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Attn DOT: Amsterdam Avenue Is Begging for a Protected Bike Lane

Amsterdam_Ave

DOT is in the process of repaving Amsterdam Avenue from 79th Street to 93rd Street. Here’s the scene at 84th Street yesterday afternoon, courtesy of Community Board 7 member Ken Coughlin. Think there’s enough space for a protected bike lane? Nine feet is all you need.

Amsterdam is one of the big voids in the Manhattan bike network. Since 2010 there’s been a southbound protected bike lane on the Upper West Side (Columbus Avenue), but no protected route for cyclists heading uptown. With four lanes of one-way motor vehicle traffic, Amsterdam also has a higher rate of traffic injuries than other northbound streets in the neighborhood.

Local Council Member Helen Rosenthal endorsed a protected lane for Amsterdam this spring, and earlier this month Community Board 7 voted 34-5 in favor of a resolution asking DOT to “immediately” outfit Amsterdam with “pedestrian refuges, curb extensions, signal timing, and a protected northbound bike lane.” That was the third time in the last six years that CB 7 had formally requested action on Amsterdam, but DOT said only that it would continue to study the street.

Unless DOT stuns the world and restripes the freshly paved Amsterdam with a protected lane, it’s already too late to get one in the ground before bike-share expands to the Upper West Side this fall. A lot of new cyclists will have no safe, comfortable northbound option in the neighborhood.

Time is also running short to get a project in the pipeline for 2016. DOT will have to commit to a redesign in the next few months to be in a position to implement an Amsterdam Avenue protected bike lane next year.

Streetsblog USA
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How Cutting Back on Driving Helps the Economy

Cross-posted from City Observatory

As Americans drive less and spend less on fuel, they have about $150 billion annually to spend in other ways.

There are two kinds of economics: macroeconomics, which deals in big national and global quantities, like gross domestic product, and microeconomics, which focuses on a smaller scale, like how the prices of specific products change. Macroeconomics gets all the attention in the news cycle, as people talk about the unemployment rate, the money supply, inflation, and the monthly payroll reports. Micro-economists usually labor in obscure corners, studying things like commodity prices, wage rates, and industry trends.

The President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) is the nation’s leading group of economists, focused heavily on understanding and explaining big macroeconomic trends.

A new CEA report, “The Surprising Decline in U.S. Petroleum Consumption,” highlights an important decades-in-the-making trend in the U.S. economy: we’re consuming a lot less oil that everyone thought we would. Obviously, oil consumption is a big deal in the macro economy. Oil imports are the biggest factor in the nation’s long running balance of trade deficit (we imported 2.7 billion barrels of oil in 2014, at an average cost of $91), and from the first energy crisis of the early 1970s onward, there’s been a strong recognition of the critical role that oil supplies and oil prices played in shaping global and national economic conditions.

While all of the models constructed by the experts, including the Energy Information Administration at the Department of Energy, predicted that U.S. petroleum consumption would grow from 18 to 30 million barrels per day between 1970 and 2030, something very different is happening: U.S. oil consumption has leveled off at about 21 million barrels per day. Even though population is increasing, and the economy is still growing, petroleum consumption has been essentially flat.

What’s keeping consumption down? According to the CEA analysis, transportation explains 80-90 percent of the trend. While industrial, commercial, and residential energy use have generally followed predictions, energy use for transportation is far below where it was predicted.

Read more…

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Tish James Calls on DOT to Make Bike Lanes Standard on Vision Zero Projects

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Public Advocate Tish James with members of Families for Safe Streets at the Vision Zero Vigil earlier this month.

Have you noticed that DOT street safety projects are leaving out bike lanes even when there’s plenty of room for them? So has Public Advocate Tish James.

In a letter to Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg last week, James called on DOT to make bike lanes a default feature of street redesigns, especially on wide arterial streets where a disproportionate share of traffic injuries happen. She also urged DOT to fold the addition of bike lanes into street repaving projects.

After a slowdown last year, in 2015 DOT’s bike program is making progress on protected lanes along segments of Queens Boulevard and Bruckner Boulevard, while creating better connections in the Manhattan network. But that’s a routine pace for New York City, which began implementing protected lanes in 2007. Trottenberg’s DOT hasn’t escalated its production of bike lanes as part of Vision Zero, leaving several projects without any bike infrastructure despite ample space.

This year alone, proposals for Riverside Drive, Eighth Street, and Atlantic Avenue, among other streets, failed to include bike lanes. DOT has yet to come out with a design for a protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue despite multiple requests from the local community board.

Noting that protected bike lanes have reduced injuries to all users on streets where they’ve been installed, James questions why DOT opts not to include them in some projects and calls for a more “ambitious” approach to implementation:

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
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If Walmart Urbanizes Its Headquarters, What’s Next for Its Stores?

The Washington Post reports that Walmart, the retail behemoth whose name is synonymous with big-box sprawl, is looking to attract young people to work at its headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. To make that happen, the company is investing in amenities to make its hometown — population 40,000 — more urban.

