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Study: Drivers Much More Likely to Yield to Pedestrians on 20 MPH Streets

At nine intersections in Boston, drivers were more likely to yield as their speeds were progressively slower. Image: Transportation Research Board

Drivers on slower streets in Boston were more likely to yield to pedestrians at unsignalized crosswalks. Image: Transportation Research Board

On streets where people drive fast, they are much less inclined to yield for pedestrians at unsignalized crosswalks, according to a new study published by the Transportation Research Board.

Chris McCahill at the State Smart Transportation Initiative explains the research:

The study, conducted in Boston, reveals that drivers are nearly four times more likely to yield for pedestrians at travel speeds around 20 miles per hour than at 40 mph.

The researchers observed 100 attempted crossings at each of nine marked crosswalks. All but one of the sites were two-lane streets, most had on-street parking, and most were in residential areas. Three of the streets also had commercial uses.

The sites were divided into three groups based on their 85th-percentile speeds. At 20 mph, roughly 75 percent of drivers slowed enough to let pedestrians cross. That rate dropped to around 40 percent at 30 mph and less than 20 percent as speeds approached 40 mph. The researchers also found that for eight of the sites (excluding the only four-lane street), travel speeds explained 99 percent of the variation in yield rates.

Lead author Tom Bertulis told SSTI the findings bolster the case for creating a more pedestrian-friendly environment by engineering streets for slower speeds, instead of just adding traffic signals or stop signs:

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • PlaNYC Renamed OneNYC (NYT, Capital 1, 2); City Hall Asks for Utica Ave Subway (Capital)
  • Charlie Rangel Wants to Allow MTA Bus Drivers to Hit People Who Have the Right of Way (News)
  • Hit-and-Run Driver Kills Sidney Ramsarup, 35, Near Her Canarsie Home (Post, News, WCBS, WNBC)
  • NYC’s Parking Meter Policies Have Fallen Behind Other U.S. Cities (Crain’s)
  • Ydanis Rodriguez Joins Group Seeking Taxi Industry Bailout (Observer)
  • Brooklyn BP Eric Adams Puts Up $1 Million to Build Five Sidewalk Extensions (WCBS)
  • Tri-State Has a Design Suggestion for Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn (MTR)
  • Off-Duty DSNY Worker Charged With Wrong-Way DWI With Drugs, Child in Car (Post, DNA, WCBS)
  • Pedestrian Injured on Victory Boulevard Near Clove Road (Advance)
  • Subway Ridership Crunch Shows Obvious Need for Capital Investment (2nd Ave Sagas)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Eyes on the Street: State DOT Squeezes Van Cortlandt Park Greenway

Car drivers get two spacious lanes on the left. Golf carts get a full lane on the right. In between, cyclists and pedestrians get squeezed into a four-foot-wide path thanks to the state DOT. Photo: Urban Residue

Car drivers get two spacious lanes on the left. Golf carts get a full lane on the right. In between, cyclists and pedestrians get squeezed into a four-foot-wide path thanks to the state DOT. Photo: Urban Residue

The walls are closing in on people who walk or bike on the Van Cortlandt Park greenway in the Bronx. A state Department of Transportation highway construction project has narrowed the shared bicycle and pedestrian path to just four feet, while leaving adjacent car lanes and a golf cart path almost entirely untouched.

The cause of the greenway pinch point is the $27.8 million reconstruction of the Major Deegan Expressway bridge above Mosholu Parkway, which began in May 2014 and isn’t expected to be complete until spring 2017, according to state DOT [PDF].

The golf cart path adjacent to the greenway was narrowed slightly, but remains wide enough to accommodate larger maintenance vehicles, state DOT says. The greenway path, however, narrows immediately after southbound cyclists descend a curved incline. The space that used to be for biking is now a staging area for construction vehicles.

“Temporarily reducing the widths and alignments of both the golf path and pedestrian walkway is necessary to safely reconstruct the south bridge abutment,” said state DOT spokesperson Diane Park. “Throughout the three-year project, access to the pedestrian walkway will be maintained.”

There's about as much space dedicated to storing Jersey barriers as there is to the safe passage of cyclists and pedestrians. Photo: Urban Residue/Twitter

There’s about as much space dedicated to storing Jersey barriers as there is to people walking and biking. Photo: Urban Residue/Twitter

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Streetsblog USA
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Minneapolis Sets Out to Build 30 Miles of Protected Bike Lanes By 2020

Minneapolis is planning to construct 30 miles of protected bike lanes over the next 5 years. Image: City of Minneapolis

Minneapolis is planning to construct 48 miles of protected bike lanes over the next 10 years. Click to enlarge. Map: City of Minneapolis

Minneapolis is one of the best cities for biking in the U.S., and it wants to get better. Last week the city released a plan to build 30 miles of protected bike lanes over the next five years and a total of 48 over 10 years.

Minneapolis has an expansive, widely used trail system, and its 4.5 percent bike commute mode-share is second among major American cities, after Portland, Oregon. Still, it currently has fewer than two miles of on-street protected bike lanes.

