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The Brian Lehrer Show

Applying for Deferred Deportation

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New York's Secretary of State, Cesar Perales, discusses New York's program to help young immigrants apply for Deferred Action, a federal program that starts today.

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Transportation Nation

Port Authority Says Bayonne Bridge Will Be Raised In Time For Super Ships

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

(New York, NY - WNYC) The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey says the roadway of the Bayonne Bridge will be raised in time for the arrival of the next generation of extra-large container ships. The $1 billion dollar project has been fast-tracked by the Obama administration, putting it six months ahead of schedule.

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Transportation Nation

Crowded Midtown Manhattan Gets a New Avenue: 6 and 1/2 Ave (in Pictures)

Friday, July 13, 2012

When does a street that's not a street become official? Well, first it needs a name. Then it needs a street sign.  (Photo by Kate Hinds)

Addresses on the avenues of midtown Manhattan bestow a certain prestige for the law firms, TV networks, ad agencies and luxury hotels that populate the glass and steel canyons north of Times Square. So it's a bold move to wedge a new "avenue" in between 6th and 7th Avenues from 51st to 57th street. Or at least the naming is bold. The trail of pedestrian walkways between and under the skyscrapers has long existed as a public secret for midtown office workers looking to save a few minutes on the walk to grab lunch.

But, in giving this stretch of walkways a name, the New York City Department of Transportation is encouraging more walking. Even more than the cute name, they do so by painting crosswalks and stopping traffic mid-block where people already jaywalked with more than the usual amount of New York pavement entitlement (if that's possible).

And if DOT signage isn't official enough, Google Maps already recognizes the avenue. So, as Gawker points out, you can now legitimately tell someone to meet you at 55th Street and 6 1/2.

TN's Kate Hinds took a walk down New York's newest avenue. Here's what it looks like.

 Cars are still getting used to stopping at the mid-block crosswalks that connect the string of covered walkways. (Photo by Kate Hinds)

 

Even the "Ave" is shorted to "Av" because it's a little street. (Photo by Kate Hinds)

Restaurants within the walkways now have a swanky new second address to use if they like. No word if the Post Office will honor mail sent that way. (Photo by Kate Hinds)

 

New painted crosswalks also guide pedestrians to the next leg of 6 1/2 Avenue (Photo by Kate Hinds)

 

Passage north of 54th Street (Photo by Kate Hinds)

 

57th Street -- the northern end of the avenue (Photo by Kate Hinds)

 

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Transportation Nation

Texting-While-Driving Tickets Quadruple in New York

Thursday, July 12, 2012

(Photo by Kate Hinds)

Police in New York have written over 20,000 tickets since a more stringent texting-while-driving law took effect in 2011 – more than four times the amount than in the prior year.

"These tickets should send a resounding message to all drivers: keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel," said Governor Cuomo in a press release.

The law went into effect on July 12, 2011. It made driving while using any portable electronic device a primary, rather than just a secondary offense -- meaning that drivers can be stopped solely if they are found to be using such a device while driving.

When he signed the bill into law last year, Cuomo said it was "common sense — but sometimes you need law enforcement, and you need laws, to remind society of common sense and enforce common sense."

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has called texting while driving "a national epidemic" and said it's responsible for about ten percent of all traffic fatalities.

A county-by-county breakdown of tickets issued before and after the law can be viewed below (source: NY Governor's Office).

