“Streets that need repair” are identified as the number one problem for voters in New York State age 50 and over. | Source AARPNY
Back-to-back reports released this week by AARP and the New York State Comptroller take two different approaches to arrive at the same conclusion: New York’s infrastructure needs are not being met.
AARP’s report, 2014 State of the 50+ in New York State, surveyed New Yorkers aged 50 and older to determine their likelihood of staying in New York after retirement, and what factors would impact that decision. The survey revealed that:
- 60 percent are at least somewhat likely to leave New York after retiring; 27 percent extremely likely
- 66 percent would be more likely to stay if improvements were made to transportation
- 80 percent identified “streets that need repair” as a problem in their community
- 67 percent cited cars not yielding to pedestrians as a problem in their community
- 52 percent said public transportation was too far away, too limited or too hard to navigate
- 67 percent said they would “vote for a candidate working on maintaining safe and independent mobility around town”
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The Islip LIRR station parking lot during heavy rainfall on August 13. | Photo: MTA
One doesn’t have to look far to find New York State sewer and water projects that need funding. Just this past weekend, Newsday published an article about a denial of funding for the Bay Park Sewage Plant, a plant that [...]
An artist’s rendering of Sterling Forest Resort, a proposed resort casino in Tuxedo, NY. | Image: sterlingforestresort.com
“I believe casinos in upstate New York could be a great magnet to bring the New York City traffic up.”
Governor Cuomo’s declaration in this year’s State of the State address would seem to suggest that upstate casinos would be built in transit-accessible locations. Less than half of New York City households own a vehicle, so “to bring the New York City traffic up” to casinos beyond the limits of Metro-North would ostensibly require some investments in transit.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t look to be part of the plan. Too often, transit access, congestion and wear-and-tear on our roads are barely mentioned amidst the tax revenue ideology that accompanies economic development ventures. We’ve seen it before in New York, whether it’s the Governor’s effort to approve fracking, or the effort to lure New York City residents up to the Adirondacks (where there is no other option but to drive).
The June 30 deadline for casino applications brought 17 applicants vying for just four destination casino licenses in three upstate regions—the Catskills/Hudson Valley region, Eastern Southern Tier, and Capital Region. The final decision is expected to be made by the Gaming Facility Location Board, an appointed board with Cuomo-friendly appointees by the fall with casinos potentially opening as soon as 2015.
Some of the proposals submitted tout their proximity to public transit, while others propose significant expansions of the roadway system to bring customers directly to their door. Genting Americas is proposing a new Thruway Exit for a casino in Tuxedo, and Caesars Entertainment is offering to invest at least $20 million to improve traffic in the already burdened area near the proposed resort for Woodbury, “including funding a substantial portion of the long-delayed improvements to Exit 131 on the New York State Thruway.”
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State legislators voted in favor of allowing New York City to lower its default speed limit to 25 miles per hour in the 2014 legislative session. | Photo: AP via legislativegazette.com
It was an action-packed end-of-session for transportation advocates in Albany, with some squeaker wins as well as some disappointing losses which will no doubt be on next year’s sustainable transportation wish list.
A key victory this year came when the State Senate laid politics aside and granted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio a key component of his Vision Zero plan: the authority to lower the default speed limit to 25 mph throughout the five boroughs.
Assemblymember Danny O’Donnell was an early and effective champion in the Assembly, but in the Senate, passage was less certain when election year politics entered into the negotiations.
After a concerted campaign from Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets, the first positive sign of forward progress for the bill came with three days left in the legislative session when Senator Jeffrey Klein introduced an amended bill (S.7892) that included input from community boards. Passage was certainly not assured especially as it became clear that Senator Dean Skelos was prepared to block the bill for personal reasons, and when Senator Andrew Lanza also indicated he was not inclined to support the legislation. Ultimately, consensus was reached and the bill is expected to be signed by Governor Cuomo. The City has already begun to discuss how to implement its new local control.
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A 10-month-old was killed at this location when she and her pregnant mother, who was pushing her stroller, were struck by a vehicle while crossing Route 110. | Photo: Steve Pfost/Newsday
Governor Cuomo announced $75.6 million for 33 transportation projects across the state this week. The funding comes from the federal Highways Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), and projects were selected on a competitive basis. Over 60 percent of the projects announced will include some bicycle and pedestrian safety components, and all 13 projects selected in Long Island and New York City are focused on pedestrian and bicycling safety. Some projects that stand out:
- $2 million to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety along 4.3 miles of Ocean Parkway, one of Brooklyn’s most dangerous roads, by installing new traffic signals and pedestrian countdown signals, installing pedestrian refuge islands, prohibiting left turns at some intersections, upgrading curb ramps, signage and pavement markings.
- $3.2 million to make operational and pedestrian safety improvements on one of the region’s most dangerous roads, Route 110 in the Village of Amityville and the towns of Babylon and Huntington in Suffolk County. It includes widening existing crosswalks and adding 25 ADA-compliant new crosswalks, along with pedestrian countdown timers, new traffic signals and pedestrian refuges.
- $2 million to improve pedestrian crossings at 235 locations in the Hudson Valley, installing pedestrian countdown timers at traffic signals that have crosswalks and/or pedestrian crossing phases.
This announcement represents a big win for New Yorkers for Active Transportation, a statewide coalition that has advocated for a “fair share for safety” over the last couple of years. While the Federal Transportation Law, MAP-21, slashed dedicated funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects by 30 percent (a $12 million reduction for New York), it did almost double the apportionment of HSIP funding—a potentially key source of funding for pedestrian and cycling safety infrastructure.
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A recent screen shot from a drivers education course shows the tendency to blame vulnerable users.
Do you drive a motor vehicle in New York State? Have you ever wondered:
- How to safely negotiate bike lanes while driving?
- How to pass a bike on a rural road with a double-yellow line and oncoming traffic?
- What the “Due Care” law actually means?
Well, if you’re curious, you won’t find the answers in New York State’s Driver’s Education Manual. In fact, the 100+ page document only devotes two pages to “Sharing the Road” with bicyclists — a whopping 544 words, and 66 percent of those words are devoted to how bicyclists are supposed to act on the road, not drivers.
Contrast that with the fact that in 2012, over 60 percent of vehicle crashes with bicyclists in New York State were attributed to unsafe motorist behavior, and that pedestrians were involved in 25 percent of fatal motor vehicle crashes in the same year, more than twice the national average (11 percent). And while New York State does require a five-hour pre-licensing course and test before a new driver gets a license, the course curriculum and test are not required to address how vehicles can better navigate roads that are increasingly populated by vulnerable road users.
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