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Transportation Nation

Heads Up, New Yorkers: If You Text and Walk, A New York Knick Will Hurl a Basketball At Your Midsection

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

To ensure compliance with the rules of the road, the New York City Department of Transportation is mounting a public safety campaign to make sure New Yorkers are displaying situational awareness.

Or as Baron Davis puts it in a video released Tuesday: "Hey, heads up! Come on man, pay attention!" before before nailing a phone-hypnotized pedestrian with a basketball.

Also at the receiving end of Davis's scorn: a salmoning biker and a driver who aggressively enters a crosswalk thronged with pedestrians.

Davis is a point guard with the New York Knicks. He's  currently recovering from surgery for a knee injury.

In an emailed statement, DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said the point is to raise awareness. “Whether it’s driving to the hoop or driving down the block, the cardinal rule of the road is to keep your eyes and ears open and your head up."

In addition to the video, the DOT is placing posters like the one below in bus shelters, and has distributed 250,000 coffee cup sleeves for delis and coffee shops around the city.

(image courtesy of NYC DOT)


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Transportation Nation

Let it Zip: NYC's Summer Streets Gets Airborne

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Test-driving the zip line (photo by Guia Marie Del Prado/WNYC)

(Guia Marie Del Prado -- New York, NY, WNYC) In case you missed the news earlier this week, New York City's fifth annual Summer Streets will have something new this year: a 30-foot zip line, which will give locals a new way to appreciate car-free streets.

During Summer Streets, a seven mile stretch of Manhattan roads — from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park — are closed to cars on three Saturdays in August. It allows New Yorkers to walk, bike and play in public spaces they usually don’t have sole access to.

The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) unveiled the free zip line at Union Square Park on Tuesday.

NYC DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan (photo by Guia Marie Del Prado/WNYC)

DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said she rode the zip line, twice. “I highly recommend it," she said; "you don’t need a cup of coffee, just start the day with a zip line."

Fahim Saleh took a break from work as an app developer to test out the zip line with his co-workers.

“We thought we’d just take a break from work and why not?” he said. “Just zip line in the middle of work. Sounds like a good idea to me.”

Sophia Taylor, 47, waited in line to face her fears with her 6-year-old daughter Neveah.

“I want to try it because I'm afraid of heights,” Taylor said. “So I'm going to test my fears today and I'm going to get on there.”

Aside from the zip line, Summer Streets will also host a 25-foot climbing wall, yoga and other activities at different locations along the road on August 4, 11, and 18 from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

According to Sadik-Khan, as many as 60,000 New Yorkers make use of Summer Streets every year.

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Transportation Nation

Manhattan On Track To Get Its First Slow Zone

Monday, June 11, 2012

Proposed Slow Zone for the Inwood section of Manhattan (NYC DOT)

(New York, NY - WNYC) - Manhattan, where the standard rate of movement is an all-out manic sprint, is about to be told by the NY Department of Transportation to slow down. At least in part: a couple of dozen blocks at the island's northern tip in the neighborhood of Inwood are on track to become the borough's first traffic Slow Zone.

NYC DOT unveiled Slow Zones last year. The program calms traffic by lowering a neighborhood's speed limit to 20 miles per hour--the lowest in the city--and fitting it out with safety measures such as speed bumps, signs and street markings that either force or urge drivers to slow down. The city would also remove more than 20 parking spots in the neighborhood to open up sight lines at intersections.

Inwood's community board passed a resolution in February that unanimously supported the Slow Zone, which would cover the blocks west of Broadway from West 218th down to Riverside Drive near Dyckman Street. A vote by the full board will be held on June 26. Should the Slow Zone be approved, as expected, the NYC DOT is set to install it this summer.

Inwood is frequently used as a short-cut by northbound drivers who cut through it, especially during the evening rush hour, to avoid paying the toll on the Henry Hudson Bridge, which spans Manhattan and the Bronx. Drivers have also learned to avoid the traffic lights on Broadway by traveling on Seaman Avenue, a parallel street that is heavily residential.

In general, Inwood's streets are hilly, narrow and almost wholly disconnected from the street grid. For those reasons, the NYC DOT not only approved the neighborhood's Slow Zone application but doubled the size of the proposed area.

