New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan took a victory lap Friday at a speech at the Municipal Art Society summit, saying, "What was controversial just a few years ago, things like closing Times Square, is pretty much commonplace today."
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."
Creating a pedestrian plaza in Times Square was "the stupidest idea I’d ever heard," said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But it only took his transportation commissioner ten minutes to change his mind. And now the area, he said, is retail gold.
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.
An 18-block stretch in the Bronx will be the first in New York City to test pay-by-phone parking.
The pilot program will allow people to use phone, internet or smartphone app to pay for 264 metered parking spaces along or adjacent to Arthur Avenue -- as well as spots in the city's Belmont Municipal Parking Field. To participate, motorists must sign up in advance on the Pay-By-Phone website. Each Muni-Meter in the pilot program has a QR code and a seven-digit number; the motorist must use either to confirm payment.
Users will receive a text or email when their meter is about to expire, and they will have the option of extending their time without having to return to their cars. According to the mayor's press release, traffic enforcement agents will use new hand-held scanners to cross-check the PayByPhone's data to ensure compliance.
"New York City parking has come a long way since we had to put a roll of quarters in our pocket," said city transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, making the announcement Tuesday in the Bronx with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The pay-by-phone pilot will be tested for three months; it could then expand citywide.
Potentially more interesting than the ability to feed the meter remotely is the second half of Tuesday's announcement: a real-time parking availability map, seeded by information transmitted from roadbed sensors.
"Green indicates the greatest likelihood of a spot; yellow, the chances aren't so good, and red, well, you get the idea--" said Sadik-Khan. "Forget about it, as Marty [Markowitz] would say," interjected Bloomberg, referring to Brooklyn's Borough President.
Sadik-Khan added the map would cut down on the pollution created by cruising around and looking for a spot. "Knowing where to go, and to concentrate your search on where it's going to have the biggest value and the biggest payoff, is half the battle," she said.
In addition to being available online, the map is also available as a smartphone app. Bloomberg batted away suggestions that the app could encourage distracted driving. Bloomberg reasoned passengers could check the map -- or drivers could check it before they leave "or pull over. I mean, a lot of things are meant for you, you can't do it while you're --" here the mayor paused -- "in the shower, for example."
This cracked up the crowd. "I'm just trying to think of some other place you shouldn't," Bloomberg said, moving along to the next question.
Other cities around the world -- San Francisco, London, Vancouver, Miami -- use similar technology. Monica Hernandez, a spokesperson for the District Department of Transportation, said all 17,500 meters in Washington D.C. can be paid for via phone, and that the program had been in place for almost two years. "It's serving its purpose," she said. "It provides one more option for people looking to park."
With reporting from Christine Streich/WNYC.
The Upper West Side's 'bike lane to nowhere' will finally go somewhere.
After lengthy debate -- not to mention two months of committee meetings -- Manhattan's Community Board 7 voted Tuesday night in favor of a extending the Columbus Avenue bike lane from 59th Street up to 110th Street.
The lane, which currently stretches from 77th to 96th streets, is the only protected on-street bike lane in the neighborhood. The extension will connect it to another protected lane running south of 59th Street down Ninth Avenue, as well as bring the city's bike network north to the fringes of Harlem.
The vote came after four hours of debate and public testimony. One of the sticking points for many board members was how the lane will traverse the so-called "bow tie" around Lincoln Square, where Broadway and Columbus intersect (map). Some board members wanted to defer the vote until the city's Department of Transportation came up with additional safety amenities for that segment, and several amendments to the board's resolution were proposed. (TN will have the text when it is made available.)
But at the end of the night, the board voted 26 to 11 (with one abstention) in support of the full lane, with calls for ongoing dialogue with the DOT about its implementation.
The evening had its moments of levity. When debate opened, one board member raised his hand and said that he had a couple of questions about "the second amendment."
"Oh, I thought you were talking about gun control," Andrew Albert, the co-chair of the transportation committee, said dryly. The room broke up.
On Wednesday, DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan sent an email expressing her satisfaction with the board's vote. "The community’s ringing support will swing an even safer Columbus Avenue into high gear,” she said. “This project started with the community and Columbus is now a safer street with 100% of storefronts occupied. Residents, businesses and the entire community have seen that this project works.”
The DOT says construction of the bike lane extension will begin this summer and should take two months to complete.
Listen to the audio from Thursday's press conference:
"In 2011, I authored a law called TrafficStat," said Jessica Lappin, who represents the Upper East Side. "The goal was to shine a light on the most dangerous intersections in the city." She and Bronx council member Jimmy Vacca recently sent a letter to DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. It reads, in part: "Although the DOT has been legally required to provide the information noted above to Council Members and Community Boards since June 2011, to our understanding it has yet to do so. The Council has requested copies of traffic safety reports in recent months without success."
The law requires the DOT to identify the city's twenty highest crash locations and then come up with a plan to make them safer. In addition, it requires the DOT to inspect the locations where fatal traffic crashes occur within ninety days.
A clearly frustrated Lappin said it wasn't clear whether the DOT is inspecting the locations of fatal crashes. "How would we know?" she said "They haven't told us that they have. If they have, they should tell us."
A representative for the DOT, reached after the press conference, took issue with the council member's characterization. Spokesman Seth Solomonow said when it comes to traffic safety, "the last five years have been the safest in city history."
The press conference comes a day after the NYPD posted data on traffic crashes online, but then acknowledged that data was raw and contained "overcounts."
Lappin said the council has been asking for the information for five months. "And they keep saying 'oh, it's coming, it's coming, it's coming,' and we're just sick of waiting."
