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Today’s Headlines

  • Cuomo Continues Gubernatorial Tradition of Trying to Make the MTA Someone Else’s Problem (NYT)
  • Advocates, Budget Watchdogs Aren’t Impressed With Gov’s Transit Funding Outline (Crain’s 1, 2)
  • Daily News: Cuomo’s Wrong, Move NY Has Changed the Politics of Road Pricing in NYC
  • Northeast Corridor and Trans-Hudson Rail Tunnels Held Together With Duct Tape (NYTWNYC)
  • Chris Christie Has a Tunnel Under the Hudson He’d Like to Sell You (NYTWNYC, 2nd Ave Sagas)
  • WSJ: Citi Bike’s Upgrades Are Improving the Experience for Riders
  • More Coverage of Citi Bike Expansion (NYTDNA, News)
  • Schumer: Feds Should Accelerate Tech to Prevent Drunk Driving (News)
  • Meet the VC-Backed Companies on a Mission to Get New Yorkers to Drive Private Cars (Crain’s)
  • Uber’s Pick-Up Patterns in NYC Don’t Look That Different From Yellow Cabs (NYT)
  • Manhattan and the Bronx Celebrate the Reopened High Bridge (Gothamist)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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This Weekend: Kidical Mass Takes Upper Manhattan — and Staten Island

Photo: Ben Fried

Photo: Ben Fried

It’s Kidical Mass season, and there are two opportunities this weekend for children and adults to participate in group rides.

On Saturday, it’s Kidical Mass Uptown. The ride starts at 10 a.m. at Dorrance Brooks Square — 137th Street between St. Nicholas and Edgecombe Avenues — and will head to High Bridge Park for the opening festival of the car-free High Bridge. More details here.

Sunday’s ride begins at 9:30 a.m. on the Manhattan side of the Manhattan Bridge, then to the Staten Island Ferry for a tour of notable spots on the island. There will be bike trains headed to the meet-up spot from points in Manhattan and Brooklyn, beginning around 9:00. See the Facebook listing for a schedule.

Kidical Mass rides help young cyclists gain experience, but the group environment is also good for adults who are new to riding. Below is a short list of pointers, originally published last year.

Read more…

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Friday Job Market

Looking to hire a smart, qualified person for a position in transportation planning, engineering, IT, or advocacy? Post a listing on the Streetsblog Jobs Board and reach our national audience of dedicated readers.

Looking for a job? Here are the current listings:

Outreach and Sales Ambassadors, Citi Bike, NYC
Ambassadors will speak to and help New Yorkers, tourists, individuals and groups understand how to use Citi Bike out in the field. Citi Bike is seeking Outreach Ambassadors for the peak riding season and during expansion of the Citi Bike program. This is a temporary position.

Executive Director, Boston Cyclists Union
The Boston Cyclists Union is looking for an Executive Director to serve as a committed, passionate leader who can help take a young and dynamic organization to the next level. The ideal person is a tenacious advocate, an effective leader, a clear communicator, a proven fundraiser, and a creative problem solver with a passion for the Boston Cyclists Union mission.

Senior Planner, Strategy and Plan Development, TransLink, Vancouver, BC
The Senior Transportation Planner is accountable for providing senior transportation planning expertise and leadership to projects of medium/higher scope in support of a designated program related to transportation policy, forecasting, infrastructure / service development or engineering in an integrated, multi-modal environment.

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Hey Brian Lehrer — Traffic Congestion Is Not a Vision Zero Tactic

This morning on WNYC Brian Lehrer said he didn’t understand why Mayor de Blasio would want to penalize Uber for making traffic congestion worse, since the mayor is “causing congestion purposely” to make streets safer for walking and biking.

The speed limit is not why this is happening. Photo: @BrooklynSpoke

The speed limit is not why this is happening. Photo: @BrooklynSpoke

Here’s an excerpt:

They want to make driving in the city as unpalatable as possible so people switch to mass transit, which is more in the public interest for a host of reasons. And I tend to support that, that’s a good idea. Also the de Blasio administration has made Vision Zero a central policy — something else I support. But again the goal is to make traffic go slower, not to make it easier on cars. They’ve reduced the official speed limit too. And congestion accomplishes the same goal — that is, fewer pedestrian fatalities — by other means. Traffic means less speed, which means more pedestrian safety.

Like a lot of people who weighed in during the Uber debate, Lehrer confuses speed limits and average speeds.