COUNTY

TICKETS ISSUED 7/12/10- 7/12/2011

TICKETS ISSUED 7/12/2011-7/12/2012

ALBANY

75

539

ALLEGANY

5

14

BRONX

91

900

BROOME

22

103

CATTARAUGUS

10

45

CAYUGA

9

76

CHAUTAUQUA

23

130

CHEMUNG

27

92

CHENANGO

4

40

CLINTON

16

73

COLUMBIA

5

54

CORTLAND

22

85

DELAWARE

1

18

DUTCHESS

59

324

ERIE

226

1,418

ESSEX

6

10

FRANKLIN

5

27

FULTON

5

21

GENESEE

8

50

GREENE

11

16

HAMILTON  

1

HERKIMER

11

52

JEFFERSON

12

73

KINGS

540

3,234

LEWIS

4

31

LIVINGSTON

23

50

MADISON

19

75

MONROE

110

687

MONTGOMERY

17

45

NASSAU

162

505

NEW YORK

807

3,714

NIAGARA

73

214

ONEIDA

38

126

ONONDAGA

797

479

ONTARIO

8

87

ORANGE

67

292

ORLEANS  

8

OSWEGO

14

46

OTSEGO

7

61

PUTNAM

22

75

QUEENS

401

3,334

RENSSELAER

21

163

RICHMOND

157

205

ROCKLAND

69

151

SARATOGA

42

326

SCHENECTADY

18

69

SCHOHARIE

4

9

SCHUYLER

3

4

SENECA

8

41

ST LAWRENCE

12

265

STEUBEN

14

108

SUFFOLK

185

908

SULLIVAN

5

32

TIOGA

13

67

TOMPKINS

20

139

ULSTER

54

246

WARREN

15

166

WASHINGTON

10

21

WAYNE

6

74

WESTCHESTER

148

720

WYOMING

3

18

YATES  

2

TOTALS

4,569

20,958

 

 

 

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WNYC News

What's at Stake Locally in the Healthcare Ruling

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Win, lose or draw, the forthcoming U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on the federal healthcare overhaul will affect states differently.  The justices are considering whether it’s constitutional to require people to purchase health insurance — the so-called individual mandate — and, if it isn’t, whether the rest of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act can survive.

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The Takeaway

Advocates Against Sexual Abuse Take on Statute of Limitations

Friday, June 15, 2012

Changing the statute of limitation has become a key battle for sex abuse victims. These statutes create deadlines for when a victim of abuse can press charges or bring a civil suit. The deadlines differ by state, but victims and their advocates in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New York are pushing to lengthen the deadlines — or, in some cases, get rid of them entirely.

Comments [4]

WNYC News

Region Adds Jobs in May

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Last month's national employment report was a disappointment, but locally, the jobs picture is considerably better.

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Transportation Nation

New York State to Add Hundreds of EV Charging Stations

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Chevy Volt (Photo: GM)

New York will more than double its electric vehicle charging capacity, installing 325  new stations across the state in high-traffic locations like supermarket parking lots, hotels, train and bus stations, apartment buildings, hospitals, and parking garages. The state has awarded $4.4 million to ten companies and municipalities to install the stations.

Currently the state has approximately 200 EV sites in that offer 400 electrified parking spaces.

In a press release, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo said the effort would encourage New Yorkers to make the switch from gas-powered cars -- and provide an economic boost to the state.

Preliminary locations in New York City include an MTA facility in Battery Park, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and dozens of parking garages citywide. Each station will have approximately two to six chargers.

The press release also noted that "transportation makes up about three-fourths of the state’s oil consumption, and nearly 40 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions."

According to the administration, the charging stations must be installed by April 2013 -- although many will be in place by the end of this year.

The list of projects can be found below.

Access Technology Integration Inc. – Plans to install charging stations with innovative reservation and payment systems at seven locations around the Albany area, including St. Peter’s Hospital, Albany-Rensselaer Train Station, Times Union Center, universities, supermarkets, and other locations. NYSERDA funding: $244,000.

Beam Charging LLC – Company will install a total of 28 charging stations, each one in a separate public parking garage around Manhattan, for the purpose of gathering data to determine how well such charging stations are used. $400,000.

Car Charging Group Inc. – Plans to install charging stations at up to 15 high-traffic locations in New York City, directed toward apartment dwellers who do not have parking at home. Sites would go in parking garages that are used primarily for monthly parking. NYSERDA funding: $200,000.

City of Rochester – Plans to install 24 charging stations at seven highly-visible and busy locations around the city, including municipal parking garages, City Hall, the Port of Rochester and the Rochester Public Market. NYSERDA funding: $228,000.

Coulomb Technologies Inc. – Partnering with National Grid, Coulomb will deploy 81 dual charging stations with Coulomb’s ChargePoint software. The technology will demonstrate a web-based demand response program, a new low-cost installation method and a customized reservation system. NYSERDA funding: $1 million.

EV Connect Inc. – Plans to install EV charging stations at five Marriott hotels around New York State that make use of a unique reservation and payment system. Project would make it possible for overnight visitors to charge their vehicles while staying at a hotel. NYSERDA funding: $250,000.

Golub Corp. (Price Chopper Supermarkets) - Plans to install 12 charging stations at four locations, each equipped with a weather canopy and lighting to make them visible. This is the first phase of an intended statewide rollout. NYSERDA funding: $325,000.

New York Port Authority – Plans to install seven experimental charging stations for fleet vehicles and public use that practice demand-response (aligning charging times with times of low power demands, reducing charging cost and impact during peak demand to the grid). NYSERDA funding: $720,000.

New York Power Authority – Plans to install 124 charging stations at train and bus stations, airports and municipal parking lots. Three sites would be powered in part through on-site solar power. NYSERDA funding: $989,000.

Plugin Stations Online – Plans to install charging stations at three apartment complexes in Albany, Rochester and Buffalo, as well as one at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy. NYSERDA funding: $64,000.

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Transportation Nation

The New York City Council Praises Sadik-Khan, Instead of Burying Her

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

NY City Council Member James Vacca during a 2011 hearing (photo by William Alatriste via flickr)

Let's go back in time to December 2010. The city's tabloid editorial pages are just beginning to sink their teeth into the transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, for -- among other things -- her avid support of bike lanes and pedestrian plazas. In Brooklyn, well-connected residents are preparing to sue to remove a bike lane.

On December 9, New York's City Council holds a standing-room-only, overflow-room-inducing, five hour-plus hearing on bikes and bike lanes in New York City. Bronx councilman James Vacca, who chairs the council's Transportation Committee, kicks things off first by warning the crowd to be polite, then sets the stage by pointing out "few issues today prompt more heated discussion than bike policy in New York City."

In the hours that followed, he was proven correct: Sadik-Khan was grilled, interrupted, and accused of ignoring the will of the public, prevaricating, and acting by fiat.

And she was put on the defensive, repeatedly exclaiming "That's what we do!" when yet another council member excoriated her for not soliciting sufficient community input.

At one point, Lewis Fidler, a council member from Brooklyn, told Sadik-Khan her answer was "kind of half true. I don't say that to be snooty. I say it because I think maybe you're not aware."

And then he reeled himself him. "This is not like you've got to be for the cars or you've got to be for the bikes or you've got to be for the buses. It's really not...the cowmen and the farmers can be friends."

The mood at this week's Transportation Committee hearing, held in the same hearing room as the 2010 hearing -- and with many of the same players in attendance -- was markedly different.

Now more New Yorkers are biking. More than two-thirds give the city's bike share program, which is launching in July, a thumbs-up. Traffic fatalities are at record lows.

"I want to first off say thank you to the agency," Fidler started, before launching into an encomium. "Quite frankly I don't always get the answer I like from DOT, but we get a lot of answers from DOT. And they're very responsive, your agency, your Brooklyn office continues to be a very responsive one."

He then waxed on about major construction work going on on the Belt Parkway -- a roadway almost entirely in his council district. "I will say for a project of that size to have gone on, without my getting repeated complaints from constituents -- that says something all by itself, and the work that's been completed looks really good."

Back in 2010, Fidler's questioning of Sadik-Khan was one of that hearing's most contentious exchanges, with the two of them repeatedly interrupting each other. Fidler at that time told Sadik-Khan that her answers were "half true;" he later accused the DOT of failing to solicit community input on bike lanes -- a charge Sadik-Khan repeatedly denied.

On Tuesday, Fidler asked Sadik-Khan to look into repairing a bike lane in his district (a lane under the Parks Department jurisdiction since it's on their land. Sadik-Khan said she'd make sure her office reached out to the Parks Commissioner, Adrian Benepe.)

So maybe the cowmen and the farmers might be friends after all.

(You can listen to the audio from the 12/2010 hearing -- and read the transcript -- here. A video of the 5/29/12 hearing can be found here; the transcript isn't available yet.)

