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Today’s Headlines

  • SUV Driver Kills Jadann Williams, 8, on Cul-de-Sac in Flatbush (NYT, News, WCBS)
  • Constantinides, Betty Jean DiBiaso’s Family Urge Traffic Calming Around Astoria Park (Q Gazette)
  • Municipal Art Society Joins Effort to Get de Blasio to Support Times Square Plazas (Politico)
  • Disability Advocates: Wait Time for Accessible Vehicles Is Growing With Rise of Uber (West Side Spirit)
  • Meet the New App on the Block: It’s Like Uber, But for Taxis (Crain’s)
  • DOT, MTA Tour Woodhaven Blvd With Elected Officials Whose Constituents Fear SBS (TL)
  • Alleged Drunk Driver Arrested After Running Red, Crashing Into Police Car in Queens (WNBC)
  • Maria Torres-Springer, de Blasio’s New EDC Chief, Picks New Real Estate Deputy (Crain’s)
  • Anthony Weiner Makes the Case for the State to Give More Power to the City (NYT)
  • Allan Rosen Isn’t Sure Pedestrian Fatalities Are All That Important (Sheepshead Bites)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Uber Should Pay an MTA Fee Like Yellow Cabs, But the Fee Should Be Smarter

One of the points of debate over Uber’s operations in New York is whether its trips should contribute the same 50-cent surcharge to the MTA that yellow and green taxis do. It’s an easy question to answer in some ways: It doesn’t matter whether a car is yellow, green, or black — if some for-hire vehicles have to pay an MTA fee, they all should. But as long as this taxi surcharge is in the public eye, there’s also an opportunity to rethink the fee itself and make it smarter.

It shouldn't matter what color your taxi is -- but it should matter where the trip goes. Photo: Shuggy/Flickr

It shouldn’t matter what color your taxi is — but it should matter where the trip goes. Photo: Shuggy/Flickr

Ideally, the surcharge paid by yellow taxis, Uber, and other for-hire services would be higher in the congested Manhattan core than in outer-borough neighborhoods lacking decent transit service. While that wouldn’t be a substitute for real congestion pricing of all motor vehicle trips, it could set a precedent and demonstrate the impact of congestion-based fees on a substantial portion of Manhattan traffic.

Here’s the way things are set up today: A 50-cent surcharge on all green and yellow taxi trips will generate an estimated $87 million for the MTA this year, according to the Citizens Budget Commission. Black cars, including Uber and Lyft, are subject to a sales tax that isn’t paid by metered taxis. A sliver of that — slightly more than one-third of one percent — will generate an estimated $7 million for the MTA this year.

Because of this imbalance, Uber’s growth is poised to eat into MTA funding. CBC projects the MTA will actually lose revenue as Uber trips grow and taxi trips continue to decline.

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke about the problem on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show last week. “We also have to support the MTA, which is in the interest of all of us, and that happens right now through a certain number of taxis, but it doesn’t happen through Uber, for example,” he said.

The fee could also be restructured in a way that addresses problems beyond the MTA’s coffers.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Another Tall Tale About Congestion From the Texas Transportation Institute

Crossposted from City Observatory.

Everything is bigger in Texas — which must be why, for the past 30 years, the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) has basically cornered the market for telling whoppers about the supposed toll that traffic congestion takes on the nation’s economy. Today, they’re back with a new report, “The Urban Mobility Scorecard,” which purports to measure congestion and its costs in U.S. cities.

The numbers (and from time to time, the methodology) change, but the story remains the same. Traffic is bad, traffic is costing Americans lots of money, and traffic is getting worse. Here’s the press release: “Traffic Gridlock Sets New Records for Traveler Misery: Action Needed to Reduce Traffic Congestion’s Impact on Drivers, Businesses and Local Economies.”

The trouble with TTI’s work is that, to put it bluntly, it’s simply wrong. For one, their core measure of congestion costs — the “travel time index” — only looks at how fast people can travel, and completely ignores how far they have to go. As a result, it makes sprawling cities with fast roads between far-flung destinations look good, while penalizing more compact cities where people actually spend less time — and money — traveling from place to place. These and other problems, discussed below, mean that the TTI report is not a useful guide to policy.

Read more…

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No Charges for Driver Who Killed Sheepshead Bay Woman in Crosswalk

The red arrow indicates the approximate path of Carol Carboni, and the white arrow indicates the approximate path of the 33-year-old driver who killed her in the crosswalk at Avenue Z and Nostrand Avenue. Photo: Google Maps

The white arrow indicates the approximate path of Carol Carboni, and the red arrow indicates the approximate path of the 33-year-old driver who killed her in the crosswalk at Avenue Z and Nostrand Avenue. Photo: Google Maps

NYPD has not filed charges against the driver who killed a Sheepshead Bay woman in the crosswalk just blocks from her home yesterday afternoon.

Carol Carboni, 52, was crossing Nostrand Avenue from west to east at 3:35 p.m. yesterday when the driver of a 2013 Infiniti sedan, making a left turn from eastbound Avenue Z to northbound Nostrand, struck the rear right side of her mobility scooter with his front passenger-side bumper. Carboni fell off the scooter and suffered severe head trauma, NYPD said. She was taken to Lutheran Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

This case seems to be a likely candidate for Right of Way charges against the driver. The fact that Carboni was in the crosswalk and the driver was making a left turn at the same time indicate that Carboni likely had the right of way.

NYPD told Streetsblog this morning that it did not have information available about what the traffic signals indicated or who had the right of way at the time of the crash. The Collision Investigation Squad continues to investigate the crash, NYPD said, and no charges have been filed against the 33-year-old Brooklyn resident who was behind the wheel.

In the year since the Right of Way Law took effect, NYPD has rarely charged drivers who strike pedestrians or cyclists with the right of way.

Read more…

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Will the Governor Who Never Rides the Bus Sign NYC’s Bus Lane Camera Bill?

Governor Andrew Cuomo definitely hasn’t taken an MTA bus “since he first assumed office in 2011,” Gothamist reported yesterday, and it’s probably been much longer than that. So will the governor who never rides the bus sign the bill to expand camera enforcement of New York City’s growing bus lane network?

Cuomo gets off a bus in Havana. Photo: Governor's Office/Flickr

Cuomo gets off a bus… in Havana. Photo: Governor’s Office/Flickr

“If Governor Cuomo actually rode the bus like the two million New Yorkers who do it daily, he’d see how much we need improved bus service,” Nick Sifuentes of the Riders Alliance told Gothamist.

Specifically, if Cuomo saw first-hand what the millions of daily NYC bus passengers put up with, he might warm to the bill to expand bus lane cameras, which has awaited his signature since it passed the legislature two months ago.

The bill would bring automated bus lane enforcement to 10 additional bus routes, on top of the six already approved by Albany. Keeping double-parked drivers and shortcut-seekers out of the red bus lanes will make trips faster for transit riders.

The performance boost is sorely needed, with bus ridership stagnating even as subway ridership has boomed.

After the legislature passed the bus lane enforcement bill in June, the Cuomo administration told Streetsblog that it is reviewing the bill. That position hasn’t changed.

Here’s a photo-op proposition for Team Cuomo: Have the governor sign the bill before hopping on an MTA bus — say, along Woodhaven Boulevard, where tens of thousands of daily riders stand to benefit from the new cameras.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Turning Driver Kills Carol Carboni, 52, on Mobility Scooter on Nostrand Ave; No Charges (Post, News)
  • NYPD Tickets Driver Who Cut Off Casino Bus Before Its Driver Crashed Into Building (AP, News)
  • Citizens Budget Commission: Uber’s Growth Threatens MTA Funding Source (Politico)
  • Crain’s Runs the Numbers on Street Safety in NYC, with a Special Call-Out on Bike Injuries
  • Police Seek Hudson River Greenway Cyclist Who Left After Hitting Toddler (Gothamist, WCBS)
  • Bronx Democrats Plan to Oust DA Robert Johnson, Replace Him With New Candidate (Post 1, 2)
  • Senator David Carlucci’s Plan to Keep Tappan Zee Tolls Low Relies on Toll Evaders (LoHud)
  • Borelli Announces Funding for New Road Beneath Outerbridge Crossing (Advance)
  • Citi Bike on Staten Island? Eventually, de Blasio Says (Advance, DNA)
  • 56-Unit Condo Building With 150 Parking Spaces to Replace 550-Car UES Garage (YIMBY)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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DOT Axes Midland Beach Slow Zone, and Staten Islanders Seem OK With That

20 mph speed limits won't be coming to Midland Beach, but sped humps might. Image: DOT [PDF]

20 mph speed limits won’t be coming to Midland Beach, but speed humps might. Image: DOT [PDF]

DOT has shelved a Neighborhood Slow Zone planned for Staten Island’s Midland Beach neighborhood over local opposition to a 20 mph speed limit on one of the streets within the project area. Borough President Jimmy Oddo, who supported the Slow Zone as a council member, is now applauding DOT for canceling it.

The news came in a letter from Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg to Oddo and his City Council successor and former chief of staff, Steven Matteo. While the Slow Zone is dead, DOT says it will consider speed humps on cross streets in the neighborhood.

Neighborhood Slow Zones include speed humps, 20 mph speed limits, and signage to slow drivers in residential areas. Community Education Council 31, a group of volunteers who advise the city on education policy for the neighborhood, first applied for the Midland Beach Slow Zone in 2011, said president Michael Reilly, and resubmitted its application in 2013.

DOT accepted the Midland Beach application that year and announced it would be implemented in 2016. The zone is bounded by Father Capodanno Boulevard, Hylan Boulevard, Midland Avenue, and the Miller Field recreation area [PDF].

All streets in the zone were to get a 20 mph speed limit, and speed humps were to be installed on most streets, but not Lincoln Avenue and Greeley Avenue, which cross the neighborhood between Hylan and Father Capodanno.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Indianapolis Brings Street Life Downtown With a Flurry of Quick Changes

indy_square

For 10 weeks, Indianapolis is showing residents how the Monument Circle redesign — which narrows the roadway from 40 feet to 22 feet — will look, and how that additional public space can be used. All photos from Big Car Collaborative.

Indianapolis is building public support for a major street redesign the same way DIYers and tactical urbanists do: by testing out temporary changes.

Monument Circle, where the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument stands tall at 285 feet, is a downtown traffic circle and city park with a lot of potential, but with three lanes of traffic whirling around it, the space feels cut off from the public. That’s going to change, as the city works to make the circle and its adjoining streets more inviting to people on foot.

Scraping together the $60 million needed for permanent improvements won’t happen overnight, however, and the city doesn’t want to wait years before people get to experience a better Monument Circle.

So the city — in partnership with the Downtown Indy business association and a local organization somewhat ironically named Big Car Collaborative — is using events and temporary materials to show how big cars will no longer dominate the city’s iconic plaza.

Read more…

StreetFilms
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Hamburg’s Quest to Get Bicycling Up to 25 Percent of All Trips

Hamburg, a city of nearly two million people in northern Germany, has a 12 percent bike mode share and regularly ranks among the world’s most bike-friendly cities (Copenhagenize currently has it in 19th place). Nevertheless, many cyclists and advocates in Hamburg believe their government should be doing much more to build safer bike lanes and encourage cycling.

Guest Streetfilms journalist Joe Baur was recently in Germany and got to interview advocates about the state of cycling and how Hamburg can achieve its goal of 25 percent bike mode share by 2025.

You can view more of Joe Baur’s work on Vimeo.

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Eyes on the Street: Clinton Street’s New Bikeway

The bikeway isn't complete yet, but it's already getting used. Photo: Stephen Miller

The bikeway isn’t complete yet, but it’s already getting used. Photo: Stephen Miller

A new two-way bikeway is under construction to provide a connection between the Williamsburg Bridge and the East River Greenway.

The route along Clinton Street extends the existing two-way protected bike lane between Delancey and Grand an additional five blocks to South Street, where it connects to the waterfront bike path beneath the FDR Drive.

The waterfront greenway, which runs along South Street, will also be getting an upgrade: concrete barriers to protect greenway users from cars and trucks. DOT says the installation schedule for this component of the project is still being determined.

Cinton Street is getting a two-way bikeway and painted curb extensions. Image: DOT [PDF]

Clinton Street is getting a two-way bikeway and painted curb extensions. Image: DOT [PDF]

Read more…