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Cuomo’s DMV: No Rhyme or Reason Guiding Penalties for Deadly Motorists

New Yorkers call for DMV reforms at a January 2015 vigil for Allison Liao, who was killed by a reckless driver in Queens. Photo: Anna Zivarts/Flickr

New Yorkers call for DMV reforms at a January 2015 vigil for Allison Liao, who was killed by a reckless driver in Queens. Photo: Anna Zivarts/Flickr

When a motorist with a New York drivers license is involved in a fatal crash, the Department of Motor Vehicles may hold a hearing to determine whether that person should maintain his or her driving privileges. In practice, these DMV hearings have been wildly inconsistent and often result in zero consequences for deadly motorists. Over the last few years, advocates have called for standardized practices from DMV to suspend or revoke the licenses of drivers whose recklessness behind the wheel leads to serious injury or death.

But a review of recent hearings after fatal crashes reveals no apparent rhyme or reason to the penalties for deadly driving meted out by DMV.

Currently there are 39 cases on the DMV site involving drivers who were identified by NYPD or the media as having fatally struck a New York City pedestrian or cyclist, of which 34 have been resolved. (This probably undercounts the number of such cases, but NYPD shields the names of drivers who kill people unless charges are filed, so in many instances there’s no way for the public to link a driver to a specific crash. The DMV also doesn’t publish victims’ names, making a comprehensive account very difficult.)

There are two basic categories of DMV license penalties — revocations and suspensions. Drivers with revoked licenses can reapply after a time period set by the DMV, which then determines whether or not to restore driving privileges. A revocation is more severe than a suspension, which allows a driver to get his or her license back after a certain period of time simply by paying a fee.

Of the 34 cases that have been decided, the DMV revoked the licenses of 11 drivers, suspended 13, and took no action against 10. Of the 13 suspended drivers, five received 90-day suspensions, three received 365-day suspensions, and one each received suspensions of 75, 120, and 180 days, while two drivers were suspended for an undisclosed time period pending a hearing.

Rather than a consistent system, DMV judges appear to apply random penalties.

Read more…


Beyond Car Ownership: How Finland Set the Stage for Mobility-as-Service

This October, the Finnish company MaaS Global launched Whim, an app that serves as a portal to a wide array of transportation services. Helsinki residents who sign up for Whim pay a flat fee for unlimited access to transit and get points that can be spent on taxi rides or car rentals.


Whim provides unlimited access to transit in Helsinki and “points” to pay for other types of transportation services.

It’s all part of the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications’ effort to adopt a “mobility as service” model. The concept goes a lot deeper than a trip planner or fare payment mechanism on your smartphone. At its core, “mobility as service” is about minimizing car ownership.

Instead of people paying large sums and taking on debt to own a depreciating asset, which they can then drive around cheaply, “mobility as service” connects people to the best option for any given trip. The key is to make this service as seamless, convenient, and economical as possible.

At a TransitCenter panel last night, Finnish officials discussed how they re-wrote the nation’s transportation regulations to optimize the mobility-as-service model.

Before Whim could launch, said the transport and communications ministry’s Krista Huhtala-Jenks and MaaS Global CEO Sampo Hietanan, Finland had to streamline rules that got in the way. Regulations that, for example, treated traditional taxis differently than companies like Uber and Lyft were an obstacle.

This process of “de- and re-regulation,” as Huhtala-Jenks called it, aims to make the mobility-as-service market as attractive as possible for both the transportation providers and the people buying these services. It’s not about creating rules on a case-by-case basis.

“We’re not in the business of putting out fires,” she said. “So we’re not taking separate cases like almost [everyone else] in the world that, ‘Oh, we have this case of Uber, let’s regulate it.’ We don’t want to start spot-regulating. That world is gone already.”

Read more…
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Seattle Transit Agencies Move Toward Mobile Ticketing

This graphic shows how a Sound Transit transit fare purchased on a ell phone will appear. Image via Seattle Transit Blog

Sound Transit will launch mobile ticketing next week. Image via Seattle Transit Blog

We have the technology to make transit fare payment faster and more convenient. Agencies around the world are making progress on fare collection innovations that improve riders’ experience — with benefits like shorter trip times, getting more transit trips for your buck, and demystifying the process of buying a fare for new riders.

Two Seattle agencies are about to adopt a new method of fare collection. Zach Shaner at Seattle Transit Blog reports that Sound Transit and King County Metro are rolling out a mobile payment option:

On Thursday, King County Metro and Sound Transit will announce Puget Sound’s first mobile ticketing app, called TransitGoTicket. The app will allow Metro and (some) Sound Transit riders to purchase tickets and day passes on their phones without having to buy or use an ORCA card. The iOS app is already live, with Android and Windows to follow Thursday.

