Monday, November 10, 2014
By Kate Hinds
Friday, August 01, 2014
By Kate Hinds
The Summer Streets installation was recorded in Russia, Thailand, Iceland and around the world.
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
By Kate Hinds
New York City's transportation commissioner said she wants to make sure street transformations like bike lanes and pedestrian plazas make it to all five boroughs — not just Manhattan.
Tuesday, November 05, 2013
By Kate Hinds
Citi Bike's tens of thousands of annual members have ridden nearly 10 million miles in five months -- without a fatality.
Street Redesign Advice From NYC DOT: Move Swiftly and Cheaply -- and Don't Forget About the Seating.
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
By Kate Hinds
How quickly did people flock to a newly pedestrianized Times Square, after New York City revamped it four years ago? "We put out the orange barrels and people just materialized into the street," said NYC DOT head Janette Sadik-Khan. "It was like a Star Trek episode."
Thursday, September 05, 2013
By Kate Hinds
Redesigning New York City streets to be more pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly doesn't hurt car travel times. That's according to a new report quantifying the streetscape-changing efforts of the Department of Transportation.
To put it in other terms: transit ridership is up, traffic is down, and there's been a 58 percent increase in cycling since 2008.
Monday, June 24, 2013
By Kate Hinds
Even the locals get confused. According to research, ten percent of New Yorkers are lost at any given time. Now, the city is installing new pedestrian signage to point them in the right direction -- and get them to open their wallets en route.
Thursday, April 04, 2013
By Kate Hinds
New Yorkers, meet your Citi Bike station locations. Even more closely placed than your neighborhood Starbucks. Beginning next month, you'll be able to pick up and drop off bikes from Central Park South to Barclays Center. Annual members will get 45 minutes of free riding, daily members 30 minutes.
The New York City Department of Transportation has released an interactive map showing the draft locations of 293 stations located across Manhattan (below Central Park) and across a swath of Brooklyn through Fort Greene. (That 293 is down a bit from last year's projected launch of 420 stations.) Gray dots show the location of future docking stations. The DOT's website says it will "continue to work with New Yorkers to refine these station locations."
To see detailed maps of stations at the community level, click here.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
By Kate Hinds
Over 100 people turned out Tuesday night for a marathon community board hearing to discuss extending the Upper West Side's only on-street protected bike lane. The city wants to extend the Columbus Avenue lane from its current terminus at 77th Street down to 59th Street, where it would connect to a bike lane on Ninth Avenue, giving Upper West Side bikers a protected ride to Midtown Manhattan. The city would also lengthen the Columbus Avenue bike lane up to 110th Street.
Many of the attendees wore stickers supporting the Columbus Avenue lane, and over the course of the meeting, dozens of people -- including the former "Ethicist" columnist for the New York Times -- spoke out in favor of a proposal to double its length. But by the time the three hour meeting was over, the transportation committee of Community Board 7 failed to pass a resolution supporting it.
Here's how it went down.
First up: the New York City Department of Transportation presented data about the Columbus Avenue protected bike lane as it exists now. The DOT's Hayes Lord painted a rosy picture: cycling has increased by 48 percent since the lane was installed. Vehicular speeding is down. The travel time for cars has improved. But the real benefit, Lord said, is that while total crashes have increased slightly, pedestrian injuries along the corridor have dropped by 41 percent. Moreover, he said, the bike lane is good for business: the retail occupancy rate for the Columbus Avenue BID south of 82nd Street is at 100 percent.
("I don't believe a word of it," hissed a man sitting next to me, one of the relatively few naysayers in the audience.)
In fact, said the DOT's Josh Benson, who was up next to talk about the lane's extension, the biggest problem with the lane is its "lack of connectivity" to the city's bike network.
As Benson got into the nuts and bolts of how the lane would be extended, two facts immediately stood out: to accommodate necessary turning lanes and pedestrian islands, he said, the DOT would need to eliminate about 61 parking spaces along the east side of Columbus Avenue -- affecting 24 percent of the available parking. Also, because of the way Columbus and Broadway intersect, the bike lane south of 69th Street would not be protected. Instead, he said, it would be an "enhanced shared lane" -- meaning cars and bikes would mix together in a travel lane, with the understanding that cars won't be allowed to pass bicyclists. And south of 64th Street, ongoing long-term construction projects would hamper the installation of a permanent lane.
