Streams

Kate Hinds

Kate Hinds appears in the following:

Los Angeles Turns To Celebrities To Get the Word Out About Upcoming Highway Closure

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Highway 405 in Los Angeles (photo by Atwater Village Newbie via Flickr)

For one weekend in July, a key highway in Los Angeles will be closed for 53 hours straight while workers demolish a bridge. It's part of a massive project to widen Highway 405 and add a high-occupancy vehicle lane, and the city is doing everything it can to make sure residents "plan ahead, avoid the area, or stay home."

To avoid "carmageddon," the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is trying to e-publicize the closure any way it can. Of course there's a website. There are also live chats. And a downloadable countdown widget clock, as well as an embeddable graphic banner.

Oh, and the LAPD has asked Lady Gaga to tweet about it.

But there is an old-school component to the publicity: Erik Estrada -- of CHiPs fame --  made a video.

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Ray LaHood: People Want to Live in Cities with Transportation Choices

Thursday, June 30, 2011

In Ray LaHood's latest "On the Go" -- the video series in which the US Department of Transportation Secretary answers questions from the public -- he fields questions from Streetsblog readers.  Watch below to see him talk about urban livability, driving responsibly, the expansion of streetcars in New Orleans,  and the DOT's collaboration with HUD and EPA.

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TN MOVING STORIES: Michigan Gov Warns Against Tough Fuel Economy Standards, Turtles Overrun Runway at JFK, and Banning Babies in First Class

Thursday, June 30, 2011

15 governors, including Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, sent a letter to regulators urging the federal government not to increase fuel economy standards "too quickly." (Detroit Free Press)

Ray LaHood visited a GM plant in Flint. (FastLane)

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood visiting a GM plant in Michigan (photo via FastLane)

The final route in Detroit's $500 million light rail project was announced. (Detroit News)

Higher transit fares and bridge tolls go into effect in the Bay Area tomorrow. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Hyundai -- once an automotive afterthought --  is now zooming forward. (Wall Street Journal)

One airline banned babies in first class. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Boaters must now steer clear of part of New York City's Verrazano Bridge where a diver found a cache of unexploded ammunition. (New York Daily News)

Sit, stay buckle: automakers and law enforcement agencies are urging pet owners to secure dogs in cars. (Wall Street Journal)

Turtles overran the tarmac at JFK Airport, causing flight delays. (WNYC)

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Bikes on BART: The Survey

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bike space on BART (photo by Frank Chan via Flickr)

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) says that in the last nine years, the number of passengers taking bicycles on board the trains has risen almost 65% --despite the fact that bikes are banned during "peak commute times."  So the agency is updating its Bicycle Access and Parking Plan (pdf), and it says it wants feedback from riders about what would make them more likely to bike to BART.  The online survey asks questions about how people feel about bike parking at their stations, how they get bikes from the street level to the train platforms, and what they'd like to see improved. According to the agency's website, BART says the survey data will be used to "identify the best investments to encourage bicycling to particular station types."

 

 

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Snapshot | A Tip Jar in Soho

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Some free food for thought was emblazoned on a tip jar at a restaurant at Prince Street and Sixth Ave. in Soho on Wednesday.

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Former GM Exec: Automakers Should Focus Less on Stock Price...and Yes, I Flipped Over An Opel

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

(Photo: (cc) by Flickr user Joost J. Bakker IJmuiden)

Bob Lutz, a former GM executive who championed the Volt, was interviewed this morning on the Brian Lehrer Show about his new book,  Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business. In the book, he argues the auto industry needs to focus more on quality and customer service and less on stock price. Below are some highlights from today's Brian Lehrer Show interview.

Regarding the auto industry meltdown: "Management with more of a focus on the customer and excellence would have prevented it."

On US automakers versus Japanese automakers:  "The playing field now is absolutely level."

Does he envision an America with all electric cars? "I don't, because range is always going to be a factor."

