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Hit-and-Run Dollar Van Driver Strikes Couple, Kills Man on Flatbush Avenue

Angel and Samantha Sagardia were struck by a commuter van while attempting to cross the wide expanse of Flatbush Avenue outside Kings Plaza Mall. Photo: Google Maps

A dollar van driver struck Angel and Samantha Sagardia, killing Angel, on this wide expanse of Flatbush Avenue outside Kings Plaza Shopping Center before fleeing. Photo: Google Maps

Drivers killed two pedestrians in separate crashes in Queens and Brooklyn on Friday and Saturday. In one case, police are still looking for the driver of a minibus who fled the scene after striking a couple, killing a man and critically injuring his wife.

At about 5:00 p.m. Friday afternoon, 47-year-old Angel Sagardia and his wife Samantha Sagardia, 50, were crossing Flatbush Avenue from west to east between Avenue U and Avenue V, near the Kings Plaza Shopping Center, when the driver of a Ford Omnibus dollar van struck them both.

Police believe an unlicensed man was driving the illegal commuter van above when he struck Angel and Samantha Sagardia. Photo: PIX

Police believe an unlicensed driver was behind the wheel of this minibus when he struck the Sagardias. Photo: WPIX

The couple was rushed to Kings County Hospital, where Angel passed away from severe head trauma. Samantha remains in critical condition.

Police located the vehicle on Saturday in East Flatbush near the corner of Rogers Avenue and Tilden Avenue, but the motorist — who WPIX reports is believed to be an unlicensed Haitian immigrant who was driving the dollar van illegally — remains at large. Witnesses told WCBS that the driver was speeding and did not stop after he struck the Sagardias, and motorists often drive above the speed limit on this section of Flatbush. NYPD says an investigation is ongoing.

In 2015, five pedestrians were injured on Flatbush Avenue at the intersections with Avenues U and V, according to Vision Zero View. Because it is such a dangerous location for pedestrians, Flatbush Avenue is a priority corridor and the crossing with Avenue U is a priority intersection in DOT’s Brooklyn Pedestrian Safety Acton Plan [PDF].

Friday’s fatal crash occurred in the 63rd Precinct, led by Captain Thomas W. Burke, which has given out 242 tickets for speeding through so far this year the end of July, according to NYPD data. The 63rd Precinct Community Council meets on the fourth Wednesday of every month at 8 p.m. in the Kings Plaza Mall Community Room.

It was the second fatal hit-and-run this year involving a commuter van, according to data compiled by Streetsblog, after 16-year-old Alexa Smith was killed in Rosedale in February.

Council Member Alan Maisel, who represents the area where the Sagardias were struck, said that illegal dollar vans have been “causing havoc” in his district for at least 15 years. “They speed, they throw trash out the window, they stop wherever they want to stop, block driveways, they urinate because they have no bathrooms that are accessible to them. They’re a menace,” he told Streetsblog this afternoon. “It’s a question of having the Taxi and Limousine Commission enforce the laws and, for whatever reason, the last two administrations have not taken [illegal dollar vans] as seriously as they should.”

Read more…

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Don’t Underestimate the Street Safety Benefits of Congestion Pricing

The primary benefits of the Move NY toll reform plan are reducing congestion and funding transit — but don’t overlook the huge potential to improve street safety.

Road pricing in Stockholm and London, above, has yielded a street safety dividend -- even in times and places when the charge is not in effect. Photo: Andrew Lassiter

Road pricing in London has yielded a street safety dividend — even when and where the charge is not in effect. Photo: Andrew Lassiter

Recent research at Lancaster University in the UK suggests that since the introduction of the London congestion charge in 2003, lethal crashes have fallen faster than traffic congestion. The safety gains have even “spilled over,” as planners put it, to uncharged times of day, areas of the city, and modes of travel. While traffic deaths have declined in New York since 2003, the fatality rate has fallen much more sharply in London.

