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This Week: Safer Routes to Flushing Meadows Corona Park

The street safety plan for 111th Street in Queens and bike-share station planning in East Harlem are the two big calendar items during this holiday-shortened week.

Here are the highlights — check the Streetsblog calendar for the full slate of events:

  • Tuesday: The City Council transportation committee is holding a hearing on a pair of administration-backed bills that would slow down the number of new for-hire vehicle licenses while the city studies congestion in the Manhattan Core over the next year. 10 a.m.
  • Also Tuesday: Council Member Julissa Ferreras is hosting a town hall meeting on a DOT plan for a road diet, protected bike lane, and new crosswalks on 111th Street in Corona next to Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The plan has run into opposition from some Queens Community Board 4 members and Assembly Member Francisco Moya. 4 p.m.
  • More Tuesday: DOT and Citi Bike are hosting a public workshop with Manhattan Community Board 11 to plan bike-share station locations in East Harlem. 6 p.m.
  • Thursday: The Transportation Alternatives Manhattan activist committee is hosting its monthly meeting to discuss advocacy priorities and progress for safer streets. 6:30 p.m.

Keep an eye on the calendar for updated listings. Got an event we should know about? Drop us a line.

Streetsblog.net
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DC’s Silver Line: A Transit Expansion 34 Years in the Making

Image via Greater Greater Washington

Image via Greater Greater Washington. Click to enlarge

When a politician like Maryland Governor Larry Hogan kills off a transit project, not only does he rob citizens of anticipated improvements, he could be wiping out decades of intricate planning.

Dan Malouff at Greater Greater Washington notes that by 2019 it will have taken 34 years to complete the Metro’s Silver Line, which will connect DC and suburban counties with Dulles Airport.

Malouff explains the above graphic:

The timeline begins in 1985, when the idea of a Metro line to Dulles Airport went from vague concept to serious planning initiative following a study that determined it would be feasible.

Planning (yellow on the timeline) and environmental work (green) took the next 21 years, until 2006. It took another 3 years for officials to finalize funding (blue) before construction (purple) could begin in 2009.

Plopping a rail line down the middle of a gargantuan suburban highway with a capacious median is easy compared to putting one virtually anywhere else. Almost any other potential Metrorail expansion imaginable will be harder to plan, fund, and build.

“That doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing,” Malouff writes. “But it’s definitely going to be hard.”

Elsewhere on the Network today: Streets.mn tests whether motorists are yielding to pedestrians; and Biking Toronto reports that there is fresh green paint, but no physical separation, on a much-needed bike lane.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Get Ready for Permanent Car-Free Zones in Central Park Above 72nd Street, Starting Today (News)
  • Hit-and-Run Driver Kills Betty Jean DiBiasio, 21, in Astoria Early Saturday A.M. (Post)
  • Speeding Driver Causes 4-Car Collision in Marble Hill and Dies (PostNews)
  • Driver Speeding and Running Reds Crashes Into Second Car, Killing Her Passenger (News)
  • Steve Levin in Uber’s Cross-hairs for Backing a Slowdown in Black Car Licenses (Bklyn Paper)
  • How Will Residents of 5,500-Unit Greenpoint Landing Get Around? (Gothamist)
  • In a First, Cops Ticket Cabbies Who Double-Parked While Praying (Post)
  • Apparently, There’s “No Room” on Staten Island for More Bus Lanes (Advance)
  • Market Rate for Parking in DUMBO: $350-$450/Month; On-Street Rate: $0 (DNA)
  • Komanoff: The Pope Didn’t Come Out Against Carbon Taxes — Far From It (NYT)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Hunter Students Offer a Multi-Modal Vision for Queens Boulevard

The students propose bus lanes, curbside protected bike lanes, and a large median park for Queens Boulevard. Image: Hunter College

The students propose bus lanes, protected bike lanes, and a linear park in the median of Queens Boulevard. Image: Hunter College

About a year ago, the Transportation Alternatives Queens activist committee approached the Hunter College urban planning program about Queens Boulevard. The advocates wanted help jumpstarting real-world changes on the street known as the Boulevard of Death.

It was just a few months after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his Vision Zero initiative to eliminate traffic deaths. If there was ever going to be an ambitious redesign of Queens Boulevard, this was the time to make it happen. The TA activists wanted to show people how Queens Boulevard could be transformed.

“One of the obstacles we always faced was, ‘Okay, how would you do that?'” said TA Queens committee co-chair Peter Beadle. “There was a real inertia to overcome.”

So the advocates got to work with a small team of Hunter graduate students under the leadership of professor Ralph Blessing. Over the course of two semesters, they surveyed people on the street, hosted workshops, reviewed crash and traffic data, and crunched Census numbers.

Then something interesting happened. In January, DOT announced that it would make Queens Boulevard a Vision Zero priority and hosted a workshop to gather ideas for how to redesign the street.

Read more…

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Next Stop for Bill to Expand Bus Lane Cameras: Andrew Cuomo’s Desk

Last night, the State Senate followed the Assembly’s lead and passed a bill to continue New York City’s bus lane camera enforcement program and expand it to an additional 10 bus routes. The bill now awaits Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature.

34th Street before bus lane cams. Video still: Streetfilms/Robin Urban Smith

The Senate voted 48 in favor and 11 opposed. The day before, the bill squeaked through the Assembly, 79-60, with former speaker Sheldon Silver joining Staten Island legislators in calling bus lane cameras “a trap for motorists.”

The existing program was enacted by Albany in 2010 and limited the cameras to six Select Bus Service routes. Without an extension it will expire September 20. The new bill, sponsored by Assembly Member Nily Rozic and State Senator Martin Golden, not only extends the program five years but also allows the city to choose 10 additional bus routes for camera enforcement.

Camera-enforced bus lanes have boosted local bus speeds on 125th Street by up to 20 percent, according to DOT.

Some of New York’s most important bus lanes predate Select Bus Service and aren’t allowed to have camera enforcement under the current law. The Fifth Avenue bus lane, for instance, was implemented in the 1980s. It carries 90 buses per hour during the morning rush and moves 78,000 people daily, according to Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

The number of Select Bus Service routes has also grown beyond the limits of the current program. SBS on Webster Avenue in the Bronx operates without camera enforcement, and planned SBS routes on Utica Avenue, Woodhaven Boulevard, and along the Q44 route in Flushing and Jamaica will only be eligible for bus lane cameras if Cuomo signs the new bill.

Read more…

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NYPD: Drivers Killed 18 Pedestrians and Cyclists in May, and Injured 1,262

Image: NYPD

Image: NYPD

Twenty-eight people died in New York City traffic in May, and 4,771 were injured, according to the latest NYPD crash data report [PDF].

As of the end of May, 49 pedestrians and cyclists were reported killed by city motorists this year, and 5,049 injured, compared to 54 deaths and 5,669 injuries for the same period in 2014. Drivers killed more pedestrians in May than in any other single month since the launch of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero program.

Citywide, at least 17 pedestrians and one cyclist were fatally struck by drivers: five pedestrians and one cyclist in Manhattan; three pedestrians in the Bronx; six pedestrians in Brooklyn; and three pedestrians in Queens. Among the victims were Ervi Secundino, Favhad Chowdhury, Amelia Sterental, Nfn Loknauth, John Torson, Victor Grant, Irwin Mayer, Wanda Canestri, Galina Shibayeva, Ian Paul Bubb, Sincere Atkins, Dorria Campfield, Sergei Musatov, an unnamed female pedestrian in Brooklyn, an unnamed male pedestrian in Brooklyn, and an unnamed male pedestrian in the Bronx.

Motorists killed at least two children and six seniors: Sincere Atkins, 8; Ervi Secundino, 12; Amelia Sterental, 76; Nfn Loknauth, 83; John Torson, 89; Irwin Mayer, 96; Wanda Canestri, 68; and Galina Shibayeva, 76.