Did you flip over an Opel during a J turn? "Yes I did...there was an argument with the engineers who claimed the car couldn't be flipped because we'd had some reports of the cars flipping over in the United States. I went out and performed the test and promptly put it on its roof."

You can listen to the interview below.

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TN MOVING STORIES: False Alarms Plague NY MTA Elevators, NJ Transit Increases Security, and Mimes To Promote Quiet Cars On Boston T

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Florida Governor Rick Scott sent his top transportation adviser to Central Florida to warn local officials that they'll be on the hook if SunRail fails. (St. Petersburg Times)

The monitoring systems on New York MTA elevators are plagued by false alarms. (New York Daily News)

São Paolo, Brazil, is building an 11-mile long monorail to link its airport to its subway system -- but it may not be completed in time for the 2014 World Cup. (Smart Planet)

A rendering of São Paulo's future monorail line

The Miami Herald asks officials not to penalize riders because of the scandal at Miami-Dade Transit.

According to a recent poll, NJ governor Christie's support is dropping among voters because of decisions like canceling the ARC tunnel and flying in a state helicopter to attend his son's baseball game. (Bloomberg)

NJ Transit is increasing security and developing an intelligence unit with the FBI. (AP via the Star-Ledger)

A key House Democrat says privatizing Amtrak would drain railroad workers' pensions. (The Hill)

A former GM vice chair will be on the Brian Lehrer Show later on this morning to talk about his view of car manufacturing -- more quality, less focus on stock price. (WNYC)

More on Boston's "quiet car" program, including the revelation that the MBTA will be using mimes to promote it. (WBUR)

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Snapshot | Final Day of School

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesday marked the final day of school for the city's public school students.

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TN MOVING STORIES: Florida's Commuter Rail Fate To Be Decided This Week, and Less NYkers Driving Over MTA-Tolled Bridges

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Florida Congressman John Mica has been pushing SunRail for years -- but is he dedicated to commuter rail, or to earmarks for CSX? (New York Times)

Meanwhile: Florida Governor Rick Scott says he'll decide the fate of the SunRail project this week. (The Hill)

And: Scott has the lowest approval rating of any governor in the nation, in part because of unpopular decisions like killing that state's high-speed rail project. (New York Times)

How feasible is President Obama's gas mileage goal of 56.2 miles per gallon by 2025? (The Takeaway)

Boston's MBTA is expanding its "quiet car" program. (MyFox Boston)

Shhhh - the T is pulling into the station (photo by Kate Hinds)

German researchers say that a handful of cars "talking" to each other can reduce traffic congestion. (Autopia)

Maryland's proposed Red Line in Baltimore has received federal approval to move to the next phase of development -- meaning federal funding is likely to eventually come. (Baltimore Sun)

Zurich is piloting climate- and traffic-resistant sensors for vehicles, and designing ways to use mobile phones to access the data collected by the sensors. (Treehugger.com)

Less motorists are driving over the New York MTA's toll bridges. (New York Post)

 

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TN MOVING STORIES: China Opens New Fast Rail Line, Virginia's Transportation Woes, and NY's MTA Slow to Pick Up Subway Garbage

Monday, June 27, 2011

T tracks in Boston -- relatively trash-free compared to New York (photo by Kate Hinds)

New York's MTA fails to pick up garbage in about 100 subway stations on an average night. (New York Daily News)

The truck company involved in a deadly Amtrak crash in Nevada last week had been repeatedly cited for safety violations. (AP via Chicago Sun Times)

European cities are making driving miserable in order to curtail car use -- and boost public transit. (New York Times)

New York Times columnist Joe Nocera has been won over by the Chevy Volt. (Link)

Tolls are up on New York's MTA-owned bridges, but 20% of them score below the agency's midpoint in its ratings system. (New York Post)

