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Today’s Headlines

  • Van Bramer Bill Doubles Fines, Now Up to $10,000, in Hit-and-Runs (News)
  • More Coverage of EPA’s Rejection of Tappan Zee Clean Water Loan: NYT, WSJ, News, PoJo
  • CB 7 Transpo Co-Chair Andrew Albert Stars in New ABC7 Attack on Protected Bike Lanes
  • Other Bloomberg Alumni Work for Uber, Yassky Advises Lyft (Capital)
  • EDC Releases Renderings for East River Greenway Gap Through Midtown (Architect’s Paper)
  • Driver Jumps Curb, Crashes Into East New York Food Pantry (News 12)
  • After Rejection at CB 1, Williamsburg Businesses Try Again for Bike Corrals (DNA)
  • Southeast Queens Residents Pleased With New Q114 Bus, Call for More (TL)
  • Aerial Trams Are a Topic of Discussion, But They Shouldn’t Be (2nd Avenue Sagas)
  • Maybe the Solution Here Is to Get Rid of Parking for Private Cars? (DNA)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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NYPD: Drivers Injured 1,300 Pedestrians and Cyclists in July, and Killed 18

Image: NYPD

Image: NYPD

Twenty-eight people died in New York City traffic in July, and 4,571 were injured, according to the latest NYPD crash data report [PDF].

As of the end of July, 80 pedestrians and cyclists were reported killed by city motorists this year, and 8,380 injured, compared to 90 deaths and 8,958 injuries for the same period in 2013. Drivers killed more pedestrians and cyclists in July than in any other month to this point in 2014.

Citywide, at least 15 pedestrians and three cyclists were fatally struck by drivers: two pedestrians and one cyclist in Manhattan; one pedestrian in the Bronx; seven pedestrians and one cyclist in Brooklyn; three pedestrians and one cyclist in Queens; and two pedestrians in Staten Island. Among the victims were Joie Sellers, Jackie Haeflinger, Matthew Brenner, Jean Chambers, Avrohom Feldmaus, Sokhna Niang, Marie Valentino, Valding Duran, Margherita Nanfro, and Agatha Tsunis. Also killed were three unnamed pedestrians in Brooklyn, two unnamed pedestrians in Queens, an unnamed cyclist in Queens, and an unnamed pedestrian in Staten Island.

Motorists killed at least two children and four seniors in July: Joie Sellers, 12; Valding Duran, 13; Avrohom Feldmaus, 89; Marie Valentino, 91; Margherita Nanfro, 80; and Agatha Tsunis, 87.

Across the city, 772 pedestrians and 528 cyclists were reported hurt in collisions with motor vehicles. Per NYPD policy, few of these crashes were investigated by trained officers.

Of 18 fatal crashes reported by Streetsblog and other outlets, two motorists were known to have been charged for causing a death. Robert DeCarlo was charged with manslaughter for the Brooklyn hit-and-run curb jump crash that killed Joie Sellers, and Romulo Mejia was charged with manslaughter and DWI for killing an unnamed pedestrian in Queens. 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.

Read more…

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Don’t Look Now, But the House Amtrak Bill Actually Has Some Good Ideas

The House's rail authorization proposal is harsh, but not as harsh as it would have been under the previous chair. Photo: ##http://transportation.house.gov/uploadedfiles/railpacket.pdf##House Transportation Committee##

The House’s Amtrak proposal isn’t going to transform American passenger rail, but it might actually help around the margins. Photo: House Transportation Committee

Tomorrow, the House Transportation Committee will consider a bill that changes the nation’s policies on passenger rail. The proposal, while it includes some cuts, is a departure from the senseless vendetta many House Republicans have waged against Amtrak in the past. The National Association of Railroad Passengers, NARP, says the plan contains “commonsense regulatory and governance reforms.”

In an encouraging act of bipartisanship, the bill was crafted and introduced jointly by Committee Chair Bill Shuster (R-PA), Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-WV), and the chair and ranking member of the rail subcommittee, Jeff Denham (R-CA) and Corrine Brown (D-FL). You can read the bill summary here [PDF] and the full text here [PDF].

The House bill would cut Amtrak funding by 40 percent next year. The reduction is less devastating than it appears, however, since it just brings authorized funding in line with the actual amounts Republicans have been appropriating in recent years. Congress was authorized to spend $1.96 billion on Amtrak in 2013, for instance, but the House only appropriated $1.41 billion. Advocates know the cuts could have been deeper.

The bill stops short of pushing for full privatization of the Northeast Corridor, the main part of the network that turns a profit, which Shuster and Amtrak Hater-in-Chief John Mica had pushed for previously. It does further separate the Northeast Corridor from the rest of the system, requiring Amtrak to reinvest NEC profits back into the NEC. House Republicans say the idea is to “eliminate Amtrak’s black-box accounting,” in which Amtrak (quite transparently, I may add) subsidizes money-losing long-distance service with the profits from the NEC.