To be fair, Tuesday's hearing was not one in which members of the public could comment (public hearings on the budget will be held next week), and biking wasn't the only topic on the agenda.

But still:

Peter Koo is the Queens councilman who represents Flushing (a neighborhood so heavily trafficked by pedestrians that the DOT said Tuesday that it's slated for a sidewalk expansion project.) At the 2010 hearing, Koo complained that bikes lanes had been implemented at the expense of motorists and pedestrians, and that they were empty. "I hardly see any people using the bike lanes," he said at the time. (Transcript here; Koo's remarks begin on page 39.)

At Tuesday's hearing, Koo had a different complaint. "I find a lot of bicycles chained to the fence, to the trees, light poles, meter poles, everywhere." He wants the NYPD to cut the chains of bikes that are illegally parked. But before that happens, he said, "we have to find a place for them to park."

Letitia James   -- long a bike lane supporter, put the cherry on the Charlotte Russe. "Commissioner, I want to thank you for all the docking stations in my district. I want to thank you for the bike share program. I want to thank you for using my picture, my image, on your website, on the bike -- it's absolutely fabulous. Thank you for the plazas in my district...thank you for all the street renovations...thank you for the bike lanes, thank you for recognizing that we all have to share the space and no one is entitled to a city street."

A few minutes after James spoke, the May 29th hearing ended.

"I do think since that hearing in 2010, many actions my committee has taken, and the legislation that we have passed, has brought New York City DOT to a realization that they could do a better job when it comes to community consultation," Council transportation chair Jimmy Vacca said in a phone interview.  "I think there's been more outreach, there's been more involvement, so I think that the strongly held views that existed in 2010 have somewhat been mitigated by DOT realizing that it's better to work with local neighborhoods where possible and to try to seek areas of consensus."

And is he happy with bike lanes? Yes -- even though he said the ones in his Bronx district weren't heavily used. "I do think in time, though, people will be bicycling more in neighborhoods where they are not bicycling now. And I think the groundwork that we've laid legislatively will make that reality more positive, have a more positive impact on neighborhoods throughout the city."

Vacca said the Bronx bike lanes have been successful in reducing speeding.  "They've had an impact in slowing down vehicular traffic, and that's always a positive thing," he said, adding that that's a persistent issue for his constituents. "In my neighborhood there's not a block party I go to, there's not a civic association I go to, where people are not demanding speed bumps, where they're not demanding police enforcement for ticketing of people who speed in their cars."

Next up for the City Council: reigning in rogue delivery people -- a project they're collaborating with the DOT on. "We cannot have commercial bicyclists driving the wrong way on one-way streets, we cannot have them ignoring red lights, we cannot have them on sidewalks," Vacca said, adding that he's working on legislation to address this. "I think within the next several weeks we should have a consensus bill that will reflect my views as well as the views of the Department of Transportation. We're working together to come up with type of bill, and I think we're making good progress."

 

 

 

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Transportation Nation

Washington Hits Top-Ten Bicycling Ranking -- Big Cities Climb on List

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bikeshare users in Washington, DC (Photo: Tara Bahrampour)

A report in Bicycling Magazine ranking the top 50 most bike-friendly cities places Washington fourth. In the magazine's last ranking, in 2010, Washington didn't break the top ten.

See the entire list 2012 here.

Then, as now, the list was dominated with more predictable cities like Portland, Minneapolis, Boulder, Madison, and Eugene. Seattle and San Francisco also made both lists.

But the big story of  this year's  list is the prominence of big cities --like Chicago and New York, which, like Washington,  both climbed in ranking.

Most of the changes that the magazine credits in Washington, DC -- including bike share and more bike lanes -- began under DC's former transportation commissioner, Gabe Klein, who now has that job in Chicago (up to #5 from #10 on the last Bicycling Magazine list.)

The magazine examined cities with populations of at least 95,000 for "a robust cycling infrastructure and a vibrant bike culture."

The magazine reports that bicycle ridership increased in Washington "80 percent from 2007 to 2010."  The capital city's bike share program is growing in popularity and recently clocked its two millionth ride.