Resident Dave Thom, for one, is pleased. "Our neighborhood is packed with schools, churches and young children," he said. "I have a two year-old and three year-old myself and it can be nerve-wracking to see a car racing down our streets."

The city's first and only Slow Zone was installed in the Claremont section of the Bronx last year. NYC DOT is considering adding another 13 Slow Zones, including the one in Inwood, by the end of 2013.

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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

No Bike Share on the Upper West Side Until June 2013: Sadik-Khan Discusses Biking, Parking -- and Bike Parking, in NYC Council Testimony

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

NYC DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, flanked by DOT officials Lori Ardito and Joseph Jarrin (photo by Kate Hinds)

The Upper West Side of Manhattan won't see bike share until June 2013. That's according to New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, in testimony before the New York City Council Tuesday.

The date isn't exactly a surprise -- the city acknowledged at the launch of its Citi Bike program that some neighborhoods won't see bike share until next spring, but the June date puts it at the outer edge of that timeline.

Sadik-Khan also defended the cost of the program, noting that an annual membership in New York gives riders 45 minutes of free riding compared to 30 minutes in London.  And she pointed out that New York's is "a privately operated system" while most other city's bike shares are not.

In other questioning, Queens council member Leroy Comrie wanted to know what Citibank's $47.5 million will be used for.  Sadik-Khan told him "it's going to pay for the purchase of the bikes, the stations, the operator that is going to be servicing the bikes 24/7, rebalancing the bikes, moving them around the city -- so all of that money is going to pay for the operation of that system."  She added that the program will bring about 200 jobs to Brooklyn. "The initial launch site will be in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and then we will be doing the permanent facility (which) will be located at Sunset Park, 53rd and 3rd."

On other subjects, Jimmy Vacca, who chairs the transportation committee, asked the commissioner what was happening with plans to privatize parking meters -- would people be laid off? Would we have dynamic pricing? Sadik-Khan said it's in the very early stages and the city is just putting out feelers by issuing a Request for Qualifications (RFQ).  "We've agreed to study the possibility of a public/private partnership for our parking program to see if there are opportunities for further improvement," she said, "but I would say that we run the most efficient and effective system in the country; we have  a 99% uptake in terms of operability of our Muni Meters, and so we're thrilled with the performance of our programs to date, but again, we are checking to see...if there are options that could provide other, better service for New Yorkers (but) the benchmark is a high one."

She added that the feedback from the RFQ will determine whether or not the city moves forward with actual procurement. (Side note regarding NYC's parking meter program: 70% of parking meter revenue comes from credit cards.)

Sadik-Khan was also asked about a parking sensor pilot program on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx; she said the city was still in the middle of the pilot and would evaluate it after it was done.

Peter Koo, who represents Flushing, said bikes are chained everywhere in the neighborhood; the commissioner was sympathetic. "We've increased the speed with which we've put bike racks out there," she said. "We have over 13,000 racks out there right now, we continue to do more, but there are some parts of the city where if you stop walking for a second someone is going to chain a bike to you," Sadik-Khan said, saying that she knew the demand for parking was high. "We have to find a place for them to park!" Koo echoed, who added that he'd seen garages offering $8 a day bicycle parking. "It's really expensive! You can take the subway for $5 a day!"

"Well, for $9.95 a day, you can have a bike share bike ," Sadik-Kahn countered.

Following the hearing, reporters asked the commissioner about residential parking permits. Residents of the downtown Brooklyn neighborhood where the Barclays Center is opening this September have been pushing for a residential parking permit program. But it would require state legislation to enact, and Sadik-Khan said even after legislation cleared Albany, it would take nine months to get such a program off the ground.

Sadik-Khan also expressed support for legislation that would hold business owners accountable for delivery cyclists who don't follow traffic laws, and said she's working with the New York City Council to craft it.





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Transportation Nation

New York City Parking Rules Now on an Online Map

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Now let it be told, New York City residents can find out street parking regulations by clicking on the New York DOT online parking sign map.

