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Total L.I.C. Street Rebuild to Include Safety Overhauls for Key Intersections

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer alongside the DDC and DOT Commissioners this morning. Photo: David Meyer

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer alongside DDC Commissioner Feniosky Pena-Mora (to the left) and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg (on the right) this morning. Photo: David Meyer

The streets of Long Island City are getting a total rebuild, and as part of the project four major intersections along Jackson Avenue and Vernon Boulevard will get redesigned for greater safety.

Many other intersections could get curb extensions or other traffic-calming treatments as part of the $38.47 million neighborhood-wide street reconstruction. Speaking this morning at the foot of the Pulaski Bridge, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer said DOT will prioritize four intersections: 21st Street and Jackson Avenue, 23rd Street and Jackson Avenue, Vernon Boulevard and Jackson Avenue, and Vernon Boulevard and 44th Drive.

Jackson and 11th Street, a complex multi-leg intersection that pedestrians and cyclists have to navigate to get to the Pulaski Bridge, will also be improved. Once the Pulaski Bridge bikeway opens this spring, there will be a lot more room for walking and biking, and the approach on the Queens side could use an upgrade.

Long Island City’s population is on track to soar as new development hits the market. But sandwiched by the Queensboro Bridge to the north and the Pulaski Bridge and Midtown Tunnel to the south, the neighborhood is often overrun by car and truck traffic, creating an unpleasant and unsafe environment for pedestrians.

In December, Van Bramer, DDC, and DOT hosted a public workshop where local residents and business owners overwhelmingly cited Vernon Boulevard and Jackson Avenue as streets in need of safety improvements. Jackson Avenue feeds into the Pulaski and is the site of several popular attractions, including MOMA P.S. 1, but has few safe crosswalks. In 2015 alone, 31 people were injured on Jackson Avenue within the project boundaries.

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Transit Investments and the Failure of Randal O’Toole’s Short-Term Thinking

The Los Angeles Times' recent story about transit ridership ...

The Los Angeles Times has been making a recent dip in transit ridership out to be a devastating failure. Graph: LA Times

The Los Angeles Times recently ran a big story to the effect that the region’s major investments in transit are not paying off, since ridership has recently declined.

But there are a lot of problems with the paper’s analysis, which Streetsblog LA looked at last week. Jarrett Walker at Human Transit has also taken issue with how the LA Times published sweeping conclusions about long-term investments based on just a year or two of data.

When professional transit critic Randall O’Toole seized on the LA Times piece to characterize transit investment as wasteful, Walker put together an epic rebuttal.

The claim that transit ridership has peaked, Walker points out, relies on a dubious reading of the numbers:

When he tells us that ridership “peaked,” he’s confessing that he’s playing the “arbitrary starting year” game. To get the biggest possible failure story, he compares current ridership to a past year that he selected because ridership was especially high then. This is a standard way of exploiting the natural volatility of ridership to create exaggerated trends. Again, the Los Angeles Times article that got O’Toole going made a big deal out of how ridership is down since 1985 and 2006, without mentioning that ridership is up since 1989 and up since 2004 and 2011. Whether ridership is up or down depends on which past year you choose, which is to say, it’s about what story the writer wants to tell.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Special Election to Replace Silver, Skelos, and Two Others Set for April 19 (NYT)
  • Drunk Driver Kills Man in Washington Heights (News)
  • Hit-and-Run Driver Severely Injures Woman in Williamsburg (Gothamist, Post)
  • Taxi Driver Critically Injures 25-Year-Old Man in Chelsea (News)
  • A Look at the Highly Punitive, High-Stakes, Low-Compensation Life of Delivery Cyclists (WNYC)
  • With Uber Fare Cut, Surge Prices May Be Cheaper But More Frequent (Post)
  • Taxi Workers Call for a Floor on For-Hire Fares (Politico)
  • TWU Steps in to Help Pedicabbies Fight City Hall (Post)
  • What Bratton’s Response to Subway Crime Says About How He Relates to Transit (2nd Ave Sagas)
  • Gas Prices Plunge Below the $2/Gallon Mark at Some NYC Stations (Advance)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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3 Ways NYC Can Avoid Future Snow Removal Travesties for Peds and Cyclists

grand_snow

The Grand Street bike lane. Photo: Ben Fried

Here we are a whole work week after Winter Storm Jonas dumped two feet of snow on New York, and the streets are still not passable for a lot of New Yorkers who get around without driving.

In the beginning of the week, the biggest travesties were the snow barriers at street corners and the uncleared bus stops that compelled people to wait in the street. Today, the worst accumulation seems to be in the city’s protected bike lanes and greenways.

These are supposed to be transportation arteries that give people a refuge from biking next to motorized traffic, but a lot of them are still barricaded by snow and next to useless. Without some action from the Department of Sanitation, we’ll be lucky if the rain melts the stuff away and the city loses no more than a week of useful bikeway time.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There’s always going to be some level of inconvenience after a big NYC snowstorm, but there’s no reason it should be this wretched or last this long.

In his assessment of the post-Jonas streetscape, Justin Davidson at New York Mag pointed to Montreal as a city that’s mastered the science of snow clearance. City Hall should send a fact-finding crew across the border and bring back lessons for the next big storm.

Not that we need to venture far afield to figure out what needs to improve. Here are three suggestions that would make a big difference for walking, biking, and riding the bus after a snowstorm. This is by no means a comprehensive list — it’s just the obvious stuff.

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Streetsblog USA
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Houston Mayor Calls for “Paradigm Shift” Away From Highway Widening

Newly elected Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner gave a remarkable speech yesterday in Austin [PDF], calling on the state to change its transportation priorities and stop pouring billions into widening highways.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says the state news a new strategy for managing congestion. Photo: Houston Tomorrow

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says Texas needs a new strategy for managing traffic and growth. Photo: Houston Tomorrow

Turner told the Texas Transportation Commission, the appointed board that leads Texas DOT, that the state needs a totally new transportation paradigm. The speech is phenomenal, and Texas transportation officials badly need to hear it.

Here are some of the highlights from the speech:

We’re seeing clear evidence that the transportation strategies that the Houston region has looked to in the past are increasingly inadequate to sustain regional growth.

The region’s primary transportation strategy in the past has been to add roadway capacity. While the region has increasingly offered greater options for multiple occupant vehicles and other transportation modes, much of the added capacity has been for single occupant vehicles as well.

It’s easy to understand why. TxDOT has noted that 97% of the Texans currently drive a single occupancy vehicle for their daily trips. One could conclude that our agencies should therefore focus their resources to support these kinds of trips. However, this approach is actually exacerbating our congestion problems. We need a paradigm shift in order to achieve the kind of mobility outcomes we desire.

Turner then points to the Katy Freeway — an astounding example of the futility of freeway widening as a congestion management strategy. After a $2.8 billion TxDOT-led widening project, traffic is now traveling slower than it used to along this massive highway.

Turner says:

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Levine to CB 7: Support the Amsterdam Avenue Protected Bike Lane

Next Tuesday, Community Board 7 is slated to vote on the Amsterdam Avenue protected bike lane, and Council Member Mark Levine wants to be crystal clear: The street needs a redesign that includes a protected bike lane.

In a letter sent to CB 7 members today, Levine makes the case that by shortening crossing distances, reducing speeding, and adding a protected bike lane, DOT’s plan will bring Amsterdam Avenue “to a neighborhood scale,” making it safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and motor vehicle occupants.

Council Member Mark Levine. Photo: William Alatriste

Council Member Mark Levine. Photo: William Alatriste

“The current design fails to meet the needs of the community and all users of this critical corridor, and poses a persistent threat to the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike,” Levine writes.

Levine represents the northern part of the project area, which goes from 72nd Street to 110th Street. Council Member Helen Rosenthal, who represents the rest of the project area, is also on the record supporting a protected bike lane for Amsterdam.

Earlier this month, the CB 7 transportation committee failed to endorse a resolution supporting DOT’s proposal, splitting 4-4. The two committee chairs, Dan Zweig and Andrew Albert, have consistently opposed street redesign efforts in the neighborhood since the 1990s.

The protected bike lane plan enjoys wide support among Upper West Side residents and business owners. Transportation Alternatives’ People First on Amsterdam Avenue campaign has collected 3,500 signatures and endorsement letters from more than 200 business along the corridor.

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Cement Truck Driver Kills Nancy Ventura, 61, in College Point

A cement truck driver killed Nancy Ventura a block from her Queens home. No charges were filed. Image: WNBC

A cement truck driver killed Nancy Ventura a block from her Queens home. No charges were filed. Image: WNBC

A cement truck driver killed a pedestrian in College Point last week. Accounts differ on how the crash occurred, and police have filed no charges.