“Biking is part of our identity. It’s part of what makes Minneapolis a great place to live and protected bike lanes are the next step forward,” said Ethan Fawley, director of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition. “It’s investments in quality of life, it’s investment in health and access that helps attract people here.”

The 30-mile plan is expected to cost about $6 million, with funding coming from city, county, and federal budgets. Minneapolis will also save money by folding bike lane construction into regularly scheduled road resurfacing projects, according to the Star Tribune. The paper notes the entire plan will cost less than building a single mile of roadway.

The city has tentatively identified 19 corridors that will get protected bike lanes. About half are in downtown or the University of Minnesota area. The other half are in outlying neighborhoods that aren’t currently well-served by bike infrastructure, said Fawley.

Fawley says the plan will undergo a public comment period but he doesn’t expect there to be much resistance or major changes. The city had hoped to install 8 miles of protected bike lanes this year, but it doesn’t look like it will quite reach that goal, due to some construction delays.

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Gale Brewer Reappoints Safe Streets Foes to Manhattan Community Boards

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer has reappointed a slate of community board members with a long history of opposing safer streets and better transit.

Brewer announced her 2015 board appointments on Monday. Among those granted another two-year term was Community Board 7’s Dan Zweig. Zweig was recommended by Council Member Helen Rosenthal and reappointed by Brewer despite protests by neighborhood residents and traffic violence victims all-too-familiar with his hostility toward projects that would save lives and reduce injuries on Upper West Side streets. Zweig’s reappointment will complicate efforts to install a protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue, which Rosenthal has said she supports.

Gale Brewer tells traffic violence victims how nasty they are for urging her to remove street safety obstructionists from community boards. Photo: Stephen Miller

Gale Brewer told street safety advocates they were “nasty” for urging her to remove obstructionists from Manhattan community boards. Photo: Stephen Miller

Community board votes are supposed to be advisory, but in practice, if a board opposes a street redesign, nine times out of ten DOT will water it down to the board’s satisfaction or withdraw the project altogether. Board member objections usually center on perceived impediments to driving and parking.

Hostile community boards are a huge obstacle to Vision Zero. Yet Brewer said last year she would not remove board members who oppose transit and street safety improvements. Through two rounds of appointments she has stayed true to her word.

Led by chair Henrietta Lyle, Harlem’s CB 10 has held up bus lanes on 125th Street and delayed safety fixes on streets including Morningside Avenue and Lenox Avenue. Lyle has dismissed census data showing that most Harlem households are car-free, and complained to Streetsblog that “empty” bus lanes on 125h Street slow her cab rides to the subway. Lyle was nominated this year by Council Member Inez Dickens and reappointed by Brewer. Brewer also reappointed CB 10’s Barbara Nelson, who opposes road diets and almost single-handedly stalled a plaza proposed by Harlem neighborhood groups.

Ted Kovaleff marshaled a CB 9 transportation committee vote against a road diet for Riverside Drive and pedestrian islands for W. 120th Street. The decision was based in part on Kovaleff’s belief that Riverside should remain conducive to speeding because traffic congestion used to interfere with his weekend car trips to Vermont. Brewer reappointed Kovaleff to CB 9.

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Will City Hall and DOT Finally Commit to Car-Free Parks This Summer?

Photo: Stephen Miller

The city’s most crowded parks double as shortcuts for taxis and black cars. More than 100,000 New Yorkers have signed petitions asking City Hall to make the park loops car-free. Photo: Stephen Miller

Spring is here, and that means the loops in Central Park and Prospect Park are increasingly crowded, with cyclists, joggers, and walkers squeezed by rush-hour traffic. Will the de Blasio administration finally make the parks car-free this summer?

Last year, DOT repeated the same partially car-free regime in Central Park that the Bloomberg administration introduced in 2013. While the loop north of 72nd Street was free of cars from June 27 to Labor Day, motor vehicle traffic was still allowed in the park south of 72nd Street during rush hours. (The car-free geography in Prospect Park did not change at all.)

Trottenberg explained at the time why she wasn’t expanding car-free hours:

“I’m hearing from a lot of folks who are interested in making both parks a lot more car-free, and I can tell you we’re working on it,” Trottenberg said, adding that traffic signal or engineering changes might be required because traffic picks up after Labor Day. “We would love to expand the program,” she said. “You just have to make sure you have a good plan to accommodate that.”

Now, the question 10 months later is: Does DOT have a plan? Last October, council members Mark Levine and Helen Rosenthal introduced Intro 499, a bill that would have forced the administration’s hand by requiring the entire Central Park loop to go car-free for three summer months, followed by a study “determining the effects, if any, of the closing of the loop drive.”

It looked like the bill was headed to a hearing at the transportation committee last week, but it was removed from the agenda after Levine tweeted out a message urging support for the bill. That could actually be a good sign: Word is that City Hall may take action without legislative prodding.