China opens its Beijing-Shanghai high speed rail link to the public this week, barely three years after construction began. The trains will travel the 820 miles in just under 5 hours. (Telegraph)

Why is it so hard to get a transportation project off the ground in Virginia? “I don’t think Richmond gets northern Virginia and I don’t think traditional transportation engineers understand or even support the new science of land use and transportation,” says one urban planner. (AP via Washington Post)

Philadelphia -- which has seen a 151% increase in bike commuting in the last decade -- is gaining a reputation as a bike-friendly, transit-using, walkable city. (Philadelphia Daily News)

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Snapshot | Same-Sex Wedding Window Display in Union Square

Friday, June 24, 2011

A same-sex marriage display appears in the window of the Levis Store on 14th Street near Union Square.

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TN MOVING STORIES: House Legislation Floats Federal Ban on Cell Phones While Driving, and NJ Transit and Amtrak Suspend Service 3X This Week

Friday, June 24, 2011

(photo by Kate Hinds)

 

A NY Congresswoman introduced legislation that aims to institute a federal ban on cell phone use while driving. (Detroit Free Press)

This week, power problems forced NJ Transit and Amtrak to suspend service three times on three consecutive days. (Star-Ledger)

The Chicago area's Regional Transit Authority says it may have to start cutting service next month if the state doesn't pay it the $400 million it owes. (Chicago Tribune)

On the Brian Lehrer Show today, a correspondent from NPR's "Planet Money" will explain the impact of President Obama's decision to release 30 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. (WNYC)

Are lower sales the auto industry's 'new normal'?  "So why does it matter if you sell 17 million cars, rather than 12 million? Jobs." (NPR)

New York's MTA says it's on track for a December 2013 opening of the #7 subway extension. (NY1)

Richard Florida writes that commuting to work by bike makes you healthier and happier. (The Atlantic)

Tesla is ceasing production of the Roadster. (Fast Company)

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Rallies and Rancor: Emails From the PPW Bike Lane Saga

Thursday, June 23, 2011

New York City Council member Brad Lander, flanked by Park Slope residents, on the steps of City Hall earlier this year (photo by Kate Hinds)

Wednesday was the first day of formal court hearings in Brooklyn's Prospect Park West bike lane case (see our coverage here for more information).  And as we reported, the judge adjourned the case for a month to give the group suing the city time to review the documents from a Freedom of Information Law request it made.

We are also looking at those documents. Here's the background:

Soon after Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes/Seniors for Safety (NBBL) filed a lawsuit earlier this year seeking the removal of the Prospect Park West bike lane, the group's attorney, Jim Walden, submitted a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request seeking all records AND /emails between New York City Council member Brad Lander and/or his staff and a group of known bike-lane supporters.

In a statement today, Walden said: “We are pleased that Justice Bunyan has given us adequate time to review the FOIL documents  - all 691 pages of them – that Councilmember Lander provided the night before today’s hearing. We are confident that we will find even more evidence that will help our case, given the close relationship between Councilmember Lander, DOT, and bike lane lobbyists."

Lander also provided Transportation Nation with copies of the emails.

It's no secret that the Brooklyn councilman is a longtime supporter of the PPW bike lane. He's filed an amicus brief in support of the New York City Department of Transportation (the agency being sued over the lane's installation), and he held a rally outside a Brooklyn courthouse Wednesday morning, just before the hearing. And an initial read of hundreds of pages of email correspondence between Lander and others, including members of Brooklyn's Community Board 6 and various bike advocates, provides a glimpse into Lander's strategy to advocate for the lane:  facilitate public displays of support for the lane, make the case that Prospect Park West is now safer for everyone, and keep hammering home the message that both the data -- and the majority of Park Slope residents -- support the lane.

Below, some excerpts of the correspondence.

Following a New York Times profile of embattled city DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, Lander moved to quickly mobilize support both at the grassroots level and in City Hall.