Motorists killed at least five pedestrians in May whose names were not immediately disclosed by NYPD, or whose deaths were not covered in the press. Most every month, there are pedestrian and cyclist deaths that go unreported other than the scant details provided weeks later in the NYPD dataset, which lists only the intersection closest to the crash and the victim’s mode of travel.

Across the city, 808 pedestrians and 472 cyclists were reported hurt in collisions with motor vehicles. Per NYPD policy, few of these crashes were investigated by trained officers.

Of 16 fatal crashes on surface streets reported by Streetsblog and other outlets, no motorists were known to have been charged for causing a death. Based on NYPD and media accounts, at least five victims were likely walking or cycling with the right of way when they were struck, but police and district attorneys are known to have applied the city’s Right of Way Law in none of those crashes. 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…

Streetsblog.net
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Maryland Governor Larry Hogan: Purple Line for DC, Bupkis for Baltimore

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan says the Purple Line, a long-planned light rail expansion of the DC transit system in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, will move forward. But Hogan stiffed the people of Baltimore by canceling the Red Line in favor of road projects.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan

Dan Malouff at Greater Greater Washington reports that Hogan made his announcement yesterday.

To reduce costs, trains on the Purple Line will come every seven and half minutes rather than every six. The state will not change the alignment, nor the number or location of stations.

The longer headways mean there need to be fewer trains, saving money, and also cutting out the need for one staging area. Hogan also announced that the state would now pay only $168 million, rather than, he said, the original $700 million (but the state’s future contribution had only been $333 million). Montgomery and Prince George’s would have to pay more, though the exact amount, and whether they can do so, was not yet clear.

Malouff notes that the Purple Line was in the works for decades, with construction set to begin this year, before Hogan threatened to nix the project.

As for the Red Line, according to Malouff, “Hogan said the line is not cost-effective.” Funds to add light rail in Baltimore “will instead go toward nearly $2 billion in road and bridge projects all across the state, including widening Route 404 on the Eastern Shore, some unspecified ‘congestion reduction’ on I-270, and new ramps to and from the Greeenbelt Metro to accommodate a future FBI headquarters.”

Elsewhere on the Network today: Mobilizing the Region reports that Albany’s failure to fund transit in New York City also hurts upstate economies, and the League of American Bicyclists examines what it takes to nurture bike-friendly businesses.

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Dilan, Espinal Oppose Plan to Eliminate Deadly Turn From MTA Bus Routes

Council Member Rafael Espinal and State Senator Martin Malave Dilan are trying to stop the MTA from rerouting a bus away from a deadly turn in their districts.

Council Member Rafael Espinal and State Senator Martin Malave Dilan.

After turning bus drivers twice struck and killed pedestrians at a complex intersection on the border of Bushwick and Ridgewood, the MTA proposed a change that eliminates a deadly turn from two bus routes. The plan has been under consideration for months and is set to go into effect Sunday. But Council Member Rafael Espinal and State Senator Martin Malave Dilan are trying to stop it after nearby residents complained about the prospect of buses traveling on their street.

In January 2013, a turning MTA bus driver struck and killed Ella Bandes as she was crossing the intersection of Myrtle Avenue, Wyckoff Avenue, and Palmetto Street. The next year, DOT implemented safety fixes at the intersection, including five new turn restrictions, but exceptions were made for MTA bus routes.

The plan would move buses from Wyckoff Avenue to Ridgewood Place to avoid a dangerous turn. Click map to enlarge. Map: MTA

The plan would move buses from Wyckoff Avenue to Ridgewood Place to avoid a dangerous turn. Click to enlarge. Map: MTA

Then, in October 2014, a turning MTA bus driver struck and killed Edgar Torres at the very same intersection. “Clearly those restrictions were not adequate, or the exemptions of the bus drivers was a mistake,” said Ken Bandes, Ella’s father.