When the public comment period opened, most people spoke out in favor of the extension. School children talked about commuting to school on the protected lane. The manager of the local Patagonia store said "it has been nothing but a positive for our business." The worries of a business owner -- who operates a moving company -- were assuaged by the DOT's assertion that it could create loading zones for moving trucks. Two future City Council candidates spoke in favor of the lane. Even Randy Cohen -- the former "Ethicist" columnist for the New York Times-- said supporting it was a moral imperative. "The improvements in safety are so fantastic," he said, "it seems like an ethical responsibility." But even that impassioned plea couldn't save the proposal.
When debate opened, it became apparent that committee members were divided. The loss of parking was a major objection. There were other, more arcane concerns: if the lane is on the left side of the street, one wondered, how would bicyclists safely make right turns? And some worried about the safety of the proposed enhanced shared lane. "Perception is everything," said board member Ken Coughlin. "If the lane is perceived as being unsafe for cyclists, it's not going to be used by cyclists." He presented a resolution in support of the lanes -- and asking the DOT to look into turning the shared lanes into protected lanes when construction of the water tunnel is done. But Coughlin made clear, "I would rather see an enhanced shared lane than nothing."
Nothing was what he got. When it came time to vote, Coughlin's resolution didn't get the majority it needed for committee support.
But Mark Diller -- the chair of Community Board 7 -- said it's not over.
"The resolution failed -- for tonight," said Diller. "But there's still potential for other resolutions, so we will continue to work on it." Because the community board had to be out of the space by 10pm, the clock ran out. At future meetings, Diller said, "I'm sure somebody else will present another resolution, and I'm sure that will be discussed and hopefully we'll finally get to one we can approve."
Andrew Albert, co-chair of the transportation committee, said the board wanted more details about parking, loading zones, and its outreach plans for local businesses. "When DOT gives us the information we asked for," he said, "next month there will probably be a very different kind of vote."
"We're not done with this," added another board member, "by any means."
For a PDF of the DOT's presentation, click here.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
By Kate Hinds
A previously-tabled Manhattan bike lane plan will get another look at a community board meeting Tuesday night.
As Transportation Nation reported in October, the Upper West Side's Community Board 7 is taking another look at extending the neighborhood's only on-street protected bike lane.
The Columbus Avenue bike lane is occasionally referred to as a "bike lane to nowhere" because it's less than a mile long and doesn't connect to other bike lanes.
Here's some history: in 2009, the community board requested a study from the city for two bike lanes: one on Columbus Avenue lane from 110th Street to 59th Street, and a matching northbound lane on Amsterdam Avenue.
After heated debate in 2010, only the Columbus Avenue lane went in -- and only from 96th to 77th Streets. (Amsterdam was considered too narrow by the NYC DOT to accommodate a bike lane.)
On Tuesday night, the New York City Department of Transportation will make a public presentation about bike lane usage in the neighborhood -- and weigh in on the Columbus Avenue extension. TN will cover the meeting -- and, should our cell phone signal allow, live tweet.
Friday, December 07, 2012
New York City Bike Share, delayed from its initial summer, 2012 launch, is being delayed again. The city is now setting a May, 2013 launch date. Officials are citing damage from storm Sandy.
According to a DOT press release: "Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge flooded NYCBS’s facility at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which sits along the East River, and where about two-thirds of the system’s equipment had been stored before the Oct. 29 storm. While portions of the system’s equipment were not significantly damaged, including bike frames and hardware, many parts of the system containing electrical components must have individual parts refurbished or replaced.
"NYCBS is currently working to identify, repair and replace these damaged parts, aided through insurance and supplemented by equipment that wasn’t stored at the Navy Yard, as well as by additional equipment from its supplier and from elsewhere in the delivery pipeline."
The bike share was initially scheduled for July, then August, then delayed until March 2013. Bike share systems in Chicago, San Francisco, and an expansion in Washington have also been delayed. All four cities share a vendor, Alta Bike Share.
Launching bike share has been a part of the city's PlaNYC, a blueprint for reducing the city's carbon footprint and combating climate change. Climate change has been cited as a reason for Sandy's intensity and destruction.
The city also says some neighborhoods won't get bike share even at the newly delayed launch date.
"The timeline will affect the phasing for neighborhoods in the initial launch area. The 5,500 bikes will be located in the densest and most geographically contiguous parts of the service area in Manhattan south of 59th Street and in Brooklyn as work continues to extend to 7,000 bikes in the remaining parts of the Brooklyn service area and into Long Island City, Queens, by the end of 2013. Details will be announced as planning continues. And while planning is underway to launch the initial system in May, we remain committed to bringing the system to 10,000 bikes."