Lowering the maximum speed people are allowed to drive has nothing to do with a grinding crush of cars inching along at a few miles per hour. An easy way to grasp the difference: The citywide speed limit is 25 miles per hour, while last year the average speed in the Manhattan core was 8.51 mph. Congestion is a symptom of too many motorists trying to use scarce street space at the same time, not a tactic to make drivers travel at a safe speed.

Put another way, in the early 1980s motor vehicle traffic was moving at an average speed of 9.8 mph on midtown avenues and 6.4 mph on crosstown streets. Though congestion was about the same as it is now, more than twice as many people were dying in traffic.

Lehrer also said taking cars out of Central Park was de Blasio’s way of creating congestion on the avenues. Instead of propagating tabloid-worthy conspiracy theories, we liked it better when Lehrer was calling for “bike lanes everywhere, separated from traffic.”

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Citi Bike Will Start Rolling Out 139 New Stations August 10

citibike_expansion_map

Map via Citi Bike

Hard to believe it’s only been two years since bike-share launched in New York. After a tumultuous start roiled by software bugs and the bankruptcy of a key supplier, the city’s bike-share system is finally on a more even keel and ready to expand. Today NYC DOT and Citi Bike announced a firm date when the next batch of stations will begin to roll out: August 10.

The expansion zones will be getting 139 new bike-share stations this year, the first phase in what will add up to at least 375 new stations by the end of 2017. Right now the system has 332 stations, so it’s about to grow 40 percent.

Here are the numbers from Citi Bike about which neighborhoods are getting how many stations in 2015:

  • Queens: Long Island City, 12 stations
  • Brooklyn: Bed Stuy, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, 79 new stations
  • Manhattan: Upper East and West Sides to 86th Street, 48 new stations

One fly in the ointment — and it’s a big one — NYC DOT is planning to spread out the new stations too thinly. If DOT and Motivate don’t figure out a plan to maintain a sufficient density of stations as the system grows, bike-share won’t be as reliable as it should be in the expansion zones, and that will spell trouble for the whole system.

Hopefully DOT will work out a better plan, because the growth of bike-share is great news, and the system needs to stay reliable to keep on growing.

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Developers Adding More Parking Than They’re Supposed To, Thanks to DCP

For years, the City Planning Commission approved special permits that let developers in Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea get around limits on parking construction in the Manhattan core. Recently, the city implemented a new formula that reformers hoped would curtail these permits. But Community Board 4, Council Member Corey Johnson, and Borough President Gale Brewer say the city’s math is flawed, resulting in too much new parking. They’re asking the Department of City Planning to come up with a better measuring stick.

The city's rules allow buildings like this to exceed Manhattan parking regulations. Rendering: Related Companies and Zaha Hadid Architects

Luxury condos are securing exemptions to the Manhattan parking cap established in response to the Clean Air Act. Rendering: Related Companies and Zaha Hadid Architects

Since 1982, new buildings south of West 110th Street and East 96th Street have been subject to parking maximums established in response to the Clean Air Act.

But in practice, the city allows exceptions. If developers want to build more parking than allowed, they can apply for a special permit. For a long time, the city reflexively granted these permits for new buildings on the West Side, leading to the addition of thousands of parking spaces that otherwise wouldn’t have been built.

Then the city revised its Manhattan parking regulations in 2013, with DCP issuing new guidelines for developers looking for exemptions from parking maximums [PDF]. Has the new policy made a difference? Apparently not.

The city now requires developers seeking special permits to measure trends in the area over the past decade, by calculating changes in the number of residences and parking spaces within one-third of a mile of the project. Echoing the parking maximums in the law, DCP aims for there to be 20 percent as many new parking spaces as there are new apartments south of 59th Street. On the Upper East Side and Upper West Side, the ratio is 35 percent.

If the extra spaces being requested push that ratio above the target, it’s likely the permit will be denied. If the ratio stays below the target, the city is likely to approve the permit.

It sounds scientific, but by only looking at new development and new parking, DCP rigs the game.

For years, neighborhoods like Hell’s Kitchen and West Chelsea had lots of extra parking but little new residential development. In the past decade, that’s changed. As a result, City Planning’s numbers show the number of new apartments far outpacing the supply of new parking spaces. This opens the door for lots of special permits to get the parking ratio up to the department’s 20 percent target, but ignores the fact that the neighborhood had lots of parking to begin with.

“They are missing a very fundamental element of the calculation,” said CB 4 Chair Christine Berthet. “It’s broken. It clearly doesn’t work.”

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
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Expanding Toronto Bike Share Aims to Bridge the Last Kilometre

Promising news today from Toronto.

Todd Harrison at Spacing Toronto says the city’s bike-share system is expanding thanks to an infusion of funds from Ontario. The best part: Docking stations will be sited near transit stops to bridge “the first and last kilometres.”

