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Today’s Headlines

  • Deputy Mayor Asks Port Authority to “Reconsider” Bus Terminal Redesign Process (Crain’sWNYCNY1)
  • Komanoff to NYPD: A Bike Bell Wouldn’t Have Saved Matthew von Ohlen (News)
  • Dan Biederman: Penn Station Overhaul Needs to Include Better Streets for Pedestrians (Crain’s)
  • Tour Bus Driver Veers Onto Fifth Ave Sidewalk By Central Park, Smashing Into Tree (News, DNA, Post)
  • The Islanders Might Leave Barclays Center and Build an Arena By Citi Field (Post)
  • Nydia Velazquez Comes Out Against F Express (DNA)
  • Brooklyn DA Has Until January 17 to Indict the Drunk Driving Cop Who Killed Andrew Esquivel (Post)
  • Developer Envisions Cramming 12,000 Airport Parking Stalls Into Neighborhoods Near LGA (QChron)
  • Shocker: Watering Down Woodhaven SBS Hasn’t Placated the NIMBYs (QChron)
  • Jake Dobkin’s Sensible Bike-on-Subway Etiquette Tips (Gothamist)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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America’s Sorriest Bus Stop: Kansas City vs. DC

To see how little respect bus riders get from public officials, just take a look at the sorry condition of America’s bus stops. To make riding the bus a comfortable and dignified experience, we need to do better.

Readers submitted 16 forlorn waiting areas for Streetsblog’s “Sorriest Bus Stop in America” competition. Earlier this week, Silver Spring, Maryland, knocked off New Castle, Delaware, to move on to the second round.

Today’s matchup pits a sports stadium bus stop against a national park bus stop. Which is worse?

Kansas City

KC-bus-stop

Brian Curran submitted this invisible bus stop. He writes:

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Bill Bratton Is in Denial About NYPD’s Deadly Drunk Driving Problem

Andrew Esquivel was struck and killed on a Brooklyn sidewalk by an off-duty NYPD officer accused of DWI and manslaughter. Drunk off-duty cops are known or alleged to have killed at least five people since 2009, and arrests are frequent, but Police Commissioner Bill Bratton says that’s “not a problem.”

Andrew Esquivel was struck and killed on a Brooklyn sidewalk by an off-duty NYPD officer accused of DWI and manslaughter. Drunk off-duty cops are known or alleged to have killed at least five people since 2009, and arrests are frequent, but Police Commissioner Bill Bratton says that’s “not a problem.” Bratton photo: Policy Exchange/Flickr

In the aftermath of another civilian death at the hands of an allegedly intoxicated off-duty officer, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton says drunk driving cops are not a problem at NYPD.

Nicholas Batka, 28, drove onto the sidewalk at Bedford Avenue and North Eighth Street in Williamsburg at around 3:10 a.m. Saturday, striking Andrew Esquivel and three friends. Esquivel, a 21-year-old student, was killed. The other victims were all seriously injured.

Batka jumped into the passenger seat and claimed he wasn’t driving, according to reports, and bystanders had to surround his SUV to prevent him from fleeing. Court records said Batka “had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and the odor of alcohol on his breath,” the Times reported.

A transit cop who had been on the force less than two years, Batka was due back on the job at 7 a.m.

Batka was charged with assault, manslaughter, homicide, and driving while intoxicated. On Wednesday Bratton said that Batka had been fired. According to the Times, two other officers who were with Batka before the crash had their guns and badges taken as investigators look into whether they drove drunk that night as well.

Though Bratton said “drunken-driving episodes” involving NYPD officers occur around three times a month and that the department would take a “closer look,” he played down the issue.

“That is not a problem in the department,” Bratton said, “but we treat it very seriously.”

The death of Andrew Esquivel is not an isolated case. There is no known data set of off-duty police crashes, but here’s a sampling of mayhem caused by alleged or known drunk-driving NYPD personnel in recent years:

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Stuck With Slow Bus Service? Cuomo Is Completely Oblivious to Your Pain

You can tell Governor Cuomo doesn’t get on a New York City bus unless it’s for a photo-op about on-board USB ports.

The latest evidence came yesterday, after a coalition of transit advocates released a major report on the deterioration of bus service in New York City. With bus speeds declining, ridership has dropped 16 percent since 2002. In their “Turnaround” report [PDF], TransitCenter and other advocates outline proven techniques to improve bus service, pointedly noting that it will take concerted political leadership to reverse the decline of the city’s bus system.