In a statement, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director, Paul Steely White, was philosophical. “New Yorkers are eager for this new transportation choice but we all know the damage Hurricane Sandy wrought on our city," Steely White said. "Every day, a new cost is added to the toll of destruction, and the damage to the bike share equipment is merely the latest. We’re thankful the storm spared so much of the equipment and grateful to see the program will still launch in the spring.”
Tri-State Transportation campaign offered a more grimly sanguine twist: "If a 150 percent increase in bicycling over the East River bridges in the days after the storm is any indication, bike share will help New York City’s residents and commuters weather the next storm even better."
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Here's a little insight into how New York City Hall works....
A press release went out from the mayor's office Thursday morning in which Mayor Bloomberg announced faster bus service to LaGuardia Airport beginning next year.
The bus is a so-called "select bus," now up and running in several New York boroughs. The buses have their own lanes, off-board payment, signal priority at red lights, and other enhancements to give passengers a speedier ride.
Bloomberg has pioneered their use -- called "Bus Rapid Transit" in places like Bogota, Colombia, where the buses have their own, physically segregated lanes -- in New York City.
The Mayor was quoted prominently in the press release, saying that the new "select bus service" lines, would cut travel time, and help both airport workers and flyers.
But when Bloomberg gave a news conference later in the day, and a reporter asked him to comment about the plan, he had a hard time answering the question.
"I love select buses. I didn't know there was one. I'll have them talk to you. It's a great idea. But I just don't know - Is there an issue with it?," the Mayor said.
The reporter told him his office put out a news release about it.
"Good," Bloomberg continued. "I was on a plane, so I didn't read it. Okay. Love to help you but I can't read everything."
A spokesman for the mayor said the release was issued because the select bus service plan was mentioned Wednesday evening at a community event. He said the mayor was aware of the bus plan, but not that a press release was going out about it.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
By Kate Hinds
(New York, NY - WNYC) When it comes enforcement of cycling laws, New York City is willing to employ the stick. But first, the city wants businesses -- and their delivery men -- to eat carrots, at least until January.
On a recent afternoon, Department of Transportation inspector Demel Gaillard paid a visit to Haru, a Japanese restaurant on Manhattan's Upper West Side. The manager, Jamyang Singye, greeted him at the door.
"How can I help you guys?" Singye asked. "We’re just here to see if you guys have your posters posted," said Gaillard. "Outlining the commercial bicyclists law?"
Gaillard is one of six DOT inspectors, and his job is to make sure business owners know the commercial cycling rules and are communicating them to their employees. Singye brings him downstairs to the kitchen, where the rules are displayed on one of many text-heavy postings. "I’d be happy to give you a new poster," says Gaillard, offering up the newer, full-color edition.
"Do you also have it Chinese?" asks Singye. In fact the poster comes in seven languages -- a necessity in a polyglot city where bicycle food delivery men often hail from abroad. Haru, which has a Japanese sushi chef, Chinese delivery staff, and a manager from Nepal, is no exception.
"That would be great," says Singye.
What's not great is the public's perception of bike delivery guys. Speaking at a hearing earlier this month, New York City Council member Jimmy Vacca said the city's rogue cyclist problem is "tremendous."
"There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not in Manhattan where I don’t see a commercial cyclist on the sidewalk, going the wrong way on a one-way street," he said. "This is a constant occurrence.”
DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan hears these complaints all the time. Her inspectors can't enforce moving violations -- that's the domain of the police. In July, Sadik-Khan explained what her department can enforce.
"Our emphasis here is making sure that everybody knows you need to wear a helmet," she said, ticking off the requirements. "You need to wear a vest, you need to have bells and lights and have a bike that's in working condition and follow the rules of the road."
Commercial bicyclists also need reflective devices on their bikes or tires, and a numbered business ID card. Business owners must provide this equipment for their employees.
Since July, the DOT has visited over 2,100 businesses to tell managers like Singye what he needs to do to follow the law and, as Inspector Ronald Amaya explained, what will happen if he doesn't.
"In January 2013," Amaya said, "if you’re not in compliance with all the rules and regulations – like your delivery men not having their vests, their helmet, ID cards, and the poster’s not up in your establishment, we will be issuing a fine, anywhere from $100 to $250."