Sam Walton’s first store, in downtown Bentonville, where the company hopes to draw young employees. Photo: brad_hot/Flickr via Washington Post

Sam Walton’s first store, in downtown Bentonville, Arkansas, where the company hopes to draw young employees. Photo: brad_holt/Flickr via Washington Post

To remain competitive, the Post says, Walmart must draw professionals “who might not have a car” away from “large cities that have lots more to offer.”

Robert Steuteville at Better! Cities & Towns believes new development in the Bentonville area will have repercussions across the U.S.:

In the middle of the 20th century, northwest Arkansas consisted of a few sleepy towns on a railroad line. Now it has half a million residents in disconnected subdivisions.

The area must urbanize to move forward economically, and the implications of that necessity will turn suburbs on their heads. The needs of Bentonville and Walmart will reverberate coast to coast.

Walmart, the Walton Foundation, and local leaders are investing heavily in art museums and other cultural attractions, bicycle trails, and mixed-use infill development that brings restaurants and brew pubs.

Nearby Rogers, Springdale, and Fayetteville (home of the University of Arkansas) are moving in the same direction. Urban amenities have gained status in the land of Walmart — arguably the largest, most suburban-oriented enterprise in the world.

“In order for us to compete for the type of talent it’s going to take to allow these companies to remain competitive in the global economy, we have to be a place where people want to live, where they can spend their free time doing things they enjoy,” one Bentonville official told the Post.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Family Friendly Cities says Seattle’s proposed residential zoning update won’t lead families with kids to flee the city.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Anthony Foxx Will Try to Prod Christie and Cuomo to Action on Trans-Hudson Rail (NYT)
  • Cuomo’s Getting Great Press for His LaGuardia Reveal (NYT, DNA, AP, WSJ, News, Post)
  • A More Skeptical View of the Proposal (2nd Ave Sagas)
  • At LGA Presser, Biden Gets in a Dig at Christie for Killing ARC; Cuomo Gets Nothing But Love (News)
  • De Blasio: Before NYC Commits to More MTA Funding, Let’s See What Albany Will Contribute (AMNY)
  • The Case for Design-Build Contracting to Cut Infrastructure Costs (Crain’s)
  • Pointing Fingers at Amtrak Won’t Fix NJ Transit’s Woes (WNYC)
  • Driver Who Killed Passenger and Fled Scene on SI Had License Revoked in 2013 (News)
  • 15 New Speed Humps in the Works for Windsor Terrace Streets (DNA)
  • Another PR Victory for the MTA (Gothamist)
  • In Case You Thought NYC Has Enough Bike Racks… (DNA)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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If Crowded Old Airports Are “Un-New York,” What Are Crowded Old Trains?

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The governor leaps into action.

Andrew Cuomo’s big infrastructure announcement with VP Joe Biden today was, if nothing else, a tidy encapsulation of how little the governor cares about the big problems facing New York’s transportation systems.

For days the governor’s office had been hyping his appearance with Biden. Was Cuomo finally about to tell New Yorkers how he’s going to modernize the trains and buses that millions of people count on every day? Nope. It was all about a $4 billion plan to modernize LaGuardia Airport, including the plus an AirTrain connection from the airport to Willets Point that’s projected to cost a billion dollars without saving most people any time.

Cuomo’s big pitch: LGA, with its ancient infrastructure, uncomfortable crowding, and chronic delays, is “un-New York.”

Okay, fair enough. So what does that make the subways, with their eighty-year-old signals, overflowing platforms, and chronic delays?

Just a few days ago, Cuomo wouldn’t even entertain the thought of enacting the Move NY plan to cut traffic and fund transit in one stroke. The logical conclusion from today’s announcement is that, in Cuomo’s eyes, Move NY doesn’t address a glaring lack of New York-ness.

New York’s failure to impress tourists who fly Delta is a problem Cuomo wants to personally address. New York’s crushing traffic congestion, unpredictable subways, miserably crowded platforms, and slow buses are just part of the city’s charm.

Classic New York! Photo: Move NY

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Livable Streets Events

This Week: Safer 111th Street, and It’s Summer Streets Season

Assembly Member Francisco Moya and Queens Community Board 4 are opposed to a road diet that would make Corona’s 111th Street safer for thousands of people. On Wednesday, DOT will present its proposal at a public workshop hosted by Council Member Julissa Ferreras, who supports the project.

See more details below, along with the rest of this week’s calendar highlights, including a pair of big car-free streets events scheduled for this weekend.

