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Today’s Headlines

  • MTA’s Victim-Blaming Safety PSAs Come In for Criticism at GothamistWNYCNY1Animal NY
  • Driver Charged With DUI, Hit-and-Run After Jumping Curb, Injuring 34th Street Peds (Post, News)
  • Husband of Lincoln Square Hit-and-Run Victim Calls on Truck Driver to Come Forward… (WCBS)
  • …As DOT Seeks Community Board Support for Ped Safety Fixes at That Intersection (DNA)
  • Bronx Bus Riders Call for Fixes to Long Waits, Overcrowding on Bx7 and Bx10 (NY1)
  • Funeral Today for Robert Perry, Killed by Speeding Hit-and-Run Driver on the Bowery (Bowery Boogie)
  • Protesting Toll Hike, S.I. CB 1 Chair Calls for Lower VNB Tolls, Fee for Driving to Manhattan (Advance)
  • Latest Thruway Budget Offers a Preview of Toll Hikes to Pay for TZB (Empire Center via LoHud)
  • One Tappan Zee Financing Possibility? Selling Green Cards Along With Bonds (Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • Parks and DOT Unveil Design for Mariners Harbor Plaza, Part of North Shore Greenway (Advance)
  • Hoboken Moves Forward With Plan for Office Development at Rail Yards (NJ.comGotham & Hudson)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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DOT Lincoln Square Plan Leaves Cyclists Knotted in Dangerous Bowtie Traffic

A DOT safety plan for streets near the Lincoln Square bowtie focuses mostly on pedestrians while leaving cyclists to mix it up with cars and trucks for five blocks near the complex crossing. The proposal, which includes expanded sidewalks, additional crosswalks, new turn restrictions, and a few bike lane upgrades, could be on the ground as soon as next summer.

A DOT proposal would nibble around the edges of the Lincoln Square bowtie to make this wide-open expanse more pedestrian-friendly. Photo: DOT

A DOT proposal would nibble around the edges of the Lincoln Square bowtie to make this wide-open expanse more pedestrian-friendly. Photo: DOT [PDF]

The plan [PDF], developed after a community workshop in June, was presented last night to dozens of Upper West Side residents who crowded into the Manhattan Community Board 7 transportation committee meeting. While the proposals were generally well-received, many in attendance urged the city to do more, particularly for people on bikes. DOT staff were not receptive to extending the protected path through the intersection but said they will adjust the plan based on feedback, with hopes of securing a supportive vote from the board in January. Implementation would then be scheduled for sometime next year.

The intersection, where Columbus Avenue crosses Broadway and 65th Street, ranks as one of the borough’s most dangerous, according to crash data from 2008 to 2012. It is in the top five percent of Manhattan intersections for the number of people killed or seriously injured in traffic.

DOT’s proposal aims to reduce conflicts between drivers and pedestrians with turn restrictions and sidewalk extensions at key locations to create shorter, more direct crosswalks. The agency is also proposing to lengthen median tips and expand pedestrian islands in the bowtie. In places where it cannot use concrete due to drainage issues, DOT proposes adding pedestrian space with paint and plastic bollards.

One of the biggest changes: DOT is proposing a ban on drivers making a shallow left turn from southbound Columbus onto Broadway. The agency would add new crosswalks spanning Broadway on both sides of Columbus. With the turn ban, pedestrians and cyclists should not have to worry about drivers — except MTA buses, which are exempt from the restriction — cutting across their paths at dangerous angles.

Immediately south of the bowtie, DOT is proposing a ban on left turns from southbound Broadway onto eastbound 64th. This would allow the agency to fill the existing cut across the Broadway mall with a concrete pedestrian area. A smaller concrete curb extension would be installed on the west side of this intersection, at the northern tip of triangle-shaped Dante Park. A new crosswalk would also run across Broadway to the north side of 64th Street.

Read more…

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New MTA Victim-Blaming Campaign Is the Opposite of Vision Zero


The MTA has released an amazingly tone-deaf series of public service announcements blaming pedestrians and cyclists for being run over by bus drivers.

“The new PSAs, which will air on local broadcast television stations in both English and Spanish, bring the print campaign to life by demonstrating the dangers of walking or cycling while distracted near a bus,” says an MTA press release. “They remind users of electronic devices that it only takes a second of inattention for a pedestrian or cyclist to come in contact with a bus.”

MTA bus drivers have killed at least seven pedestrians and one cyclist this year, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog. Only one case reportedly involved an electronic device — a woman who was run over when she reached under a bus to retrieve a cell phone.

Of the other six pedestrians, all were hit by bus drivers making right or left turns, and in five cases media and police accounts confirmed or suggested the victim had the right of way. There is no evidence that any of the remaining seven victims were distracted by electronic devices when they were struck.