Here's the important distinction with enforcement: if a DOT inspector sees a delivery guy riding without a vest, the inspector will issue a ticket to the business. If a police officer sees a delivery guy breaking a traffic law by, say, riding on the sidewalk, the officer will ticket the bicyclist. Brian McCarthy, a deputy chief for the NYPD, told TN the department has expanded enforcement and so far this year has issued 8,959 commercial bicycle summonses. That's about 25 percent of all bike tickets.
The DOT is holding public forums to hammer this point home. At a recent meeting on the Upper West Side, DOT staffers handed out posters, bells, and even samples of reflective vests to over a hundred managers and delivery workers. Department educator Kim Wiley-Schwartz explained details of the coming crackdown to a standing-room-only crowd of managers and bike delivery workers. She spoke about the need to wear helmets and vests and carry ID. Then she did a little consciousness-raising about the need to follow the rules of the road -- and yield to pedestrians.
"You do not have the right of way. I don’t want a ‘ding ding ding ding’ as people are crossing the crosswalk when they have the light," she said, imitating the sound of a frustrated bicyclist leaning on his bell. "They have the right of way."
After the meeting, a lot of workers said the rules made sense. But Lawrence Toole, who works at a restaurant in the theater district, said he felt a little picked on.
"These are small businesses, and what they’re doing is they’re hiring people that need jobs," he said."It’s bad enough that there are no jobs out there. Now you’re going to penalize the people that are giving the jobs to people."
But a few seconds later, he reached acceptance. "But we got to follow the law all the same."
City Council woman Gale Brewer, who represents the Upper West Side, says there needs to be a culture change -- and it won't come easily.
"It is a very challenging job to convince the delivery people and their managers -- the managers change often, the delivery people change often," she said. There needs to be "constant education that safety comes before a customer who wants their food right now."
Starting in January, businesses that don't follow the rules could pay the price.
Thursday, September 06, 2012
By Kate Hinds
Businesses should be financially liable if their delivery people disobey cycling rules.
That's a goal of a package of four bills under discussion in the New York City Council. The legislation aims to educate commercial cyclists, as well and put teeth into rules that are already on the books. One of the bills would give the Department of Transportation the authority to issue civil fines to employers who don't post signs in the workplace about traffic laws, or fail to provide lights, helmets, bells and vests to their delivery people.
Jimmy Vacca, who chairs the council's transportation committee, said one of the main goals of the legislation is to take some of the burden off of the NYPD. "The New York City Police Department has been asked to do more with less for long enough," he said, "and commercial cycling enforcement in that agency has not been a priority."
The legislation piggybacks on a campaign currently underway in the DOT. This summer, the agency created a six-person unit tasked with educating businesses about commercial cycling rules. "This unit has already gone door-to-door to over 1,350 businesses," said Kate Slevin, an assistant commissioner for the NYC DOT, at a City Council hearing on Thursday. Its efforts are focused on Manhattan's restaurant-heavy West Side right now; it will expand to the East Side, as well as Brooklyn's Sunset Park neighborhood, by the end of this year.
Enforcement starts in January, when the unit's inspectors will begin issuing $100 tickets to businesses that aren't in compliance.
But whether a six-person unit can ensure that thousands of businesses are obeying the law is a big concern of the council -- not to mention the fact that moving violations are still under the purview of the NYPD.
"The extent of the problem that I see is tremendous," Vacca said, citing complaints about delivery people riding on sidewalks or against traffic. "I want to make sure that this unit has enough people in it to make everyone understand that the days of yesterday are gone."
He said he agreed with an idea that Council Member Peter Koo had floated earlier in the hearing about using the city's traffic agents to help enforce the rules. "What are they trained to do, just give summonses to people? ... It's an extension of their existing responsibility."
Sue Petito, a lawyer for the NYPD, tried to put the kibosh on that line of thinking. "It's a different body of laws and regulations," she said, "completely different from what their current mandate is."
Meanwhile, Robert Bookman of the New York City Hospitality Group said he wanted the council to cut restaurant owners some slack. "I just can't understand the logic of why an employer should get a summons for an employee who is provided with a helmet who chooses not to wear it," he said.
A spokesperson for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said her office was reviewing the legislation and the findings from today's hearing.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
By Kate Hinds
[The Mayor said on Friday the system won't launch until next spring. Here's our post on it.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn't putting a date on when New York's delayed bike share program will be up and running. The program was to have launched July 31, but that date came and went. The mayor has attributed the delay to unspecified software issues.
"We're trying to figure out when we can put a date that we're sure or reasonably sure that it will work," Bloomberg said Thursday. He also said, without explanation, the city is "getting very close."