That’s when the MTA began to examine rerouting its buses.

“What made the right turn especially difficult is that it’s an offset turn under the elevated structure that also obstructed the view of bus operators,” said MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz. “The new route remedies this.”

Under the plan, the Q58 and B26 would no longer turn right from westbound Wyckoff Avenue to northbound Palmetto Street. Buses would instead detour to Ridgewood Place between Putnam Avenue and Palmetto Street. DOT will remove parking spots at the intersection of Palmetto and Ridgewood and at Putnam and Wyckoff to make room for turning buses.

Notice about the change first went out to local community boards and elected officials in February and March [PDF]. The MTA says elected officials didn’t have any problems with the change — until now.

A group called the United Block Association for a Better Quality of Life formed to oppose the bus reroute, claiming it will be less safe than the existing route because it involves additional turns on narrow streets. “It’s probably gonna devalue our properties,” said Flor Ramos, who has owned a house on Putnam Avenue near Ridgewood Place for 22 years and started the group with “about seven” of his neighbors. “We’re going to have to listen to these buses coming down our streets. And I don’t even want to tell you about the fumes.”

Ramos, who said he usually drives and only occasionally takes the bus or subway, said the association is considering a lawsuit against the plan. “When we purchased these properties, we purchased them to be away from the transportation. It’s not that far. It’s only a block away,” he said. “We convinced the councilman that our concerns are valid. We have lots of fear here. And we got him on board.”

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • It Was Big and It Was Ugly: Albany’s Legislative Session Is Finally Over (TU, C&S)
  • Downstate Transit Riders (WCBS) and Upstate Manufacturers (MTR) Hurt By Albany’s MTA Inaction
  • Families for Safe Streets Asks TWU to Stop Its Campaign to Secure Special Treatment (C&S)
  • Team Cuomo Lays Out Timeline for Initial TZB Bus Upgrades But Nothing More (LoHud)
  • Cuomo Spent Nearly $700,000 in Legal Fees for Fruitless TZB Clean Water Fund Raid (WNYC)
  • State’s Top Court Backs TLC in Requiring Taxi of Tomorrow for Entire Fleet (News, Post)
  • Access-A-Ride Driver Seriously Injures Woman Crossing 14th Street in Manhattan (News, Post)
  • Cabbie Who Killed Cooper Stock in Crosswalk Refuses to Watch Video of Crash in Court (Post)
  • S.I. Man Pleads Guilty to Attempted Assault for Ramming Off-Duty Cop on Motorcycle (Advance)
  • Queens CB 3 Hosts Its Third Outdoor Meeting in Diversity Plaza (Q Chron)
  • The Times Weeps for Drivers Who Will No Longer Be Able to Use Parks as Rush Hour Shortcuts

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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These Four Bills Do Deserve a Vote in the Assembly

The TWU’s attempt to weaken traffic safety laws cleared the State Senate but seems to be encountering more resistance in the Assembly. (You can contact your Assembly rep here to urge a “No” vote.) Meanwhile, there are there are several good bills that the Senate passed which have yet to come up for a vote in the Assembly.

Here are four to keep your eye on:

Eliminating the legal gray area for e-bikes. In 2002, the federal government reclassified low-power electric bikes, distinguishing them from mopeds and motorcycles. Albany, however, never adjusted state law, leaving New York’s e-bikes in limbo. Although it’s legal to buy and sell e-bikes, it’s illegal to operate them on New York’s public roads.

For years, the Assembly passed bills to eliminate the legal gray area and get state law in sync with the feds, while the issue stalled in the Senate. This year, roles have reversed: The Senate passed the legislation, 59-3, while the Assembly still hasn’t voted on its bill. The legislation has the support of Transportation Alternatives [PDF] and the New York Bicycling Coalition [PDF]. The groups are asking supporters to contact Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle and Assembly Member David Gantt, the bill’s sponsor, to urge a vote.

Read more…