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Today’s Headlines

  • De Blasio Makes the Case for His Housing Plan, Skips the Part About Parking Reform (Politico)
  • Queens CB 3 — A Rare Community Board to Vote for the Housing Plan (QChron)
  • “Sick Passenger” Subway Delays Are Up a Lot Since 2012 (NYT)
  • Cuomo Vetoes Bill Allowing Two Free Transfers Per NYC Transit Fare (Post)
  • Proposed LaGuardia Transit Fix: Make the Shuttle Bus Free (News)
  • More Coverage of CB 8’s Request for Crosstown Bike Lanes on the Upper East Side (DNA)
  • Police Issuing About 18 Speeding Tix a Day on Staten Island — That’s Actually an Increase (Advance)
  • 2 Years and Counting Since People Could Use the Sidewalk By This Stalled Building Site (Bklyn Paper)
  • Here’s a Cop Who Doesn’t Care If You Ride a Hoverboard (DNA)
  • If Just One More Driver Honks, the Traffic Will Flow Like Water (Gothamist)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA


After $11M in Repairs, Is Borough Hall Plaza a Plaza, or a Parking Lot?

This year, contractors hired by the Parks Department got to work replacing the bluestone in the plaza outside Brooklyn Borough Hall, which was busted up due in part to people — including former borough president Marty Markowitz — parking cars on it.

The $11 million project isn’t finished, but someone has already started using the new granite pavers for parking again.

“Before we know it, Borough Hall Plaza will once again be the community common space we have long come to love and treasure,” Borough President Eric Adams told the Brooklyn Eagle in April. And nothing says “community space” like personal auto storage.

The granite may hold up better than the bluestone, but is Borough Hall Plaza a plaza, or a parking lot?

We have a request in with Adams’ office about whether he intends to allow the plaza to be used for parking after the city spent millions to repair it.


Upper East Side Community Board Asks DOT for Crosstown Bike Lanes

Manhattan Community Board 8 passed a resolution Wednesday night asking DOT for crosstown bike lanes on the Upper East Side.


62nd Street approaching Second Avenue. Image: Google

Currently the only east-west pair in the neighborhood is on 90th Street and 91st Street. With biking in the neighborhood on the rise and the recent arrival of Citi Bike, it’s increasingly obvious that’s not enough.

At a “street scan” organized by Transportation Alternatives and Bike New York last month, volunteers scouted three other potential crosstown routes: 61st/62nd, 67th/68th, and 72nd Street.

The resolution passed by CB 8 (full text below) calls for fast implementation of a network of painted crosstown lanes and a long-term plan for crosstown lanes using “the safest appropriate design.” It passed 32-6 with eight abstentions.

Michelle Birnbaum, a frequent opponent of street safety measures on the board, tried to substitute a weaker resolution that didn’t specifically ask for bike lanes, but it mustered only four votes.

CB 8 Transportation Committee co-chair Scott Falk said the board has shed its reputation as a place where street redesigns don’t stand a chance. “This was not a controversial topic,” he said, “this was about safety.”

Here’s the full resolution CB 8 passed on Wednesday:

Read more…

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Richard Brown: Homicide Conviction for Driver Who Killed Betty DiBiaso

Queens DA Richard Brown secured a homicide plea from the hit-and-run driver who killed Betty DiBiaso. DiBiaso photo via GoFundMe

Queens DA Richard Brown secured a homicide plea from the hit-and-run driver who killed Betty DiBiaso. DiBiaso photo via GoFundMe

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown won a homicide conviction against a hit-and-run driver who killed a woman near Astoria Park last summer.

Betty Jean DiBiaso was leaving the park at around 12:26 a.m. on June 27 when Nicholas Colleran, 24, ran a stop sign and hit her with a Chevrolet sedan as she crossed Ditmars Boulevard at 19th Street in a marked crosswalk, according to a statement from Brown’s office. DiBiaso was 21 years old.

Colleran’s damaged car was found the same day, and he turned himself in at the 114th Precinct on June 28. “Colleran stated to police that he had consumed two beers prior to driving and had hit Ms. DiBiasio,” and “was unable to produce a valid driver’s license,” according to Brown’s office.

Yesterday Brown announced that Colleran pled guilty to criminally negligent homicide and failure to yield.

“This case is yet another example of how deadly motor vehicles can be and the consequences of ignoring traffic regulations,” Brown said in the statement. “Driving is a privilege, not a right, and extreme caution should be exercised at all times in order to prevent lives from being senselessly destroyed.”

Acting Supreme Court Justice Dorothy Chin-Brandt sentenced Colleran “to the maximum under the law — an indeterminate term of one and one-third years to four years in prison,” the statement said.

DiBiaso’s death intensified the push to get the city to calm traffic in the area of the park, with backing from City Council Member Costa Constantinides, the Astoria Park Alliance, and other citizen groups. In October Constantinides and Assembly Member Aravella Simotas hosted a public workshop to gather input on potential safety fixes.

