Green Streets

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The city's Department of Transportation just rolled out its Sustainable Streets plan. Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, provides analysis.


Paul Steely White

Comments [35]

hjs from 11211

it's been talked about but can always be repeated. thanks

Apr. 29 2008 03:26 PM
Steven Ma from Midtown Manhattan

Brain, Did anyone ever mention how many city employees are abusing the street parking privilege including the Fire Dept? If the Mayor request all city employees to take public transportation just like everyone else. I belief we will see a big changes in traffic congestion especially near downtown area. We have special past for almost everyone City, State and Federal Agency, including all civil servants from courts. Now, I even see special privilage parking for traffic police. This is insane. Did you ever address this issue to City Hall?. Has anyone ever did a statistic on how many City, State and Federal employees that drive into NYC? Why can they paid for their transportation just like anyone else? One will wonder how many money that will generate for NYC? Afterall, do all these City, State and Federal employees get their lunch free? I like to hear from you.

Apr. 29 2008 02:56 PM
Chris Garvey from Amityville, formerly Manhattan

Parking outside the bike lane is a bad idea. It was tried on the Koch Era bike lanes. It was like flying the equatorial trench of the Death Star in Star Wars. Car doors opened suddenly into the lane. Cars turning across the bike lane couldn't see you through the parked trucks, nor visa versa. One fat lady with two shopping bags could block the entire lane. Pushcarts and pedestrians choked the lane. There was no easy escape from sudden or slow obstacles. I quickly learned to avoid the Koch bike lanes.
The present bike lanes allow you to change lanes if something blocks the bike lane.

Apr. 29 2008 12:22 PM
Will from East Village

One of the callers brought up having more taxi stands and banning taxi cruising. Unfortunately, the TA guy didn't focus more on this. As an avid bicycle commuter and former driver, it is obvious how dangerous and inefficient it is to allow taxis to cruise for riders, pulling over anywhere and thus blocking lanes of moving traffic, swerving over multiple lanes of traffic to pick up a rider, etc. Why not put taxi stands on every block (requiring removal of a couple parking spots) so that riders and taxis can pick up and drop off at predetermined points. In general though, fewer taxis and private cars and more bicycles and buses should be the goal.

Apr. 29 2008 12:04 PM
Peter from New York

In response to all those keep-bikes-off-sidewalks posts: I agree that bad bikers are annoying, but they rarely kill. Cars, on the other hand, kill every day. If you want improve safety, you have to go after dangerous drivers first.

I would like to see a zero-tolerance policy for those driving offenses that affect my quality of life every day: Speeding, failing to yield to pedestrians, blocking the box, double-parking in bike lanes, etc.

Chances are that vigorous enforcement of those laws would also reduce the irritation caused by rude bikers because fewer of them would feel compelled to escape to the sidewalk. Sadly, though, it's not going to happen because the police are among the worst offenders.

Apr. 29 2008 11:41 AM
jenlynch from manhattan

My husband rides his bike to his midtown office. Every day I worry. I have no doubt a lot more people would ride bikes if it were safer. And to the comments above, sometimes bicyclists wind up on the streets because the bike lanes have cars and trucks in them.

If this plan is to work well for cyclists, then one thing that has to change is everyone's attitude. Motorists are at the top of the list and they need to be more respectful of pedestrians and especially cyclists (hello, NJ, are you listening? slow down and pay attention while you're making that turn) Pedestrians need to be more respectful of motorists (have you ever driven cross town on a Sunday night? Does everyone have a death wish or are they just openly hostile?) And taxis need to be more respectful of everyone (did you have to stop in the middle of the street to pick up that fare? don't you know how to pull over?)

Bottom line: the plan sounds great but it won't work unless we all start to learn some manners.

Apr. 29 2008 11:38 AM
Frank Ferrucci from Far West Village (Washington and Bank)

DOT recently installed non-protected bike lanes on Washington and Greenwich (N/S routes) below 14 street, plus several new lights on Washington. These bike lanes have reduced both streets from 2 to 1 lane. What this combination has produced is an increase in slow moving and idling traffic, pollution and noise due to too much "flow" for one lane.

We walk, ride bikes and use public transportation. But our streets are filled with more exhaust and gridlock than before. Trucks have nowhere to load so they block the bike lanes, which makes it more dangerous for bikers!