Read more…

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Pedestrian Injuries Down 61% on Fourth Avenue in Park Slope After Road Diet

DOT text. Image: DOT [PDF]

DOT will cast the Fourth Avenue road diet in concrete after impressive street safety gains. Image: DOT [PDF]

As in Sunset Park, the Fourth Avenue road diet has yielded impressive street safety dividends for Park Slope, including a 61 percent drop in pedestrian injuries. Now, DOT is moving forward with plans to cast its changes in concrete.

Between Atlantic Avenue and 15th Street, the road diet widened medians, shortened crossing distances, and trimmed the number of car lanes from three in each direction to two along most of the street (the northernmost blocks retained the same number of lanes). The changes were implemented using paint and flexible bollards.

After the redesign, pedestrian injuries on this stretch of Fourth Avenue fell 61 percent, total crashes dropped 20 percent, and crashes with injuries were reduced by 16 percent, according to DOT, which compared one year of post-implementation crash data to the prior three-year average [PDF]. The improvements were especially dramatic at 3rd Street, where crashes fell 41 percent, and at 9th Street, where they fell 59 percent.

DOT also tracked speeding after 9 p.m. on weekdays, with the prevalence of drivers traveling above 35 mph falling by about three-quarters, from 29 percent of southbound drivers before the road diet to just 7 percent after. (The drop in the citywide default speed limit from 30 to 25 mph took effect days after DOT finished collecting its data last year.)

Car traffic levels and travel times stayed mostly steady, with southbound evening volumes falling slightly and mixed results for northbound morning volumes. Pedestrian volumes also held steady.

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Tampa Cops’ “Bike Safety” Campaign Reeks of Racial Profiling

Police in Tampa appear to be using the guise of "bike safety" to stop and question low-income blacks. Photo: Tom Woodward via Flickr

Under the guise of “bike safety,” police in Tampa are stopping and searching black residents. Photo: Tom Woodward via Flickr

Over the weekend, the Tampa Bay Times blew the lid off a major police harassment story: Cops there issue more tickets to cyclists than in any other big Florida city, in the name of “bike safety,” but what their targets appear to be most guilty of is bicycling while black.

Network blog Systemic Failure flagged the Times’ investigation, calling it “beyond belief” and noting that the ticket blitz “actually made the streets more dangerous for cyclists.”

Tampa police, report Alexandra Zayas and Kameel Stanley, are out in poor neighborhoods ticketing old ladies who have the audacity to ride home from dinner with a plate of grits on their handlebars. The ticket blitz is part of a systematic harassment campaign:

Tampa Bay Times investigation has found that Tampa police are targeting poor, black neighborhoods with obscure subsections of a Florida statute that outlaws things most people have tried on a bike, like riding with no light or carrying a friend on the handlebars.

Officers use these minor violations as an excuse to stop, question and search almost anyone on wheels. The department doesn’t just condone these stops, it encourages them, pushing officers who patrol high-crime neighborhoods to do as many as possible.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • More Coverage of Escalating Subway Ridership (WSJ, NYT, WNYC, News)
  • Charges Dismissed Against Keith Wright Staffer for Interfering in DUI Arrest (Post)
  • De Blasio’s PlaNYC Update Due Tomorrow, But Will It Be Called PlaNYC? (Capital)
  • Construction Begins to Replace Crumbling Stone at Marty Markowitz’s Old Plaza Parking Spot (Eagle)
  • NJ Transit Riders Get Fare Hikes, Service Cuts as Gas Tax Remains Nation’s 2nd-Lowest (MTR, WCBS)
  • MTA to Examine Subway Ridership Impacts of Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment (Bx Times)
  • Bus Driver Caught Reading While Driving Suspended Without Pay (Post)
  • De Blasio Seeks State Law Requiring Seatbelts for Front-Seat Passengers, Minors in Taxis (News)
  • After Years of Lawsuits From Taxi Industry, News Says It’s Time to Give Up on the Taxi of Tomorrow

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Kent Avenue: A Bikeway for All Ages

While Clarence was out this weekend taping Right of Way install a memorial to victims of traffic violence, he also got this footage of the Kent Avenue bike lane in Williamsburg. Where else but a protected bike lane will you ever see so many kids biking on the street in NYC?

Not that long ago, Kent Avenue was a high-speed truck route where only the bravest souls ventured forth on a bicycle. Today it’s a low-speed neighborhood street and one of the most important bike transportation links in the city.

NYC DOT’s 2009 redesign of Kent Avenue added a two-way protected bike lane while converting motor vehicle traffic to one-way flow. For fast-growing waterfront neighborhoods that don’t have great walking access to the subway, the bikeway is a transportation lifeline.

Note that many shots in Clarence’s video show a temporary design that preserves the continuity of the bike lane and walkway on a block that’s been narrowed by construction. The whole Kent Avenue bikeway is an intermediary step on the way to a permanent Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, running from Greenpoint to Sunset Park.