Monday, March 07, 2011
Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) In a rare legal action, a group of residents opposed to a two-way protected bike lane along Prospect Park in Brooklyn has filed a lawsuit in Brooklyn state court to have it removed. The city law department says it received the papers late Monday afternoon and "is reviewing them thoroughly." A pdf file of the lawsuit can be found here (NBBL vs. NYCDOT) or at the end of the post.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the group Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes, which is backed by the former New York City DOT commissioner, Iris Weinshall, her husband, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, and a group of residents, many of whom live along Prospect Park. In legal papers, the group says says the city did not perform an environmental review, did not adequately collect data, and did not accurately measure the safety of the design changes after they were implemented. It seeks removal of the bike lane, and restoration of Prospect Park West to three lanes of automobile traffic and two lanes of parking, with no bike lane.
The two-way bike lane was approved by the local community board before it was installed.
Transportation Nation first broke the story of the Brooklyn lawsuit last month.
In a statement, city DOT spokesman Seth Solomonow said: “This project has clearly delivered the benefits the community asked for. Speeding is down dramatically, crashes are down, injuries are down and bike ridership has doubled on weekends and tripled on weekdays.”
DOT data has found crashes involving injuries are down 63%, speeding is down from 75% of cars to 20%, and cycling on the sidewalk down 80%. Solomonow said there has been no change in traffic volumes or travel times.
In legal papers, opponents of the bike lane suggest that data did not adequately sample crashes, and that the time period it reflects was chosen arbitrarily. They say that if the city had looked only at data immediately prior to bike lane installation, it would have shown the bike lane did not increase safety.
City Councilman Brad Lander, who represents much of the district, disputes that.
"Most neighborhood residents feel that Prospect Park West is now a calmer, safer street," said Lander. “The data shows that accidents, injuries, riding on the sidewalk, and speeding are all down. The DOT is proposing additional modifications – many suggested by community members – that will make PPW even safer. I hope that the lawsuit does not put these additional safety improvements at risk. Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I believe this lawsuit disregards the opinions and jeopardizes the safety of the community."
A survey Lander did of 3000 residents found three quarters support the bike lane. Opponents said the survey is flawed.
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes issued a press release yesterday with this headline:
"Groups Applaud City Council Legislative Package That Seeks to Report Bike and Pedestrian Accidents; Support Alternative PPW Bike Lane Route, Suspension of New Bike Lane Installation; Call for DOT Meeting."
The press release goes on to say:
"Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes (NBBL) and Seniors for Safety today applauded City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Council Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca and the entire City Council for passing a package of three bills that will, for the first time, report bike and pedestrian accidents. They also support the moratorium, called for by Speaker [Christine] Quinn and Councilman [James]Vacca, on the imposition of new bike lanes until this background data is available online. This is exactly what both groups say was missing on Prospect Park West." (full release after the jump)
But according to city council spokesman Jamie McShane, "neither Speaker Quinn nor Councilman Vacca support a moratorium on bike lane construction." In fact, McShane said, the question came up at a press conference after the traffic safety bill was passed, and the council specifically rejected the idea of a moratorium on bike lane construction.
NBBL said it had based their press release on their understanding of a news report.
The bill the group was applauding does require the Bloomberg administration to more fully and quickly release data on traffic accidents -- with information on crashes caused by bikes, pedestrians, and cars. Its heaviest champion was Transportation Alternatives, a pro-bike advocacy group deeply behind the PPW bike lane.
Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes was formed as the two-way protected bike lane along Prospect Park West was being installed last spring. The group, which represents many Prospect Park West residents, has criticized the city for what it sees as insufficient community outreach and too little data collection before installing the lane. Its supporters including Brooklyn College Dean Louise Hainline, former Deputy Mayor Norman Steisel, former city DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall, and her husband, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.
The city says the lane did go through the local approval process, and was supported by the local community board. Community Board 6 wanted both to provide more space for bikes to ride safely through Park Slope in both directions and reduce traffic speeds along Prospect Park West. The DOT says by both measures the lane has been a success -- the number of weekday cyclists has tripled, and the number of cars driving over the speed limit has dropped sharply. Before the lane, it says, three of four vehicles drove over the speed limit, now just one in five does. The DOT says pedestrian hit by a car driving 40 miles an hour will almost certainly die, but a pedestrian hit by a car driving 30 miles an hour has a two-thirds chance of survival.
The DOT has posted the data on line, but Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes says the data is incomplete, and doesn't give a full picture of what traffic conditions were like before the lane was installed. Their full release is here.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
We missed this yesterday, but since we've published DOT's data, we thought we should bring you this letter to the editor of the NY Times, in response to an editorial about how cyclists should be more law-abiding. In it, Iris Weinshall, the former NYC DOT commissioner (Janette Sadik-Khan's predecessor) makes a pretty strong public statement against the Prospect Park West bike lane. Weinshall, BTW, is a resident of Prospect Park West, where resistance to the new lane is strongest, and the wife of U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. --Transportation Nation
To the Editor:
Your editorial about the problems caused by law-evading bicyclists mentions data released by the New York City Department of Transportation that purport to show that the 50 miles of bike lanes it is adding each year “calm” traffic and cut down on fatalities.