If you go to the map and click on the parking sign, you can see, in plain text form, what the rules are for that block.

The map also shows DOT's street condition assessments -- most are "good" -- as well as surfacing information.

On my browser, the map had an annoying habit of blowing up any time I requested information, but so far as I could tell, the info seems to be accurate.

And of course, it doesn't tell you where you'll find a spot. For that, try


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Transportation Nation

New York City Adding On-Street Bike Parking

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bike Racks Being installed on Fifth Avenue in front of Gorilla Coffee (photo by Andrea Bernstein)

UPDATED Gorilla Coffee in Brooklyn has become an iconic Fifth Avenue institution: the kind of place where you might go with your Mac to get caffeinated and write your app.

To these accoutrements of hipsterdom, add another: the bike rack.

NYC DOT workers were out Thursday morning installing four round bike racks where a car parking spot once was, in front of self-described Park Slope "micro-roastery" Gorilla Coffee. (The auto parking spot will be replaced by one across the street, currently a 'No Standing' zone.)

In an email, Craig Hammerman, manager of Community Board 6, said the spots were approved by the board.

Of the Fifth Avenue spot, he wrote:  "The bike racks, planter pots and flexible delineators will be installed first, and the white markings on the road surface will be installed shortly thereafter."  Hammerman said the DOT would be restoring the car spot across the street, " by May 31st the latest. When completed, there will be no net loss of vehicular parking to the area, and additional bicycle parking capacity."

Darleen Scherer, one of Gorilla Coffee's owners, tells us that the bike parking was suggested by a customer, who'd heard of a similar move  in Cobble Hill.    "People mostly walk here, or arrive by bike," Scherer said.  "They'd lock up their bikes to a gate, which was really frustrating."

A DOT staffer said there's another such rack at Smith & Sackett, and one on Ninth Avenue in Manhattan.  The spots have to be requested, and sponsors have to pledge to keep the spots clean, since the bike racks will block street cleaning machines.  Here's what the one at Smith & Sackett looked like Friday.

Bike Parking at Smith & Sackett (photo: Andrea Bernstein)

Scherer said the spot had formerly been mostly taken by cars, not delivery vehicles.  Her own delivery vehicles park on the corner, in front of a hydrant. Gorilla parking, you might say.

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Transportation Nation

NY/NJ Port Authority Chief Wants Megabus Out

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

(New York, NY -- Tracey Samuelson, WNYC) The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey doesn’t want Megabus to be able to pick up passengers on the sidewalk outside the West-side bus terminal, New York City's main bus station.

The city’s Department of Transportation gave the discount carrier – known for occasional $1 fares – a three-month trial permit to operate on West 41st Street outside the terminal, which expires in early May.

“It’s a danger to people trying crossing that street, whether they’re trying to access Megabus or not,” said Pat Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, while speaking at a Crain's New York Business forum Tuesday morning. “We're going to take a vigorous position that that pilot program not be renewed and that Megabus and other operators be moved someplace else.”

A coalition of bus operators including Greyhound Lines, Peter Pan Bus Lines and Adirondack Trailways has already made a similar request of the DOT, arguing it's unfair that they have to pay for the right to operate out of the bus terminal when Megabus can park outside for free.

City DOT spokesman Scott Gastel offered little indication of whtat the city will do. "We continue to inspect the Megabus site, and will consult with both Community Board 4 and the Port Authority next month as the 90-day period ends, taking all feedback into account as we make our evaluation," Gastel said.

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Transportation Nation

NYC Unveils (Sanctioned) Art on Construction Fence

Friday, February 03, 2012

Street Art, On View Through October (Abbie Fentress Swanson Photo)

On Friday, the New York City Department of Transportation unveiled a new temporary outdoor exhibit on a 50-foot corrugated fence under the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge at the junction of Vernon Boulevard and South Queens Plaza in Queens.

The show, called When it opens like this, up is not over, exhibits six large-scale color photographs by New York artist Rena Leinberger.

To make the works, Leinberger first shot photographs of scenes behind the fence along Vernon Boulevard, which is an area normally not open to the public. Then she suspended pieces of cut-up emergency blankets and blue latex gloves over the photographs and re-shot them, giving the works a confetti-like effect.

Leinberger's exhibit is part of the Department of Transportation's Urban Art Program and the International Studio & Curatorial Program, which is a non-profit, residency-based contemporary art institution for emerging to mid-career artists and curators.

When it opens like this, up is not over will be on view through October 31. Check out photos of the exhibition here.

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Transportation Nation

Calm Reigns at First Planning Meeting for Bike Share Stations

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Given all the sturm and drang that has accompanied New York's bike lane expansion, you might think the first meeting to discuss where to put 600 bike share station when New York rolls out its bike share program in July, tempers would be hot.

After all, in a place where every inch of space is contested, figuring out where to locate 600 bike share stations is no small task.

But you'd be wrong.

Tuesday night the city held what will be the first of many planning workshops. About 50 people gathered in an overheated room on West 42nd Street to pore over large maps of Community Board 4, which stretches from 14th Street to 59th Street on Manhattan's west side.

People taking part in a NYC DOT-led planning workshop (photo by Kate Hinds)

“We’re very excited,” said Corey Johnson, the chair of CB4. “I’m glad New York is finally catching up to something that has performed quite well in other cities across the country and across the globe.”

That attitude seems typical:  ever since the city put up an online map requesting ideas, more than 8,000 locations have been suggested.

City Department of Transportation employees walked community members through a presentation about the bike share program, then unveiled a large map of the district that had suggested bike share station locations on it. There had already been some vetting.  "We have technical criteria," said DOT policy director Jon Orcutt. "You’re not going to put one that blocks a fire hydrant, you’re not going to block a narrow sidewalk." He said there's no one-size-fits-all approach to station siting. Some will be on wide sidewalks, some will be in the street, some will be in plazas.

Renderings of types of bike share station locations (photo by Kate Hinds)

Corey Johnson said for him, pedestrian space trumped parking. “[Bike share stations] may eliminate a parking space or two on a residential block, but it’s not going to eliminate sidewalk space for pedestrians,” he said. “So is it worth having a dozen bicycles that are easy access on a residential block and give up one or two parking spaces? I believe the answer is yes.”

Orcutt said the DOT had held over 100 meetings about the bike share program so far. "We're talking to property owners, talking to everybody we can, and carving out space here and there," he said. "You can't just say they're all going to be 15 feet from odd-numbered street corners. There's no way. You have to go and plan each single one of these."

Members of the community were invited to put green arrows on the station locations they liked, red on the ones they didn't, and black on locations where they wanted to suggest one. (Photo by Kate Hinds)

So dozens of people gathered around six separate tables and scrutinized the map, block by block. "This specific site, I think, is very challenging," said Ben Donsky, the vice president of the Chelsea Improvement Company, as he put a red arrow on the map at 14th Street and Ninth Avenue. He said there was already scant space for pedestrians to relax, and that the sidewalk there is too narrow. "However, I think there are probably a dozen great locations right nearby."  Richard Gottlieb, who lives on West 44th Street, put a black arrow on West 57th Street. Why?  “West 57th Street is a very busy area and it would strike me as a good place to have a stop. It’s that simple.”

Others were thinking more macro. "I really like the idea of using the bike share as a means of expanding the transportation network," said Tyler Gumpright, who lives in Jackson Heights. He'd like to see stations "both close to existing transit options, like the subway, and putting them a little bit further away from existing transit."

Those long crosstown blocks between Eighth Avenue and the waterfront were also on the mind of Steven Collado, who works in Herald Square. "People will come in from the subway and want to get to say all the way down to the Hudson River or even 11th Avenue, they'd have a long walk. If they had a bike share, they would definitely take advantage of that."

They were singing Orcutt's tune. "One of the places we think this will really serve are the parts of the city are developing fast away from the traditional subway spines, like the waterfronts and other former industrial places," he said, "so you’re seeing a lot of feedback there.   Like ‘hey, it’s really hard to get anywhere from here,' or ‘I can’t get to the next neighborhood without taking a bus that takes all day.’"