The 6-month pilot project is funded by a grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). After 6 months, Metro and Sound Transit will likely conduct a Title VI analysis before deciding on a 6-month extension. If deemed successful after 1 year, the program would become permanent. Ongoing costs include 1.5% of mobile fare revenue to ByteMark and a $126,000 annual fee once in full production (after the pilot ends). New agencies could join for $45,000.

Read more…


Today’s Headlines

  • Trucker Kills Moshe Yide Weiner, 21, on Kent Avenue in Williamsburg (DNA); Post: “Freak Accident”
  • A Cyclist Died in Laurelton and Police Aren’t Sure How It Happened (Post)
  • Cuomo Wants a Special Legislative Session, in Part to Deal With Hate Crimes (NYT)
  • WNYC Has More on Trump’s Threat to Cut Funding for Sanctuary Cities
  • The Hits Keep Coming: Simcha Felder Now One of the Most Powerful Pols in New York (Politico)
  • What’s Causing Crushing Manhattan Gridlock? People Who Aren’t Driving, of Course (Post)
  • Lower Manhattan Needs Toll Reform and More Sidewalk Space, Stat (NYT)
  • Jersey Lawmakers Call on Trump to Prioritize Gateway Tunnel (
  • Metro-North Engineer in Fatal Bronx Crash Is Suing Metro-North (Post, News)
  • Traffic Violence Still Doesn’t Figure Into NYPD’s Definition of “Crime” (NY1)
  • If Tiny Cars Improve NYPD Public Relations, Imagine What More Cops on Bikes Would Do (NYT)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA


The Bike-Share Map NYC Should Be Aiming For


Covering every corner of NYC with bike-share stations may not pencil out, but this service area covering dense, walkable neighborhoods should be very achievable. Map: DCP [PDF]

The campaign for a more expansive bike-share network is on. Earlier this week, the City Council held a hearing on expanding bike-share citywide. And today, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz and Staten Island Borough President James Oddo penned a piece in the Daily News asking for bike-share in their boroughs.

It’s great to see all this clamor for bike-share from the city’s political class. But the goal of providing good bike-share service to many more New Yorkers would be better served by adopting a more specific framework than five-borough bike-share, which would be expensive to build out and difficult to operate.

Somewhere between blanketing the whole city with bike-share stations and letting the system stagnate at the current plan for 12,000 bikes arranged in central neighborhoods, there’s a sweet spot — building a system in all compact, walkable neighborhoods where bike-share will be well-used.

At the City Council hearing, NACTO Bike Share Program Director Kate Fillin-Yeh said a smart goal would be the above service area, covering neighborhoods with at least 30,000 residents per square mile. That’s the population density at which bike-share systems are “likely to be heavily used, a real transportation option, and profitable,” she said [PDF].

Read more…

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Talking Headways Podcast: A Bus Full of People Should Go Ahead of a Tesla

This week’s episode returns to the Shared Use Mobility Summit in Chicago for a great discussion of how the changing technology and information landscape could yield more equitable outcomes. Jackie Grimshaw of the Center for Neighborhood Technology moderated this panel featuring Anita Cozart of Policy Link, Rob Puentes of the Eno Center for Transportation, and Joshua Schank of LA Metro.

The discussion touches on several interesting topics, including the idea that innovation doesn’t have to arise from technology, the fact that not all people are benefitting from transportation investments, the measurement bias in the models we use to make transportation decisions, and much more. I highly recommend a listen.


Vanterpool: Trump Can’t Take Away Our Ability to Make Transit Better

In less than two months, Donald Trump will be sworn in as president, and he’ll be working with a GOP majority in Congress that is highly antagonistic to transit funding, climate sustainability efforts, and other policies that benefit walkable urban places. It’s a scary scenario for transit riders.

Tri-State Transportation Campaign Executive Director Veronica Vanterpool

Tri-State Transportation Campaign Executive Director Veronica Vanterpool. Photo: David McKay Wilson/Binghamton University

But if you want better transit, now is not the time to get discouraged. At a Riders Alliance panel in Soho last night, Tri-State Transportation Campaign Executive Director Veronica Vanterpool delivered a message to transit advocates — all politics is local, and city residents still have the power to win important transit victories:

Where I see a positivity is in us, and it’s in the energy in this room, and the energy in cities that we see across this country. The outlook is glum, and it’s grim. But we need to focus and remember that a lot of the wins and a lot of success has happened at the local level and at the state level. And not just in transportation — think about, you know, paid sick leave. Those were local fights, when the federal government wasn’t making these changes. There’s a lot of innovation that has happened in the cities. We cannot let that die. We need to wrap that up. We need to empower local and state advocacy, and make sure that our state government and our state elected officials, and our local government and our local elected officials, are representing what we want.

