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Exploring the Streets of Stockholm

In 2014, I got the chance to visit Stockholm near the end of an incredibly hot summer. It’s a charming and walkable place with a downtown buzzing with people. There’s an easygoing rhythm to the city. After dark the pedestrian streets fill with both residents and tourists out for a walk, even after most stores and restaurants close.

I met up with a great mix of advocates, residents, and transportation experts to discuss what’s going on in Stockholm. Sweden is well-known as the birthplace of Vision Zero, the country’s goal to eliminate road deaths and serious injuries by 2020. Several American cities have now made it their explicit goal to reduce traffic deaths to zero in the next 10 years..

There’s much more worth taking away from Stockholm, which in the last decade has implemented congestion pricing, expanded its bike network, and adopted a plan called “The Walkable City” to create streets that work better for public life.

In tandem with the release of this film, I have great news to share: Since some Streetfilms, including this one, can get a bit long, we’ve decided to break them up into bite-size pieces, for those times when you want to show a great idea but may not be able to hold people’s attention for 12 minutes. These shorter segments will be available on Vimeo. Below are the four slices of Stockholm video you can mix and match to reach the masses.

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NYC Now Tracking Crashes Involving City Government Fleet, Except NYPD

Drivers of city government vehicles crashed at least 5,605 times last year, including 378 collisions that resulted in injury and seven fatalities, according to a new city database. Of the injury crashes, 41 harmed pedestrians and 11 hurt cyclists. The database collects information on crashes involving vehicles from all city agencies — except NYPD, which has yet to share its data.

Photo: ddartley/Flickr

Every city agency, including the fire department, sends data on crashes involving its fleet to a central database, but NYPD is not sharing its information yet. Photo: ddartley/Flickr

“It’s the first time that we’ve had a citywide program of tracking all the collisions that involve the city’s fleet,” said Keith Kerman, deputy commissioner for fleet management at the Department of Citywide Administrative Services. “It’s one of our major commitments as part of Vision Zero for the city fleet.”

The database is called CRASH and contains information going back to October 2013. CRASH is populated with data from the standard DMV crash report form, such as the date, time, and location of a crash, as well as the vehicles, pedestrians, or cyclists involved and whether the crash resulted in injuries. It also includes causal factors and traffic conditions at the time of the crash.

NYPD has not responded to questions about why it is not yet reporting data to the CRASH database. The police have “additional reporting and management needs,” Kerman said, including marking whether a crash occurred during enforcement activity and whether emergency lights and sirens were on at the time of the crash.

Tracking whether lights and sirens are turned on at the time of a crash in a citywide database could be important in cases where a pedestrian or cyclist is injured by an NYPD driver. After 24-year-old Ryo Oyamada was killed by an officer driving a cruiser in 2013, the department said the vehicle’s emergency lights were engaged. That claim was later contradicted by witnesses, video footage, and testimony from the officer himself.

FDNY, which like the police department also regularly engages its lights and sirens, is already participating in the CRASH database. Kerman says he is working with NYPD to bring its data into the system.

Kerman said Department of Sanitation vehicles are involved in the highest number of crashes in the database, followed by the fire department. This aligns with pedestrian personal injury claims tracked by Comptroller Scott Stringer, who found NYPD is far and away the top agency for crash claims, followed by DSNY and FDNY.

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
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How Wisconsin DOT Distorts the Numbers to Sell Highway Projects

Total miles driven has been declining in Wisconsin but the state's still adding highway lanes at a furious, go-for-broke pace. Image: Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group

Driving has been declining in Wisconsin but the state is still adding highway lanes at a furious, go-for-broke pace. Image: Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group

The Interstate 94 expansion in Wisconsin is a textbook example of how state DOTs manufacture the case for billion-dollar highway projects.

Instead of simply fixing up the road, Wisconsin DOT is moving ahead with an $850 million repair and widening of Interstate 94 through Milwaukee and some of its inner-ring suburbs. WisDOT says the widening is needed because it expects traffic to increase 24 percent by 2030. But a quick look at recent traffic data shows driving on the road has actually declined over the last few years.

WisDOT also frames the highway widening as a safety improvement, even though for $850 million you could redesign hundreds of miles of surface streets and do a lot more for safety. But even when you limit the focus to I-94, WisDOT’s data doesn’t hold up, writes Gretchen Schuldt at Network blog Milwaukee Rising:

In the Environmental Impact Statement for the project, WisDOT says that “Crash rates in the I?94 East?West Corridor are mostly at least 2 to 3 times higher than the statewide average for similar roadways, and several sections are more than 4 times higher than the statewide average.”