Jess Berlin, who lives on the Upper West Side and works near Herald Square, said after the workshop that the experience was valuable. "I really liked the fact that they had a large map that we could really envision how the system would work," she said. She lives in a fifth-floor walk-up, she said, and didn't own a bike because she didn't want to have to carry it up and down stairs.  Bike share "makes someone like me able to have a bike in the city," she said.

Orcutt said the next step is to take all the public feedback and "synthesize it into a recommendation, and then come back to community boards, business improvement districts, electeds, and get further input, make some further adjustments." He said the city would have a final station siting plan by early summer.












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Transportation Nation

There's a Map for That

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

An image from the NYC Street Closures map

New York City -- which has put street ratings online (in the winsomely named Daily Pothole) and promised real-time snow plow data -- has now added street closure information to its toolbox.

Called NYC Street Closures, it pulls information from a variety of city agencies, including the Department of Transportation (which handles work permits for groups like large contractors and Con Ed) and the Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management. It's searchable by date and location, and a tab on the bottom allows readers to toggle between event closures and construction closures.

“We all know how frustrating it can be to wake up and find your street has been unexpectedly blocked off for a street fair, a parade, or any other event,” said Council Member Garodnick, the author of the bill that created this online tool, in a press release. “The least we can do is make sure that New Yorkers know in advance what is happening out there.  This online tool will give all of us a chance to find the events when we want them, and to avoid them when we don't.”

One caveat: the map shows planned closures. So if  work or an event has been cancelled due to weather, the map will still show the street as closed.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Pennsylvania Pols Battle Over How To Fund Transportation, Taxi Group Joins AFL-CIO, Planned Bridge Between Detroit and Canada Tabled -- For N

Friday, October 21, 2011

Top stories on TN:

Power, politics, and a Brooklyn bike lane. (Link)

Joseph Lhota was named to run New York's MTA. (Link)

NYC okays wheelchair-accessible taxi. (Link)

New Yorkers support the incipient bike share program, 72 to 23. (Link)

Ambassador Bridge. Image: (CC) by Flickr user mcclouds

More on Joe Lhota's appointment to the NY MTA in the New York Times, the New York Daily News, the Staten Island Advance, and Crain's New York.

A coalition of environmental groups is suing three rail operators in California to force them to lower diesel soot. (Los Angeles Times)

A Pennsylvania state senator will introduce legislation to pump another $2.5 billion a year into that state's transportation system and is challenging the governor come up with his own plan. (AP via Penn Live)

Plans to build a second bridge between Detroit and Canada have failed in the Michigan Senate. (Detroit Free Press)

California adopts nation's strictest cap and trade standards, and is working on lowering the state's tailpipe emissions standards. (KQED)

The Metrorail link to Dulles Airport will probably be $150 million over budget. The overall price tag: $2.8 billion. (Washington Post)

A NYC taxi drivers association became the first non-traditional labor organization to join the AFL-CIO since the early 1960s. (Crain's New York)

Londoners fear the impact the Olympics might have on that city's transit system. And no pressure, London: "The success or failure of the games will hang in part on whether the system can keep up with the increase in demand." (AP via Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

NYC may shutter a bus franchise that makes women ride in back. (Reuters)

DC's Capital Bikeshare is raising prices to help pay for its expansion. (AP via WaPo)

One thousand shiny new sidewalk benches represent the latest effort by the NYC DOT to "elevate our streetscape." (Streetsblog, DNA Info)

Teen drivers: OY. Wait, make that OMG. (NPR)

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Private Money Unlikely for California Bullet Train, Map Shows Who Swipes What NYC MetroCard Where

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Top stories on TN:

Amtrak carried a record 30 million passengers. (Link)

Royals use bike share, too. (Link)

California is offering a ticket amnesty program. (Link)


A sculpture along a North Carolina trail, paid for by the state's transportation enhancement program (photo by Hagarjr via Flickr)

Private money for California's high-speed rail project looks unlikely, according to the California High-Speed Rail Authority -- at least until the line begins operating. (Los Angeles Times)

The Senate will vote today on a John McCain-sponsored amendment that would eliminate the beautification requirement spending in federal highway funding. (The Hill, Politico)

Maryland's two largest counties and Baltimore want the state to raise the gas tax to pay for transportation projects. (Baltimore Sun)

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel -- transit user and supporter of bike share programs -- is the "anti-Daley." (Atlantic Cities)

Subway swipe data shows where riders most often use senior discounts, unlimited passes and pay-per-ride MetroCards. Bonus: interactive map! (Wall Street Journal)

NYC wants to convert 21 on-street parking spaces into a "mini park" on one traffic-clogged Hell's Kitchen street. (DNA Info)

Drivers with expired registration will no longer be arrested in DC. (WAMU)

Transit advocate Gene Russianoff offers some advice for a new NY MTA head: slash borrowing, resurrect congestion pricing, and urge the governor to sign the lockbox bill. (NY Daily News)

If the bad economy is part of the reason Amtrak's attracting riders, what happens when there's a turnaround? (Marketplace)

"Green" policies don't benefit the lower middle class. (Slate)

Colorado will use police cars as pace cars to try to speed ski traffic along a highway. (Denver Post)



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Transportation Nation

Picture: Street Signs In Transport

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

(photo by Kate Hinds)

No, it wasn't piloted by an irate New Yorker fed up with having to following the city's often-confusing parking regulations.  It's a NYC Department of Transportation -operated truck that repairs street lights and puts up signs.  And it was parked on the Upper West Side earlier today.

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Transportation Nation

Brooklyn Bike Lane Opponents Ask For Permission To Appeal

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Prospect Park West bike lane in Brooklyn (photo by Kate Hinds)

Opponents of a bike lane along Prospect Park West are asking for the right to appeal a judge's decision rejecting their lawsuit against the city.

In March, a group of Park Slope residents, known as Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes/Seniors for Safety, filed a lawsuit seeking the removal of the lane.  NBBL had said that the city had told residents the lane was a trial project. A judge dismissed that lawsuit last month, writing in his decision that the group "presented no evidence that D.O.T. viewed the bikeway as a pilot or temporary project.”

City attorney Mark Muschenheim said in an emailed statement: "This development isn't surprising. We are confident that our win will be upheld on appeal. The lawsuit was untimely to begin with, which the Court clearly recognized in dismissing it. The bike path's installation was an entirely proper, thoroughly considered project that continues to enhance the safety of PPW and remains widely enjoyed by the community."

You can read NBBL's request for an appeal here.


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Transportation Nation

NYC DOT Says New Sensor System Will Help Move Midtown Traffic

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg and NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration Victor Mendez unveil Midtown Moving at the city's Traffic Control Center in Queens. (Photo by Jim O'Grady)

(New York, NY - WNYC) Midtown traffic jams can now be eased with the touch of a button. That's what New York City officials promised as they introduced new traffic cameras, E-Z Pass readers and microwave motion sensors to 23 Manhattan intersections.

Mayor Bloomberg and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan unveiled the new system at the city's Traffic Control Center in Queens, where information gathered by the sensors is wirelessly transmitted. Mayor Bloomberg explained that traffic engineers can use it to spot congestion choke points and then: "They can sit there and touch buttons to turn a light green quicker, leave it on green quicker, leave it off green quicker, whatever the case may be."

The system is called Midtown in Motion. It covers about 110 square blocks, from Second to Sixth Avenues and from 42nd to 57th streets. The area is equally famous as a global business center and a grid that acts on weekdays like a glue trap for traffic.  Sadik-Khan even cracked that to reach certain locations in Midtown during rush hour "you have to be born there."

Mayor Bloomberg said chronic traffic congestion costs the city's economy $13 billion a year for things like extra time needed to make deliveries.

That's a problem the Mayor previously tried to solve through congestion pricing, which was supposed to reduce the number of vehicles on the streets and ease traffic jams by assessing motorists a fee for entering parts of Manhattan during peak times.  But the program failed to gain support in New York State's legislature.  "Who knows whether the legislature is ever going to approve congestion pricing," Mayor Bloomberg said today, before noting that the traffic flow system that just went online could be used for congestion pricing, should its political fortunes reverse.