Meanwhile, after a prolonged legal battle, the MTA recently settled a lawsuit with the family of Seth Kahn, a student who was run over by a speeding bus driver with a history of texting behind the wheel.

We asked chief spokesperson Adam Lisberg if the MTA keeps data on how many pedestrians and cyclists who were injured and killed by MTA bus drivers were distracted by electronic devices, or if the agency tracks how many victims had the right of way. Here was his response:

I don’t know exactly how we slice it, but we do a detailed analysis of every collision (with auto, bike, ped, building, etc.) and what factors went into it. Ultimate concern for our enforcement side is whether it was preventable — could our operator have done anything to prevent it? — not whether cops write a ticket. Then our safety people look for trends, rising factors, etc., and we also get feedback from the thousands of operators out driving every day. They consistently say texting pedestrians and unpredictable cyclists are a rising hazard. I don’t know if we specifically ask whether cyclists are wearing headphones.

On Twitter, Lisberg said these spots are based on driver anecdotes rather than empirical data. And the tone of the PSAs is snarky, with the bike ad likening a bus collision to a comedian’s pratfall.

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Stockton CA Wants Better Transit, Biking, and Sidewalks, Not Wider Roads

Stockton, California's residents told the city they want active transportation amenities, not car infrastructure. Image: City of Stockton via Stockton City Limits

Residents of Stockton, CA, told the city they want better transit and active transportation, not more car infrastructure. Image: City of Stockton via Stockton City Limits

What happens when you ask people point blank what they want from their local transportation system?

In California’s San Joaquin Valley, the city of Stockton recently asked people at a public meeting what types of transportation investments they’d prefer. Stockton, population 300,000, was especially hard hit when the housing bubble burst, declaring bankruptcy in 2012. With the city regathering itself and embarking on a new general plan, David Garcia reports at Network blog Stockton City Limits that residents left no doubt about the types of transportation options they want:

The findings of this exercise are crystal clear: Stocktonians want more walking, biking and public transportation options.

As you can see, the overwhelming majority of votes cast were in favor of active transportation. 19% of votes were cast in favor of “Pedestrian Sidewalks & Walkability,” 14% for “Mass Transit,” and a combined 25% for cycling for commuting and recreation. Road widening—the only true auto-oriented option—doesn’t register until near the bottom with 6%. While this is by no means a scientific survey, it’s very telling. About 60 residents participated in the exercise according to the city, ranging from the usual advocates as well as private citizens who simply wanted their voices heard.

It is clear that Stocktonians are ready for a more progressive approach to planning, an approach that emphasizes pedestrians and cyclists over the private automobile. It’s up to the citizens to continue to demand these changes and to stay actively involved in this General Plan process.

Elsewhere on the Network today: ATL Urbanist shares the words of an Atlanta developer trying to convince the region to embrace transit. And The Political Environment reports that Wisconsin is building a $1.7 billion interchange project exclusively for the region’s suburban commuters, but those commuters are unhappy with the construction delays.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Nassau Pol Predicts Unanimous Vote to Ditch Speed Cameras; Lawbreakers Want Refunds (CBS)
  • Joan Hale, 71, Killed by Unlicensed Driver in East Flatbush; NYPD Blames Victim (NY1)
  • Infrastructure Construction Unions Give Big Money to Cuomo (CapNY)
  • Cuomo and Christie Still MIA on Port Authority Reform Bills (CBSMTR)
  • DNA: DOT Improvements to Broadway and 96th Haven’t Made It Safer
  • In Participatory Budgeting, Astoria Residents Ask for Pedestrian Plaza Rejected by CB 1 (DNA)
  • Clinton Hill Locals Weigh in on Putnam Triangle Plaza — They’re Into It (Focus)
  • People Who Make More Money Pay Less for Pre-Tax MetroCards (WNYC)
  • New Entrance to Briarwood-Van Wyck F Train Station Opens (DNA)
  • Happy 20th Birthday, Recycle-A-Bicycle! (DNA)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Long Island Pols Backtrack on Speed Cams, Play Politics With People’s Lives

With a presumed re-election bid coming in 2015, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has determined his political career is more important than people’s safety.

Suffolk County Exec Steve Bellone: pandering to motorists who insist on putting children's lives at risk. Photo: ##https://twitter.com/stevebellone##@StreveBellone##

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone: pandering to motorists who insist on putting children’s lives at risk. Photo: @StreveBellone

Bowing to people who believe they should be able to do whatever they want behind the wheel, Bellone has joined other Suffolk and Nassau lawmakers in opposing school zone speed cameras, and says he will kill the Suffolk program ahead of a planned 2015 rollout.

County legislators, the majority of them Republican, will hold a hearing next week on a measure to repeal the Nassau program. However, Republican Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, who holds veto power, has spoken in favor of the cameras.