Photo: Spacing Toronto

Photo: Spacing Toronto

Harrison sees the move as an indication that Bike Share Toronto will, for the first time, position itself as a service for commuters.

At the program’s outset, many stations were placed seemingly to benefit tourists. Later, then-owner Bixi ran an ad campaign that pitched bike sharing as way to hop from one social destination to another — which always struck me as only slightly better than the cycling strategy Rob Ford published in 2010, which depicted cycling as a purely trail-based recreational activity. There are many possible reasons why Bike Share Toronto is marketed in this manner. Perhaps the Toronto Parking Authority, like the program’s previous administrator, figures that anyone who wants to commute to work on a bike is already doing so. It might also be the limited range of the network, or the fact that commuters’ unidirectional nature would create bike-distribution hassles.

Yet despite all this, many Bike Share Toronto members use the system to get to and from work — often in combination with public transit. If this is indeed the kind of user Metrolinx and the City intend to attract by putting more bikes outside of subway stations, their way forward is clear: Think of bike sharing as an inexpensive, modular, smaller-scale version of the downtown relief line, and act accordingly.

Harrison points out that the expansion must be supported with bike infrastructure and smart marketing. If done right, he says, the system could help reduce transit overcrowding. “Toronto’s program has a wealth of untapped potential,” he writes.

Elsewhere on the Network: Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space lists the must-haves for a safer, more sustainable city; Greater Greater Washington says DC may be in for a serious housing shortage; and Washington Bikes examines what will be lost of Governor Jay Inslee eliminates street safety funding.

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Today’s Headlines

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Mark Your Calendars: Summer Streets Returns in August

Another summer, another edition of Summer Streets.

For the eighth year, New York’s spin on Ciclovia is coming to nearly seven miles of streets on Manhattan’s east side. For three Saturdays in August — the 1st, 8th and 15th — Park Avenue, Lafayette Street, and a portion of 72nd Street between Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge are going car-free between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Each year Summer Streets has something new as the main attraction. This time, New Yorkers will be able to ride a tube down “Slide the City,” which in a promotional video looks like a large, multi-block Slip ‘N Slide. It will be installed at Foley Square — but be warned, walk-ups are not allowed. Participants must register online in advance.

Another new addition this year: a dog run and agility course at Astor Place sponsored by the American Kennel Club. Dogs not your thing? Maybe try riding a handcycle, also at Astor Place. Activities returning from previous years include a zip line and parkour workshops.

The theme this year is “accessibility.” “Whether you want to slide on water, bike, run, play soccer, take a self-guided architectural tour or play with your dog, our streets are an accessible and fun place for city residents and visitors of all ages to enjoy those activities,” Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said in a press release.

Since launching on three Saturdays in 2008, Summer Streets has not expanded to cover more streets or hours of the day. A major factor is the police presence required by NYPD. At last year’s Summer Streets announcement, Trottenberg said that cost limits the city’s ability to expand the event.

Looking for more car-free summer fun? Bronxites might also want to check out Boogie on the Boulevard, organized in part by the Bronx Museum. The event turns the center lanes of the Grand Concourse between 161st and 167th streets into car-free spaces featuring music and other programs from noon to 4 p.m. on the first three Sundays of August.

Streetsblog USA
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Senate Transpo Bill Sinks Under the Weight of Its Own Chicanery

Last night, the Senate voted to proceed with the consideration of the transportation bill Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democrat Barbara Boxer had worked out. It was just a day after the body had voted to block progress, objecting that they hadn’t had time to even look at the bill.

The policy elements of the bill are largely untouched from what we’ve already seen: the Environment and Public Works Committee’s DRIVE Act and the Commerce Committee’s section on rail and safety. Much of that was largely untouched from MAP-21.

A threat to eliminate TIGER was eliminated. A new formula-based multi-modal freight program is included. Some good language on Complete Streets appears to be gone. Advocates will feel better when the transit section gets fleshed out, and the Banking Committee is still MIA. This bill just doesn’t include earth-shaking policy changes.

But truly, the uproar over it has never been about policy. It’s all about funding. You know this because you haven’t been living under a rock for the last five years.

Because of the unreasonable and unyielding refusal on the part of just about everyone in the Washington political machinery to raise the gas tax, they’re left with a grab-bag of gimmicky pay-fors, or offsets, taken from other pieces of government programs. Here is the sad summary:

Image: ##http://crfb.org/blogs/senate-transportation-bill-finds-offsets-three-years-funding##CFRB##

Table: CFRB

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