He said the new technology will give engineers the ability to respond quickly to "crashes, construction, special events like the UN General Assembly and times when congestion saturates the network, causing backups that block cross streets and crosswalks." Previously, traffic signals only could be set to preset signal patterns based on the time of day.

The program also involves the installation of new turn lanes at 53 intersections. Mayor Bloomberg said if Midtown in Motion is successful, the system will be spread by 2013 to the rest of New York's 12,500 signalized intersections, half of which are already digitized and integrated with the traffic management center.

The real-time traffic flow information will also be made available to motorists and to app developers for use on mobile devices. The project cost $1.6 million, with $600,000 coming from the Federal Highway Administration.

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Transportation Nation

NYC Court Filing: PPW Bike Lane Is in the Right Place

Thursday, June 16, 2011

New York City is saying that when it came to putting a bike lane in Park Slope, it couldn't have located the Prospect Park West bike lane anywhere else.

In court papers filed in response to a lawsuit that seeks to remove the bike lane, New York provides the first substantial look at its defense. The suit was filed by Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes/Seniors for Safety (NBBL) earlier this year.

The 39-page document (see end of post) lays out the city's case along these lines:  we located the PPW lane in the best location, in accordance with accepted industry guidelines; we had the right to do so, because street management and bike lanes are our purview; our analysis was and is sound; and anyway the statute of limitations has expired. From the filing:

On why the city located the lane on Prospect Park West:

p. 7: "While 8th Avenue has two northbound traffic lanes that bicyclists can ride on, it has numerous intersections that increase the potential for conflicts and crashes among motorists and bicyclists, thereby decreasing the desirability and use by bicyclists. Moreover, 8th Avenue does not connect directly with Prospect Park entrances, meaning a more circuitous route to and from Prospect Park would be required....DOT also considered and rejected Park Drive, a roadway located within Prospect Park. Park Drive does not provide the connectivity to the street network that a PPW bike path would (since bicyclists could only access Park Drive in three locations), and it is also an indirect (and thus inconvenient) route for local trips. Moreover, Park Drive’s two traffic lanes are used by motor vehicles at certain times, and there is insufficient space to add an unprotected bike lane going against the flow of traffic while at the same time providing for the existing walking/running lane, bike lane and two traffic lanes."

On NBBL's contention that the city didn't accurately analyze crash data:

p. 13: "Petitioners, and their purported expert, accountant Eric Fox, take issue with DOT’s use of three-year averages in its crash analysis. ..
Petitioners, however, fail to square their assertions with the accepted industry practice of using three years’ worth of data when performing before and after crash comparisons....For this reason, DOT typically uses three years of before-crash data when evaluating traffic improvements (and indeed, used three-year data in April 2009 when it originally presented the PPW Project plan to the Community Board)...And even if there were any validity to petitioners’ criticisms of DOT’s use of three-year-average data, the most relevant indicator -- crashes involving injuries -- dropped by 50 percent between 2009 and 2010, and dropped by 33 percent in the same period if “side street” crashes are omitted."

On why NBBL's case  is just too late:

p. 18, p. 2: "In an apparent effort to skirt the statute of limitations, petitioners attempt to characterize the PPW Project as 'experimental' or as a 'trial'...Petitioners, two unincorporated associations led by individuals who live on PPW, commenced this proceeding in March 2011, months after the expiration of the Article 78 statute of limitations (which began to run at the latest when the PPW Project was installed). Consequently, petitioners’ claims relating to the PPW Project are time-barred."

The next court date in the case is scheduled for next Wednesday, June 22nd.

You can read the city's filing below.
Respondents' Memorandum of Law in Opposition to the Petition

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Transportation Nation

More New Yorkers Die in Traffic Than are Killed by Guns--And That's Best in the Country

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

NYC intersection with pedestrian island and bike lane. (Photo by: NYC DOT)

(New York, NY - WNYC)  A New Yorker is killed every 35 hours in a traffic crash, according to a new report.That's more than are killed by guns.

Domestically, that's not a bad record. New York has fewer road fatalities per capita than any other large U.S. city, according to the city DOT.  But in European cities, like Paris and Berlin, the fatality rate is one half of New York's.