Cuomo is the politician whose leadership is needed most. But Politico’s Dana Rubinstein reports that the governor blew off a question about improving bus service yesterday afternoon. “If people in Manhattan are choosing to jump on the subway because the subway is faster, because there’s traffic that a bus has to deal with,” he said, “that’s not an imprudent choice, right?”

In one sentence, the governor betrayed his ignorance of NYC’s bus system in several ways. Here are three of them.

Buses and trains don’t do the same things

The subway system is largely a radial network, with lines converging in Manhattan below 60th Street and extending out from there. It works well for an astounding number of trips, but New Yorkers still have to get places that the subway doesn’t reach efficiently. For these trips, there is no parallel subway service that people can just “jump on” instead of taking the bus.

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Eyes on the Street: The Return of “Plaza 33” — Maybe for Good

Here's what happens when you close a street to car traffic in one of the busiest parts of the city. Photo: David Meyer

Here’s what happens when you make a street car-free in one of the busiest parts of the city. Photo: David Meyer

“Plaza 33” is back, transforming the eastern half of 33rd Street between Seventh Avenue and Eighth Avenue into a car-free public space — and it’s set to remain indefinitely.

This is the second iteration of “Plaza 33,” which was installed from July through October last year and is funded and managed by Vornado Realty Trust. Next to Penn Station, the space gets some of the most intense foot traffic in Midtown and was filled with people yesterday evening.

Some parts of "Plaza 33" remain under construction. Photo: David Meyer

Some parts of “Plaza 33” remain under construction. Photo: David Meyer

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Portland’s Long-Awaited Bike-Share System Gets Off to an Impressive Start

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and his wife, Nancy, lead a celebratory bike ride over the car-free Tilikum Bride at the launch of Portland's Biketown bike share yesterday. Photo: Jonathan Maus

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and his wife, Nancy, lead a celebratory bike ride over the car-free Tilikum Crossing at the launch of Portland’s Biketown bike-share system. Photo: Jonathan Maus

Tuesday was a very exciting day in Portland, as the city celebrated the launch of its long-awaited bike-share system, Biketown. The network makes 1,000 bikes available in an eight-square mile area of the city.

Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland shot these photos of the opening festivities and crunched some numbers from the first 24 hours of service. While it’s too early to fully assess the system, with about 2.3 daily trips per bike immediately after launch, Portland is off to a good start, he writes:

According to numbers released by Biketown’s operator Motivate Inc. today (at our request), there have been 2,366 trips taken on the system since it was launched yesterday at 11:30 am…

It’s still very early and the numbers will get more useful once we’ve got a full month of data — but we can’t resist doing a bit of comparison.

So far Portland’s bikes get more rides per day than the ones in Minneapolis’ Nice Ride system got after five years in service. Nice ride, which has much lower station density than Portland, got 1.6 trips per bike per day on average in 2014 (source: NACTO). On the other end of the scale, Chicago’s Divvy bike share system and Citi Bike in New York City got 3.8 and 5.2 trips per bike in that year, respectively.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • No Subway Service as NYPD Standoff With “Disturbed” Man Shuts Columbus Circle (NewsAMNY, NY1)
  • Nadler and Other Pols Say Port Authority Is Rushing Bus Terminal Plan (Politico)
  • More Coverage of Advocates’ and Electeds’ Call to Fix City Buses: Politico, DNAAMNY, NY1
  • Cop Who Killed Andrew Esquivel Fired (DNA); Bratton: Drunk Driving “Not a Problem” at NYPD (NYT)
  • Related: How Often Does the State Liquor Authority Get Involved in DWI Investigations? (DNA)
  • As NYPD Focuses on Deadly Driving Behavior, NY1 Asks: Who’s Policing Scofflaw Cyclists?
  • Unlicensed Driver Arrested After Striking Pedestrian, Reportedly a Child, in Stapleton (Advance)
  • People Can’t Figure Out How to Get to LaGuardia Without Driving Themselves (CBS)
  • Staten Island Ferry Commuters Fighting Each Other to Charge Their Phones (NYT, Advance)
  • Citi Bike Is Expanding in Jersey City (Journal)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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America’s Sorriest Bus Stop: San Francisco vs. Hillsboro, Oregon

Oh, the terrible places you’ll go to catch a bus. So far this week in our hunt for the Sorriest Bus Stop in America, a bus stop in Boston knocked off a real catastrophe in Nassau County to advance to the second round. Meanwhile, voting remains open until midnight in a tight contest between Maryland and Delaware.