The various-size road pieces that WisDOT includes in the average are all considered “large urban freeways,” even when they are not. The list includes, for example, a stretch of Highway 43 in Rock County that carries an average of 1,012 cars per day, or a whopping 0.67% of the average traffic count in the I-94 project area.

Schuldt reviewed the data for more than 1,600 “large urban freeway” sections WisDOT used as the basis for comparisons to I-94. She found that on average, they carry only 34 percent as much traffic as the project area, making the whole safety argument suspect.

According to James Rowen at The Politicial Environment, even some conservative groups are calling for Wisconsin to “rein in” wasteful spending by killing highway projects.

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Dallas Morning News’ Transportation Blog reports that Dallas is testing out its new streetcar line to Oak Cliff, set to open in weeks. Systemic Failure notes that Caltrans won a court battle to continue widening famously scenic Highway 1 along the California coast. And Better Cities & Towns! explores the “big asphalt” lobby and how it works.

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Construction Has Begun on the Pulaski Bridge Bikeway

People who walk and bike the Pulaski Bridge may have more space by summer's end.

People who walk and bike the Pulaski Bridge may have more space by summer’s end. Image: NYC DOT

DOT has started work on the much-anticipated Pulaski Bridge bikeway, which will more than double the space for people walking and biking on the bridge.

The Pulaski Bridge spans Newtown Creek, linking Greenpoint and Long Island City. Right now people who cross the bridge on foot and by bike are crammed into one eight-foot lane next to six lanes for motor vehicle traffic. DOT will convert one southbound auto lane to a two-way bike lane, to be separated from pedestrian and car traffic by concrete barriers.

Assembly Member Joe Lentol, a longtime proponent of allocating more space on the bridge to pedestrians and cyclists, released a statement yesterday afternoon:

I am happy to announce that construction has begun on the Pulaski Bridge dedicated bike lane. I have been advocating for this bike lane for nearly five years and I am thrilled that the project is underway. I am hopeful the project will be completed by the end of the summer, finally allowing pedestrians and cyclists to safely travel over the bridge.

Lentol posted a DOT construction announcement on his Facebook page.

DOT began planning the bikeway under former commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. The original construction timetable called for it to be completed in 2014, but red tape pushed it back a year.

The redesign is also expected to help calm traffic on deadly McGuinness Boulevard by slowing drivers as they enter Brooklyn from the bridge.

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Today’s Headlines

  • It’s Not Your Imagination: Subway Service Really Is Getting Worse (News, Crain’s, PIX)
  • Gelinas: Transit Struggling Under Weight of a Resurgent NYC Needs New Revenue (C&S)
  • Tish James Wants “Serious Steps” to Prevent Fare Hikes But Hasn’t Endorsed Move NY (Crain’s)
  • Meanwhile, De Blasio Joins Other Mayors Calling on Washington to Come to the Rescue (WSJ, Capital)
  • 7 Train Extension Delayed (Again) Until at Least Summer (2nd Ave Sagas, NYT, Capital, Post, Crain’s)
  • WNYC Mean Streets Tracker: Traffic Deaths Down So Far This Year to 42 vs. 50 Last Year
  • Driver Charged in Hit-and-Run After Seriously Injuring Teen Cyclist in East Harlem (Post)
  • CB 6: Woodhaven Needs Car Lanes, Not Bus Lanes; Also Afraid of Queens Blvd Safety Fixes (Q Chron)
  • Rodriguez Wants 100-Acre Residential, Tech Rezoning of Inwood Railyard, Industrial Area (Post, Crain’s)
  • Manslaughter Charges After Man Punches Driver for Getting Too Close While Parking (NYT, News)
  • S.I. Mall Expansion Would Also Cut Parking By 347 Spaces, From 1,780 (Advance)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Fed Up With the Latest Fare Hike? Be Sure to Say #ThanksCuomo

It’s easy to get annoyed with the MTA: Your train is slow and crowded, the station is dirty, the bus is late — and to top it off, you just got hit with another fare hike. You’re paying more for deteriorating service, and the only place to direct your anger is a faceless bureaucracy known as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Is there anyone responsible for this mess?