3/6/11 email from Brad Lander to Aaron Naparstek (founder of Streetsblog and bike lane advocate) and Paul Steely White (executive director of Transportation Alternatives, also a bike lane supporter):

"Yesterday’s article obviously makes it even more imperative that we (a) win the April CB6 vote on PPW by a large margin, and (b) get the pedestrian islands poured quickly. So we’re planning to treat the next 5 weeks like a mini-political campaign. Looking forward to working with you guys on this. I'm sharing this separately with a very small number of other mutual friends. Please keep it within this very tight circle, and be mindful of what it will look like in court. : - )"

3/7/11 email from Brad Lander to Howard Wolfson (NYC deputy mayor):

"There is very strong majority support for the PPW bike lane in Park Slope….We did an online survey (CM Levin*, CB6, and me), to which over 3,000 people responded. 70% of Park Slopers (including PPW residents, who were evenly split) favor keeping the lane. The calls, letters, emails, hearing & rally turnout, comments on the street, facebook pages, etc all run strongly (about 2 to 1) in favor of the lane. I know this may be different than in other neighborhoods around the city; but, well, it is Park Slope...Assuming that the Community Board votes in favor next month, I'm asking City Hall support DOT (and the community board, and the councilman, and majority sentiment in the neighborhood) on this one."

*NYC Council member Stephen Levin

When the bike lane isn’t plowed, no one is happy – not even bike lane opponents.

1/23/11 email from Aaron Naparstek to Brad Lander:

“I’ve been asking around trying to figure out who is responsible for the PPW bike lane not being plowed for the second time in the last few weeks. I assumed it was Steisel* talking to some old friends in Sanitation. Tupper** – very off the record – says Marty*** has insisted that the PPW bike lane be the last street in Brooklyn that gets plowed and, for some reason, Sanitation is complying. Apparently not even Norman is happy with this. Tupper first asked Steisel if the lack of plowing was his doing. He said that the lack of plowing has actually made it harder for him to access his car and he doesn’t like it either.”

*Norman Steisel, former Deputy Mayor, former Sanitation Commissioner and member of Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes

** probably Tupper Thomas, the former head of the Prospect Park Alliance

*** Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn Borough President

Even if a few parking spaces are returned, the bike lane still probably won’t please the borough president:

2/7/11 email from Brad Lander to David Woloch (deputy commissioner of external affairs for the NYC Department of Transportation):

“I’m waiting for a response from Carlo* on whether Boro Hall will take part in my ‘let’s find a few parking space’ exercise. I was clear with him that the goal is to have it included in the CB6 resolution in favor of pouring concrete, but that Marty would of course be free to fulminate against the lanes until the end of time (or his term, whichever comes first).”

* probably Carlo Scissura, Marty Markowitz's chief of staff

About that survey: bike lane opponents were concerned about who would participate.

10/18/10 email from Lois Carswell (member of Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes) to Craig Hammerman (district manager of Brooklyn's Community Board 6); cc: Brad Lander

“But the larger concern is that anyone, anywhere can participate and receive consideration. The bike lobby is extremely well financed and organized. At the push of a button they can elicit hundreds if not thousands of responses from people who have never – and will never – cross the Brooklyn Bridge. This is something that is basically impossible to check. It is one thing to say that park users who do not like in Park Slope deserve to be heard, but to allow well organized bikers from anywhere in the city who have no intention of ever casting their eyes on Prospect Park West to influence the survey’s outcome is just plain wrong. None of these people have to live with the dangerous, congested conditions and the defacement of a magnificent boulevard that installation of the bike lane has caused. Responses of Park Slope residents—especially those in the Prospect Park West corridor—should be heavily weighted. The others should be heavily discounted, even though they might support the overarching agenda of a bureaucracy which does not have to live with the consequences of its actions.”