Help narrow the field of 16 dangerous, uncomfortable bus stops down to eight by voting on these two West Coast competitors.

Hillsboro, Oregon

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 1.46.46 PM

This sad space comes to us from Sameer Moudgil. People really do wait for the bus here — notice the human being on the left side of the Google Street View. Moudgil writes:

It has no bench, no shelter, no sidewalk and no crosswalk access within 0.3 miles. It sits sandwiched between the edge of a 50mph 7-lane stroad (including 2 bike lanes) and a heavy railroad track. The cherry on the cake is the Ford car/truck dealership on the other side of the stroad. I wanted to get a better angle from near the bus-stop but I couldn’t muster up the courage to cross this freeway-like behemoth. I wonder how the lady in the Google street view image managed to do it.

Here’s an alternate view that better captures the atmosphere:

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It’s Time to Think Big to Turn Around Lousy Bus Service in NYC

 Image: TransitCenter

Bus ridership has dropped 16 percent in NYC since 2002, even as population and subway ridership have increased. Image: TransitCenter

Bus service in New York is getting worse and losing riders, and unless policy makers step in and make systemwide improvements, those trends may accelerate in a vicious cycle. New York can turn things around, advocates say, with a suite of policies to get buses moving quickly and reliably again.

Today a coalition of transit advocates unveiled their blueprint to fix the city’s surface transit system and win riders back over. The solutions they propose in “Turnaround: Fixing New York City’s Buses,” a new report from TransitCenter, are broad and thorough but eminently achievable — rethinking the bus network, modernizing fare technology and dispatching, and expanding street design features that have already sped service on a handful of routes to improve routes all over the city.

The poor state of bus service in New York amounts to a crisis, said Riders Alliance Executive Director John Raskin. With an average weekday speed of 7.4 mph, New York’s buses are among the slowest in the nation, and they’re getting slower. Making matters worse is the lack of reliability — traffic congestion, lengthy routes, and shoddy dispatching often cause long gaps in service as buses bunch up in clusters of two or more vehicles.

It’s no wonder that bus ridership in New York has steadily declined even as population and jobs have increased.

TransitCenter’s report touches on a number of ways the MTA and NYC DOT should improve bus speeds and reliability while redesigning routes to reflect current rider needs, including:

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Report: As Cities Add Bike Lanes, More People Bike and Biking Gets Safer

safety_in_number_charts

Cities adding bike infrastructure are seeing a “safety in numbers” — more people on bikes plus lower risk of severe or fatal injury. Graphs: NACTO

The more people bike on the streets, the safer the streets are for everyone who bikes. This phenomenon, originally identified by researcher Peter Jacobsen, is known as “safety in numbers.” And that’s exactly what American cities are seeing as they add bike infrastructure — more cyclists and safer cycling — according to a new report from the National Association of City Transportation Officials [PDF].

The report is part of NACTO’s research series on implementing equitable bike-share systems. NACTO makes the case that large-scale bike-share systems can improve access to jobs in low-income communities by extending the reach of bus and rail lines, and — citing the safety-in-numbers evidence — that good bike lanes have to be part of the solution. Otherwise dangerous street conditions will continue to discourage people from biking.

NACTO tracked changes in bike commuting, bike lane miles, and cyclist fatalities and severe injuries in seven U.S. cities that have added protected bike lanes and bike-share systems over the past decade or so. In all seven cities, cycling has grown along with the bike network, while the risk of severe injury or death while cycling has declined.

In five of the cities — Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, and Portland — the absolute number of cycling deaths and severe injuries fell between 2007 and 2014, even as cycling rose substantially. In the two other cities — San Francisco and Washington, D.C. — deaths and serious injuries increased somewhat, but not as much as the increase in bicycle commuting.

New York City, for example, has added about 54 miles of bike lanes per year since 2007. Chicago has added about 27 miles per year since 2011. Over that time the risk of severe injury or death while cycling has decreased by about half, NACTO reports.

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