She said given the DOT's emphasis on safety, she was surprised by the agency's lack of compliance. "This is an administration that we know takes safety very seriously, so I don't understand why they are not complying with this law. We have been asking for months now for them to release this information, and they keep telling us it's on the way. But we don't want to wait when there are lives on the line."
"I don't care how cold it is," said Vacca. (Reporter's note: the temperature at 10am was 14 degrees.) "I think that we in the city of New York have been in the deep freeze too damn long at the Department of Transportation."
It wasn't clear exactly how the council planned for force the DOT's hand. Lappin said, "we're going to keep pushing them." A member of Vacca's staff said that the councilman would explore the possibility of an oversight hearing if DOT doesn’t comply "soon."
In his statement, the DOT's Solomonow said: "From the landmark pedestrian safety report to annual traffic fatality numbers to street-specific studies, there’s never been more safety data available for New Yorkers. This particular law requires not simply reporting statistics but then identifying locations and taking steps to make each even safer. In practice, this report goes above and beyond the law, documenting the engineering, designing, community outreach, scheduling and implementation efforts that have already brought community-supported safety redesigns to these locations. DOT continues to work overtime on safety, and not a single project has been delayed by this report, which we expect to be complete in a matter of weeks."
(UPDATED 11/2/12) The first Staten Island Ferry since Hurricane Sandy will depart at noon Friday, followed by half-hourly service in both directions.
New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan had Transportation Nation Thursday: "I'm hopeful that by tomorrow afternoon, I'll be talking to you live from the ferry terminal."
The city shut down ferry operations in advance of Hurricane Irene. Although the fleet wasn't harmed in the storm, the docks suffered damage.
Sadik-Khan also said high-occupancy vehicle restrictions would remain in place through midnight Friday. "Then we'll revisit it," she said, pending restoration of subway service.
The DOT has been working with the city's Metropolitan Transportation Authority to bridge the gap in subway service between Brooklyn and Manhattan, and has instituted special shuttle bus service and bus-only lanes to speed travel over the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges. Temporary bus lanes have also been set up on either side of the bridges on Third and Flatbush Avenues.
On a normal weekday, said Sadik-Khan, 728,000 people take the subway into Manhattan from the Jay Street, Atlantic Avenue/Barclays Center and Hewes Street subway stations. Over 200,000 people usually drive over the East River Bridges.
Sadik-Khan said the dedicated lanes were working. "Traffic was tough today," she said, "but it's pretty good flow considering the challenges that we face."
New York City's Department of Transportation says redesigned streets have been very, very good to small businesses.
A new report says that retail sales are up along city streets that have bike paths, pedestrian plazas, slow zones, or select bus service.
In some cases, the increase is dramatic: on Brooklyn's Pearl Street, where the DOT maintains retail sales have increased by 172 percent since a parking triangle was turned into a pedestrian plaza.
In Measuring the Street, the DOT lays out metrics for evaluating street redesign projects. These include benchmarks like injuries, traffic speed and volume. And now it includes retail sales data along redesigned routes.
The report casts the city's street redesign in a favorable light just as hundreds of planners descend on the city for the Designing Cities conference, happening this week at New York University.
"For the first time, we have years of retail sales that were reported to the Department of Finance, and we were able to look at that data and apply it directly to the SBS corridors, the bike lane projects, etc.," said DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.
Sadik-Khan ticked off a list of streets that she said economically benefited from being overhauled.
"On Fordham Road [in the Bronx], we saw the growth in the retail sales by local businesses -- and these are not chain stores -- grow 71 percent following the introduction of the SBS route there in 2008, which is three times the borough-wide growth rate."
The report says that along Ninth Avenue, retail sales are up 49 percent -- sixteen times the borough growth rate -- three years after that street's protected bike lane went in. Manhattan's Union Square, which was revamped in 2010, reports a lower commercial vacancy rate.
Sadik-Khan said the reason for increased sales is straightforward: if you build it, the people will come.
And presumably those people have wallets.
"We've seen anywhere between a 10 to 15 percent increase in ridership on all the SBS bus routes," Sadik-Khan said, "amid a citywide decline of 5 percent on bus routes." She said more riders along a route means more people getting on and off the bus, which means more foot traffic.
The DOT looked at sales tax records reported to the city's Department of Finance. The data excludes large chain stores and non-retail businesses.
(New York, NY -- WNYC) Eight months after a 12-year-old girl was killed crossing a street, safety upgrades have been completed at 14 locations along a notoriously dangerous street on Manhattan's Lower East Side.
New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan unveiled the revamped street on Thursday. The pedestrian crossings have been overhauled and car travel lanes have been re-engineered. Although the impetus for the redesign was the January 2012 death of Dashane Santana, over 700 people have been injured near that stretch of Delancey Street between 2006 and 2009.
Teresa Pedroza, Santana’s grandmother, said that while she's glad the street work has been completed, more could be done. “There are at least a good five or six schools in the immediate area,” Pedroza said. “You have at least eight lanes of traffic and there should be a crossing guard for these kids, especially when it’s time to come out of school.”
Sadik-Khan agreed that the redesign isn't enough -- but she wants more than a crossing guard. "We’re working hard to get speed camera legislation passed in Albany which will go a long way to help us address the problem of speeding and fatalities," she said, "which are a quarter of the traffic fatalities on New York City streets."
A recent city report revealed traffic fatalities are up 23 percent in New York City over a recent twelve-month period, although overall total traffic fatalities are down about 20 percent since 2003. The recent tick upward in New York mirrors a national trend. The federal government projects that traffic fatalities were up 9 percent in the first six months of this year.
Although no immediate reason was given for the increase, Sadik-Khan reiterated drivers need to obey the law. “The problem that we have on New York City streets is that people are speeding, they are running red lights, they are drinking while driving," she said. "These are all significant problems that we need to address.”
[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.
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.
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.
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.