For my recently completed master’s thesis, I recently set out to find out just how road pricing in London and Stockholm, which adopted a congestion charge in 2006, has catalyzed safer streets. Here are the top four factors:

1. Fewer Vehicles Means Fewer Crashes

Most of the two dozen planners, academics, and advocates I interviewed in Stockholm, London, and New York agreed that the lower traffic volumes caused by congestion pricing result in safer streets for everyone. This runs counter to the notion that crawling Midtown gridlock means safer streets because cars are moving so slowly. Ultimately, fewer cars on the streets means a lower likelihood that people will be struck.

Although increased average traffic speeds from congestion pricing may sound like a risk, vehicles aren’t likely to end up driving at more dangerous speeds. That’s because pricing causes traffic flows to be “smoothed.” Stop-and-go driving is reduced, and while average speeds increase, maximum speeds do not.

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First-Ever “Shared Streets” Brings Stress-Free Streets to Financial District

With car traffic in the neighborhood limited, pedestrian and cyclists has most of the Financial District to themselves on Saturday. Photo: David Meyer

With so few cars, people were easily able to navigate Lower Manhattan’s streets. All Photos: David Meyer

DOT’s first-ever “Shared Streets” event limited car traffic entering a 60-block section of the Financial District for five hours on Saturday. With the neighborhood free of the near-constant stream of cars passing through on a typical day, pedestrians and cyclists were free to navigate the streets without fear.

Drivers who entered the area between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. faced barriers at streets along the edge of the neighborhood, with NYPD officers on hand to let motorists through and, aided by temporary street signs, remind them of the day’s 5 mph speed limit.

Officials held a noon press conference celebrating the event. “I think this is an opportunity to show you can go five miles an hour in a car [and] you can still get there,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for New Yorkers and visitors to New York to see how our historic center can operate with less traffic, and still accommodate cars, but to be a very pedestrian- or bicycle-friendly place that works for everybody,” said DOT Deputy Commissioner for Policy Michael Replogle.

While the heat kept many inside, those who did venture outdoors were rewarded with a tranquil traffic-calmed zone punctuated by event hubs, including a drum line at Federal Hall and bike races for children at Park Row.

A new sight in old New York: Children playing ball in the street during DOT's "Shared Streets" event on Saturday.

A new sight in old New York: Children playing ball in the street during DOT’s “Shared Streets” event in the Financial District on Saturday.

Take a look below the jump for more photos of “Shared Streets” in action:

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Streetsblog.net
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“Pocket” Bike Lanes: A Small Step to Make Intersections Work Better?

Photo: Greater Greater Washington

Photo by Mike Goodno (DDOT) via Greater Greater Washington

A bike lane that appears at an intersection to help guide bicyclists out of the way of turning drivers — in Washington, D.C., they call this a “pocket lane.” David Cranor writes at Greater Greater Washington that the District is looking to add them along streets that don’t otherwise have bike lanes, targeting intersections where they might help avoid conflicts. He says:

The District Department of Transportation recently installed “pocket lanes” on southbound 2nd Street NE at Massachusetts Avenue and at Hawaii Avenue and Taylor Street NE. A type of through bike lane that’s less than a block long and doesn’t continue on the other side of the intersection, they sit between the lane for going straight or turning left and the right turn lane.

Pocket lanes have several uses, and they make intersections more efficient for everyone. For starters, they keep people on bikes who are heading straight through an intersection from having to wait behind a queue of left-turning vehicles, whose drivers are in turn waiting for a break in oncoming traffic. They also keep drivers from having to wait in line behind a cyclist who’s traveling straight.

Another benefit is that they give people on bikes their own space that’s to the left of right-turning traffic, which prevents a situation known as the “right hook.” The “right hook” occurs when a driver who’s turning right hits a cyclist riding on the right hand side of traffic and going straight.

Have you seen “pocket lanes” in your city? On streets without bike lanes, would a “pocket lane” be a low-cost way to help guide drivers and cyclists through intersections? Would you appreciate more of them in your city or not?