We need to reduce the volume by discouraging driving in neighborhoods such as ours as well as midtown.
-Big one: Neighborhood parking permits would reduce the cruising and encourage use of public transportation by those who now commute to the neighborhood. Most residents use cars for either reverse commuting (against traffic flow) or weekend get away. Non-residents are commuters/cruisers for the most part.
-Changing traffic patterns so cars and trucks cannot use these streets (and similar) as "through streets" to and from (in this case) the holland tunnel.
-Of course, congestion pricing (sorry) is another way to discourage commuting and cruising

The idea is to make it hard to resist using public transportation, because of higher cost of driving or increased commuting time or the impossibility of legally parking coupled with an improved and increasingly attractive public transportation system.

Apr. 29 2008 11:24 AM
hjm from manhattan

Pedestrians on Upper West Side not only have to dodge bikers on sidewalks but dog poop, which also is there illegally. It is healthier to walk in the street.

Apr. 29 2008 11:14 AM
psf from manhattan

Doubling bicycle traffic over a period of years will not have any significant effect on congestion because of the relatively small numbers.

It would be nice if we had transportation like Amsterdam, but there is no way to get from here to there. Cycling is too dangerous in the present situation, and there are not enough cyclists to warrant major changes to our streets. The length of commutes in NYC is not compatible with cycling for the vast majority.

We should settle for incremental bike improvements like extending the Eastside and Westside bike paths and adding a couple of crosstown bike lanes.

Apr. 29 2008 11:10 AM
David! from NYC

24--hjs, I'm back in town. Good to "see" you.

Apr. 29 2008 11:06 AM
David! from NYC

One other thing about bikes: if more New Yorkers take a bike to work, there needs to be a practical way for most of us to change clothes. My office requires the shirt and tie (a coat for meetings) for men, and there's no lockerroom. I'd love to bike to work, but for me, it's not a practical solution.

Apr. 29 2008 11:06 AM
hjs from 11211

we have great ideas but no leaders

Apr. 29 2008 11:01 AM
Steven from NYC

I am all for bicycle lanes, but on the topic of enforcement, can we do something about keeping bicycles off sidewalks, and for them to obey the traffic signals.

Apr. 29 2008 10:58 AM
psf from manhattan

The statistic that 50% of traffic is looking for parking is ridiculous.

Obviously most cars on a side street are looking for a parking spot, and most cars on the avenues are going somewhere. This will always be true.

The cars in midtown on a weekday are not looking for parking spots because there are none. They are dropping someone off or passing through or looking for a garage.

Apr. 29 2008 10:58 AM
george from Manhattan / Village

Protected bike lanes are great, but in teh meantime I would like to see the police enforcing traffic rules in the lanes that are already there.

My commute takes me down 2nd and 5th Aves. - the delivery trucks, limos and even police cars parked on the bike lane make it extremely dangerous.

Apr. 29 2008 10:58 AM

some things i'd like to see that may not already by in the plan (which i haven't seen yet):

-- a comprehensive bus map.

-- improved mass transit directly between points in outer boroughs without going through manhattan.

-- tax incentives and zoning accomidations for parking structures, paticularly near the outer roadways surrounding manhattan and on the outskirts of business districts in other boroughs.

-- improved off peak mass transit service across the board (as decission on whether to go somewhere by car can be influenced by what the trip back is expected to be like.]

Apr. 29 2008 10:58 AM
Ed from SI

Although I don't have a crystal ball I don't need one to prognosticate that this plan will not increase SI ferry service. Thanks to a Bloomberg veto of a city council bill, Islanders still face one per hour service on weekend evenings after 7 PM and numerous other service anomalies. On top of that our sidewalks are frequently unusable due to debris! Why doesn't anyone ask the mayor why his transportation enthusiam doesn't extend to the island

Apr. 29 2008 10:58 AM

The point I am making is that there are people who are just passing through from Brooklyn and Queens to New Jersey and vice versa, why should they pay a higher fee (congestion pricing)

Apr. 29 2008 10:57 AM

Paris has a public bicycle system, is that in store for NYC

Apr. 29 2008 10:56 AM
Maria Lucia Guimaraes from Manhatan

We need protection too! I am nursing bruises after being hit by a speeding delivery biker (Hispanic, no English), riding the wrong way,a common incident in my neighborhood, the Upper West Side. Most delivery guys are illegal immigrants, as you know so, if we get medical bills, there is no insurance company to go after. My neighbor was knocked down on the sidewalk upon stepping out of the building. My street has a bike lane ( west 90th) and nobody uses it. The city government needs to enforce laws about biking on sidewalks. It's not only delivery people. Middle aged parents with their kids don't want to respect the law because they know how dangerous the traffic can be. If there is no real enforcement, it's going to be greener, as in a real jungle out here.

