Streams

Bikes and Weddings: Linked?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Caitlin Thompson, Editor of our sister site It's a Free Country, points out that it's not just that bikes are being used to sell things...they're, as she says "a very popular theme for wedding invitations."

Why? Thoughts? Examples? -- Andrea Bernstein, TN

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High Speed Rail To Leave the Station in U.S.? And...Are Air Traffic Controllers Overworked?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Military Air Traffic Controller

Two interesting Transportation Nation stories on The Takeaway today.

One of President Obama's signature policy initiatives has been to connect 80 percent of Americans to high speed rail within 25 years. However, the 2011 budget allocates no further funding to high speed rail projects. Furthermore, in states like Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin, Republican governors have returned money for high speed rail projects, which was given to them as part of the stimulus. Is high speed rail dead?

Florida Governor Rick Scott rejected $2.4 billion on ideological grounds, saying the state cannot afford a major infrastructure project. Now Congress will only allow the Department of Transportation to redistribute $2 billion of that money. John Hockenberry breaks it down with Transportation Nation's Andrea Bernstein.

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After another incident of an air traffic controller falling asleep while on the job alone, the FAA announced yesterday that it will now post an extra staffer on overnight shifts in 27 control towers across the country. The incident in Nevada early Wednesday morning is the sixth time this year an air traffic controller has fallen asleep while working alone during a night shift.

Reading about the story on Transportation Nation, a commenter named "Matt," who identified himself as an air traffic controller had this to say:

It is not surprising that one of my fellow controllers succumbed to the issues at hand… Most facilities across the nation can barely staff the day shift, much less the overnight shift. I have been working 6 day weeks just to fill our staffing levels. While 6 day weeks might not sound bad, it has a devastating effect mentally on controllers.

Are air traffic controllers indeed overworked? Barbara Peterson, senior aviation correspondent for Conde Nast Traveler, says they are and it's only getting worse.

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Prefeito de Nova Iorque, Michael Bloomberg, visita São Paulo

Thursday, April 14, 2011

O Prefeito Do Nova Iorque, Michael Bloomberg, em Hong Kong

(New York, NY -- Gisele Regatao, WNYC & Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) For all our readers in Brazil – obrigada.  This one’s for you.

O prefeito de Nova Iorque, Michael Bloomberg, estará em São Paulo no mês que vem para uma conferência internacional sobre cidades e mudança climática. Bloomberg, que é o líder do C-40, um grupo das maiores cidades do mundo trabalhando em questões de mudança climática, diz que está ansioso para colaborar com o prefeito de São Paulo, Gilberto Kassab.

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“Nós todos reconhecemos que as cidades – aonde, pela primeira vez na história, mais da metade da população do mundo vive e que respondem por mais de 70 porcento da emissão de gases que provocam o efeito estufa – são as responsáveis pelo futuro da humanidade”, disse Bloomberg numa conferência em Hong Kong no começo do ano. O prefeito de Nova Iorque estava então falando para uma platéia de muitos dos prefeitos que estarão em São Paulo para a reunião do C-40.

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Community Board Unanimously Supports Prospect Park West Bike Lane, With Changes

Thursday, April 14, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  Park Slope's community board six voted unanimously yesterday evening to support the bike lane along Prospect Park West, with modifications.

This is now the third local community board vote supporting the bike lane. In New York, community boards are elected to advise the city, mostly on community planning issues.  Though they have little direct authority, their decisions are meant to express community will to city government.

The board voted to support modifications  to the lane recommended by the NYC DOT: including creating additional parking spaces, raised pedestrian islands, bike rumble strips and clearer signage.

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The lane has drawn opposition from some prominent local residents, including the former City Transportation Commissioner, Iris Weinshall, and her husband, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, who live along Prospect Park West.  A group formed to file a lawsuit to remove the lane, Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes, is charging the city manipulated safety data.

Jim Walden, the attorney for the plaintiffs, isn't backing down in his dismissal of the community boards recommendation.

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Does Europe Like Bikes More Than New York?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

(Kate Hinds and Nancy Solomon, Transportation Nation) Since 2006, New York City has added 250 miles of bike lanes in an effort, Mayor Bloomberg says, to improve traffic, air quality, and ultimately, public health. But while polls show support for bike lanes, opposition has been loud -- and vehement -- around the city.  So WNYC's Transportation Nation team got to wondering: do Europeans just like biking more than New Yorkers?