Bloomberg was speaking at a press conference trumpeting the new shark exhibit at the New York Aquarium.
New York's bike share, at 10,000 bikes, is by far the largest planned bike share anywhere in North America. The next largest system is in Washington, which is about a fifth that size.
An ambitious bike share program in Chicago has also been delayed, and a vendor who lost the bid has sued, saying that city's transportation commissioner, Gabe Klein, had a conflict because he was a consultant on Alta's bid to New York City. A spokesman for the Chicago mayor has said Klein recused himself from the Chicago negotiations and that the suit is baseless.
Alta is also the vendor for Boston's "Hubway" bike share. That program was also delayed by several months, though officials there declare the system a success and are expanding it.
On Thursday, Bloomberg said the reason for the delay is straightforward. "Look," he said. "Everybody wants to say there's a secret agenda here. The software doesn't work. And putting it out when the software doesn't work, it wouldn't work. Period. And so we're trying to figure out when we can put a date that we're sure or reasonably sure that it will work. And we're trying."
"Everybody - a lot - the fascinating thing is those people who screamed they didn't want bicycles are now screaming 'where are they' so I guess we've come a long way and [are] going in the right direction. Nobody would put it out quicker than me."
Alta Bicycle Share, the company picked by New York City last September to run its program, was supposed to have had at least 1,000 bikes on the street on or before July 31, according to its contract with the city, which Transportation Nation has obtained.
Thereafter, Alta was supposed to have added at least 75 stations per ten business days, building to 7,000 bikes by September 30.
Bloomberg said Thursday there were no penalties for a delay.
"It's all private money. And the people who've put up the money, particularly the two big sponsors, Citibank and MasterCard, are fully aware of what's going on and they have been as supportive as you possibly can be. The city loses because we don't have bicycles, but the city doesn't lose any money or anything, and we all want to get it done as quickly -- but you've got to do it right."
The city's Department of Transportation and Alta have been ciphers on the delay. Even Citi Bike's official twitter account has been dark for a week.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
By Kate Hinds
(UPDATED with new photo) That's message of a new street treatment being tested by the New York City Department of Transportation. We photographed this one at the corner of Second Avenue and 79th Street, on Manhattan's East Side.
The sign faces people about to step into the intersection and cross the street -- meaning it's oriented to pedestrians, not drivers or bicyclists.
The message comes at a time when nationally, streets are getting less safe for pedestrians. The federal government recently released a report that found pedestrian deaths were up 4% in 2010. Another report says older pedestrians in the New York City metropolitan area are more than twice as likely to be killed by cars or trucks than those under age 60.
We asked the NYC Department of Transportation all kinds of questions about the LOOK! street marking: Is it part of a campaign to combat distracted walking? Will there be more markings? If so, where and when?
Department spokesman Seth Solomonow declined to elaborate. "We'll be get back to you when we have more info," he said.
But a colleague recently snapped a photo at a bus shelter -- also, as it turns out, on the Upper East Side -- that makes it clear the LOOK signs are a larger campaign. "Traffic injuries are avoidable," reads a poster. "Look before you cross the street."
And, as the blog Bowery Boogie notes, the signs are also making an appearance downtown.
Friday, August 03, 2012
By Kate Hinds
Want to learn to dance the Bachata? Need some free bike repair? Or just feel like riding a zip line? Or maybe you want to try something really novel: walk smack down the middle of a major New York City thoroughfare without having to dodge anything more dangerous than an unsteady rollerblader.
Check out WNYC's slideshow of pictures from Summer Streets here.
New York City's fifth annual Summer Streets kicks off this weekend. For three consecutive Saturdays in August, nearly seven miles of Manhattan roadway -- from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park -- are closed to vehicle traffic and given over to more pedestrian pursuits. There are performances, art exhibits, free rollerblade and bike rentals, a bike helmet giveaway, even yoga classes. You can see the route map below; to see a list of activities, go here.
Tuesday, July 03, 2012
By Kate Hinds
New York is in the process of installing 1,000 CityBenches across the city. We noticed today that two have been placed outside of WNYC (TN's world headquarters).
When the New York City Department of Transportation announced the program last year, commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said: "Even New Yorkers need a respite every now and then. So having these points along busy corridors, where people can actually rest and take it all in, is a really important part of what makes the city so great."
Bonus: the bench is strategically oriented so that users can put their backs to the traffic that often characterizes the Varick Street approach to the Holland Tunnel.