Andrew "Straphanger" Cuomo. Photo: MTA/Flickr

Meet the man responsible for your fare hike. Photo: MTA/Flickr

Actually, yes. Governor Andrew Cuomo appoints the authority’s leadership and he calls the shots in Albany when it comes to figuring out the MTA’s finances.

So far, the governor’s reaction to his agency’s escalating debt and declining service quality has been little more than a shrug.

In his first term, Cuomo worked with suburban legislators to hack away at one of the MTA’s most important dedicated funding sources, then looted the authority’s budget while denying it was a raid. More recently, he said the authority’s five-year investment plan was “bloated,” and his latest budget actually cuts the state’s contribution to the MTA’s capital program.

When there’s an opportunity to cut tolls before an election or announce post-Sandy recovery initiatives, the governor makes sure the press release comes straight from his office, and he’ll never miss the photo-op.

But when the fare rises or it’s time to keep the system in good working condition? Then the MTA is someone else’s problem.

Cuomo has twice gone out his way to dismiss the plan to reduce the threat of future fare hikes by reforming the region’s dysfunctional toll system. Although former congestion pricing opponents have come around to support the plan, the governor insists that the political reality hasn’t changed since 2008.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Parking Madness 2015: Fort Worth vs. Boise

There’s just one spot remaining in the Elite Eight of this year’s Parking Madness bracket. And it’s either going to Fort Worth or Boise. Without further ado, here are the final parking craters in the 2015 tournament.

Fort Worth

forth_worth_birdseye

This eyesore was submitted by an anonymous commenter, who wrote:

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The Daily News Makes the Case for Legal Vehicular Killings (Again)

daily_news_hedline

Actual Daily News editorial headline.

Should there be misdemeanor charges for careless drivers who injure or kill New Yorkers legally crossing the street? For the second time in a month, the Daily News editorial board says “No.”

A brief recap: Last year, the city enacted the Right of Way Law, making it an unclassified misdemeanor to drive into a pedestrian or bicyclist who has the right of way. The law carries a criminal fine of up $250 and a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail. In practice, nearly all unclassified misdemeanors get pled down to traffic violations.

The driver who killed Allie Liao as she crossed the street with the signal did not .

No charges were filed against the driver who killed Allie Liao as she crossed the street with the signal. To prevent that from happening again, City Hall passed the Right of Way Law. The Daily News thinks that was the wrong call.

Before the law took effect, NYPD would not file charges in such cases unless the victim was dead or likely to die, or an officer personally witnessed a crash. For all intents and purposes, there were no consequences for drivers who struck someone in a crosswalk but only maimed, dismembered, or otherwise injured the victim instead of ending a life. Even in fatal failure-to-yield crashes, charges were not always applied.

What has the Daily News so worked up is that, as a result of the Right of Way Law, police can now respond to failure-to-yield collisions like so:

The NYPD last week arrested Alexander Smotritsky of Brooklyn after he fatally bowled over 61-year-old Xiali Yue on a right turn, as she attempted to cross with the light.

The injustice, according to the Daily News, is that Smotritsky was charged with a misdemeanor after his negligence caused the death of another person. The rest of the piece argues, in so many words, that police should have just let Smotritsky go about his business even though he killed Yue.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Movement in Congress to Let Cities and Towns Access Federal Transpo Funds

A state-level funding grant program in Pennsylvania is helping fund this campus master plan for Drexel University in Philadelphia. Image: Transportation for America

A grant program in Pennsylvania is helping fund the campus master plan for Drexel University in Philadelphia. Image: Transportation for America

Finally, proof that Congress is capable of crafting smart transportation legislation and not just zany ways to avoid raising the gas tax.

A bipartisan coalition of 10 lawmakers is supporting the Innovation in Surface Transportation Act, which would help cities, counties, and other local governments directly access federal funding for transportation projects, according to Transportation for America.

The proposal, first floated last year, would let local governments compete for at least $5 billion of the $50 billion or so in federal transportation funds allocated to states each year.

Under the bill, local agencies in each state would apply for grants, with a statewide committee selecting winners. The committees could include, for example, local chambers of commerce, active transportation advocates, transit agencies, air quality boards, ports, and others.

The bill would make better use of federal transportation dollars for two main reasons:

Read more…

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Livable Streets Events

This Week: Community Board Bonanza on Tuesday

The Streetsblog calendar is bursting at the seams on Tuesday, with community board meetings in three boroughs about plazas, bike lanes, pedestrian safety improvements, and Select Bus Service.

Here are the highlights — many more events are listed on the full Streetsblog calendar:

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