Keep going for those easy wins, because that is how we inform our elected officials…You know, all politics is local. Even at the federal level. They want to look to their district for examples. They want to look to their states and their counties for examples. Let’s give them the right examples to run with, to heed, to model. So they’re looking to us. Let’s show them. Let’s give them the message that we want them to deliver.

Vanterpool said advocates also need to refine their messages in a way that effectively communicates to rural and suburban communities the value of investment in transit.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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The ‘Peanutabout’ Concept Could Be a Breakthrough for Diagonal Streets

A proposed design in Cambridge. Image: Kittelson and Associates via Boston Cyclists Union.

pfb logo 100x22Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.

Wickedly good biking ideas continue to pop up in Massachusetts.

Last year, it unveiled the country’s best state-level bikeway design guide and Cambridge opened the country’s best new bike lane on Western Avenue.

On Tuesday, the Boston Cyclists Union shared the inspiring back story behind a new concept for the long, complex seven-way intersection created by the acute crossing of Cambridge and Hampshire streets. Like a lot of good ideas in modern American bicycling history, it involves Anne Lusk, a Harvard public health professor who’s been a major brain behind the spread of protected bike lanes in the United States. Last summer she connected BCU with engineering firm Kittelson and Associates, and dominoes started falling:

In mid-September, Bike Union executive director Becca Wolfson and representatives of Kittelson met with City of Cambridge staff to present our findings regarding the feasibility of the peanut design and the conceptual rendering for it.  The City had considered and rejected as infeasible a roundabout solution for Inman, but had not considered a peanut-style mini-roundabout.  The staff were favorably impressed and have since indicated an interest in including this roundabout approach alongside the “Bends” solutions as the pubic process moves forward.

In his post, BCU writer Steven Bercu lists the various advantages of this design for people walking, biking and driving. Here are the benefits for bicycle travel:

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Getting On-Street Parking Tech Right

Getting the price of on-street parking right is important for commercial areas in cities. Setting prices to ensure that about one space per block remains open reduces double-parking, cuts down on unnecessary traffic, and can speed up buses as a result.

You're going to change for parking? Good! What's the right equipment? Photo: Wikipedia

You’re going to change for parking? Good! What’s the right equipment? Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Putting the right price on parking isn’t always popular, but by choosing good systems and technology to manage curbside spaces, cities can make it easier for motorists. Paul Barter at Reinventing Parking has written a handy guide to 18 different types of on-street parking management, from very low-tech cash payment to state-of-the-art GPS-based systems.

He concludes that the best systems are digital and track payment via license plates or vehicle registration numbers, as opposed to the physical space the car occupies. Of those, he highlights these four options as the best for cities today — read the whole post for a detailed look at how these systems work:

The digital pay-by-plate options seem to do best to maximize parking-management effectiveness and minimize the pain.

They score highly on most of the key criteria mentioned earlier, especially high convenience for users, easy price adjustment, data stream, low-cost integration with enforcement, low transaction costs, suitability for motorcycles, and ability to integrate with permits and special discounts.

This means that any city tackling this issue afresh today should probably focus on these options (in pay-by-plate mode): 
12: Smart (digital) multi-space meters with Pay-by-License-Plate
15: Pay-by-smart-phone-app
16: In-vehicle meters, or
17: Global Positioning System (GPS)-based in-vehicle meters
or some combination of 2 or more of these (including all of them together).

Read more…


Today’s Headlines

  • Preet Accepts Trump Invitation to Keep His Post (Bloomberg, Politico)
  • Jersey Lawmakers Say Cuomo Is the Problem With PABT Planning Process (Politico)
  • DiNapoli Says Cuomo’s Thruway Authority Isn’t Prepared to Deal With Long-Term Costs (LoHud)
  • Ruben Diaz Jr. and James Oddo Want Taxpayer-Backed Citi Bike in the Bronx and Staten Island (News)
  • Oddo and Steve Matteo Intro Bills to “Protect” Freshly-Paved Streets From Utility Contractors (DNA)
  • Operating the Staten Island Ferry Is About to Get More Expensive for NYC (Advance)
  • De Blasio Increasingly Relies on Helicopter to Bypass Dysfunctional City Streets (NYT 1, 2)
  • Bayside Residents Get a Big Helping of DDC Incompetence (QNS)
  • How NYC’s Curb Space Management Stole Christmas in Dyker Heights (NewsPost)
  • Speaking of Grinches — It’s a Non-Divisible Load, Sure, But Did This Trucker Have a Permit? (Gothamist)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA