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It Shouldn’t Take This Much Effort to Count Bike Trips in NYC [Updated]

Update: We added a short Q&A with Chancey to the end of this post.

In case you missed it, at 6:30 a.m. yesterday Bahij Chancey set up a table on the DUMBO side of the Manhattan Bridge to count cyclists. By the time he wrapped up at 8 p.m., 5,589 people had biked past.

Chancey was also collecting signatures from people who’d like DOT to install a bike counter — also known as a totem — on East River crossings, starting with the Manhattan Bridge.

“A lot of criticism from community boards focuses on the idea that cycling is a seasonal mode of transportation,” Chancey told AMNY. “The counter is a great way to incentivize cycling — for people to see the numbers of rides and compare it to car traffic — and to establish it as a viable, quick, cheap commuting option that people use all year around.”

More broadly, Chancey wants DOT to make bike count data more accessible to the public. DOT releases trip data in occasional reports, but does not publish it on the city’s open data portal.

“With the information available to all to dissect on the totem, I’d be interested in looking into how weather impacts the number of riders, or maybe compare the number of rides taken on different days of the week,” Chancey said.

An online petition calls for improvements to the plaza under the bridge, like better lighting and signage, in addition to the counter. Chancey plans to send signatures to Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, DOT Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Keith Bray, and City Council Member Steve Levin. You can add your name here.

We asked Chancey about yesterday’s event and the campaign to get better bike data from DOT. Here’s what he had to say.

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
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Growth in the Houston Region Shifts to the City

In the past few years, a greater share of the population growth in and around Houston happened in the city itself, compared to the first decade of the millennium. The trend is pretty clear, reports Houston Tomorrow:

The city of Houston is capturing a much greater share of new residents, compared to the suburbs, than in past decades. Map: Houston Tomorrow

The city of Houston now accounts for a greater share of residential growth in the region than in years past. Map: Houston Tomorrow

From 2010 to 2015, the City of Houston has added an average of 39,355 people every year — 28% of the 142,281 added every year on average in the 13 County Houston region.

From 2000 to 2010, the City of Houston added an average of 14,582 people every year — 12% of the 145,820 added every year on average in the 13 County Houston region.

The shift comes even though Houston’s existing development rules make it difficult to build walkable places, Houston Tomorrow’s Jay Blazek Crossley says:

We know from the Kinder Houston Area Survey that there is a massive pent up demand for walkable urban lifestyle options that traditionally has not been met in the last four decades of development. The shift in regional growth may be due to a shift in development as the City of Houston has started making urbanism legal. Walkable urban development remains illegal by City of Houston development code in most of the city, requiring a variance unless the development is within a quarter mile of a light rail station. In this small area, the Urban Corridors code is allowed as an alternative to the car dependent codes required for the entire city.

Transit, walking, biking, and green space improvements may also be facilitating the shift.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Riders Alliance: L Train Riders Want Bus Lanes and Bike Lanes While Subway’s Shut Down (AMNY)
  • TLC Setting New Rules to Reduce Fatigued Driving — How About Better Pay? (News)
  • Cuomo’s State DOT Refuses to Tell the Public How It’s Spending Their Money (MTR)
  • Christie Vetoes Port Authority Reform Bill (Crain’s)
  • With the Q Getting Routed to Second Avenue, MTA Will Revive the W (2nd Ave SagasAMNY)
  • A Post Editor Racked Up 2,000 Miles on Citi Bike
  • The Daily News Sides With David Greenfield on F Express
  • Letting the Noisiest Voices Dictate the Agenda Is No Way to Set Transportation Policy (IVM)
  • Fear and Loathing on Queens Boulevard (TL)
  • Reimagining the Streets Underneath the Livonia Avenue Elevated (ioby)
  • The Infrastructure Fantasy That Makes Gondolas Look Great (Curbed, DNA)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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After a Car Wreck, Dutch Kills Civic Association Flips Out Over Bike Corral

After a speeding motorist collided with a motorist who failed to stop at a stop sign, the Dutch Kills Civic Association in Long Island City is telling the powers that be how unhappy they are — with a nearby bike corral.

The corral was installed in April at the intersection of 29th Street and 39th Avenue following a request from Dominic Stiller, who owns the corner restaurant Dutch Kills Centraal with his wife, Jean Cawley. Stiller tried to get an endorsement from Queens Community Board 1, but the board, which habitually says “No” to street improvements for walking and biking, voted against it (without quorum) in 2014.

At the same time, locals and City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer have tried for years to get DOT to implement safety measures at 29th Street and 39th Avenue. The site has a history of high-speed collisions. A few months ago an Access-A-Ride driver turned left at the intersection and nearly hit a child.

Last month a speeding driver slammed into another vehicle at the intersection, shown in this video that Cawley sent in. DKCA members took the crash as an opportunity to signal their displeasure with the bicycle parking.

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NYPD Still Keeps Crash Reports Under Lock and Key

Two years into the de Blasio administration’s Vision Zero initiative, NYPD still refuses to release crash investigations to the public.

NYPD refuses to disclose basic information pertaining to the crash that killed Brooklyn cyclist James Gregg, such as where the trucker who hit Gregg was going, and what was in his trailer. Photo: Eric McClure

The most recent case: NYPD denied a freedom of information request from a New York Times reporter who asked for documents related to the crash that killed cyclist James Gregg in Park Slope last month.

Gregg was killed on April 20 by a tractor-trailer driver on Sixth Avenue near Sterling Place. That’s not a truck route, and based on photos of the scene, there is a strong possibility the truck that hit Gregg was too long to be operated legally on NYC surface streets. But an officer at the scene suggested Gregg had acted recklessly by trying to hitch a ride, which also describes what a cyclist desperately trying to fend off an oversized truck might look like. NYPD later said Gregg “for unknown reasons fell to the ground,” and eventually ticketed the trucker for equipment violations driving off-route, but he was not charged by police or District Attorney Ken Thompson for taking Gregg’s life.

Not satisfied with the shifting narrative from police, the Times’s Andy Newman filed a FOIL request on April 24, reports street safety advocate Charles Komanoff, who posted the NYPD letter denying the request on the Right of Way web site.

Newman asked NYPD for Collision Investigation Squad reports, any police determination concerning what caused the crash, the driver’s name and address, information on any summonses issued and charges filed against the driver, information on the driver’s route and cargo, the length of the truck trailer, and whether police determined that the truck driver broke laws relating to truck routes and passing at a safe distance.

On May 11, Lieutenant Richard Mantellino rejected Newman’s request on the grounds that granting it “would interfere with law enforcement investigations or judicial proceedings.”

NYPD’s handling of the crash — reflexive victim-blaming followed by conflicting police statements and a refusal to release information that would shed light on what happened and how the investigation was conducted — adhered to a script that has not changed in years, with or without a Vision Zero policy framework in place at City Hall.

Read more…

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Livable Streets Events

This Week: Woodhaven Boulevard SBS — The Next Chapter

Select Bus Service on Woodhaven Boulevard will speed up travel times for 30,000 daily bus passengers and bring much-needed safety improvements to one of the city’s most dangerous roads.

Because it reallocates street space from cars to buses, the project has met some resistance that prompted DOT to scale back the initial plan. Despite those setbacks, the Woodhaven SBS project retains the promise of faster, more reliable bus service and significant pedestrian safety gains.

On Wednesday, DOT will hold the last of its most recent round of public meetings on the project. If you care about faster buses and safer crossings along Woodhaven Boulevard, make sure your voice gets heard.

Check the Streetsblog calendar for a full list of this week’s events. Here are the highlights:

Keep your eyes on the calendar for updates. Let us know if you have an event you’d like to see added.

Streetsblog.net
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Anthony Foxx Envisions a “Gradual Shift” Away From Car Dependence

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx criss-crossed the country last week on a tour of the seven finalists for U.S. DOT’s $50 million “Smart City Challenge” grant.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is taking a "measured" tone about changing transportation in the U.S. Photo: Bike Portland

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. Photo: Bike Portland

When Foxx was in Portland, Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland got a chance to ask him how he plans to change the transportation “paradigm” so walking, biking, and transit become the norm. Six years after Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood climbed on a table at the National Bike Summit and announced “the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized,” Maus notes, federal policy still tilts heavily in favor of car-based infrastructure.

Here’s what Foxx said:

I think we’re going to need cars. We’re going to need a mix of transportation options. I think we have a supply-side mentality right now at the federal level where we presume that 80 cents on the dollar should go to the automobile within the Highway Trust Fund. And I actually think over the longer term we’re going to need to look at a more performance-based system where we look at things like: How it congestion best reduced? How do we increase safety? How do we move significant numbers of people most efficiently and effectively and cleanly. And I think that’s going to push us into a different mix of transportation choices.

But I think it’s a slow, gradual process. Look around the world and no country has created a multimodal system overnight; but I think that’s ultimately where we’re headed. We have to have a mix of transportation choices. It includes the automobile, but it’s not exclusive to the automobile.

Foxx’s power to set transportation policy pales in comparison to Congress and the White House, but he could be doing more to speed up a shift of priorities at the federal level. U.S. could, for instance, reform the way states measure congestion, so people riding the bus count as much as solo drivers. But so far Foxx’s agency has been reluctant to do that.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Transport Providence considers how insight from conservatives could improve transit projects. The Transportationist explains how the “modernist” vision for transportation undervalued places and diverged from thousands of years of human experience. And City Block considers the advantages and drawbacks of Denver’s new airport train.

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Today’s Headlines

  • NYT to Cuomo: Do Something Significant for Transit for Once and Get MoveNY Through Albany
  • Subway Crowding Causing ~30 Percent More Delays Than Last Year (NY1)
  • The #CrashNotAccident Campaign Caught the Attention of the Times
  • Will NYPD Fix Its Collision Investigations Without Michael Ameri? (RoW)
  • Citi Bike Mechanics Are Worried About Some Components in the Newer Bikes (News)
  • DOT Will Add Nine Citi Bike Infill Stations on the Upper East Side (DNA)
  • Diabolical David Greenfield Pits Brooklyn Neighborhoods Against Each Other (NYT)
  • $100 Million in Station Improvements Could Make F-Express More Appealing (2nd Ave Sagas)
  • The BQX Streetcar Show Played to a Tough Crowd in Red Hook (Gothamist, AMNY)
  • More Clinton Ave Bikeway Coverage (DNA, Brooklyn Paper)
  • Hit-and-Run Green Cab Driver Injured Woman in Gowanus (News); 3-Car Pileup in Bensonhurst (Post)
  • Meet New Yorkers Who Citi Bike Everywhere (Post)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Eyes on the Street: First Signs of Amsterdam Avenue’s Protected Bike Lane

This isn’t Amsterdam, but it is a protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue. Photo: Lisa Sladkus

Exciting news to conclude this Bike to Work Day: NYC DOT has striped 24 blocks of the Amsterdam Avenue protected bike lane, from 72nd Street to 96th Street.

Once it’s finished, the segment DOT is building this year will run up to 110th Street. It’s a much-needed and long-desired northbound complement to the southbound protected lane on Columbus Avenue.

Amsterdam Avenue has been a treacherous speedway for years, and the redesign — which repurposed a lane of car traffic and will include concrete pedestrian islands — will no doubt save lives.

Upper West Side advocates — including Lisa Sladkus, who sent in these photos — worked for years to make this project a reality. The first community board vote for a protected lane on Amsterdam was way back in 2009. But it wasn’t until this February that a specific redesign cleared the obstructionist leadership of the board’s transportation committee.

Congrats and a big thank you to everyone who helped make it happen.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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The Problem With “Infrastructure Week”

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 3.37.06 PM

You may have noticed that it’s “Infrastructure Week” in America — a time where engineering and construction industry groups beat the drum for more money, using big numbers and images of collapsing bridges.

You can follow the dialogue on Twitter. It’s full of value-neutral statements like this one from Democratic members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure:

It’s hard to dispute the value of infrastructure, or that America’s transportation, water, sewer, and utility systems are generally in bad shape. But the big prescription that comes out of Infrastructure Week is not so much about making better infrastructure — it’s mainly about spending more money.

Infrastructure Week is brought to you by some of the largest engineering firms in the world. The coalition is broader than that, and includes some perspectives that emphasize quality and efficiency. But the driving force is the American Society of Civil Engineers, an organization with plenty of self-interest in bigger public construction budgets.

So it’s no wonder that the message from Infrastructure Week boils down to an orchestrated appeal for funds. It’s also not difficult to see why this message doesn’t get a lot people very excited: For more money, we can get a less defective version of what we’ve already got.

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