Meanwhile, the bill continues the very long-distance services that come under constant fire from the GOP for inefficiency. After all, key GOP constituencies live in rural areas whose only long-distance transportation option may be Amtrak. Brookings has recommended dispensing with these routes, but Congress has found the politics of that too burdensome.

Read more…

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EPA Rejects Cuomo’s Clean Water Money Grab for Highway Bridge

This morning, the Environmental Protection Agency rejected the $510.9 million federal loan New York state had requested from a clean water program to pay for the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project. Only $29 million worth of TZB work is eligible for clean water money, the EPA’s regional office ruled, averting a dangerous precedent that could have let governors across the country raid environmental funds to pay for highways.

Building a new highway bridge with clean water funds? Forget about it, says the EPA. Photo: D. Robert Wolcheck/Flickr

Using clean water funds to replace this highway bridge? Forget about it, says the EPA. Photo: D. Robert Wolcheck/Flickr

“New York’s request presents a unique circumstance that is unprecedented… no other state has made a request of this type or magnitude,” wrote Joan Leary Matthews, regional director of EPA’s clean water division [PDF]. “There is no evidence… that the [Clean Water State Revolving Fund] was intended to fund mitigation for major construction projects within an estuary. Construction activities arising from transportation projects do not advance water quality, and CWSRF funding should not be used for these purposes.”

The Thruway Authority had planned on using the $510.9 million loan on twelve projects. Today, EPA rejected seven of those projects, totaling $481.8 million, because they are directly tied to building the new bridge. The projects deemed ineligible are: removal of the existing bridge, dredging for construction vessels, armoring the river bottom, installation of an underwater noise attenuation system, construction of a bike-pedestrian path on the new bridge, restoration of oyster beds, and the installation of a falcon nest box.

The state will be able to receive funding for five projects, totaling $29.1 million: the restoration of Gay’s Point and Piermont Marsh, the installation of stormwater management measures, and the creation of a conservation benefit plan, including an Atlantic sturgeon outreach program.

Environmental advocates and good government groups staunchly opposed the loan, saying that allowing clean water funds to be used for highway construction would set a dangerous precedent. “It’s great that the agency in charge of calling balls and strikes has called the state out,” said Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York. “But we shouldn’t have gotten here in the first place.”

Read more…

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”Bikelash!” The Streetfilm

Six months ago, Dr. Doug Gordon and Dr. Aaron Naparstek charmed audiences at the 2014 National Bike Summit with a great routine called “Moving Beyond the Bikelash,” sharing what they’ve learned from the pushback to New York City’s bike network expansion.

So last week, while at the Pro-Walk Pro-Bike Pro-Place conference, I thought it would be interesting to ask advocates from across the country about the state of bikelash in their cities and how they combat it. Here’s what they told me.

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How to Improve 3-Foot Passing Laws

After a couple of vetoes by Governor Jerry Brown, California finally has a 3-foot passing law.

As of June, 24 states plus the District of Columbia have such a law, which requires drivers to give cyclists a minimum buffer of 3 feet when passing from behind. With California’s law in effect as of today, Rick Bernardi of Bob Mionske’s bike law blog says 3-foot laws are good for cycling, but could be improved.

There's room to improve 3-foot passing laws, like the one that takes effect in California today. Photo: ##https://www.flickr.com/photos/sfbike/7000434589/in/set-72157629263668356/##SF Bike Coalition/Flickr##

There’s room to improve 3-foot passing laws, like the one that took effect in California today. Photo: SF Bike Coalition/Flickr

Bernardo points out that some laws, including California’s, provide exceptions for drivers that weaken cyclist protections. Minimum passing distances should be commensurate with motorist speed, he says, and intentional “buzzing” should be criminalized.

The law should also make collisions prima facie evidence of an illegal pass, Bernardi writes.

When drivers collide with a cyclist while passing, they will often attempt to shift the blame to the cyclist: “The cyclist came out of nowhere” is one common explanation for a crash. “The cyclist suddenly swerved into my path” is another commonly heard explanation. If the cyclist is seriously injured or killed, the driver’s explanation may be the only explanation we hear. More often than not, when a driver says that the pass was “safe” but the cyclist did something that doesn’t make any sense, it really means that the driver wasn’t paying attention, or was passing too close. But under the law, injured cyclists must prove that the driver’s pass was unsafe. 3 foot laws can be strengthened by making collisions prima facie evidence of an illegal pass. This means that when a driver is passing a cyclist and a collision results, the law would presume that the pass was too close. The driver could still rebut this presumption with evidence to show that the pass was not too close, but now the burden of proof would be where it properly belongs — on the driver who has the responsibility to pass at a safe distance.