Newsday notes that the cameras passed earlier this year with near-unanimous support among Suffolk lawmakers, including Bellone, a Democrat who lobbied Albany for authorization. “Speed cameras are used in cities across the nation and have proved effective in reducing traffic accidents and saving lives,” he said at the time.

Reversing himself, Bellone tweeted Monday that his decision “comes after a year of research [and] analysis of programs throughout the nation.” But research overwhelmingly finds that speed cameras improve street safety. A 2010 review of dozens of studies concluded that speed cameras typically reduce fatality rates by 30 to 40 percent. Mangano says tickets issued by cameras declined 70 percent from September to November, indicating that the Nassau program is succeeding in slowing motorists near schools.

In large part because they are getting the job done, Long Island speed cameras have become a political football. After Nassau drivers griped about the $80 tickets, Democratic and Republican legislators in both counties backtracked, and are now racing to claim credit for spiking their respective programs. While Mangano, whose current term runs through 2017, acknowledged the cameras are working, last week he cut their hours of operation from 11 hours a day to just four.

Bellone’s move, meanwhile, is preemptive. Suffolk wasn’t scheduled to start using cameras until next fall, giving the county time to prepare in a way that Nassau didn’t, says Veronica Vanterpool, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

In New York City, Vanterpool points out, the Department of Transportation collected data on the prevalence of speeding near schools well in advance of camera implementation. The city held press conferences and conducted other public outreach explaining why cameras were necessary. In addition to driver education, Vanterpool says Suffolk could allocate a portion of revenues to safety improvements around schools. “If you tie it to that, people think it’s less of a money grab.”

Nassau County drivers, who are only ticketed when speeding by 11 or more miles per hour in school zones, complained that cameras were installed without warning signs or flashing lights. Nassau Democrat Judy Jacobs told Newsday the “whole program has been unfair.” Nassau would owe $3 million in vendor termination fees if electeds end the speed camera program.

“This is a mechanism to enforce the law,” says Vanterpool. “People know you shouldn’t be going 50 miles per hour in a school zone. They’re mad that they got caught.”

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DMV Primer: Why Safety Hearings Should Be Held For Non-Fatal Crashes Too

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This is part of a series of posts on the workings of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, its role in deterring or facilitating traffic violence, and agency reforms that could make streets and roads safer.

Last week I wrote about a key shortcoming in the Department of Motor Vehicles safety hearing program: DMV holds these hearings to review drivers’ licenses in only a subset of the crashes resulting in a fatality. But after a conversation I had last week with a representative of the DMV legal department, it appears that potentially any crash victim can bring a complaint seeking a safety hearing to review the license of the driver causing the crash.

DMV rules say that a hearing can be initiated by a “complaint,” and clearly indicate that such hearings may be held following a fatal crash. But the specific procedure to initiate a complaint isn’t spelled out in those rules or elsewhere on the DMV website. It is therefore not surprising that the DMV representative I spoke with told me she has not seen a citizen-initiated safety hearing in recent memory.

But there are powerful reasons why crash victims can and should seek a safety hearing. As detailed almost daily on Streetsblog, the criminal justice system addresses only a small percentage of violent crashes that result in injury or death, often with no more than a slap on the wrist. Even the traffic violation system run by DMV fails to provide meaningful consequences to sober, reckless drivers, as demonstrated following the crashes that killed Allie Liao and Mathieu Lefevre. Safety hearings hold the possibility of a third source of state-authorized sanctions for reckless drivers that (unlike criminal and Traffic Violations Bureau proceedings) does not depend on procedures stacked so heavily in favor of the driver.

There is of course a resource issue at the bottom of this. It would trivialize and overwhelm the safety hearing program if every victim of a dangerous driving maneuver demanded a hearing against the driver. No doubt DMV would invoke a lack of resources to limit hearings to serious cases, and rightfully so. But in many, many cases, the driving behavior responsible for a nonfatal crash is just as reckless as the driving that causes a fatality. There is no principled basis for refusing a hearing in such a case, especially when serious injury results. We should expect and demand that DMV devote sufficient resources to ensure consequences through the safety hearing program for reckless drivers who seriously injure other people, as well as for those who kill.

Read more…

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Tonight: Support Pedestrian Safety Fixes for Lincoln Square Bowtie

Lincoln Square is a dangerous spot for pedestrians. Will opposition from a local BID stop safety fixes in their tracks? Photo: DOT

Lincoln Square, where Broadway crosses Columbus Avenue on the Upper West Side, is a dangerous intersection for walking, but the local BID has a history of opposing safety improvements. Photo: DOT

The city is scheduled to unveil proposed safety improvements this evening for the busy, complex intersection where Columbus Avenue meets Broadway, known as the Lincoln Square bowtie. With the design changes going before the Community Board 7 transportation committee tonight, nearby residents and advocates have started a petition to support the proposal, countering expected opposition from the surrounding Lincoln Square Business Improvement District.

