Skip to content

1 Comment

NYPD Still Keeps Crash Reports Under Lock and Key

Two years into the de Blasio administration’s Vision Zero initiative, NYPD still refuses to release crash investigations to the public.

NYPD refuses to disclose basic information pertaining to the crash that killed Brooklyn cyclist James Gregg, such as where the trucker who hit Gregg was going, and what was in his trailer. Photo: Eric McClure

The most recent case: NYPD denied a freedom of information request from a New York Times reporter who asked for documents related to the crash that killed cyclist James Gregg in Park Slope last month.

Gregg was killed on April 20 by a tractor-trailer driver on Sixth Avenue near Sterling Place. That’s not a truck route, and based on photos of the scene, there is a strong possibility the truck that hit Gregg was too long to be operated legally on NYC surface streets. But an officer at the scene suggested Gregg had acted recklessly by trying to hitch a ride, which also describes what a cyclist desperately trying to fend off an oversized truck might look like. NYPD later said Gregg “for unknown reasons fell to the ground,” and eventually ticketed the trucker for equipment violations driving off-route, but he was not charged by police or District Attorney Ken Thompson for taking Gregg’s life.

Not satisfied with the shifting narrative from police, the Times’s Andy Newman filed a FOIL request on April 24, reports street safety advocate Charles Komanoff, who posted the NYPD letter denying the request on the Right of Way web site.

Newman asked NYPD for Collision Investigation Squad reports, any police determination concerning what caused the crash, the driver’s name and address, information on any summonses issued and charges filed against the driver, information on the driver’s route and cargo, the length of the truck trailer, and whether police determined that the truck driver broke laws relating to truck routes and passing at a safe distance.

On May 11, Lieutenant Richard Mantellino rejected Newman’s request on the grounds that granting it “would interfere with law enforcement investigations or judicial proceedings.”

NYPD’s handling of the crash — reflexive victim-blaming followed by conflicting police statements and a refusal to release information that would shed light on what happened and how the investigation was conducted — adhered to a script that has not changed in years, with or without a Vision Zero policy framework in place at City Hall.

Read more…

6 Comments
Livable Streets Events

This Week: Woodhaven Boulevard SBS — The Next Chapter

Select Bus Service on Woodhaven Boulevard will speed up travel times for 30,000 daily bus passengers and bring much-needed safety improvements to one of the city’s most dangerous roads.

Because it reallocates street space from cars to buses, the project has met some resistance that prompted DOT to scale back the initial plan. Despite those setbacks, the Woodhaven SBS project retains the promise of faster, more reliable bus service and significant pedestrian safety gains.

On Wednesday, DOT will hold the last of its most recent round of public meetings on the project. If you care about faster buses and safer crossings along Woodhaven Boulevard, make sure your voice gets heard.

Check the Streetsblog calendar for a full list of this week’s events. Here are the highlights:

Keep your eyes on the calendar for updates. Let us know if you have an event you’d like to see added.

Streetsblog.net
View Comments

Anthony Foxx Envisions a “Gradual Shift” Away From Car Dependence

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx criss-crossed the country last week on a tour of the seven finalists for U.S. DOT’s $50 million “Smart City Challenge” grant.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is taking a "measured" tone about changing transportation in the U.S. Photo: Bike Portland

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. Photo: Bike Portland

When Foxx was in Portland, Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland got a chance to ask him how he plans to change the transportation “paradigm” so walking, biking, and transit become the norm. Six years after Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood climbed on a table at the National Bike Summit and announced “the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized,” Maus notes, federal policy still tilts heavily in favor of car-based infrastructure.

Here’s what Foxx said:

I think we’re going to need cars. We’re going to need a mix of transportation options. I think we have a supply-side mentality right now at the federal level where we presume that 80 cents on the dollar should go to the automobile within the Highway Trust Fund. And I actually think over the longer term we’re going to need to look at a more performance-based system where we look at things like: How it congestion best reduced? How do we increase safety? How do we move significant numbers of people most efficiently and effectively and cleanly. And I think that’s going to push us into a different mix of transportation choices.

But I think it’s a slow, gradual process. Look around the world and no country has created a multimodal system overnight; but I think that’s ultimately where we’re headed. We have to have a mix of transportation choices. It includes the automobile, but it’s not exclusive to the automobile.

Foxx’s power to set transportation policy pales in comparison to Congress and the White House, but he could be doing more to speed up a shift of priorities at the federal level. U.S. could, for instance, reform the way states measure congestion, so people riding the bus count as much as solo drivers. But so far Foxx’s agency has been reluctant to do that.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Transport Providence considers how insight from conservatives could improve transit projects. The Transportationist explains how the “modernist” vision for transportation undervalued places and diverged from thousands of years of human experience. And City Block considers the advantages and drawbacks of Denver’s new airport train.

26 Comments

Today’s Headlines

  • NYT to Cuomo: Do Something Significant for Transit for Once and Get MoveNY Through Albany
  • Subway Crowding Causing ~30 Percent More Delays Than Last Year (NY1)
  • The #CrashNotAccident Campaign Caught the Attention of the Times
  • Will NYPD Fix Its Collision Investigations Without Michael Ameri? (RoW)
  • Citi Bike Mechanics Are Worried About Some Components in the Newer Bikes (News)
  • DOT Will Add Nine Citi Bike Infill Stations on the Upper East Side (DNA)
  • Diabolical David Greenfield Pits Brooklyn Neighborhoods Against Each Other (NYT)
  • $100 Million in Station Improvements Could Make F-Express More Appealing (2nd Ave Sagas)
  • The BQX Streetcar Show Played to a Tough Crowd in Red Hook (Gothamist, AMNY)
  • More Clinton Ave Bikeway Coverage (DNA, Brooklyn Paper)
  • Hit-and-Run Green Cab Driver Injured Woman in Gowanus (News); 3-Car Pileup in Bensonhurst (Post)
  • Meet New Yorkers Who Citi Bike Everywhere (Post)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

17 Comments

Eyes on the Street: First Signs of Amsterdam Avenue’s Protected Bike Lane

This isn’t Amsterdam, but it is a protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue. Photo: Lisa Sladkus

Exciting news to conclude this Bike to Work Day: NYC DOT has striped 24 blocks of the Amsterdam Avenue protected bike lane, from 72nd Street to 96th Street.

Once it’s finished, the segment DOT is building this year will run up to 110th Street. It’s a much-needed and long-desired northbound complement to the southbound protected lane on Columbus Avenue.

Amsterdam Avenue has been a treacherous speedway for years, and the redesign — which repurposed a lane of car traffic and will include concrete pedestrian islands — will no doubt save lives.

Upper West Side advocates — including Lisa Sladkus, who sent in these photos — worked for years to make this project a reality. The first community board vote for a protected lane on Amsterdam was way back in 2009. But it wasn’t until this February that a specific redesign cleared the obstructionist leadership of the board’s transportation committee.

Congrats and a big thank you to everyone who helped make it happen.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
View Comments

The Problem With “Infrastructure Week”

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 3.37.06 PM

You may have noticed that it’s “Infrastructure Week” in America — a time where engineering and construction industry groups beat the drum for more money, using big numbers and images of collapsing bridges.

You can follow the dialogue on Twitter. It’s full of value-neutral statements like this one from Democratic members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure:

It’s hard to dispute the value of infrastructure, or that America’s transportation, water, sewer, and utility systems are generally in bad shape. But the big prescription that comes out of Infrastructure Week is not so much about making better infrastructure — it’s mainly about spending more money.

Infrastructure Week is brought to you by some of the largest engineering firms in the world. The coalition is broader than that, and includes some perspectives that emphasize quality and efficiency. But the driving force is the American Society of Civil Engineers, an organization with plenty of self-interest in bigger public construction budgets.

So it’s no wonder that the message from Infrastructure Week boils down to an orchestrated appeal for funds. It’s also not difficult to see why this message doesn’t get a lot people very excited: For more money, we can get a less defective version of what we’ve already got.

Read more…

14 Comments

New Yorkers Tell Streetfilms Why They’re Biking More Than Ever

By every metric, today New Yorkers are biking more than ever. So to mark Bike to Work Day, Clarence Eckerson went over to the Transportation Alternatives commuter station by the Queensboro Bridge to ask people if they’re biking now more than five years ago, and why. Here’s what they told him.