Bicycle parking outside a Copenhagen train station (photo by Jim Colgan)

We spoke to Danes and New Yorkers to see if we could figure this out.

On a recent trip to Aarhus -- Denmark’s second largest city -- all of the guests at a dinner party have kids, cycle to work and do most errands by bike, even though each family owns a car. Lars Villemoes said he prefers to bike even when it's raining.

“It’s a really good feeling, I love it in the morning, I go faster every morning and I love it when I see the line of cars and I just go past them, that’s such a good feeling,” he said.

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“The safety has to be considered because in order to take your children you have to be absolutely safe about this,” said his friend Lone Maribo. She added: “And I think taking your children is the first step to changing the culture, isn't it?"

The culture she is referring to is not just a small subculture. Eighteen percent of Danish commuters bike to work. Busy thoroughfares have bike lanes separated by a curb and traffic lights just for bikes. The lanes get a steady flow of cyclists -- young, old, women, white collar workers in suits -- and the story is the same in Holland and Germany.

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TN Moving Stories: China's (Less) High-Speed Rail, Sleeping Controllers, Carsharing Meets Stock Market

Thursday, April 14, 2011

If you're wondering how all these contentious budget deals are affecting plans -- and money -- for high-speed rail, Transportation Nation's Andrea Bernstein combed through the reports to find out. (The Takeaway)

China is also putting the brakes on high-speed, but for another reason. China slows down its bullet train over safety concerns. (WSJ)

After a second air traffic controller fell asleep working the lonely night shift, the FAA has announced it will add a second controller overnights at 26 airports, including D.C.'s Reagan National. (WAMU) But are air traffic controllers just plain overworked? (The Takeaway)

ZipCar, the country's largest carsharing company, has gone public, raising more than 31 percent above the expected offering price. (Bloomberg) That's all without the company actually making a profit. Marketplace explains that's not because the model doesn't work, but because buying all those cars to expand to new cities keeps the company in the red.

If it still ruffles your feathers to pay to check a bag while flying, consider that you don't get a refund on that fee when the airlines loose your luggage. Well the DOT wants to change that. (AP) Security pat-downs are also under review. After a You Tube video showed a six-year-old enduring a security pat-down, the TSA is considering changes to the policy. (Denver Post)

IBM and U.C. Berkeley are teaming up, and using smart phones, to tackle traffic jams. (Wired)

If freight trucking is an economic indicator, this isn't the best news. Road freight shipments fell 1.5 percent in February. (TruckingInfo)

(Photo: Asian Development Bank)

The city of Mandaluyong in the Philippines just launched a plan to use electric tricycles as public transportation. It's part of a wider effort to reduce air pollution. (TheCityFix)

The Texas Rangers are suing a former team owner for planning to price gouge fans for parking at the ballpark this season. (Dallas Morning News)

Like many transit systems facing budget cutbacks, D.C. area Metro is considering cutting bus routes, increasing weekend wait times, and eliminating subsidies. It is not considering fare hikes... now. (WAMU)

Maryland has voted down a gas tax increase. They did, however, raised taxes on alcohol. But, the booze surcharge won't go to transportation projects. (WAMU)

And on NYC bike lane usage, Streetsblog takes the same data as the NY Post, but draws the opposite conclusions. People use the bike lanes a lot, they find. (Streetsblog)

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Bill Clinton: China is "Doing Great" on High-Speed Rail [UPDATED]

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

(File Photo CC by World Economic Forum)

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) President Clinton was in New York City today to join NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg in announcing the merger of  C40 cities, a global coalition of world capitals led by the Mayor to head off Global Warming and the Clinton Climate Initiative.

At the announcement at Gracie Mansion, President Clinton gave high marks to China's high-speed rail progress. "Just as our Congress is defunding rapid rail, they have tested a train that runs 306 m.p.h almost 100 m.p.h. faster than the fastest Japanese and German trains. I would give them a good grade on that. They are doing great."

Listen to Bill Clinton on China's high-speed rail.

Clinton also spoke about green jobs among other environmental topics, WNYC's Bob Hennelly asked the President, "In this last budget deal to keep the government open, one of the things that took s terrible hit was both the EPA and the kind of green jobs you talk about. How can we overcome the kinds of setbacks and develop this long term view?"

Listen to Bill Clinton on green energy and jobs:

Transcript:

One of the real challenges that the President faces in negotiating with the Republicans--and it’s a similar to what I faced in 1995--was captured in the Wisconsin debate. That is, there’s a difference between finding the most effective way to reduce the deficit and the debt and using that to further some ideological goal.

Now, a lot of people in the new majority don’t believe in climate change and don’t believe in green energy. In the tax compromise at the end of the year, the only bad thing about it was they got rid of that payment which was the equivalent of a 30 percent per employee tax credit for green manufacturing jobs.

But, you know, neither the mayor nor I can have an enormous amount of influence on that. I hope that there will be some thought given to that. All this business about they have to subsidize green energy. That’s just, more than others, not true.

Coal doesn’t pay for the air pollution, external costs that they make. We give…  the administration is supporting, and the Republicans voted for subsidizing nuclear giving them big low interest loan.

And in 2005, the Congress recognizing that no insurance company would write insurance on a nuclear power plant, basically said the federal government would do it. How much bigger subsidy can you get?

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Brooklyn Community Board To Vote on PPW Bike Lane Modifications Tonight

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) At tonight's Community Board 6 meeting in Brooklyn, among the many items on the agenda is a vote on whether to support the New York City Department of Transportation's proposed revisions to the Prospect Park West bike lane. These include the installation of raised pedestrian median islands, the installation of rumble strips, and the configuration of the Ninth Street loading zone.

The community board will also be making some suggestions of its own, like asking the DOT to reconsider the signalization of the bike lane and adding louvers on the flashing yellow signals so only bicyclists, not motorists, would see them.

The board would also like the DOT to identify opportunities to restore some parking spaces.  "I think parking was probably one of the biggest issues on our residents' minds," said Craig Hammerman, the district manager for Community Board 6, who said that the board would like to DOT to "consider changing the configuration of some of the traffic islands. Instead of being these 70 - to 80- foot-long safety zones, that they instead be potentially cut in half to allow for parking spaces in between."

You can read the resolution here.

Before the meeting even starts, Jim Walden, the attorney for the group suing to remove the bike line, is sending a letter to be read at tonight's meeting. Walden says he'd like the board to defer voting on the lane's reconfiguration until "after a full and meaningful discussion about alternative configurations, which will include more pointed questions for DOT about the various decisions it made to 'sell' a dangerous bike lane to your community."

PPW Letter to C Hammerman and D Kummer

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FAA Adds Staff to the Midnight Shift on ATC Towers

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

This just in from the FAA:

The FAA Announces Additional Staffing at 27 Control Towers

WASHINGTON – Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Randy Babbitt announced today that effective immediately the FAA will place an additional air traffic controller on the midnight shift at 27 control towers around the country that are currently staffed with only one controller during that time.

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"I am totally outraged by these incidents. This is absolutely unacceptable," said Secretary LaHood. "The American public trusts us to run a safe system. Safety is our number one priority and I am committed to working 24/7 until these problems are corrected."

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BLOOMBERG: Ped Plazas Reduce Air Pollution by 40 to 60 Percent

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

This in from NYC Mayor's Office:

MAYOR BLOOMBERG ANNOUNCES LATEST RESULTS OF HEALTH DEPARTMENT AIR QUALITY STUDY THAT SHOWS AIR IN TIMES SQUARE IS CLEANER AND HEALTHIER SINCE PEDESTRIAN PLAZAS WERE OPENED

PlaNYC Report Shows Reduction in Harmful Pollutants that Can Irritate Lungs, Worsen Asthma, Emphysema, and Increase Risk of Premature Death

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and the Mayor’s Sustainability Director David Bragdon today released the results of the most recent Health Department air quality study which shows the impact of traffic on neighborhood air pollution across New York City.  The report documents an immediate and substantial air quality improvement in Times Square after the creation of a pedestrian plaza. The data are contained in the latest report from the New York City Community Air Survey (NYCCAS), a comprehensive survey of street-level air quality in the five boroughs created as part of PlaNYC. A quarter-million pedestrians enter Times Square each day and have the potential to benefit from the cleaner air. After the pedestrian plaza was created, concentrations of traffic-related pollutants were substantially lower than measurements from the year before and were less than in other midtown locations.

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In SF Bay Area: Transit's Most Dangerous Mile

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

(San Francisco–Casey Miner, KALW News) AC Transit’s line 376 runs through a dangerous stretch of North Richmond – an unincorporated part of Contra Costa County. So far this year, it has experienced six violent incidents, including shot-out windows and assaulted passengers. Things got so bad that in late February, county sheriff’s deputies started shadowing the bus, escorting it once it enters North Richmond until it leaves that neighborhood. It’s only about a mile stretch. For a while the deputies were following the bus every day; now, it’s only when they can spare an officer. So most of the time, drivers are on their own.

Listen over at KALW News to find out what it's like to drive this line.

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TN Moving Stories: Predatory Auto Lending Scams, Ohio Pulls Funding from Cincy's Streetcar Project, and Weird Items People Try to Fly With

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ohio has pulled nearly $52 million in funding for Cincinnati's proposed streetcar project. (Cincinnati.com)

DC's Metro says a new report shows that an increase in peak fares has not stopped riders from using the system (WAMU).

The Red Line rolls into Metro's Judiciary Square station (photo by Kate Hinds)

State and local officials in Virginia have taken the next steps in their fight to block a plan to build a new underground metro station at Dulles airport. (WAMU)

Gas prices are up 40% over last year, and economists are debating the effect on consumers. (NPR)

So are drivers buying less gas? Or are fuel-efficient vehicles partially responsible for a slowdown in gas sales? (Marketplace)

The Center for Public Integrity investigates predatory auto loans -- the same scams outlawed by Congress after the mortgage crisis.

ProPublica reports that natural gas might not be cleaner than burning coal.

The New York Post says a new study contradicts the NYC DOT's cycling numbers.

New York's MTA sometimes uses regular subway cars --with passengers on them -- to haul garbage. (NY Daily News)

Virgin Atlantic blogs about the strangest items passengers have tried to pass off as checked baggage, including bathtubs, dead cows, and a bag of cutlery previously stolen from another Virgin Atlantic flight.

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: The US DOT conducts surprise bus inspections -- and finds that one in 10 are unsafe. A budget deal is made -- and the slashing isn't just for high-speed rail. The Willis Avenue bridge makes its final journey. Bikes are now used to sell bridal wear. And: the San Francisco Bay Area's most dangerous transit mile.

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Get Married, Ride Off...On a Bike? Bike Used to Sell Bridal Wear

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  Spotted in Soho, New York City, the grandma of all artsy-trendy neighborhoods in the United States...a white bike used to hawk bridal wear.   I'm spotting this more and more, bikes popping up in movies and fashion-spreads to signify uber-chicness.  Seen this trend?  Post your photos.

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In Surprise Inspections, US DOT Finds 1 in 10 Coach Buses Unsafe

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

This in from the US DOT:

U.S. DOT Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and State Law Enforcement Agencies Conduct Thousands of Surprise Passenger Carrier Safety Inspections Nationwide;  Strike Force Inspections Remove 289 Unsafe Passenger Buses and Drivers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and its state and local law enforcement partners across the nation recently conducted 2,782 surprise passenger carrier safety inspections over a nine-day period that resulted in 289 unsafe buses or drivers being removed from our roadways.

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UPDATE: Spending Deal Spreads Pain Across Transpo Projects, HSR Gutted

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

UPDATED WITH NEW DETAILS ON FUNDING: (Washington, DC -- Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) Transportation cuts in Capitol Hill's budget deal are coming into clearer focus -- and while high-speed rail retains some funding, almost all types of transportation take a big hit.

Appropriations aides on both sides of the aisle say that $2.9 billion is the limit of the deal's cuts to high-speed rail. A previous cut of $1.5 billion had spread fears that the actual cuts were cumulative at $4.4 billion, but as aides pored over the fine print -- released at 2 am --  and ran the numbers through their calculators, both parties agreed the final cut was 2.9 billion.  That means President Obama's signature transportation initiative is left with no new funding whatsoever for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Obama Administration officials point out that the Department of Transportation still has $2 billion on hand for high-speed rail projects. That means the program isn't dead, just unfunded for this year. "The Obama Administration looks forward to working with states eager to build the foundation for a world-class rail network," read a statement released by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

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SLIDE SHOW: The Willis Avenue Bridge's Final Journey

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

(New York, NY -- Stephen Nessen, WNYC) The 109-year old Willis Avenue bridge drifted down the East River early Tuesday morning as it headed for Jersey City. It was replaced last July as part of a $612 million project. Full slide show here.

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High-Speed Rail Gutted in Spending Deal

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

(Washington, DC -- Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) It's been a bad week for some of President Obama's cherished domestic programs, but perhaps for none more so than high speed rail.

(Read an updated post HERE.)

Details of the nearly six-month spending deal that kept the government from shutting down came out overnight. They contain a whopping $2.9 billion cut for high-speed rail projects. Keep in mind the one-week spending bill used to buy time for the bill-writers on Capitol Hill cut another $1.5 billion from the program immediately.

You can do the math yourself, but that's a staggering $4.4 billion cut to high speed rail in the span of four days. And it means the project won't be funded at all this year. More details as they emerge.

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TN Moving Stories: Sales Decline as Gas Prices Climb, Budget Deal Spares DC Metro, and Big Wheel Vs. Big City Bus

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Gasoline sales have fallen for five straight weeks, signaling that pump prices may have reached an economic tipping point. (Marketplace)

The former Port Authority of NY-NJ chair says he's turning his attention to the president’s goal of creating a nationwide high-speed rail network (Star-Ledger). (Although the president's plans just took a big hit.)

Detroit's City Council approved a bond sale that will fund the city's new light rail system. (AP via BusinessWeek)

The Congressional budget deal spares $150 million in federal money for DC's Metro. (Washington Post)

The New York City's Department of Transportation is dropping plans for a four-mile bike lane that would have run along Bay Ridge Parkway in Brooklyn. (NY Post)

Meanwhile, NY1 says that NYC DOT head Janette Sadik-Khan is trying to rebuild good will, one intersection at a time.

One man decided to race a New York City bus on a Big Wheel bike for a mile down 42nd street to make a point about public transportation being slow. Guess who wins? (Video below, via Good.)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: the budget deal has gutted high-speed rail funding. NYC is installing more countdown clocks at dangerous pedestrian intersections. And we mapped who got fined in NYC for not shoveling their sidewalks during snowstorms.

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Pedestrian Countdown Clocks Placed At Dangerous NYC Intersections

Monday, April 11, 2011

New pedestrian countdown clock in Brooklyn.

(New York, NY -- Jim O'Grady, WNYC) Pedestrians have forty-three new countdown clocks at some of New York City 's most dangerous intersections to tell them how much time there is left to cross the street. When the LED crosswalk signals show a flashing red hand, they also start displaying the dwindling seconds left until vehicles regain the right of way and may zoom past again.

City officials held a press conference announcing the new lights at the intersection of Flatbush Avenue and Fulton Street in Brooklyn, where six streets cross.

"Individuals should not have to take their life into their hands when they cross Flatbush Avenue," said City Councilwoman Letitia James, who represents the area. "These countdown clocks will go a long way in improving safety and reducing pedestrian fatalities and cyclist fatalities in the city of New York."

The current crop of clocks is installed at dangerous intersections on major thoroughfares like Queens Boulevard, the Grand Concourse in the Bronx and Hylan Boulevard in Staten Island. Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said at the press conference that a 2010 department study showed "major corridors are two-thirds more deadly for pedestrians” than smaller roads.

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Interactive Map: Who Gets Fined When NYC Sidewalks Stay Covered with Snow, Ice

Monday, April 11, 2011


Full screen.

(New York -- Ilya Maritz, WNYC) Last winter New York City endured the third snowiest season on record, and the City doled out more than 4,500 tickets for snow and ice violations. Building owners are required to shovel the sidewalks in front of their properties, if they don't, they risk a $150 ticket.

Ice-coated sidewalks in New York can be dangerous for pedestrians, not just the residents of the property, in some cases forcing them to walk in the snowy streets.

While blizzards typically dump snow fairly evenly across the city, tickets for failing to clear snow and ice are spread unevenly, according to an analysis by WNYC.

More than 1/3 of all tickets were handed out in the Bronx. Manhattan, where apartment buildings predominate, had only 1 percent of the violations.

The most ticketed block in the city was a tree-lined residential strip in the Bronx with two- and three-story homes. Freeman Street — between Union and Prospect avenues — tallied an astonishing 41 violations for failure to clear snow from the sidewalk including several that neighbors say have fallen into foreclosure.

"It's no maintenance man, it's no owner, it's nothing," said Mac, who lives in one of the buildings and only provided his first name.

He said he hasn't paid rent there in over a year, and there's no hot water. No surprise, then, that the sidewalk wasn't shoveled.

"I think the Sanitation [Department] made this building a part of their training route for training new employees how to put tickets on the building," Mac said, "because they know they gonna guarantee a ticket over here."

For the full story of Freeman street and NYC snow and ice violations, go to WNYC.

KEY: Each pin marks an address receiving at least one snow/ice violation this past winter, between 12/27/2010 and 2/25/2011. Citations dismissed as of April 1, 2011 are omitted, and some violations shown may yet be dismissed. Source: NYC Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings/Environmental Control Board

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