Astoria Park is separated from the East River by Shore Boulevard, which acts as a barrier between park users and the waterfront. In August Simotas and the Alliance called on DOT to make Shore Boulevard car-free between Astoria Park South and Ditmars Boulevard. DOT rejected the car-free proposal earlier this month.
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Oregon DOT Chief Under Fire for Claiming Highways Cut Emissions

How often do state DOTs lie with numbers to justify building highways?

Oregon DOT Director Matt Garrett could lose his job for being dishonest about emissions projections. Photo: Jonathan Maus, Bike Portland

Oregon DOT Director Matt Garrett could lose his job for misleading the public about the effect of highway building on emissions. Photo: Jonathan Maus/Bike Portland

There’s so much funny math buried inside air quality formulas or traffic projections, a better question might be: Do these agencies ever tell the truth?

Here’s a case where a dishonest case for highways was flushed out into the open. David Bragdon, former chief of Portland’s regional planning organization, recently accused state DOT director Matt Garrett of “incompetence or dishonesty.” (Bragdon now directs the nonprofit TransitCenter, based in New York City.) He charged that bogus emissions data from ODOT helped sink a $350 million transportation funding deal in the state legislature.

Michael Andersen at Bike Portland explains:

Oregon Department of Transportation Director Matt Garrett is facing criticism from both sides over the incident, earlier this year, when his office and Gov. Kate Brown’s temporarily claimed that tens of millions of dollars in freeway investments would be part of reducing long-run carbon emissions in Oregon by more than 2 million metric tons.

Garrett was forced to admit in a legislative hearing that this number was way off-base. There is now a revolt against his leadership, Andersen writes:

Read more…


Today’s Headlines

  • Executive Director Pat Foye Is Leaving the Port Authority (NYT, Crain’sWSJ)
  • Bronx CBs Put Parking Before Housing; East NY and Inwood Fear Being Priced Out (NewsDNA)
  • How Did the Man Who Killed Jean Chambers Possess a Valid NY Driver’s License? (DNA)
  • DA Richard Brown: Homicide Conviction for Driver Who Killed Betty Jean DiBiaso (DNA)
  • 24th Precinct Recommends Fixes to Intersection Where Cab Driver Killed Luisa Rosario (DNA)
  • NYPD Tells People to Ride “Hoverboards” in Bike Lanes (DNA); Andy King Eyes Redundant Ban (News)
  • Drivers Injure Pedestrians: Pelham Bay (News); Manhattan Bridge (Post); Cross Bronx Expressway (News)
  • Staten Island Parents Who Ignore Driving Rules Are Putting Kids at Risk Outside Schools (Advance)
  • Historian Says NYC Has Never Figured Out How to Pay for Subways (WNYC)
  • Uh, No (Gothamist)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA


Will the Sixth Avenue Protected Bike Lane Get Done in 2016?

Image: NYC DOT

Image: NYC DOT

DOT presented a plan for a protected bike lane on 19 blocks of Sixth Avenue to the Manhattan Community Board 4 transportation committee last night. From 14th Street to 33rd Street, the design calls for carving out a six-foot bike lane and three-foot buffer protected from moving motor vehicles by a lane of parked cars [PDF].

Sixth Avenue is both very dangerous, with a high injury rate, and one of the most heavily biked streets in New York, where people bicycling already account for a significant share of traffic. So far more than 16,000 people and 160 local businesses have signed on to Transportation Alternatives’ campaign for better walking and biking infrastructure on Sixth Avenue and Fifth Avenue.

Community Board 4 has generally supported complete streets redesigns but the committee did not vote for this one, reports Janet Liff, whose volunteer work with TA has built major momentum for a safer Sixth Avenue. The major sticking points were the absence of split-phase signals at most intersections and DOT’s proposed use of painted pedestrian islands instead of raised concrete islands, she said.

Split phase signals give pedestrians and cyclists a dedicated phase with no conflicts with turning drivers. DOT’s design puts them at 14th Street and 23th Street, the intersections with the highest crash rates. The agency thinks split phases could be problematic if installed at every intersection with left-turning traffic, Liff said, since they lower the share of crossing time for pedestrians, and on a crowded street like Sixth Avenue that could create pressure for people to disregard walk signals.

Read more…


DOT: Drivers Injured 1,536 Pedestrians and Cyclists in October, and Killed 19

Nyanna Aquil, Sheniqua Silva, Louis Perez, Kristian Leka, and Shannon Lies

Nyanna Aquil, Sheniqua Silva, Louis Perez, Kristian Leka, and Shannon Lies

Twenty-five people died in New York City traffic in October, and 5,009 were injured, according to DOT’s Vision Zero View crash data map.