On Friday, January 22, at around 9:21 in the morning, 61-year-old Nancy Ventura was crossing College Point Boulevard at 15th Avenue, east to west, when she was struck by the driver, who was southbound on the boulevard, according to NYPD.

Ventura lived a block away from the crash site. She died at New York-Presbyterian/Queens Hospital, police said.

The Daily News reported that, according to unnamed police sources, the victim “was hit by the cement truck as it made a turn onto 15th Ave.,” but the NYPD public information office could not confirm if the driver was turning or not. Photos from the scene show the truck stopped on College Point Boulevard, with the cab facing away from 15th Avenue — so it’s possible the driver was turning off of 15th, but not onto it.

NYPD often releases conflicting details on serious traffic crashes, and information initially provided by police sources often turns out to be wrong. It’s usually not possible to obtain a final NYPD crash report without a freedom of information request, which — if approved — can take months for the department to process.

No summonses or charges were filed by NYPD or Queens District Attorney Richard Brown as of Thursday afternoon, NYPD told Streetsblog. “No charges were expected to be filed,” the Daily News reported.

This fatal crash occurred in the 109th Precinct, where the response to pedestrian deaths is lecturing people on how to walk. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Deputy Inspector Thomas Conforti, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 109th Precinct council meetings happen at 7:30 p.m. on second Wednesday of the month at the precinct, 37-05 Union Street in Flushing. Call 718-321-2268 for information.

The City Council district where Nancy Ventura was killed is represented by Paul Vallone. To encourage Vallone to take action to improve street safety in his district and citywide, contact him via phone, email, or Twitter.

Streetsblog.net
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Designing City Streets to Suit 47 MPH Drivers Is a Recipe for Failure

On a road like St. Louis' Gravois Avenue, applying the highway standard 85th percentile rule to establish a speed limit is dangerous and damaging, says Alex Ihnen. Photo: NextSTL

On a street like St. Louis’ Gravois Avenue, applying the “85th percentile rule” will kill street life. Photo: NextSTL

Gravois Avenue is an important commercial street in St. Louis that also happens to be designated a state highway. It’s currently slated for a redesign, providing a huge opportunity to make the street work better for walking and biking.

But unfortunately the highway-like mentality of state transportation planners persists. Alex Ihnen at NextSTL reports that Missouri DOT is using highway design strategies, and the city of St. Louis is letting them get away with it. Instead of redesigning the street to work for city residents, Ihnen writes, MoDOT is looking at how fast people already drive, and making decisions to accommodate drivers who travel faster than 85 percent of other drivers:

If the city street in front of your home were posted with a 35MPH speed limit would you feel safe? If one of every seven vehicles on the street travelled faster than 47MPH would you be OK letting your children play on the sidewalk or cross the street?

St. Louis is creating dead zones in the city, places with no economic role, streets that decrease adjacent property value and hurt the city’s economy. City leaders are either unable or unwilling to serve the interests of the city and its residents…

Now, with MoDOT’s Gravois speed study, it’s more obvious that it’s time for the City of St. Louis to re-take ownership of its streets.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Driver Kills Alfiya Djuraeva, 56, in Bensonhurst; Cited for Failure to Yield (News)
  • No Info From MTA at L Train Forum, But Dilan Did Threaten Funding (News, DNA, WNYCBklyn Paper)
  • Eric Adams Plugs “Freedom Ticket” as One Solution to Looming L Shutdown (Politico)
  • Horse Carriages: Conservancy, Pedicabbies Protest (Politico 1, 2); Optics Somehow Get Worse (NYT)
  • Citi Bike Trips Jumped by 24 Percent in 2015 (Next City)
  • Safety Obstructionists Will Try Anything to Derail Amsterdam Avenue Bikeway (Spirit)
  • Locals Demand Parking at New Cobble Hill Medical Center (Bklyn Paper)
  • David Greenfield Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop Pandering to Motorists (Crain’s)
  • People Who Make a Fortune Off Cab Drivers Continue to Degrade the Job (Post, NY1)
  • Bill Bratton Surprised by New Yorkers Clamoring for Space Beneath His Chauffeured SUV (News)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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The DIY Sneckdown and Other Snow-Based Traffic Calming

The Department of Sanitation said yesterday that the city is finally working to clear bike lanes of snow and ice. But five days after Jonas moved on, there’s still plenty of slippery, slushy stuff where people walk and bike on New York City streets.

On the upside, it’s a been a great week for sneckdowns. Here’s another set of photos (plus a video!) of nature’s traffic-calming in action, in NYC and beyond.

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