But as the rest of your editorial suggests, the connection between encouraging biking — which we also strongly support — and making our streets safer and more pleasant for all users is far from established.
Thursday, December 02, 2010
By Kate Hinds
(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) The New York City Department of Transportation announced today that it will be handing out thousands of pre-paid debit cards this holiday season as part of its anti-drunk driving efforts.
You the Man -- as the campaign is known -- offers a find-a-ride search engine, sobriety tests, and a general reminder that the city has 10,000 designated drivers--also known as cabbies.
There's also an iPhone app that has a designated driver picker, as well as a blood alcohol level calculator (although as one reviewer put it: "if you're buzzed you prob shouldn't base a decision to drive on an iPhone app.")
Beginning next week, the NYC DOT will begin distributing 2,000 free rides home in the form of pre-paid $25 debit cards, programmed for use in taxis and livery vehicles--as well as MTA, PATH and NJ Transit ticketing machines. To find out where to get a card, follow You the Man on Twitter or Facebook.
As we reported earlier, presumably you can avail yourself of the You the Man services even if you don’t have a car--but just happen to be out and about, needing a ride home. Even if you're sober.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
From the NYC DOT:
Immediate Release RELEASE # 10-057
Thursday, November 18, 2010
NYC DOT AND MTA/NYC TRANSIT ANNOUNCE CAMERA ENFORCEMENT OF 1ST/2ND AVENUE BUS LANES BEGINS MONDAY
Authorized by Albany, bus lane cameras will speed transit by deterring unauthorized use
New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman/CEO Jay Walder today announced that bus lane camera enforcement of the new, exclusive Select Bus Service bus lanes along First and Second avenues will begin Monday to further enhance bus service and speed travel for the 54,000 daily riders of the M15.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
By Kate Hinds
(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) As part of its Safe Streets for Seniors program (see detailed project PDF here), the NYC Department of Transportation is in the process of installing "pedestrian refuge islands" on Fort Hamilton Parkway in Brooklyn's Borough Park. The islands drew some community ire, which was then gleefully covered by favorite Streetsblog bête noire, CBS's Marcia Kramer. In an attempt to get everyone to dial down the rhetoric, New York City Councilman Brad Lander, who represents the neighborhood, wrote an op-ed in last Friday's Hamodia that caught our eye (It Could Be Your Bubbe or Zeide: How We Can Make Fort Hamilton Pkwy. Safer).
He writes: "The goal of these islands is to keep any more of our grandparents — or anyone else — from getting seriously injured or killed. In a world with terrorism and crime, hunger and homelessness, maybe we should save our “outrage” for something other than an effort to keep pedestrians safe." Put that way, the DOT is doing a mitzvah!
Read Lander's op-ed below.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
By Kate Hinds
(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) WNYC went out on the Brooklyn Bridge last week to check on the progress of that structure's $508 million, four-year rehabilitation. The galvanized steel containment shields are going up, the off-white canvas is being hung, and the pedestrian/bike walkway has narrowed about a foot and a half.
To read the rest of the story, click here.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) New York City continues to give less space to cars, more to...um...other pursuits. Lower Manhattan's street grid is the only part of New York that still looks like Amsterdam, and businesses there have been pining for outdoor cafe space. Now, the city has converted five parking spots to a "pop-up cafe," where residents can dine and chat.
The spaces contain wooden platforms that support steel planters with with herbs and 15 folding tables with two chairs apiece. Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said the experiment was about creating "high performing streets that work for all user" -- and that this location works out, the City will expand the program next summer.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
(Andrea Bernstein) There's a big problem with New York's pedestrian plazas -- nothing to eat. In Times Square you can sit in the middle of Broadway, but you have to go to Starbucks for a coffee to sip at your cafe table. Assuming, that is, you don't want to ingest a dirty water hot dog. Now, New York City's DOT says it will unveil what it's calling a "pop-up cafe, an innovative, new temporary public space in Lower Manhattan." It will provide "room to sit, eat, or enjoy a cup of coffee, enhancing enjoyment of the streetscape and increase business revenues in Lower Manhattan.
Pix coming tomorrow.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Bridge goes under a bridge. (Willis Avenue, under the Manhattan)
(Stephen Nessen, WNYC) To make everything less disruptive, the New York City DOT says, it had a new Willis Avenue Bridge built upstate, floated it down the Hudson, and had it make a brief stay in Bayonne, NJ, before floating it up the East River this morning. Rubbernecking abounded. See the slide show, here.
Friday, July 02, 2010
(WNYC Newsroom). Trucks making deliveries after seven pm and before 6 am shaved an average of forty eight minutes on their routes. That's according to the results of a pilot program by the New York City Department of Transportation. City Transportation Comisssioner Janette Sadik-Khan says the off-hour delivers also resulted in fewer parking tickets, down from$1000 per truck to almost nothing. The four month pilot enlisted thirty-three companies around Manhattan, including Foot Locker, Whole Foods, and Cisco. Some businesses have expressed reluctance to schedule off-hour deliveries because it can cost more in overtime and make last-minute deliveries more difficult. And some have said it's not an option for perishables.