 

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WNYC News

NY, NJ Leaders React to Obama’s Support of Gay Marriage

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

President Barack Obama’s public support for gay marriage on Wednesday has won him praise from local politicians and gay rights supporters.

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Features

Asia Society Leader Leaves Post to Consult at Guggenheim

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The society announced on Wednesday that Dr. Vishakha Desai is leaving her post as president and chief executive officer in September to join the Guggenheim Foundation as a senior adviser for global policy and programs.

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It's A Free Country ®

NY Money Fuels Hottest Congressional Races

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

New York, home of the country’s money and media establishment, generally likes incumbents. But they also turn out in force in hotly contested Congressional races when there are big names in play.

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It's A Free Country ®

The List: The Winners of NY Money in Congressional Races

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Presidential campaigns routinely make the rounds in New York during presidential campaigns. So do Republicans and Democrats who come to New York to make their case for donations and control in Congress. Here are the big winners of New York money in Congressional elections in 2012 and 2008. 

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Transportation Nation

BRT Systems Getting an International Rating Standard

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Now it can be told:  there are objective standards for measuring how good your Bus Rapid Transit system is.  The Institute for Transportation Development Policy has issued new scoring system to see how good BRT systems around the world are.

Among the criteria for making a good BRT -- off board payment, segregated bus lanes, level boarding, and good integration with biknig and walking.

The scorecard will rank BRT corridors as Gold, Silver or Bronze Standard -- apparently every BRT deserves a medal. A BRT Standard committee will confer the rankings on bus systems akin to the Green Building Council bestowing different LEED level certifications.

2012 is a pilot year to test the scorecard.

Last year ITDP did a more informal ranking of systems worldwide. Bogota's got a 93.  New York, the lowest rated system, got a 35.

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WNYC News

State Starts Hearings on Raising Minimum Wage

Monday, April 23, 2012

Supporters of a bill to raise New York’s minimum wage made their case to state lawmakers on Monday in Harlem, at a hearing called by Assemblyman Keith Wright. He and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver are sponsoring legislation that would raise the minimum wage in New York to $8.50 an hour, up from $7.25.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

The State of the New York Republican Party

Friday, April 20, 2012

It's a Free Country reporter Anna Sale discusses the state of the local Republican party ahead of next week's New York primary election.

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WNYC News

States Release New Jobs Figures

Thursday, April 19, 2012

New York State’s economy added 21,500 private sector jobs in March 2012, the State Labor Department reported Thursday. But in a sign that the economic recovery may be flagging in the region, New Jersey reported losing 9,000 jobs last month.

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Transportation Nation

APTA: As Gas Prices Mount, Transit Savings Approach Historic Highs

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The American Public Transportation Association issues  monthly reports on how much people can save by taking transit -- using something in the $9500-a-year range. This month, the number is $10,126, with New Yorkers saving almost $15,000 a year, Bostonians $13,675, and San Franciscans $13, 339.

The savings are based on the cost of commuting by transit vs. owning, insuring, parking, maintaining, and keeping gas in a car.   It's based on the idea that households with transit can do with fewer cars.

Here's their savings chart:

 

 

City Monthly Annual
1 New York $1,230 $14,755
2 Boston $1,140 $13,675
3 San Francisco $1,112 $13,339
4 Seattle $1,013 $12,160
5 Chicago $1,004 $12,043
6 Philadelphia $990 $11,877
7 Honolulu $967 $11,610
8 Los Angeles $916 $10,989
9 San Diego $888 $10,653
10 Minneapolis $886 $10,627
11 Denver $879 $10,545
12 Washington, DC $878 $10,539
13 Portland $877 $10,526
14 Baltimore $858 $10,301
15 Cleveland $834 $10,011
16 Miami $815 $9,782
17 Dallas $801 $9,616
18 Atlanta $799 $9,586
19 Pittsburgh $794 $9,526
20 Las Vegas $787 $9,449
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WNYC News

NY State, City Sue Roll-Your-Own Cigarette Stores

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

New York state and New York City say they're joining forces to sue two stores that have been helping smokers avoid taxes by selling roll-your-own cigarettes.

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