There’s a lot of great insight here, but tops on the list for me is how new bike infrastructure has helped people beset by crowding and delays on the 7 train. A fully built-out network of low-stress bikeways could be such a valuable complement to a transit system that is bursting at the seams.

Streetsblog USA
View Comments

Will Barcelona’s “Superblocks” Proposal Work Well for Transit?

Will "Superblocks" "solve the main problems of urban mobility?" Image: BC Necologica

Within Barcelona’s superblocks, car traffic will be limited. What happens on the streets outside the superblocks? Image: BC Necologica

Barcelona is making waves with plans to test a concept it’s calling “superblocks.” The idea is to create nine-block squares of “citizen spaces” — about 400 meters on each side — where cars would be limited. Unlike the widely derided superblocks of the urban renewal era, Barcelona’s would be explicitly designed to preserve the street grid for walking and biking — only motor vehicle through traffic would be discouraged.

City officials have identified five neighborhoods where the superblock concept will be tested. The streets inside each superblock would be close to car-free. Local motor vehicle traffic will be allowed at very low speeds (under 10 KPH) and so would emergency vehicles. Surface parking would be prohibited.

Officials believe this arrangement of streets can help Barcelona achieve its goal of reducing traffic by 21 percent. It’s part of a broader plan that also calls for 300 kilometers of new bike infrastructure.

Relieved of the obligation to move motor vehicle through traffic and store cars, the streets would be freed up for public space, walking, and biking. One question the plan raises, however, is how it would affect transit.

Read more…

18 Comments

DOT Defers Action on Clinton Avenue Bikeway

DOT wants to give Clinton Avenue in Brooklyn a two-way protected bike lane. Image: DOT

The Clinton Avenue redesign calls for a two-way protected bike lane and concrete pedestrian islands. Image: DOT

DOT has deferred its plan for a two-way protected bike lane on Clinton Avenue, saying it will return to Brooklyn Community Board 2 next month.

The department’s decision was announced by CB 2 transportation chair John Dew at the beginning of last night’s committee meeting. The committee had initially intended to finish hearing comments from people who didn’t get to speak at Tuesday’s meeting on the project, then vote on the plan, which Dew said he believed was “not-yet-ready for primetime.”

The redesign would add a two-way parking protected bike lane on Clinton between Flushing Avenue and Gates Avenue, converting the street from two-way motor vehicle flow to one-way northbound. In addition to creating a low-stress bike connection to the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway on Flushing, it would narrow crossing distance for pedestrians and simplify intersections, reducing the potential for conflict between drivers and people on foot.

While similar projects have reduced injuries and deaths all over the city, and the design closely resembles an arrangement that has functioned perfectly well on Kent Avenue for several years, property owners on Clinton Avenue campaigned against it, claiming that repurposing space from cars to bikes would impede emergency access, endanger seniors, and destroy “the historic nature of the Avenue.”

On Tuesday, Public Advocate Tish James and local Council Member Laurie Cumbo sided with the opponents.

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
View Comments

Priced Lanes Can Move Everyone Faster — Even People Who Don’t Pay

Since adding tolled lanes o I-405 outside Seattle, all the lanes are less congested. Image: Washington DOT

Since tolling began on two lanes of I-405 outside Seattle, all lanes are less congested. Image: Washington DOT

Remember the uproar over the HOT lanes on I-405 outside Seattle? Republicans in the state senate fired transportation commissioner Lynn Petersen to register their displeasure with priced roads. The political furor isn’t over. Bill Bryant, a GOP candidate for governor, continues to use the HOT lanes as a wedge issue against incumbent Democrat Jay Inslee.

Look at the actual effect of the tolls, however, and the complaints seem like so much hot air. Josh Feit at PubliCola reports the tolls are reducing traffic even for people who opt not to pay:

Despite the noise, the latest data (such as measuring traffic speeds) shows that I-405 tolling has actually improved traffic conditions and commutes. What’s more: the surveys show that people are pleased with the program. (By the way, earlier data, available during last session’s attack on Peterson, found similar results.)

A presentation on the I-405 tolling program put together by WSDOT this week documents the following:

Read more…