Elsewhere on the Network today: Mobility Lab explains how Portland’s TriMet transit agency helped pioneer the open data system that has spurred a wave of private innovation in transit apps, with major benefits for riders. The Urbanist explains the many ways roundabouts are superior to ordinary intersections. And Market Urbanism says that intercity buses, long undermined by government policies aimed at protecting public investments in rail, are making a comeback in Europe, with some potential benefits for consumers.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Hit-and-Run Dollar Van Driver Kills Angel Sagardia, 47, and Injures His Wife on Flatbush Av (News, PIX)
  • No Charges for SUV Driver After Crash Kills 50-Year-Old Man on Springfield Blvd (News, Gothamist)
  • Cop Says She Voided Cell Phone Ticket for Vanessa Gibson After Pol Pressured NYPD Brass (News)
  • New Yorkers Sing Praises of Bus Lanes, Faster Buses in Times Story on Subway-Free Transit Deserts
  • DOT Will Begin Installing Chrystie Street Protected Bike Lane by End of the Month (Bowery Boogie)
  • Hell’s Kitchen Electeds Slam Port Plan for New Bus Terminal; PA: There’s No Alternative (DNA, WCBS)
  • Jamaica Man Pleads Guilty to Hit-Run, Will Serve Six Months After Killing Pedestrian in February (TL)
  • Hit-and-Run Motorcyclist Injures 50-Year-Old Stapleton Man (Advance)
  • 26-Year-Old Motorcyclist Dies After Striking Car on Q’Boro Bridge Ramp Early Sunday Morning (News)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Q&A: Trottenberg Previews Tomorrow’s “Shared Streets” Debut

For five hours tomorrow, limited vehicular traffic will transform 60 blocks of Lower Manhattan into "shared streets" for people on foot and bikes. Image: DOT

For five hours tomorrow, limited vehicular traffic will transform 60 blocks of Lower Manhattan into “shared streets” for people on foot and bikes. Image: DOT

Summer Streets takes a big step forward this weekend with “Shared Streets: Lower Manhattan.” From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow, DOT will open up a 60-block radius in the Financial District to pedestrians and cyclists, limiting motor vehicle access to residents, deliveries, and emergency vehicles [PDF].

The event evokes the concept of “shared space” — where pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists navigate streets based on the movements of other users, as opposed to curbs, signage, and traffic lights. Shared Streets will feature activities for cyclists of all ages, as well as historic walking tours and games for kids.

The full list of offerings is available on the DOT website. Tomorrow also brings the second installment of Summer Streets 2016, when Lafayette Street and Park Avenue will be car-free between the Brooklyn Bridge and 72nd Street from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Speaking to Streetsblog this morning, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said the Financial District’s narrow streets already function a lot like shared space, and are primed for tomorrow’s “experiment.” Check out our Q&A with Commissioner Trottenberg, lightly edited for length, after the jump.

Read more…

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Is Cuomo Ready to Rid Downtown Syracuse of I-81?

Governor Cuomo seems eager to teardown Syracuse's crumbling I-81. Photo: Onondaga Citizens League

Governor Cuomo seems ready to tear down Syracuse’s crumbling I-81. Photo: Onondaga Citizens League

Speaking in Syracuse yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo appeared to indicate support for the removal of 3.75 miles of Interstate 81, the aging elevated highway that cuts through the heart of downtown.

“That could be a transformative project that really jump-starts the entire region,” Cuomo said, according to the Post-Standard. “I-81 did a lot of damage — a classic planning blunder. Let’s build a road and bisect an entire community. That’s an idea, yeah, let me write it down.”

With the elevated portion of I-81 fast approaching the end of its useful life and in need of near-constant repairs, state officials have narrowed its future to two options: tear it down and replace it with a surface-level boulevard, or rebuild it — which would most likely require widening the highway. A third option, an underground tunnel, is viewed as costly and infeasible.

The state DOT is in the midst of cost and environmental analyses of the remaining options, and is expected to issue a draft environmental impact statement by the end of the year. Cuomo did not explicitly say he supported a surface-level boulevard, but with the tunnel all but ruled out, if he wants to get rid of the highway it’s the only option left.

