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Today’s Headlines

  • Hit-and-Run Driver Kills Francis Perez, 28, in Sheepshead Bay (News); NYPD Blames Victim (DNA)
  • The Times Didn’t Ask James O’Neill About Traffic Violence, and He Didn’t Bring It Up
  • The MTA Gives No Quarter to People Maimed by Bus Drivers (News)
  • Bridgegate: Crony Details How Christie Used the Port Authority to Help Himself (NYT, Politico)
  • Uber Is Sinking the Green Cab Industry (Crain’s)
  • DDC Looking at How Bronx and Brooklyn Street Improvements Might Reduce Crime (DNA)
  • Ritchie Torres Wants DOT to Prioritize NYCHA Senior Housing Sidewalk Repairs (News)
  • Housing and Retail Could Replace Downtown Jamaica Parking Lots (Times Ledger)
  • MTA Restores Staten Island Express Bus Service, Advance Wants More Transit
  • Daily News Editorial Board Busts Judge for Placard Abuse

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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The 8th Most Influential Streetfilm of All Time

With the 10-year benefit for Streetsblog and Streetfilms coming up on November 14 (get your tickets here!), we are counting down the 12 most influential Streetfilms of all time, as determined by Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Complete Streets: It’s About More than Bike Lanes

Number of plays: 53,500

Publish date: May 9, 2011

Why is it here? Five years ago, protected bike lanes were still a relatively new thing in New York City. The press really did not know what to make of them — for most part, local reporters stuck to a sensationalist narrative pitting cyclists against everyone else. This film was an attempt to show how protected bike lanes include design features that make streets safer for everybody (even drivers), and that they fit into a new approach toward streets that prioritizes walking, biking, and transit.

Fun fact: Essentially this film exists because NYC DOT and Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan were getting a tremendous amount of tabloid heat for street redesigns that were saving lives. It was absurd, and called for some countermeasures. The idea for this Streetfilm was to show how the new designs were making life better by speaking to people on the street.

Read more…


Drivers Killed Two Seniors in Manhattan and NYPD Filed No Charges

DOT reduced traffic lanes but did not install concrete islands to slow turns at West End Avenue and W. 93rd Street, where a driver killed 85-year-old George Mamalas. The white line represents Mamalas's path through the intersection — it is unknown which direction he was walking — and the red arrow indicates the path of the driver, per NYPD. Image: Google Maps

DOT reduced traffic lanes but did not install concrete islands to slow turns at West End Avenue and W. 93rd Street, where a driver killed George Mamalas. The white line represents Mamalas’s path through the intersection — it is unknown which direction he was walking — and the red arrow indicates the path of the driver, per NYPD. Image: Google Maps

Drivers fatally struck two seniors in separate crashes in Manhattan in the last few weeks. NYPD filed no charges in either case.

On August 23 at around 3:50 p.m., 85-year-old George Mamalas was crossing W. 93rd Street at West End Avenue when someone hit him with a box truck. NYPD told the West Side Rag that the driver was westbound on 93rd, which is one-way, and turning left onto West End.

Mamalas died from his injuries on September 11. His obituary says he was a Korean War veteran, dancer, and Pilates instructor.

There is no dedicated turn signal at West End Avenue and W. 93rd Street. If the driver had a green light and Mamalas entered the intersection with a steady walk signal, Mamalas would have had the right of way.

NYPD did not identify the driver, which is typical when police don’t charge or ticket a motorist who kills a person.

Drivers have killed at least five people walking on West End Avenue since January 2014, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog. Following a string of deaths, beginning with the crash that killed 9-year-old Cooper Stock, DOT implemented a road diet along 35 blocks of West End Avenue in the fall of 2014, but installed concrete islands to slow driver turns at just four intersections. W. 93rd Street wasn’t one of them.

George Mamalas was killed in the 24th Precinct and in the City Council district represented by Helen Rosenthal.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Why a Struggling Industrial City Decided Bikes Are the Way Forward

Reading, Pennsylvania, isn’t your stereotypical biking mecca. It’s a low-income, largely Latino, post-industrial city of almost 90,000 people.

But without much of anything in the way of bike infrastructure, Reading has the third-highest rate of bike commuting in Pennsylvania and is among the top 15 cities on the East Coast.