Sometimes Lander wanted to keep the more vocal bike lane supporters out of the spotlight:

3/8/11 email from Brad Lander to Aaron Naparstek and Paul Steely White (leading up to a press conference on the steps of City Hall):

“Can I make a somewhat sensitive request: For today, I think, it would be better to minimize the ‘radical bike extremists’ part of this story…so while it would indeed be great to have a few people at the presser, I’d like to keep the speaking to Park Slope leaders who have not already been tagged in this light…and I also think it makes sense (though I recognize this will read like a megalomaniac politician) to try to have people who reach out to TA*, Aaron, Streetsblog instead talk to me, Michael Cairl**, etc. (Sorry! I hope you know this is for the cause.”)

* Transportation Alternatives

** Michael Cairl is the president of the Park Slope Civic Council

Lander felt that opponents weren't just reacting to the bike lanes.

12/12/10 email from Brad Lander to Aaron Naparstek:

“On the one hand, there is a strong outer borough populist strain, which is what I think is strongest in the opposition, and lumps bikes, Bloomberg, Park Slope/UWS*, congestion pricing all in one big lump. SO it doesn’t help us much with this crowd that there is support in Park Slope for PPW. (And this is why I think it is hard to make Marty feel any pain on this: for him, culturally, this is an extension of the Atlantic Yards debate.)”

* Upper West Side of Manhattan

1/22/11 email from Brad Lander to Aaron Naparstek:

“Backlash is definitely more organic than that. Jimmy Oddo & Eric Ulrich & Lew Fidler & Dov Hikind & Jimmy Vacca* are all acting on their own here, none influenced by PPW. I think CQ** is very unlikely to get involved. It’s not only the physical manifestation of Bloomberg (though it is very much that), but it also links the things they hate about Bloomberg with the things they hate about Park/Slope/Upper West Side/liberals.”

* all are members of the New York City Council

** Christine Quinn, the Council speaker

It's not easy being one of the only elected officials who vocally supports the bike lane.

Despite his position as a bike lane standard bearer, at one point Lander seemed to be a bit piqued when he felt Transportation Alternatives had misrepresented his position on the bike lane as being lukewarm -- as shown in this 7/15/10 email from Brad Lander to Paul Steely White:

"We're very glad to get the pro-bike calls on the bike lanes, so that we will be able to report accurately that the calls are running strongly  in favor of the bike lanes. But I wouldn't mind also getting a bit of credit  with the TA crowd for being the only elected official who's been willing to stand up in support of this. Yes, I've tried to cover my flank a bit by asking for the data from the study period, and have tried to engage the NIMFY's* in an open spirit...but in every communication I've been straightforward about my support...so I certainly have not been winning any love from them! And as the only elected official I know of who's been willing to clearly express support...I'm taking plenty of their fire."

* Not In My Front Yard

And remember: other eyes may be reading.

3/9/11 email from Brad Lander to Eric McClure (founder of Park Slope Neighbors and a bike lane supporter),  Aaron Naparstek, Benjamin Fried (editor of Streetsblog), Paul Steely White, Michael Freedman-Schnapp and Rachel Goodman (latter two are staffers in Lander's office):

"One thing it made us fairly certain of: this email chain will be subpoenaed!"

3/11/11 email from Brad Lander to Paul Steely White:

"I'm optimistic, but not taking anything for granted. I've been talking with CB6 (and transportation committee members, and will keep doing so, over the next week until the committee vote, and over the next month until the CB6 vote...NBBL may, of course, also reach out to CB6 members, but I think all are very clear that the 'alternative' is no 'compromise' but in fact the elimination of the bike lane. We are working with CB6 on the 'find a few more parking spots' plan, which I think (rightly) has a much better chance of being seen as an appropriate additional modification to address some of the PPW resident concerns....

PS: Hello Jim Walden!”