Cuomo also indicated a readiness to get things moving. “We procrastinate,” he said. “We wait for everyone to agree. You know when that day is going to come? Never. Never. If you wait for the perfect, you’re never going to get there. You will do nothing. And that’s just what we’ve done on I-81. We’ve done nothing. Find the best solution with the most agreement and move forward.”

Cuomo has been on somewhat of a highway removal kick of late. Earlier this year, the state budget included $97 million to transform the Bronx’s Moses-era Sheridan Expressway into a surface boulevard. And in April, the governor has lent his support to the proposed teardown of Buffalo’s Kensington Expressway.

The governor’s office has not responded to a Streetsblog inquiry asking whether his comments mean the state will go forward with the I-81 teardown.

StreetFilms
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Touring Copenhagen’s Car-Free Bridges

One of the things that makes Copenhagen great is the city is continually finding ways to make biking and walking better — like building car-free bridges.

Bicycle Program Manager Marie Kastrup was very kind to take me on a tour of some of the bike and pedestrian bridges Copenhagen has constructed in the last decade. And more are on the way, with four others planned for the next few years.

With DOT looking to improve the Brooklyn Bridge for people who walk and bike, and the Port Authority planning to shortchange George Washington Bridge pedestrians and cyclists for generations to come, it’s a good time to consider how a leading city for car-free transport moves people across the water.

Streetsblog.net
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Study: Even Drivers Prefer Protected Bike Lanes

Protected bike lanes are welcomed by drivers as well. Photo: People for Bikes

Protected bike lanes are welcomed by drivers as well. Photo: People for Bikes

When it comes to allocating street space, it is often taken for granted that anything that benefits people on bikes harms people who drive. Such assumptions are contradicted by data showing that cycling infrastructure makes streets safer for all users, and don’t mesh with a new study on motorist preferences.

In the latest issue of “Transportation Research,” a survey of Bay Area drivers and cyclists, conducted by Rebecca Sanders of Toole Design Group, found support for protected bikeways across the board.

Network blogger Tim Kovach reports:

According to Sanders, hers is the first study to ask drivers about their preferences for roadway design when it comes to sharing the road with cyclists.

She and her colleagues sent out a survey to 1,177 people in the San Francisco Bay Area in July 2011, asking respondents to rate their level of comfort on a series of different commercial road designs when driving near cyclists or cycling near near cars going 25-30 miles per hour. The various road designs included no bike infrastructure, sharrows, on-road bike lanes, and separated bike lanes. Sanders then followed up by holding a series of focus groups with respondents to get additional information.

The results of the study were clear. “There are only two roadway designs for bicycling that evenly appeal to all groups, regardless of cycling frequency: the two barrier-separated bicycle lane designs…”

In other words, while drivers and cyclists disagree on almost everything, they can both agree on the value of investing in separated/protected bike lanes. More than 80% of respondents in every user group agreed that separated lanes make cyclists more predictable on the road, which “runs counter to the idea that bicycle lanes only benefit bicyclists.”

Elsewhere on the Network today: Seattle Transit Blog shares a chart showing which stations of the new Ulink light rail expansion will attract the most ridership. And Wash Cycle explains plans to add bike infrastructure along a DC highway.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Council Members Backpedal on Affordable Housing, Because Parking (Politico)
  • Related: Vote on Project That Would Replace Inwood Garage Set for Tuesday (WNYC)
  • Anticipation Grows for Shared Streets: Express, Patch, TONY
  • NJ Officials Want New Port Authority Bus Terminal Sited Near Current One (AP)
  • Suffolk County Plans to Balance Budget on the Backs on Bus Riders (MTR)
  • DiNapoli: About Half of Fines From MTA-Issued Summonses Go Uncollected (Crain’s, Post)
  • Joe Addabbo and Mike Miller Still Fighting Better Woodhaven Boulevard Bus Service (TL)
  • Paul White Talks With the Brooklyn Paper About NYPD Traffic Enforcement
  • Post Columnist Tut-Tuts “Prickly” Mark-Viverito for Expecting Results From DOT Twitter
  • The Advance Wants Autonomy for Staten Island Street Design — What Could Go Wrong?

More headlines at Streetsblog USA