State law says New York City can lower speeds on streets within a 1/4 mile of school. That's 55% of city's streets -- including 3/4 of those in Manhattan and more than 2/3 of those in Brooklyn and The Bronx. WNYC/Transportation Nation mapped the streets, as momentum builds for a law to restrict driving speeds to 20 mph in parts of the city.
A day after an emotionally brutal hearing about New York City's speed limit -- which highlighted the toll vehicle deaths take upon families -- a former city official explained one reason parking ticket enforcement is more common than speeding tickets.
The New York Police Department issued 736 tickets for speeding over the weekend in what it called a "speed enforcement initiative." It is unclear if this marks a shift in traffic policing policy, or a one-off effort.
Speeding is rampant in Brooklyn, according to a new study from the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives. When surveyors clocked the speed of passing cars on Brooklyn neighborhood streets, they found 88 percent were breaking the posted limit.
(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.
Top stories on TN:
Mitt Romney: metro-friendly moderate? (Link)
NY's governor signed the MTA tax reduction into law. (Link)
Northern states are looking for eco-friendly road de-icers. (Link)
Protesters disrupt West Coast ports. (Link)
The GOP is tying the payroll tax cut extension to the Keystone pipeline. (WNYC)
The Los Angeles MTA released a one-year action plan to address civil rights violations cited in a federal audit. (Los Angeles Times)
The New York MTA’s final 2012 budget plan won’t restore any of the bus or subway service officials eliminated last year. (New York Daily News)
A group of senators is pushing to extend the commuter tax benefit before it runs out. (The Hill)
The transportation plan for the new Miami Marlins stadium remains incomplete -- four months before opening day. (Atlantic Cities)
And: The city of Miami --which owns the stadium -- has yet to lease any of the store and restaurant spaces in the new ballpark's parking garages. "The city administration’s effort to fill 53,000 square feet of commercial space in the publicly owned parking garages flanking the stadium has barely gotten off the ground." (Miami Herald)
The City of Chicago is introducing broad changes to its taxi industry regulations. (WBEZ)
An article about Finland's education system yielded this factoid: "Speeding tickets are calculated according to income." (New York Times)
Cities and counties across Texas are increasingly demanding that drunken-driving suspects who refuse to take breathalyzer tests submit to blood tests. (Wall Street Journal)
Colorado decides today whether to make energy companies list all the chemicals they use to do hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. But environmentalists want them to disclose much more. (Marketplace)
Mobile speed cameras in Maryland are racking up ticket money from nailing drivers who speed through work zones. (Washington Post)
Check out an 1896 map of California bike routes. (LA Curbed)
New York City unveiled a new tactic to combat speeding on local streets Monday: the Slow Zone. The city has long been pushing an awareness campaign with billboards and even lighted skeleton signs to scare speeders into easing up on the gas pedal. The Claremont section of the Bronx became the first neighborhood in the city to get a new streetscape designed to slow drivers down.
NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said, "one in four traffic fatalities involved unsafe speed. A pedestrian struck by a car going 40 m.p.h. has a 70 percent chance of dying while a pedestrian stuck by a car going 20 m.p.h. has a 95 percent chance of surviving. Making neighborhoods safer can be as simple as reducing the speed on our residential streets.” As Streetsblog points, similar slow zones in London have proven effective at lowering accidents.
The roughly 30-square-block residential neighborhood in an often overlooked section of the Bronx has fresh lane markers to make streets feel narrower to cars while making room for cyclists. The new 20 m.p.h. speed limit is painted across the width of streets at the entrance to the Zone and reinforced on highly visible stanchions (pictured above). According to a map of the zone released by the DOT, nine new speed bumps have been installed as well, making speed reductions somewhat of a requirement for cars passing through.
The DOT announcement says:
"Claremont was selected for its relatively high frequency of serious traffic crashes and for the area’s definable boundaries that could be easily marked for a zone. Between 2005 and 2009 there was one fatality in the largely residential area, which also houses six schools... Slow Zones are also expected to reduce cut-through traffic and traffic noise in residential neighborhoods."