 

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TN MOVING STORIES: DC Metro Drivers Concerned About Safety, MARTA Hikes Fares, and Saab is Circling the Drain

Thursday, June 23, 2011

DC Metro bus (photo by Kathy Doucette/Flickr)

Metro drivers in D.C. are concerned about their safety. (WAMU)

Now that the Prius is facing stiff competition from other hybrids, Toyota is trying to figure out how to stay ahead of the pack. (NPR)

NYC's outer-borough taxi plan may need some serious tweaking to pass the state Senate. (WNYC)

Atlanta's transit system, MARTA, raises fares substantially; the cost of a monthly pass has risen over 80% in two years. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Lawmakers held hearings on rail and transit security, and admitted rail will never be as secure as air travel. (The Hill)

Swedish automaker Saab, beset by financial problems, may not last much longer. (Marketplace)

Transit riders in Corpus Christi, Texas, will soon be able to pay via a magnetic fare card, and their buses will have internet connection. (AP via Houston Chronicle)

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PPW Bike Lane Case: First Day Of Court Hearings

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

 

Kings County Supreme Court, where the Prospect Park West bike lane case is being heard (photo by Kate Hinds)

Today was the first day of formal court proceedings in the lawsuit seeking to remove Brooklyn's contentious Prospect Park West bike lane -- and it will be the last for a month.

The courtroom, on the fourth floor of the Kings County Supreme Court in downtown Brooklyn, was standing room only. After the case was called, half a dozen attorneys approached the bar -- two for the plaintiff, two for City Council Member Brad Lander, who filed an amicus brief in support of the bike lane, and two on behalf of New York City. They all spoke quietly to Justice Bert Bunyan, who interjected questions from time to time.

Most of the conversation was inaudible -- and after about ten minutes, it was over when the judge adjourned the case. The next court date in the case is July 20th.

Jim Walden, the attorney suing the city on behalf of Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes/Seniors for Safety, had asked for additional time to review documents given to him that morning by City Council member Brad Lander. Walden requested Lander's emails with the city DOT and bike lane advocates under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) , and he said this morning he had been given 671 documents.

Lander, a longtime bike lane supporter, held a pro-bike lane rally on the steps of the courthouse before today's proceedings. He was not in the courtroom.

Afterward, in a courthouse hallway, Walden said: "the city is hiding something and they do not want us to find it. And we're not going to give up until we do."

Walden contends the city is withholding all the documents related to a study on the safety of the lane. The city, as well as Council Member Brad Lander, maintains that the bike lane was requested through Park Slope's community board, that the process of considering and installing it was transparent, that the lane has made the street safer for everyone, and that city's Department of Transportation had a "rational basis" for installing the bike lane and that the agency always said the lane was permanent and never considered a trial. But all of that is beside the point, the city says, because the lawsuit was filed too late.

This case was filed under Article 78 proceedings, which has a four-month statute of limitations. The bike lane was installed in June 2010; the lawsuit seeking the lane's removal was filed eight months later.

Walden isn't convinced.

"Somebody had the bright idea to say crashes went down 16 percent when they really went up," he said. " Someone had the bright idea to say injuries went down 21 percent when they really went up. ... someone made that decision, and they're holding back the documents and keeping them secret. That is fundamentally inconsistent with the city's obligations."

Last month, city attorney Mark Muschenheim told Transportation Nation "we've already provided much of what they wanted through FOIL." A spokesman for the city DOT also said today that they've already produced "thousands" of documents.

When asked why he had FOILed Lander's emails, Walden said:  "We believe clearly, given his own public statements, that the DOT told him in no uncertain terms it was a trial program, it was a trial bike lane. The city is now claiming that it was never a trial. It's the great bait-and-switch from the City of New York. They called it a trial so people wouldn't sue right away, they said they were going to conduct a study. Now in their papers they say the study never mattered. No matter what the study said, we were going to have a final decision to have the bike lane. So a thousand people could die, apparently, (and) according to the city's paper, that wouldn't matter. So we certainly hope the documents -- I can't say they'll put the lie to the city's position, because it's already clear that it's based on lies, but it will further buttress the notion that the city's playing games in the litigation."

Mark Muschenheim, the attorney who is arguing the case on behalf of the city, said in an emailed statement:  "The petitioners have been unable to refute the key legal issues in the case. Their lawsuit was brought after the statute of limitations had expired. Even if it weren’t filed too late, the bike path was clearly a reasonable and rational response by the city to community concerns, the sole legal standard for this case. In addition to enhancing Brooklyn's bike lane network, the installation of the bike path successfully addressed excessive speeding on Prospect Park West, as well as the high numbers of cyclists riding on the Prospect Park West sidewalks. The plan was revised several times with the input of the local community -- and it was, from the beginning, a permanent project to address these concerns."

The city also included in its email an affidavit from Joshua Benson, the director of the NYC DOT's bicycle and pedestrian programs. In it Benson said he attended an April 2010 Community Board 6 meeting and that "I distinctly recall one of the representatives stating that the PPW Project would be a trial project, and I immediately corrected this publicly by stating that the PPW Project was not a trial project, but that after its installation it would be monitored with adjustments made as deemed appropriate. In fact, I do not recall anyone at DOT stating that the PPW Project was a trial or pilot project, unlike other DOT projects that are so identified."

On his way to the elevator, Walden asked a city attorney if Lander was going to be in court on July 20th -- "because if he's not, I want to know because we're going to subpoena him. "

 

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TN MOVING STORIES: AAA To Launch Fast-Charging Trucks For EVs, NRDC Threatens Rail Companies With Pollution Suit, and the End of NYC's Bike War?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Electric vehicle charging (photo by Birmingham News Room/Flickr)

A Wall Street Journal opinion piece says New York City's bike war is over. "Look all around you. The bikes have won, and it's not a terrible thing."

AAA is launching fast-charging trucks to juice up stranded electric vehicles. (Los Angeles Times)

Another departure at San Francisco's Muni leaves a leadership vacuum. (San Francisco Examiner)

San Francisco taxi drivers protest regulation and credit card charges. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Transportation Alternatives and the New York Daily News took a bogus parking placard (complete with the seal of Bulgaria) on a test drive to see if their car would get tickets. It didn't. (NY Daily News)

The NRDC threatened two railroad companies with a pollution lawsuit. (AP)

One Canadian columnist says it's time to charge the real cost of parking. (Toronto Star)

A number of Boston bus operators were hired despite checkered driving records that include multiple suspensions, numerous moving violations and repeated accidents in which they were found to be at fault. (Boston Herald)

The VP of the US High Speed Rail Association is on board with Congressman Mica's Northeast Corridor privatization plan. (The Hill)

Some airlines are switching from paper to iPads in the cockpit to cut down on weight -- and therefore fuel costs. (Good)

 

 

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TN MOVING STORIES: Feds Investigate Possible Oil Market Manipulation -- Taxi Driver Group Supports Outer Borough Plan -- Chinese Build Kenyan "Superhighway"

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Federal Trade Commission has launched a probe into whether companies, refineries, and/or traders have manipulated crude oil markets. (Wall Street Journal)

A group representing thousands of New York City taxi drivers threw its support behind legislation that would allow livery cabs to pick up street hails  -- despite its intention to attend a protest of the plan Monday. (WNYC)

Chinese companies are building a 'superhighway' -- a road that's 16 lanes across in some places -- in Kenya. (NPR)

Highway in Kenya (photo by PercyGermany/Flickr)

Can biofuels making flying clean and cheap? (Good)

Rhode Island's transit agency head says he has to cut bus service 10% because of an expected budget deficit. (Boston Globe)

The United Arab Emirates decided to build the world's most sustainable city...then the financial crisis hit. Whither the Masdar pod-cars? (Marketplace)

Paris to New York in 90 minutes? Paris to Tokyo in three hours? That's the promise of an experimental jet unveiled at the Paris Air Show. (NPR)

The Takeaway follows up on Saudi women agitating for their right to drive.

