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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

podcast icon logo

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.
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Check Out Pittsburgh’s New Bicycle “Merge Lane”

Photo: Will Bernstein via Bike PGH

Transitions where streets suddenly change are a tricky part of bike lane design. Here’s how street designers in Pittsburgh handled the transition where a two-way bike lane ends at a T-intersection — with a “merge lane” for cyclists turning right across motor vehicle traffic.

Bike PGH is enthusiastic about the new design:

Have you had a chance to ride the two block extension of the Penn Avenue bike lane in Downtown? It ends in a great new “merge lane” that smoothly shepherds people riding their bike in the direction of Point State Park into the traffic lane marked with sharrows proceeding in that direction.

Big thanks to the City — especially the Planning and Public Works departments — for designing and putting in this great lane. We’re fans of this configuration because it’s straightforward and really well marked.

So, what do you think of the new design? The City has tried something relatively new with this one, so leave a comment with your thoughts once you’ve had a chance to ride it.

Here’s another view courtesy of Bike PGH. What do you think?

Read more…


Today’s Headlines

  • MTA Has a Surplus This Year, But Not for Long (AMNY)
  • MTA Losing Growing Chunk of Revenue Because Uber Doesn’t Pay Same Taxes as Cabs (PoliticoWSJ)
  • Motorists Killed Two People in Brooklyn Last Night (NewsPost)
  • Gin Liu, Delivery Worker Hit by Falling Tree in Red Hook, Has Died (DNA)
  • Slate Chronicles Uber’s Rise in NYC
  • WNYC Reports the Results of Its Blocked Bike Lanes Project
  • Manhattan CB 8 Endorses Crosstown Bike Lanes (@Tom DeVito)
  • Gotham Gazette Has a Long-Form Piece on Select Bus Service and BRT
  • Court of Appeals Vacancy Imminent as Jonathan Lippman Nears End of Tenure (NY Now)
  • Striking People With Cars on NYC Sidewalks Is Permitted, But Put Those Toys Away (ABC)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA


Rodriguez Backs Bill to Strengthen Legal Protections for People in Crosswalks

Momentum is building in the City Council for a bill to strengthen pedestrians’ right-of-way. Introduced by Public Advocate Tish James last week, Intro 997 picked up the support of Transportation Committee chair Ydanis Rodriguez today.

Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. Photo: NYC Council

Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. Photo: NYC Council

The bill fixes a flawed city rule that says people should not start to cross the street at any point after the pedestrian signal begins flashing red. With the proliferation of countdown signals that start flashing early in the pedestrian crossing phase, at many intersections there’s very little time for people to step off the curb before their legal right to cross expires. Police and prosecutors have cited the rule when they avoid applying the city’s Right of Way Law to drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.

Under Intro 997, the rule would state that pedestrians in the crosswalk “shall have the right of way for the duration of the flashing cycle and vehicular traffic shall yield the right of way to all such pedestrians for as long as the signal remains flashing.”

Citing the 13 people who’ve been killed while walking in New York over the past two weeks, Rodriguez said in a statement that the bill “will fix an outdated traffic law that defends drivers in the event of a pedestrian accident, even if a crosswalk signal is still counting down.”

The current rule could be amended by the de Blasio administration without legislative action, but City Hall has not acted.

In addition to James and Rodriguez, there are currently four sponsors in the City Council: Margaret Chin, Debi Rose, Peter Koo, and Costa Constantinides.

A hearing on the bill is not yet scheduled. A spokesperson for Rodriguez said the transportation committee’s agenda for the next few months is currently being formulated.

Streetsblog USA
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How Much Can Bicycling Help Fight Climate Change? A Lot, If Cities Try

A new study from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy attempts to measure the potential of bikes and e-bikes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Buenos Aires has been ambitiously building out a network of well designed, separated bike infrastructure. If this kind of commitment were employed worldwide, the environmental and financial repercussions would be enormous. Photo: ITDP

Buenos Aires has been building out a network of protected bike infrastructure. If this kind of commitment were employed in cities worldwide, the climate benefits would be huge. Photo: ITDP

ITDP’s conclusion, in short: Bicycling could help cut carbon emissions from urban transportation 11 percent.

The authors calculated the carbon emissions reduction that could result if cities around the world make a strong, sustained commitment to promoting bicycle travel.

In a scenario where 14 percent of travel in the world’s cities is by bike or e-bike in 2050, carbon emissions from urban transportation would be 11 percent lower than a scenario where efforts to promote sustainable transportation sidestep bicycling.

The ITDP scenario calls for 11 percent of urban mileage by bike by 2030 before hitting 14 percent in 2050. For many big American cities where bicycling accounts for a small share of total travel, that may sound like a high bar — and that was part of the point. The ITDP targets will require a significant public policy commitment. But the goals are achievable and aren’t as daunting as they might seem, the authors say.

Read more…


Cy Vance: Homicide Conviction for Driver Who Killed Pedestrian in Crosswalk

DA Cy Vance won a homicide conviction at trial against the driver who killed Jean Chambers while turning into a crosswalk. Jean Chambers photo via DNAinfo

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance won a homicide conviction at trial against the driver who killed Jean Chambers while turning into a crosswalk. Jean Chambers photo via DNAinfo

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance has secured a homicide conviction against the driver who killed a pedestrian in an Upper West Side crosswalk.

Jean Chambers was crossing West End Avenue at W. 95th Street at around 11 a.m. on July 10, 2014, when Roberto Mercado hit her with an SUV as he made a left turn. Court documents and DNAinfo coverage indicate Mercado struck Chambers as he cut through West End Avenue’s southbound lanes while turning northward.

“I killed her,” Mercado told police, according to court documents. “I killed her. I was going eastbound and made a left. I thought I had a flat, people were yelling and pointing. I stopped.”

Court documents say that when police asked Mercado why he was driving north in the southbound lane, he replied, “I thought I was in the right lane.”

According to court records, in December Vance charged Mercado with criminally negligent homicide, a class E felony. A jury found him guilty last week. Assistant District Attorney Michael Pasinkoff prosecuted the case.

This case and the outcome are noteworthy. District attorneys in New York City generally charge motorists who kill people with homicide only if other aggravating factors are present, such as impaired driving, hit-and-run, or a police pursuit. In this instance Vance brought a case and won a conviction at trial of a sober motorist who killed a pedestrian and remained at the scene.

“I always expected that justice would prevail,” John Chambers, the victim’s husband, told DNAinfo. “I don’t think I’ll ever put this behind me.”

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