As of the end of October, DOT reported 113 pedestrians and cyclists killed by city motorists this year, and 12,042 injured, compared to 132 deaths and 12,267 injuries for the same period in 2014.

Citywide, at least 18 pedestrians and one cyclist were fatally struck by drivers last month. Among the victims were Mariano Contreras, Steven Turetsky, Vispi Mukajam, Shannon Lies, Meena Mahabir, Sheniqua Silva, Latiesha Ramsey, Kyler Hailey, Anna Rodriguez, Guy Ryff, Joseph Ciresi, Janet Peters, Nyanna Aquil, Louis Perez, Kristian Leka, and unidentified male and unidentified female pedestrians in Brooklyn.

Motorists killed at least one child and three seniors in October: Nyanna Aquil, 10; Joseph Ciresi, 82; and the unnamed female pedestrian in Brooklyn, who was 92.

Across the city, 1,106 pedestrians and 430 cyclists were reported hurt in collisions with motor vehicles. Per NYPD policy, few of these crashes were investigated by trained officers.

Of 15 fatal crashes on surface streets reported by Streetsblog and other outlets in October, one motorist was known to have been charged for causing a death.

Mariano Contreras was killed by a hit-and-run driver who was not immediately caught or identified. Meena Mahabir was killed, her 2-year-old niece was critically injured, and the child’s mother was hospitalized when a motorist ran a red light, collided with another vehicle, and hit the victims on a Richmond Hill sidewalk. The driver was not charged or ticketed. NYPD said “no criminality was suspected” after Sheniqua Silva was killed and two others were hurt when drivers collided and a Coca-Cola truck hit them on the sidewalk as they waited for a bus in Port Morris. A motorist hit Nyanna Aquil, Louis Perez, and Kristian Leka on a Bronx sidewalk while the victims were out trick-or-treating on Halloween. The driver was not charged. Latiesha Ramsey was pushing a laundry cart across a street in Bedford-Stuyvesant when the light changed and a truck driver hit the gas and ran her over. NYPD blamed Ramsey for the crash. Cyclist Anna Rodriguez was hit by a truck driver who was charged with manslaughter after he tested positive for cocaine. Vispi Mukajam and the unidentified 92-year-old woman were killed in Queens and Brooklyn, respectively, by drivers making turns. No charges were filed for either crash.

Historically, nearly half of motorists who kill a New York City pedestrian or cyclist do not receive so much as a citation for careless driving.

In three cases, immediately after a pedestrian was killed, police exonerated the driver by telling the press the victim was not in a crosswalk or was crossing against the signal.

Six motor vehicle occupants died in the city in October, according to DOT, and 3,473 were injured.

Streetsblog USA
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Talking Headways Podcast: Gabe Klein’s Start Up City

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Gabe Klein joins us this week to talk about how to get things done and make big changes to improve city streets and transportation. Gabe has served as the transportation chief of both Chicago and Washington, DC, and prior to his stint in government was an executive with Zipcar (he is also currently on the board of OpenPlans, the organization that publishes Streetsblog USA).

Gabe is out with a new book, Start Up City, about creating change through local government. He shares his insights about the interplay of the public and private sectors, how to push people to overcome a fear of failure, and cutting across the siloes of city departments. Gabe also talks about how he got into transportation, and why Vision Zero is a powerful idea for cities.

All of this and more (including our debate over whether a hot dog is a sandwich) on Talking Headways.


Video Shows Driver Hitting Pedestrian in Brooklyn Crosswalk. Does NYPD Care?

A driver hit a pedestrian who was crossing with the right of way in Brooklyn on Saturday, but it’s unclear if NYPD filed charges or is pursuing an investigation.

The crash happened at the intersection of Marlborough Road and Beverley Road, a signalized crossing. As shown in the above video, sent to us by reader Olgierd Bilanow, the victim (on the far sidewalk, wearing light-colored clothing, at the top of the frame) was crossing Beverley when the driver of a white van struck him while turning left. FDNY has not responded to a query about injuries to the victim.

Writes Bilanow:

The pedestrian was taken by ambulance to the hospital. My security cameras recorded the incident and I showed the video to the police officers at the scene. You clearly see the pedestrian wait for the light, look for oncoming traffic, and then cross in the crosswalk. Two-thirds of the way through the van turns and knocks him over. From what I could tell the driver was allowed to leave once the police took down their report and so far the 70th Precinct has not contacted me for the footage.

Under the Right of Way Law, it is a misdemeanor for a driver to cause physical injury to a person who is walking with the right of way. But NYPD does not investigate most crashes in which pedestrians and cyclists are injured by motorists.

Because the Collision Investigation Squad was not dispatched to the scene, the NYPD public information office had no record of the crash. Attempts to reach detectives at the 70th Precinct were unsuccessful.

With NYPD showing no interest so far in video evidence that’s known to be available, this looks like another collision that won’t get much attention from police.