’t know if it’s true) that it costs the MTA more to collect fares then it gets back at the fare box. If that’s true, we’re better off with a “free” system funded via income taxes. Remember unlike normal goods and services, transportation is essential to the functioning of the economy. Moreover, we should incentivize desirable behaviors (like taking transit instead of driving) by either making transit cost less (ideally it should be funded via general taxes, not fares), or making driving cost a lot more. Right now we’re doing the opposite by indirectly subsidizing driving with free curbside parking, toll free bridges, etc.

  40.  

    Joe R.

    If you count the 5% bonus the fare comes out to $2.38 per ride. The 30-day Metrocard costs $112, or the equivalent of 47 rides. In any 30-day period the most anyone commuting to their job 5 days a week will use is 44 rides, assuming of course no holidays or sick days. Typically, it’ll be less than that, probably around 30 to 40 rides. All this implies you’ll need to take anywhere for two to maybe seven extra round trips per month to make the 30-day Metrocard worthwhile. Of course, if someone has an employer who is set up to allow them to pay the fare with pre-tax dollars it probably makes sense to get the 30-day card all the time just for convenience.

    All that said, hopefully the system will eventually transition to individual fare cards of the type currently used for senior citizens enrolled in the half-fare program. That would allow nice things like lower off-peak fares, family discounts, the ability to refill the card using a credit card, and the ability to avoid periodically buying a new fare card.

  41.  

    Andrew

    For anyone with five round trip commutes per week plus a few “side” trips each month, the unlimited is cheaper than paying per ride. In other words, the unlimited is priced to give discounts to people who use the system for off-peak trips in addition to commutes rather than to those who only use it to commute.

  42.  

    aslevin

    Schools are an issue, but isn’t there evidence that a child’s performance follows their parents even more than the school system? Also, how long does it take to recover schools when a neighborhood increases in average income level? The collapse of urban school systems happened quite rapidly with middle class flight and disinvestment. How long does it take when educated, affluent people move into an area to improve schools? Are there case studies of improving school districts in urban areas that have seen re-investment?

  43.  

    aslevin

    The sound insulation issue seems like something that could be fixed more rapidly given the demand for new construction. In the last decade many cities have updated few years many cities have updated building standards for greater energy efficiency, and in the last several years have updated street design codes to complete streets. A similar initiative could tweak building codes for better sound insulation.

    I have no idea what it would take to get this done in the New York area, maybe that would indeed take decades, but in the Bay Area that sort of standard could propagate through regional planning and funding guidelines, creating draft ordinances that cities could adopt. Specific references to what the standards ought to be would be most welcome.

  44.  

    millerstephen

    Corrected. Thanks Eric.

  45.  

    Andrew

    I absolutely agree – as long as the same applies to the roads and streets, including externalities.

  46.  

    Kevin Love

    Here is a better suggestion. Eliminate all car parking placards and do not issue any new ones. Is there any other major city in the entire world that has a placard system? Yet somehow, miraculously, every other city manages.

  47.  

    Eric McClure

    Here’s a suggestion. Eliminate all city-issued parking placards, and make anyone who wants one apply and demonstrate need. Sure, corrections officers and other placard holders have to be able to get to work, just like the checkout worker at Trader Joe’s or manager at Sahadi’s needs to be able to get to work. But the former get placards, and the latter don’t. Yet the latter, miraculously, still manage.

  48.  

    Kevin Love

    There are a wide range of domesticated animals that fall into this category. Including every farm animal.

    It is my opinion that the New York carriage horses are well cared for and not abused. I also believe that they provide a positive benefit to the City because they help connect people, particularly children, to our culture, history and heritage.

    I am not so old that I have forgotten what it was like when I was a child to pet a horse and ride in a carriage. I believe that fun is good for children and adults.

    Furthermore, I believe that eliminating this industry would remove a distinctly New York element from New York and would diminish all of us. I do not believe in bland no-name generic brand cities. It is my opinion that such cities are dehumanizing and cause needless stress to their inhabitants.

    It is my opinion that destroying a heritage industry is like destroying heritage buildings, works of art and any other element of our human cultural heritage. It reduces and diminishes all of us and takes away part of our humanity and what it is like to be a human being.

  49.  

    Eric McClure

    Stephen, those LPIs are at Third and Fourth Avenues.

  50.  

    Bob

    This is terrific. It is unfortunate that they did not continue it to 14th Street — 4th Avenue between 12th and 14th is the worst part of this street. I understand that stretch includes the hotel and apartment building. I hope DOT’s plan does something to address those frenetic blocks.