According to crash data collected by NYPD, there have been 13 traffic injuries at intersections on Broadway between 64th and 66th Streets so far this year, including seven pedestrian injuries and three cyclist injuries. A nearby intersection was the site of a fatal crash in 2012: 78-year-old Shirley Shea was crossing 67th Street and Columbus Avenue when a turning school bus driver struck her, inflicting mortal injuries.

Susan Shea-Klot, Shea’s daughter, wrote to Streetsblog last year and described the aftermath of the collision. The crash caused brain trauma and eventually left Shea unable to speak, kept alive by a ventilator and a feeding tube before she died. Shea-Klot expressed frustration that there were no meaningful consequences or changes after her mother’s death:

The police completed the investigation and issued a report which stated that the driver claimed not to have seen my mother in the crosswalk. No charges were filed against the driver by anyone… Buses should not be permitted to make right turns when pedestrians are crossing. Why can’t we put people first; when did the rights of the automotive vehicle and its drivers usurp those of the more plentiful pedestrians? We in this city should be ashamed of ourselves and our acceptance of this nonsensical status quo. Enough!

In June, DOT hosted a workshop with Community Board 7 to gather ideas for pedestrian safety improvements near the bowtie. Sources who have been briefed on DOT’s plan say it includes turn restrictions, expanded pedestrian islands, and striped bike lane markings on Columbus Avenue.

“The proposals that are being brought back to the community right now are a result of that workshop that happened in June,” said Transportation Alternatives Manhattan organizer Tom DeVito. “These are community-originated ideas, and it’s time that changes are made to that mess of an intersection.”

Read more…

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Devastating Job Sprawl Intensifies in Milwaukee’s Economic Recovery

In a continuation of a long-term trend with devastating results for city residents, job creation in the Milwaukee region in the wake of the Great Recession has been focused in the suburbs. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found that Milwaukee County has recovered only 35 percent of the jobs it lost in the economic downturn, meanwhile the surrounding suburban counties have recovered 70 percent. The report also found that new jobs in Milwaukee County tend to be lower paying, with a higher share of temporary positions.

James Rowen at the Political Environment writes that while suburban interests seem to take a perverse glee in the city’s troubles, in the end the whole region and state suffers:

The wealth and jobs data that [the Journal Sentinel's Rick] Romell cites show the result of decades of discriminatory public sector policies that disconnected transit links and thus intentionally reduced work and housing options for lower-income, minority Milwaukee residents by literally putting jobs and affordable housing out of reach.

While government builds more highways to serve suburban commuters – - despite a federal court ruling to the contrary - – and even now is contemplating giving the [suburban] City of Waukesha an exception to a multi-state water management agreement and allow Waukesha a diversion of Lake Michigan water not only for current needs, but to serve undeveloped acreage.

The sad irony in all this is that while the suburban counties and their louder political and media voices find votes and comfort manipulating Milwaukee, the state will not succeed like, say, Minnesota, because you cannot have an economically vibrant and attractive state economy if you deliberately constrict, abuse and stunt its largest city – - the center of the state’s commerce, banking, culture, entertainment and, in our case, the connection to an even bigger economy – - Chicago.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Greater Greater Washington explains why the new tolled lanes on I-95 in Maryland are likely to drain money from people who never use them. Twin City Sidewalks runs with the notion of freeways as public spaces for the expression. And Broken Sidewalk sees what lessons can be drawn from a heat map of where people are tweeting in Louisville.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Long Island Safety Cams Catching Speeders, So Suffolk’s Executive Shuts Down Program (Newsday)
  • Klein’s “New Deal” Plan: Spend Bank Settlement Windfall on MTA, Tappan Zee (TU, Capital)
  • Kallos Bill Would Create Universal E-Hail Platform for Green, Yellow Cabs (News, Post, Capital, WCBS)
  • DOT Unveils Permanent Design Proposals for Putnam Triangle Plaza in Clinton Hill (Brownstoner)
  • Friends of Lincoln Square Hit-and-Run Victim Raise Funds to Defray Spiraling Medical Costs (DNA)
  • SoHo BID — With Sean Sweeney‘s Support! – Wants to Tackle Broadway’s Crowded Sidewalks (Crain’s)
  • Post Urges Christie and Cuomo to Sign Port Authority Reform Bill
  • Fugitive Around-Manhattan Speed Demon Sentenced to a Year in Jail, If He Returns to U.S. (Post)
  • Car and Driver Tests Would-Be Central Park Touring Car: Wider and Taller Than a Suburban
  • No Better Way to Piss Off Advance Readers Than By Blocking the Staten Island Expressway in Protest

More headlines at Streetsblog USA