The Slow Zone's were announced last year as part of a broader plan to tackle speeding, including the installation of 1,500 speed bumps around the five boroughs.
The DOT has established a system for communities to nominate themselves as future Slow Zones as well.
(New York, NY - Jim O'Grady, WNYC) New York City is warning drivers that speeding could mean death.
Drivers who exceed the speed limit in two city neighborhoods will soon see the words "SLOW DOWN" and the image of a skeleton flashed on electronic signs by the side of the road. As long as a driver obeys the city's 30 mph speed limit, no skeleton will appear.
The signs have been placed along stretches of Bruckner Boulevard in the Bronx and Richmond Avenue in Staten Island – roads that, respectively, were shown by a DOT study to have 96 percent and 66 percent of motorists speeding.
"We're playing with people's lives," Bloomberg said of speeding vehicles. He then cited global statistics on traffic fatalities: "About 148 people die in road traffic deaths every single hour. I think it's 1.3 million people a year. This is going to be the fifth largest killer in the world in another few years."
City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan joined Bloomberg at the press conference, which took place at the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan — a spot that had once been a traffic lane but is now a protected pedestrian island.
She said the department will test a new slow-speed driving zone in the Claremont section of the Bronx, which has a high concentration of schools and vehicle crashes per square mile. The largely residential neighborhood will get a 20 mile per hour speed limit this summer — the lowest in the city.
Sadik-Khan said driving only 10 miles per hour above the city's 30 miles per hour speed limit can mean the difference between life and death: "If a pedestrian is hit by a car going 40 miles per hour, there's a 70 percent chance that pedestrian is going to die," she said. "If a pedestrian is hit by a car at 30 miles per hour, there's an 80 percent chance that pedestrian will live."
Bloomberg said if the slow-speed zone and the skeleton signs prove effective, more will be set up in other neighborhoods in the city.
More on the political implications of volatile gas prices--as well as oil company subsidies--from the Wall Street Journal. The Takeaway talks about what -- if anything -- Congress can do to lower them.
Cabbies say the reason they often refuse to take passengers to New York's outer boroughs is because of their bottom line. (WNYC)
USA Today looks at suburbanization, and says most of the growth is happening on opposite ends of the suburban expanse: in older communities closest to the city and in the newer ones that are the farthest out.
The first crash test evaluations of the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf earned the cars high safety ratings from the IIHS; AP video below.
Speaking of EVs: an unmodified Nissan Leaf is entering a steep hill climb race. (Inhabitat)
An audit found that Los Angeles is losing up to $15 million in revenue because the city barely captures half of the parking fines owed to it. (Los Angeles Times)
North Dakota became the 31st state to ban texting while driving. (Grand Forks Herald)
Utah lawmakers have scheduled a vote on whether to overturn the governor's veto of a bill that dedicates a portion of the state sales tax to transportation. (Daily Herald)
NYC DOT puts a digital speed detector at an intersection in Staten Island because "two out of every three cars were exceeding the speed limit," according to commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. (Staten Island Advance)
Transparency watch: NY's MTA has a board meeting this morning at 9:30am; you can watch it here.
Despite moving forward on creating their own electric vehicles, the head of BMW says he doesn't think EVs are right for more than 10% of the population. (Fast Company)
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In case you missed it on Transportation Nation:
--The NYPD ticketed cyclists for not riding in a bike lane (link)
--BART wants rider input on new seat design (link)
--TN's Andrea Bernstein will be at the NYC Transit Museum tonight to talk about the past -- and future -- of Penn Station (link)
(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) The Central Park Conservancy, the nonprofit responsible for caring for New York's Central Park, is removing the confusing signs that led Police to ticket nine cyclists improperly for speeding Tuesday. What's more, the NYPD took the unusual step of making house calls to apologize for the erroneous citations.
While the speed limit is actually 25 mph, decades-old signs wrongly posted that the speed limit is 15 mph. Police said they had followed those old signs.