  • Wednesday: The second of two workshops organized by Council Member Julissa Ferreras for a safer 111th Street in Corona. DOT has proposed a road diet and protected two-way bike lane for the wide, speed-inducing street, but two members of Queens CB 4 delayed the project in June. Assembly Member Francisco Moya is also opposed to making 111th Street safer for walking and biking. The plan is scheduled to go back to the community board in September. The workshop, where DOT will again present its proposal, starts at 6 p.m.
  • Wednesday: The Department of City Planning hosts an open house for the Flushing West Neighborhood Planning Study, which aims to coordinate city services and investments in the area. 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Saturday: It’s the first week of Summer Streets 2015, along Park Avenue from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park. 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Sunday: Check out the first of three car-free events on consecutive Sundays along the Grand Concourse between 161st and 167th streets. Center lanes of the street will have music and other cultural and health-related activities. Boogie on the Boulevard Summer Sundays starts at noon.

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

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The Trouble With Citi Bike Above 59th Is Station Density, Not the Timeline

The timetable for Citi Bike expansion on the UWS isn’t a problem. The real trouble is that after all the planned stations go in, neighborhoods will still have gaps in their bike-share networks (the orange discs). Map: Transportation Alternatives

For some reason, the timeline for phasing in the Citi Bike expansion in Manhattan is getting covered as a minor scandal, even though officials are sticking to the schedule they revealed months ago. The real problem with the bike-share expansion plan is the thinned-out station network, which is, unfortunately, getting buried by the faux story about a delayed roll-out.

The West Side Rag came out with the first headline about the Upper West Side getting “only 21 of 39″ stations this year. The Post ran with the same angle, and Curbed picked up the Post story.

Just so we’re clear: The timetable announced last week is essentially the same as the timetable announced in May — the bike-share service area will extend to 86th Street this year, and up to 110th Street next spring. (The West Side Rag reported as much at the time.) Further expansion is slated for 2017.

There’s been no “reduction” in stations for the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, just some confusion because not all the stations on DOT’s neighborhood bike-share maps will get installed until spring.

Meanwhile, the real story about how the city is flubbing the bike-share expansion is getting overlooked (except on Curbed). As we’ve reported, DOT is trying to spread out bike-share stations too thinly, which threatens to impede the quality of bike-share service in the expansion zone, making it less reliable and more expensive to operate.

More stories about the real problem, instead of the imaginary one, could make a big difference for bike-share going forward.

Streetsblog.net
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Take a Ride on St. Louis’s First Protected Bike Lane


Here’s a nice milestone: Downtown St. Louis has its first protected bike lane.

Alex Ihnen at nextSTL posted video of a ride along the one-way lane from end to end, along Chestnut Street. The protected segment is separated from motor vehicle traffic by a parking lane, painted buffer, and flex posts. The remainder is a painted buffered lane with parking on the right and thru lanes on the left.

Ihnen says it’s a good first step toward a protected bike lane network.

A few thoughts from the ride:

  • The protected bike lane is fantastic, making a huge difference in the feeling of safety when riding downtown
  • A west bound protected lane is needed next (Pine, Olive?)
  • Bike lanes aren’t much use if they’re littered with glass and debris (Olive, Jefferson)
  • A protected bike lane on Chouteau (LOTS of extra room there) would provide a great connection to/from The Arch, Soulard, Lafayette Square, The Gate District, Shaw, The Grove, Forest Park, and connected neighborhoods
  • Jefferson Avenue bike lane badly needs repainting – a protected lane would be amazing

Check out more coverage of the Chestnut Street lane from St. Louis native Tom Fucoloro at Seattle Bike Blog. “If you had said a few weeks ago that kids would be biking comfortably on a downtown St. Louis street, people would have thought you were crazy,” writes Fucoloro. “That’s the power of protected bike lanes, and the change can happen overnight.”

Elsewhere on the Network: ATL Urbanist reports that high-rises are replacing parking lots near a MARTA station, Seattle Transit Blog says circuitous alignment of a future light rail route has more to do with politics than sound planning, and Second Avenue Sagas reminds us that Chris Christie is a liar.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Cuomo Continues Gubernatorial Tradition of Trying to Make the MTA Someone Else’s Problem (NYT)
  • Advocates, Budget Watchdogs Aren’t Impressed With Gov’s Transit Funding Outline (Crain’s 1, 2)
  • Daily News: Cuomo’s Wrong, Move NY Has Changed the Politics of Road Pricing in NYC
  • Northeast Corridor and Trans-Hudson Rail Tunnels Held Together With Duct Tape (NYTWNYC)
  • Chris Christie Has a Tunnel Under the Hudson He’d Like to Sell You (NYTWNYC, 2nd Ave Sagas)
  • WSJ: Citi Bike’s Upgrades Are Improving the Experience for Riders
  • More Coverage of Citi Bike Expansion (NYTDNA, News)
  • Schumer: Feds Should Accelerate Tech to Prevent Drunk Driving (News)
  • Meet the VC-Backed Companies on a Mission to Get New Yorkers to Drive Private Cars (Crain’s)
  • Uber’s Pick-Up Patterns in NYC Don’t Look That Different From Yellow Cabs (NYT)
  • Manhattan and the Bronx Celebrate the Reopened High Bridge (Gothamist)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA