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Portland’s Long-Awaited Bike-Share System Gets Off to an Impressive Start

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and his wife, Nancy, lead a celebratory bike ride over the car-free Tilikum Bride at the launch of Portland's Biketown bike share yesterday. Photo: Jonathan Maus

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and his wife, Nancy, lead a celebratory bike ride over the car-free Tilikum Crossing at the launch of Portland’s Biketown bike-share system. Photo: Jonathan Maus

Tuesday was a very exciting day in Portland, as the city celebrated the launch of its long-awaited bike-share system, Biketown. The network makes 1,000 bikes available in an eight-square mile area of the city.

Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland shot these photos of the opening festivities and crunched some numbers from the first 24 hours of service. While it’s too early to fully assess the system, with about 2.3 daily trips per bike immediately after launch, Portland is off to a good start, he writes:

According to numbers released by Biketown’s operator Motivate Inc. today (at our request), there have been 2,366 trips taken on the system since it was launched yesterday at 11:30 am…

It’s still very early and the numbers will get more useful once we’ve got a full month of data — but we can’t resist doing a bit of comparison.

So far Portland’s bikes get more rides per day than the ones in Minneapolis’ Nice Ride system got after five years in service. Nice ride, which has much lower station density than Portland, got 1.6 trips per bike per day on average in 2014 (source: NACTO). On the other end of the scale, Chicago’s Divvy bike share system and Citi Bike in New York City got 3.8 and 5.2 trips per bike in that year, respectively.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • No Subway Service as NYPD Standoff With “Disturbed” Man Shuts Columbus Circle (NewsAMNY, NY1)
  • Nadler and Other Pols Say Port Authority Is Rushing Bus Terminal Plan (Politico)
  • More Coverage of Advocates’ and Electeds’ Call to Fix City Buses: Politico, DNAAMNY, NY1
  • Cop Who Killed Andrew Esquivel Fired (DNA); Bratton: Drunk Driving “Not a Problem” at NYPD (NYT)
  • Related: How Often Does the State Liquor Authority Get Involved in DWI Investigations? (DNA)
  • As NYPD Focuses on Deadly Driving Behavior, NY1 Asks: Who’s Policing Scofflaw Cyclists?
  • Unlicensed Driver Arrested After Striking Pedestrian, Reportedly a Child, in Stapleton (Advance)
  • People Can’t Figure Out How to Get to LaGuardia Without Driving Themselves (CBS)
  • Staten Island Ferry Commuters Fighting Each Other to Charge Their Phones (NYT, Advance)
  • Citi Bike Is Expanding in Jersey City (Journal)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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America’s Sorriest Bus Stop: San Francisco vs. Hillsboro, Oregon

Oh, the terrible places you’ll go to catch a bus. So far this week in our hunt for the Sorriest Bus Stop in America, a bus stop in Boston knocked off a real catastrophe in Nassau County to advance to the second round. Meanwhile, voting remains open until midnight in a tight contest between Maryland and Delaware.

Help narrow the field of 16 dangerous, uncomfortable bus stops down to eight by voting on these two West Coast competitors.

Hillsboro, Oregon

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 1.46.46 PM

This sad space comes to us from Sameer Moudgil. People really do wait for the bus here — notice the human being on the left side of the Google Street View. Moudgil writes:

It has no bench, no shelter, no sidewalk and no crosswalk access within 0.3 miles. It sits sandwiched between the edge of a 50mph 7-lane stroad (including 2 bike lanes) and a heavy railroad track. The cherry on the cake is the Ford car/truck dealership on the other side of the stroad. I wanted to get a better angle from near the bus-stop but I couldn’t muster up the courage to cross this freeway-like behemoth. I wonder how the lady in the Google street view image managed to do it.

Here’s an alternate view that better captures the atmosphere:

Read more…

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It’s Time to Think Big to Turn Around Lousy Bus Service in NYC

 Image: TransitCenter

Bus ridership has dropped 16 percent in NYC since 2002, even as population and subway ridership have increased. Image: TransitCenter

Bus service in New York is getting worse and losing riders, and unless policy makers step in and make systemwide improvements, those trends may accelerate in a vicious cycle. New York can turn things around, advocates say, with a suite of policies to get buses moving quickly and reliably again.

Today a coalition of transit advocates unveiled their blueprint to fix the city’s surface transit system and win riders back over. The solutions they propose in “Turnaround: Fixing New York City’s Buses,” a new report from TransitCenter, are broad and thorough but eminently achievable — rethinking the bus network, modernizing fare technology and dispatching, and expanding street design features that have already sped service on a handful of routes to improve routes all over the city.

The poor state of bus service in New York amounts to a crisis, said Riders Alliance Executive Director John Raskin. With an average weekday speed of 7.4 mph, New York’s buses are among the slowest in the nation, and they’re getting slower. Making matters worse is the lack of reliability — traffic congestion, lengthy routes, and shoddy dispatching often cause long gaps in service as buses bunch up in clusters of two or more vehicles.

It’s no wonder that bus ridership in New York has steadily declined even as population and jobs have increased.

TransitCenter’s report touches on a number of ways the MTA and NYC DOT should improve bus speeds and reliability while redesigning routes to reflect current rider needs, including:

Read more…

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Report: As Cities Add Bike Lanes, More People Bike and Biking Gets Safer

safety_in_number_charts

Cities adding bike infrastructure are seeing a “safety in numbers” — more people on bikes plus lower risk of severe or fatal injury. Graphs: NACTO

The more people bike on the streets, the safer the streets are for everyone who bikes. This phenomenon, originally identified by researcher Peter Jacobsen, is known as “safety in numbers.” And that’s exactly what American cities are seeing as they add bike infrastructure — more cyclists and safer cycling — according to a new report from the National Association of City Transportation Officials [PDF].

The report is part of NACTO’s research series on implementing equitable bike-share systems. NACTO makes the case that large-scale bike-share systems can improve access to jobs in low-income communities by extending the reach of bus and rail lines, and — citing the safety-in-numbers evidence — that good bike lanes have to be part of the solution. Otherwise dangerous street conditions will continue to discourage people from biking.

NACTO tracked changes in bike commuting, bike lane miles, and cyclist fatalities and severe injuries in seven U.S. cities that have added protected bike lanes and bike-share systems over the past decade or so. In all seven cities, cycling has grown along with the bike network, while the risk of severe injury or death while cycling has declined.

In five of the cities — Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, and Portland — the absolute number of cycling deaths and severe injuries fell between 2007 and 2014, even as cycling rose substantially. In the two other cities — San Francisco and Washington, D.C. — deaths and serious injuries increased somewhat, but not as much as the increase in bicycle commuting.

New York City, for example, has added about 54 miles of bike lanes per year since 2007. Chicago has added about 27 miles per year since 2011. Over that time the risk of severe injury or death while cycling has decreased by about half, NACTO reports.

Read more…

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Cy Vance Wins Murder Conviction for East Village Sidewalk Killing

Shaun Martin killed Mohammed Akkas Ali and injured three other people when he sped onto an East Village sidewalk in 2013. Image: WNBC

Shaun Martin killed Mohammed Akkas Ali and injured three other people when he sped onto an East Village sidewalk in 2013. Image: WNBC

A driver who killed a man and injured two others on a Manhattan sidewalk was convicted of murder, District Attorney Cy Vance announced today.

Mohammed Akkas Ali. Photo via Daily News

Mohammed Akkas Ali. Photo via Daily News

Shaun Martin, who reportedly had a history of drunk driving, was high on PCP and methamphetamine when he tore through the East Village in a Nissan sedan at speeds exceeding 50 miles per hour on the morning of June 19, 2013, according to a Vance press release.

Martin drove onto the sidewalk at Second Avenue and Fourth Street, hitting a fire hydrant, a pay phone, a muni-meter, and a tree before striking Mohammed Akkas Ali and two other people who were working outside a corner grocery store.

Ali, 62, died from injuries sustained in the crash. His two coworkers were “seriously injured,” according to Vance. A fourth victim, a man on a bike, was injured by crash debris.

Vance charged Martin with second-degree murder and a number of other felonies, including two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, two counts of assault, four counts of aggravated vehicular assault, one count of reckless endangerment, and two counts of driving while ability impaired. Judge Melissa Jackson convicted Martin of all charges this week, following a bench trial, Vance’s office said.

Said Vance in a statement:

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Seattle’s New Park-and-Rides Cost a Fortune But Won’t Move Many People

Seattle area voters will vote this November on a $53 billion transit expansion package. But along with new light rail lines stretching across the region, Seattle will also be getting a publicly owned parking empire.

In total, the plan calls for $661 million in spending on parking at transit stations. At an astounding $80,000 per stall, that will fund 8,300 parking spots.

Zach Shaner at Seattle Transit Blog notes that with 18,000 parking spaces already operated or planned by Sound Transit, the system will have about 26,000 stalls when complete. He set out to visualize all that parking and created this excellent map:

Seattle's $53 billion light rail expansion plan also calls for a new ? of parking. Map: Zach Shaner, Seattle Transit Blog.