Some civic leaders in Reading have seized on the idea of better serving people who bike as a way to improve safety and community, as well as to help reverse the legacy of sprawl and disinvestment.

We’re excited to be the first to post this video from the Portland-based publishing crew Elly Blue and Joe Biel.

The film is part of a short series that Elly and Joe produced to show a broader cross-section of regions and people working on bike issues. They made the films while traveling around America on their Dinner and Bikes Tour.


Take a Stand Against Affordable Housing By Saving This Parking Garage

A developer wants to build affordable housing on the sites of three parking garages between Amsterdam Avenue and Columbus Avenue on West 108th Street. Photo: Google Maps

An affordable housing developer wants to expand the Valley Lodge transitional homeless shelter and build new apartments on the sites of three parking garages between Amsterdam Avenue and Columbus Avenue on West 108th Street. Photo: Google Maps

In NYC’s current affordable housing shortage, every square foot counts. With that in mind, the city announced plans earlier this year to relinquish three parking garages it owns on West 108th Street to make way for 280 units of new housing, all of which would be reserved for people earning less than the average income in the area. Naturally, hysteria ensued.

Since the plans were announced, a group of residents organized under the banner “Save Manhattan Valley” to fight the development. “This Street Parking Space Will Disappear Soon If You Don’t Act,” its fliers read. “In addition to the toxic noise and air caused by construction, you can expect added pollution from idling cars, double parking, honking, stress and accidents.”

Gasp! Photo: @lpolgreen

Gasp! Photo: @lpolgreen

This is the Upper West Side, served by no fewer than three subway lines (more if you count expresses), several bus routes, Citi Bike, and car-sharing services like Zipcar and Car2Go. All those transit options make owning a car an avoidable expense for Upper West Side households, so nearly 80 percent of them choose not to.

Read more…
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Restrictive Housing Policies in a Few Cities Hurt the Whole U.S. Economy

The San Francisco Bay Area is not building nearly enough housing to keep pace with job growth. The result is an affordability crisis. Graphic: Plan Bay Area 2040 via Kim-Mai Cutler

The San Francisco Bay Area is not building nearly enough housing to keep pace with job growth. The result is an affordability crisis. Graphic: Plan Bay Area 2040 via Kim-Mai Cutler [PDF]

It’s no secret that major coastal cities are dealing with a housing shortage that’s causing runaway rents. What’s less well understood, however, is how low-density zoning not only limits the supply of housing but affects the U.S. economy more broadly.

Pete Rodrigue at Greater Greater Washington points to a study estimating the economic impact of policies like single-family zoning and height limits, which restrict access to places where economic opportunity is greatest. Even looking at just three regions, the effect is huge:

Economists Enrico Moretti and Chang-Tai Hsieh find that if we lowered restrictions that keep people from building new housing in just three cities (New York, San Jose, and San Francisco) to the level of the median American city, US GDP would have been 9.7% higher in 2009—about $1.4 trillion, or $6,300 for every American worker…

Just changing zoning practices in those three cities would lead to some massive shifts, according to the authors. One-third of workers would change cities (although they wouldn’t necessarily move to those three metros). Even under a less drastic scenario, in which 20% of US workers were able to move, GDP would be 6.5% higher. Fewer people would live in places like Detroit, Phoenix, or Atlanta, but those who remained would earn higher wages. And, of course, the likely reduction in sprawl would help address local air pollution, global warming, and habitat loss.

Rodrigue suggests how the implications of this work should be applied in the DC region:

Read more…


Today’s Headlines

  • NYPD: No Charges for Driver Who Backed Into Crosswalk and Killed Lee Strong, 83 (Gothamist, DNA)
  • George Mamales, 85, Succumbs to Injuries Inflicted by Truck Driver on West End Ave (WSR)
  • Hit-and-Run Truck Driver Severely Injures Cyclist in Midtown; Victim Could Lose Leg (Gothamist)
  • Preet Nets Cuomo Insider Joe Percoco (NYTPolitico); Politico Compares Cuomo, Christie Scandals
  • Port Authority Has Five PABT Designs It Probably Won’t Use (Crain’s, AMNY, PoliticoPost)
  • Sandy Repairs Could Affect PATH Service for Eight Years (PIX)
  • Port Authority Plan for LaGuardia Gridlock Is Another Gridlocked Lane (Post)
  • DNA Reporter Leslie Albrecht’s Story on Park Slope Bike Corral Is Shameless Bikelash Clickbait
  • De Blasio Considering Canarsie Ferry Stop (Bklyn Daily)
  • TA and Gothamist Launch 14th Street Redesign Contest — Here’s What Not to Do
  • Hit-and-Run Driver Strikes Midtown TEA; ABCMetro: NYPD Unsure If Accident Was an Accident
  • Damn Citi Bike (GothamistAdvance)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA


Let’s Get Real: Cars Are Not the Answer to the L Shutdown

Today the Daily News published an op-ed from autonomous car consultants Levi Tillemann and Colin McCormick, who proposed that NYC rush to establish an elaborate — and subsidized — driverless taxi system to help move people when the L train tube under the East River shuts down for Sandy-related repairs.

Seriously! Here it is:

Vehicles would pick up and drop off riders in designated neighborhoods in Brooklyn and take them to and from mass transit hubs in Manhattan. Autonomous taxis would also be used for transportation within the borough.

This is so bizarre it’s hard to take seriously. “The whole thing is incoherent,” tweeted Nicole Gelinas of the Manhattan Institute. “We have a problem now, so we should use a nonexistent technology to fix it.”

Today’s op-ed comes a few weeks after Uber floated a proposal to suspend taxi regulations so anyone with an empty seat in his or her car could play cab driver. “With enough participation, we could significantly reduce the 11,000 vehicles traveling over Williamsburg bridge and carve out space for BRT,” said Uber manager Josh Mohrer.

The priorities are all wrong there — the key is to carve out space for buses no matter what. “Uber may be a lobbying whiz,” responded analyst Charles Komanoff in Newsweek, “but its proposal marks it as a transportation amateur.”

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Will US DOT’s Self-Driving Car Rules Make Streets Safe for Walking and Biking?

This week, U.S. DOT released guidelines for self-driving cars, a significant step as regulators prepare for companies to bring this new technology to market. Autonomous vehicles raise all sorts of questions about urban transportation systems. It’s up to advocates to ensure that the technology helps accomplish broader goals like safer streets and more efficient use of urban space, instead of letting private companies dictate the terms.

Photo: Wikipedia

Photo: Wikipedia

The rules that the feds put out will be revised over time, and the public can weigh in during that process. With that in mind, I’ve been reviewing the guidelines and talking to experts about the implications for city streets — and especially for pedestrian and cyclist safety. Here are a few key things to consider as regulations for self-driving cars get fleshed out.

Fully autonomous cars can’t break traffic laws.

The feds say self-driving cars should adhere to all traffic laws. In practice, this means they’ll have to do things like obey the speed limit and yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Following the rules may be a pretty low bar to clear, but it’s more than most human drivers can say for themselves.

Transit advocate Ben Ross points out, however, that this standard will only apply to “highly automated vehicles” (HAVs). Cars that are lower down on the autonomy spectrum — where a person is deemed the driver, not a machine — wouldn’t need to have features that override human error.

Read more…

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NYC Buses: Time for a Turnaround

New Yorkers take 2.5 million rides on the city’s buses every day. While NYC’s buses provide essential transit, especially in areas beyond the reach of the subway, they are among the nation’s slowest and least reliable.

Now a coalition of transit advocates are promoting practical strategies to improve the performance of NYC buses systemwide.

Transit advocates knew something was wrong when they observed declining bus ridership despite increasing population, a growing economy, and record-high subway ridership. To figure out what could be done about it, they spoke to industry experts and researched successful efforts in peer cities to identify common sense solutions to NYC’s bus problems. This research is summarized in their report “Turnaround: Fixing New York City’s Buses”.

The bus system faces big challenges, but these challenges have clear, proven solutions. By transforming how riders get on and off the bus, designing streets to prioritize buses, adopting better methods to keep buses on schedule, and redesigning the bus network and routes, policy makers in city government and the MTA can turn around the decline of the city’s buses and attract riders back to the system.

We’ll get to see how serious public officials are about tackling these problems on October 6, when the City Council transportation committee holds an oversight hearing on how to improve the quality of NYC bus service.

This Streetfilm was produced in partnership with TransitCenter, the second in a series of four films examining transit in American cities. If you enjoyed this one, check out the first film, “High Frequency: Why Houston is Back on the Bus.”