The report by the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives and the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy is pushing for a goal of zero traffic fatalities.

Transportation Alternatives Spokesman Michael Murphy says it's time to catch up with European cities. "For us to pat ourselves on the back to have reduced traffic fatalities as much as we have is to say that those remaining hundred to three hundred people a year who are dying is acceptable," he said. "It's absolutely not."  New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan frequently tout New York's diminishing traffic fatality rate as a sign of success of their street redesign initiatives.

The Transportation Alternatives/DMI report says most of those killed in accidents are pedestrians, and the majority of deaths are caused by speeding cars on wide roadways like Queens Boulevard. A separate study, by Tri-State Transportation Campaign, says senior citizens are most at risk.

DOT spokesman Seth Solomonow told Transportation Nation that the city has already launched anti-speeding campaigns, added countdown signals to hundreds of intersections and re-engineered streets to make them safer for children and seniors. "You’d have to be living under a rock not to know that safety is the most important priority for this agency," he said. "We will not stop in our efforts until we make our streets safe for all New Yorkers."

Transportation Alternatives and the DOT do agree on what to do next. Both favor street calming measures like curb extensions, pedestrian islands, and bike lanes. Here's the DOT's pedestrian safety plan.

That doesn't mean it's going to happen. Those measures have been criticized by some elected officials for impeding vehicular traffic, and some critics say pedestrian islands and other calming measures can block emergency vehicles.

A report by advocacy group Transportation Alternatives says a New Yorker is killed every 35 hours in a traffic crash. That's more than are killed by guns.

Domestically, that's not a bad record. New York has fewer road fatalities per capita than any other large U.S. city, according to the city DOT.  But in European cities, like Paris and London, the fatality rate is one half of New York's.

Transportation Alternatives Spokesman Michael Murphy says it's time to catch up. "For us to pat ourselves on the back to have reduced traffic fatalities as much as we have is to say that those remaining hundred to three hundred people a year who are dying is acceptable," he said. "It's absolutely not."

The report says most of those killed in accidents are pedestrians, and the majority of deaths are caused by speeding cars on wide roadways like Queens Boulevard. A separate study, by Tri-State Transportation Campaign, says senior citizens are most at risk.

DOT spokesman Seth Solomonow told WNYC that the city has already launched anti-speeding campaigns, added countdown signals to hundreds of intersections and re-engineered streets to make them safer for children and seniors. "You’d have to be living under a rock not to know that safety is the most important priority for this agency," he said. "We will not stop in our efforts until we make our streets safe for all New Yorkers."

Transportation Alternatives and the DOT do agreed on what to do next. Both favor street calming measures like curb extensions, pedestrian islands and bike lanes.

That doesn't mean it's going to happen. Those measures have been criticized by some elected officials for impeding vehicular traffic, and some critics say pedestrian island and other calming measures can block emergency vehicles.

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Transportation Nation

Brooklyn Community Board To Vote on PPW Bike Lane Modifications Tonight

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

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

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

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

You can read the resolution here.

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

PPW Letter to C Hammerman and D Kummer

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On Central Park Traffic Lights, NY Cycling Club Begs To Differ

Friday, April 08, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) We reported yesterday that the NYC DOT is denying it's making special arrangements for cyclists in Central Park, who've been subject to a heavy blitz of traffic tickets lately for running red lights on the park loop, even when the park is closed to cars.

“The current light synchronization for 25 mph is not a new timing plan," the NYC DOT told us.  "DOT adjusted the timing for several signals on March 26 on Central Park’s drives after an inspection determined that some had fallen out of synch.”

Well, turns out the New York City Cycling Club has a different interpretation:   It issued this statement:

"NYCC and other members of the cycling community have been meeting with a number of concerned parties, including City Council members, Community Boards, staff from the DOT and others.  It's our understanding that this pilot program has been arranged to allow cyclists some time in Central Park to do the kind of training laps that we've been accustomed to doing.

"We are appreciative and understand our responsibility to be safe cyclists.  This pilot program will encompass the early morning hours from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m. Monday through Friday when there are few pedestrians in the Park, so we do not foresee any problems."

Keep us informed on how it's going.

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