Apr. 29 2008 10:56 AM

How do we know that most of the autos in Manhattan are private cars? Why is it ok for a Manhattanite to ride around in a yellow cab since they have short subway commutes (if they also work in manhattan) and a guy who say lives in Queens, who because of the bad economy has to take a job in East Rutherford NJ. If that person took public transportation you are talking about a 2 hour commute each way?

Apr. 29 2008 10:56 AM
herbert banner from yonkers

parked across from the post office just south of 34st. 90% taxis and noisy 8% trucks 2% private cars that's the congestion. streets were open during the last taxi strike. get rid of the taxis and put more buses out there.

Apr. 29 2008 10:56 AM
Art from NYC

How do we keep bicycles off the sidewalks, there seems to be an increase in this dangerous activity

Apr. 29 2008 10:56 AM
Anne from Midtown Manhattan

In Berkeley, CA they put up big pillars at the end of every other street meeting up with a main thoroughfare. It really does make getting across Berkeley via neighborhood side roads impossible.

Apr. 29 2008 10:55 AM
mgdu from hell's kitchen

Wouldn’t the key to safer streets and all the other progressive measures be to require NYC to enforce existing traffic laws regarding moving violations?

Just think how much safer pedestrians and cyclists would be, how much automobile traffic would be reduced, and how much more revenue would be available if police focussed 0n ticketing every violation of our speed limits (which, I believe, top out at 30 mph in the city), every person who changes lanes without signalling, every driver who goes through a red light or fails to give pedestrians the right of way.

Apr. 29 2008 10:54 AM
psf from manhattan

What does the guest think of the Paris plan for bicycles.

Apr. 29 2008 10:53 AM
w.c. from NYC

No bikes on sidewalks!
No running red lights through pedestrian in the crosswalks!
No going the wrong way on a one way street!

Apr. 29 2008 10:53 AM
Jay from NYC

What ever happened to the days when you could telephone for a Taxi. Remember Hell's Belles?

Apr. 29 2008 10:52 AM
chris c from brooklyn

I would like to see car-free zones that one sees in some European cities-- which then becomes the most prized real estate of those cities. Is there anything like that in this proposal? Or is the parking lobby just too powerful?

Apr. 29 2008 10:52 AM
Chris O from New York

Janette Sadik-Kahn is great - I think she would make a great successor to the current mayor. Or if she is not "political" enough, at least a great DOT Commissioner for the next mayor. Continuity is key.

Apr. 29 2008 10:52 AM
isaac from Uptown Manhattan

We take on-street parking for granted. I think we should reevaulate this use of a precious public resource on our city blocks and expand sidewalks and bike lanes so that the space can benefit more people than the small number of car-owners (of which I am one).

Apr. 29 2008 10:51 AM
Jonathan from Brooklyn

For bicycling to work to be effective, companies and the city need to provide for bike storage during the day. There are few places in NYC where you can safely chain up your ride.

Apr. 29 2008 10:50 AM
Steven from NYC

More bicycle friendly area would be great.

Apr. 29 2008 10:48 AM
Chris O from New York

When you are on a bicycle, you do have to be pretty aware of cars cruising for spots, because they are going kind of slow and they may pull to either side of the road, or stop short. Of course, this really just happens on the cross streets, not the main avenues. Not a major risk but...

Apr. 29 2008 10:47 AM
Kevin from New York, NY

Oh it's really easy to do it. Ban all vehicles except for delivery, emergency, and transport vehicles. Done.

If you need to get something around the city, they should have what they have in Japan--takkyuubin (you can pronounce it tah-Q-bean), a door-to-door service that picks up anything for you.

Apr. 29 2008 10:46 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.