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Early Tuesday morning, police set up a radar speed trap in Central Park. They snagged 10 cyclists for going over the posted speed limit for bicycles of 15 m.p.h. during the car free hours of the park. David Regen was one of them. He was surprised to get pulled over just after one of the park's biggest hills.
"I've been riding in Central Park probably for 25 years and I've never been stopped by a police officer for anything before," he said. What was more unusual though, was what happened 13 hours later around dinnertime when police showed up at his door and told him he was treated unfairly and withdrew the ticket.
"I thought it was extraordinary that they came, physically to my door, that two officers came to my door to tell me this," he said.
Listen to an interview with Regen:
NYPD took the proactive step of personally visiting the cited cyclists to withdraw the tickets after they realized the summonses were issued as motor vehicle violations under the Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) when they should have been summonses for violating park regulations.
New Jersey Transit is considering a future expansion of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail over the Bayonne Bridge into Staten Island; a Port Authority spokesman said it's far too early to say whether it's a realistic proposition. (Jersey Journal) (More on the upcoming Bayonne Bridge work can be found here.)
Missouri approves new rules for speeding and red light cameras on state roads. The key phrase: "regulate," not "eliminate." (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
KALW takes a look at BART's new year resolutions--and previews what transportation changes will be coming in 2011 for the Bay Area. Will BART operate 24 hours a day? Stay tuned...
A state panel votes to replace Texas Transportation Commission with a single chief. "I see this as being an almost Cabinet-level-like appointment," says the panel's vice chair. (Dallas Morning News)
A New Jersey lawmaker has introduced a bill that would require bicycles to have license plates; bike advocates are not amused. So far, no one else has signed on to the bill. (NorthJersey.com)
Do London's bike superhighways boost cycling? Streetsblog says yes.
Top Transportation Nation stories that we're following: it snowed -- and New York City didn't grind to a halt. One weapon in the war against snow: GPS devices on snowplows. Meanwhile, in Houston, a state vs. county battle is brewing over who will build the Grand Parkway -- a 180-mile ring around the city that will traverse seven counties. And: author Tony Hiss talks about his new book, In Motion: The Experience of Travel.
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(New York, NY -- Jim O'Grady, WNYC) New York City's Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, was the keynoter at the Transportation Alternatives Speeding Summit today, pledging a major new public health emphasis on urban design.
"After quitting smoking, there's probably no behavior that promotes health more than regular physical activity," Farley said. "Okay, that's great. So what are we going to do about that? To me, the answer to that is thoughtful urban design and transportation infrastructure. "
Though the NYC Health Department last summer released a report saying 25 children's lives are saved a year because fewer New York City children ride in cars than in other cities, most of New York's traffic safety campaign has rested on the shoulders of NYC DOT, and its commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan.
It's Sadik-Khan who's taken fire from protesters, like Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, and more recently, some orthodox Jews in Brooklyn's Borough Park. But Farley signaled that with a report coming out Monday on traffic injuries and urban design, he'll join Sadik-Khan in promoting public health benefits of slower driving speeds and more pedestrian-friendly environments.
Farley also said he would send staff to community board meetings to explain the safety benefits of bike lanes.
(Kate Hinds, WNYC/Transportation Nation) “Many New Yorkers do not even know what the speed limit is,” said New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. Speaking today at the intersection where Broadway, Amsterdam Avenue and West 71st Street meet in a notorious “bow-tie” configuration, she said that the city and the New York Police Department are kicking off an enforcement campaign designed to make the streets safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers.
(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) On a day with competing rallies about the controversial bike lane that the city installed on Prospect Park West in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, the city's Department of Transportation released some data that it says shows the two-way, protected bike lane is doing what it was meant to do--slow traffic and get bicyclists off the sidewalks.
A city DOT spokesperson said today that preliminary data shows that BEFORE the bike lane, three out of four cars on Prospect Park West were speeding. The agency says that number has dropped to one in seven. And the DOT says almost half of all cyclists used to ride on the sidewalk. That number has decreased to four percent.
The city notes that the lane was installed at the request of the local community board.
A PDF of the city's data can be found here: Prospect Park West Bike Lane Preliminary Data