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Grading Intercity Buses

Monday, June 20, 2011

An intercity bus in New York City's Chinatown (photo by Kate Hinds)

Following a series of deadly intercity bus crashes which have killed 25 people since the start of the year, New York Senator Charles Schumer has proposed an idea that will be familiar to many New Yorkers: letter grades.

In a letter to US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the Senator wrote that his idea was inspired by NYC Department of Health grades that are prominently displayed in New York City's restaurants. "This simple grading system provides customers with the information they need when choosing where to eat and a similar scheme could be used to bring more transparency to the intercity bus industry."

The idea is that the DOT and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (which regulates the tour bus industry) develop a ratings system that assigns letter grades to operators. Companies would then be required to display the information at both the point of purchase, as well as on the bus. "If bus companies have a poor safety record, passengers should know about it before they purchase a ticket," Schumer said in a written statement.

The FMCSA currently maintains an online safety database, but Schumer said it is "difficult to navigate and the rating system is not easy to understand."

In recent weeks the DOT and the FMCSA have been criticized for not moving fast enough to shut down tour bus operators with dozens of safety violations. Last week Anne Ferro, the head of the FMCSA, told Congress that shutting down unsafe bus companies was a cumbersome process and that her agency needed "stronger authority" to better regulate the industry.

LaHood has not yet commented on the Senator's idea. His office says he'll respond to Schumer "directly."

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Street Hails: If NYC Mayor Has His Way, They Wouldn't Be Just For Manhattan Anymore

Monday, June 20, 2011

(photo by Kate Hinds)

Legislation introduced in Albany over the weekend would allow New York City residents in the outer boroughs and Upper Manhattan to legally hail a livery cab.

Currently the "street hail" is the sole legal purview of yellow cabs.

The bill would authorize the sale of 30,000 "hail privilege permits" to livery cab operators and permit the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission to sell up to 1,500 new yellow cab medallions at $1,500 each.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has wanted to extend on-street cab pickups to the outer boroughs for some time now, but his earlier plan met with strong resistance from yellow cab drivers and the New York City Council. Yellow cab operators --some of whom paid six figures to purchase a medallion -- are no happier with this iteration of the plan, and protest plis taking ace at City Hall this afternoon. (UPDATE: photo from the protest below.)

Protesting on the steps of New York's City Hall (photo by Kathleen Horan/WNYC)

 

WNYC reporter Kathleen Horan was on The Brian Lehrer Show this morning to explain the plan and field questions from listeners. You can hear the segment below, or go to the BL Show page here.

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TN MOVING STORIES: NYC Cabbies Protest Outer-Borough Livery Cab Proposal -- Arlington Prepares for Transit Revitalization -- Win The Stanley Cup, Set Transit Ri

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Artist rendering of the Columbia Pike Transit Initiative (photo courtesy of WMATA)

Opinions are mixed over Arlington's Columbia Pike, a planned streetcar corridor. (WAMU)

Mayor Bloomberg's outer borough livery cab street hail plan goes to Albany. (Wall Street Journal)

Meanwhile, NYC cabbies are protesting that plan. (AM NY)

NJ Governor Christie's Energy Master Plan draft "barely mentions transportation," according to a columnist. (Times of Trenton)

Both Illinois senators are pushing opposing agendas over public-private partnerships for transportation. (Chicago Tribune)

Adults can learn to ride bikes, too. (New York Times)

A guest columnist in the New York Daily News -- who lost her husband in a car-on-bike collision -- writes that the city's bike lanes are "vital and corrective" and will save lives.

According to one journalist, entertainment on the NYC subway is "a combination of 'America's Got Talent,' 'The Gong Show', and 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.'" (NY Daily News)

Win the Stanley Cup, set transit ridership records. (WCVB - Boston)

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