Also on the Network today: Streets.MN says investing in transit for “millennials” and “millennials” alone is a bad idea, and the Wash Cycle takes a tour of the Capital Bikeshare warehouse.

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Driving in Manhattan Stank Yesterday, It Stinks Today, It Will Stink Tomorrow

This just in from the crack investigative team at ABC 7: Driving in Manhattan stinks!

Why is this news? Because a recent NYC DOT report suggested that driving became a little more fluid on some streets where bike lanes were recently added. Unlike when a driver kills a pedestrian or cyclist and anonymous police sources blame the victim, this is a claim that our local broadcast media feel compelled to investigate.

Ripping off rival CBS and its “Mobile2″ unit, ABC’s Jim Hoffer set out to show that New York bike lanes are not, in fact, making it a breeze to drive in the middle of the nation’s largest city. Hoffer did a few time trials from 96th Street to 77th Street on Columbus Avenue, and get this: It took a little more than six minutes, on average, to drive that one-mile segment. Six minutes!

For everyone keeping score at home, that means if you’re driving toward the heart of Midtown Manhattan during the morning rush on Columbus Avenue, you can travel at an average speed approaching 10 mph, which is 20 percent faster than the average speed of a New York City bus. Maybe that’s because Columbus Avenue still has four motor vehicle moving lanes during the a.m. peak, same as it did before the protected bike lane was installed in 2010.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • WABC Goes Full Windshield Mode to Gin Up Bikelash
  • George Steptoe Picks Apart the Massive Waste of Resources That Was “Operation Safe Cycle”
  • Suspended License, Reckless Driving Charges Didn’t Keep This Dollar Van Driver Off Road (DNA)
  • Eight Parking Garages in Manhattan and Brooklyn Up for Sale, Could Be Developed (TRD)
  • Pete Donohue Takes a Tour of the (Air-Conditioned) Fulton Transit Center (News)
  • There’s a Lot More Work to Do for the MTA to Fix Sandy-Damaged Tunnels (Capital)
  • Better Than a Ferry? Developer Proposes Aerial Tram to Williamsburg Waterfront (Crain’s)
  • AMNY Tallies Outer-Borough Transit Wish List, From F Express to More Metro-North for the Bronx
  • Vincent Gentile’s Crusade to Get Rid of Tolls on VNB’s 50th Anniversary Is Almost Cute (NY1)
  • “The Power Broker” Turns 40: Robert Caro Regrets Cutting Chapters From His Tome (Daily Beast)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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In Jackson Heights, Kids Learn About Bike Safety and Document Speeding

On Saturday, Make Queens Safer kicked off the school year with a safe streets fair at Travers Park in Jackson Heights, next to the 78th Street play street. DOT distributed 723 bike helmets, more than half of them to children, and 70 kids swapped out their old bikes for right-sized models provided by Recycle-A-Bicycle. Hundreds of kids also participated in learn-to-ride classes from Bike New York and had their bicycles repaired by the Bike Yard.

At the event, Make Queens Safer hosted a “kid engineers” traffic study, where local students used speed guns on traffic along 34th Avenue. The students documented speeding, red light running, and near-collisions. They found that up to 17 percent of drivers were speeding, with a maximum observed speed of 41 mph.

Council Member Daniel Dromm was one of the adults supervising the kids performing the study. “I applaud Make Queens Safer for putting together this important event,” he said in a statement. “Providing the tools and knowledge on how to safely navigate the streets of our neighborhoods can help reduce accidents and improve the quality of life for all members of our community.”

Can’t get enough bike events for kids? Join Kidical Mass for its September ride along five miles of the Brooklyn waterfront, starting at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. An RSVP on Facebook is requested.

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Talking Headways: Pro-Walk Pro-Bike Redux

podcast icon logoAfter a week at the Pro-Walk Pro-Bike Pro-Place Conference in Pittsburgh, it was all I could talk about — and luckily, Jeff was an eager audience.

In this podcast, Jeff and I talk about the relative utility of a character like Isabella, the new character People for Bikes created to make the case for safe, low-stress bikeways. We dig into the announcement that U.S. DOT is going to take on bike and pedestrian safety as one of its top issues. And we debate the pros and cons of holding the next Pro-Walk Pro-Bike in Vancouver.

There were hundreds of workshops, panels, presentations, and tours — not to mention countless side conversations, power lunches, and informal caucuses that were probably at least as energizing as the formal sessions — so my impressions are just one tiny slice of the pie. If you attended this year, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the conference, the host city, and your experience in the comments.

Keep up with us (if you can) at our RSS feed or subscribe on Stitcher or iTunes.