So many resources devoted to parking spaces that will serve such a small fraction of potential transit ridership. Map: Zach Shaner/Seattle Transit Blog

Despite all the space and money these parking spaces will consume, Shaner writes, they won’t serve a large share of light rail riders, because “parking fundamentally can’t scale”:

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Today’s Headlines

  • What Can Be Done to Fix New York’s Ailing Bus System? (Politico)
  • Crane Collapse Shuts Tappan Zee, Cuomo Takes Control of Scene (NYT, Journal News, AMNY)
  • NYPD Announces Next “Safe Passage” Ticket Blitz; Bratton: We All Have a Role to Play (AMNY)
  • DOT Will Begin Work on Jay Street Protected Bike Lanes This Month (DNA)
  • Plaza 33 May Not Be Back for Good (MTR)
  • Transit Advocates: Landmarking Park Ave Building Could Impede Grand Central Improvements (News)
  • Richard Brown Will Appeal Judge Gia Morris’s Right of Way Law Ruling (DNA)
  • Ozone Park Speeding Hit-and-Run Killer Arrested, Charged With Manslaughter (Post, News)
  • NYPD Disciplines Cops Whose Drinking Buddy Killed Andrew Esquivel (Post)
  • All You Need to Wreak Havoc With a Motor Vehicle Is Access to the Keys (DNA, Advance)
  • No One Minding the Store in New Jersey (NYT 1, 2)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Wider Sidewalks Coming to Flushing’s Crowded Main Street

Pedestrians crossing Roosevelt Avenue at Main Street, the location of the Flushing-Main Street subway station, at around noon today. Photo: David Meyer

Foot traffic on Roosevelt Avenue at Main Street, the location of the Flushing-Main Street subway station, at around noon today. Photo: David Meyer

Main Street in Flushing gets more foot traffic than anywhere else in New York after Times Square, but its sidewalks are too narrow to handle all those people. So later this month, the city will begin expanding the sidewalks on four blocks of Main Street, Council Member Peter Koo, DOT, and the Department of Design and Construction announced this afternoon.

Set to begin next Monday, the project will also add a one-block bus lane and high-visibility crosswalks, part of a bottom-up reconstruction of Main Street between 37th Avenue and 40th Road.

This section of Main Street is located at the convergence of the 7 train, the Long Island Railroad, 13 MTA bus routes, and many private bus lines. At any given point in the day, the sidewalks are overflowing with commuters and shoppers, 83 percent of whom arrive by foot or transit, according to DOT.

Council Member Peter Koo (center) spoke this afternoon alongside DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora and DOT Queens Commissioner Nicole Garcia. Photo: David Meyer

Council Member Peter Koo (center) with DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora and DOT Queens Commissioner Nicole Garcia. Photo: David Meyer

Downtown Flushing’s streets are designed primarily to move motor vehicles, however, and people walking on Main Street have to contend with heavy car traffic. In 2015 alone, 28 pedestrians were injured and two were killed along the .9-mile stretch of Main Street between Northern Boulevard and Elder Avenue, according to Vision Zero View.

The $7.8 million reconstruction project will add between two and eight feet of sidewalk space, depending on the location, building on a 2011 project that used paint and flexible bollards to narrow the roadway and expand space for pedestrians. That project led to an 11 percent decline in traffic injuries, according to DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia. Casting the wider sidewalks in concrete, she said, will “deliver on Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero goals.”

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America’s Sorriest Bus Stop: Silver Spring vs. New Castle

From the pathetic to the desolate, our parade of sorry bus stops continues today with the fourth match of the first round in this 16-bus-stop tournament.

Two Mid-Atlantic competitors, each bad in its own special way, face off today.

Silver Spring, Maryland

awful bus stop

This bus stop comes to us from Dan Reed, who writes:

This one is on a busy state highway in Silver Spring, Maryland, immediately north of Washington, DC.

Metrobus (which serves this stop) should get props for having great service – buses come every few minutes during rush hour, and service runs 22 hours a day, 7 days a week. That is, if you can actually get to this bus stop, and we’ve got the Maryland State Highway Administration to blame for it. There are no sidewalks leading to it. It’s at an intersection, but there’s no crosswalk and no stoplight. And, of course, there’s a steep hill next to it. I’ve lived here my entire life and I’ve only ever seen one person waiting for the bus here. I’m pretty sure they were dropped from a plane or something.

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