CTfastrak, Connecticut’s new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, is rapidly gearing up for its opening day early next spring. The new service will provide a connection between the cities of New Britain and Hartford along an exclusive dedicated busway. In preparation for CTfastrak’s launch, ConnDOT is ramping up its public outreach to help potential […]
Before we succumb to the increasingly aggressive Christmas creep, we’d like to take a moment to honor another important holiday coming up. No, not National Cookie Day (but that’s coming up on December 4 — mark your calendar). We’re talking, of course, about Thanksgiving.
We’ve got a lot to be thankful for here at MTR, like New York City’s lower default speed limit, the passage of a vulnerable users bill in Connecticut, and New Jersey legislators pushing forward Port Authority transparency. And while some may be thankful for declining Thanksgiving gas prices, it’s worth noting that the number of travelers is skyrocketing.
Yes, there are plenty of reasons to be thankful, but we’d be a lot more thankful if:
Traffic deaths weren’t a requirement for getting safety improvements on our streets — “Let’s wait until someone is struck and killed before we make traffic safety improvements,” said no one ever. But unfortunately, that’s often what it takes to get local governments to fix unsafe street conditions.
New York and New Jersey’s elected officials had to commute via bus or train — We feel pretty confident that if the Port Authority Bus Terminal or Penn Station were part of the daily commute for our states’ leaders, the Gateway Project would be moving forward with real funding, the city’s bus terminals would receive more than a one percent funding priority in the Port Authority capital program, and NJ Transit service would be more reliable.
Connecticut cities started acting like cities — Hartford is planning to add over 1,400 new parking spots in the Downtown North district, New Haven’s Route 34 West project looks like something you’d see in a suburban office park, and Stamford’s new Street Smart program doesn’t address the downtown area’s wide arterials that shun pedestrians and bicyclists.
New Jersey drivers were any good at math – We can’t help but add to the pile of disparaging things that have been said about New Jersey drivers. Increasing the state’s gas tax—the second lowest in the nation—by 25 cents per gallon would cost the average driver an additional $292 each year. Last we checked, that’s less than half of what the average NJ driver pays in extra repair costs due to poor roads.
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Simsbury moved up from Bronze to Silver in 2014’s rankings. | Image: simsbury-ct.gov
Two Connecticut cities were named Bicycle Friendly Communities by the League of American Bicyclists this week. Both New Haven and New Britain received Bronze-level designations, joining Farmington, South Windsor and West Hartford.
The Bicycle Friendly Communities program evaluates communities based on how welcoming they are to cycling from the entry level (Bronze) to all-star (Diamond). Bicycle Friendly Communities often have Complete Streets policies, active cyclists groups, bike lanes, relatively low crash rates, and higher than average percentages of people who regularly bike to work.
New Haven‘s selection as a Bicycle Friendly Community is an obvious one: the Elm City has strong local bike advocates, adopted the state’s first local Complete Streets policy, published its own Complete Streets design manual, and has had visionary leadership in its Department of Transportation for the last several years. Former Director of Transportation Jim Travers launched the City’s Street Smarts campaign and oversaw a tenfold increase in marked bike routes, while his successor, Doug Hausladen, is seeking to speed up the implementation of traffic calming projects and separated bicycle facilities.
New Britain launched a bike connectivity study in 2013 and has been working on promoting its bicycle-friendliness in recent months. With CTfastrak — the region’s first true bus rapid transit system — set to open in 2015, local leaders see the benefit of an improved cycling network in becoming a more multi-modal — and less car-oriented — community.
The Town of Simsbury, which became a Bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community in 2010, was the only Connecticut town that advanced in the rankings this year, becoming the first in the state to receive the League’s Silver designation.
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Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, a proponent of transit-oriented development and improved rail service, won a close race for reelection. | blog.ctnews.com
Now that the votes have been counted, it’s safe to say there’s plenty of bad news for sustainable transportation policy across the nation: Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, a known climate change denier, is poised to lead the Environment and Public Works Committee, Wisconsin Governor (and avid highway expander) Scott Walker won reelection, and Massachusetts failed to defeat a ballot measure which ends gas tax indexing.
But if you look hard enough, you’ll find there’s some good news too.
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Central Connecticut’s forthcoming commuter rail system, until today known as the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Rail Program, is being branded as the “Hartford Line” according to a press release from Governor Malloy’s office today.
This is the second time Connecticut officials have rebranded a transportation service in the years prior to launching. In 2012, the State officially renamed […]
Enforcement is crucial for boosting safety, but should be combined with traffic calming to have a lasting impact. | Photo: Brian A. Pounds/ Connecticut Post
Bridgeport officials are considering infrastructure changes, such as roundabouts and curb extensions, like the one seen here. | Image: NACTO
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch announced this week that the city is launching a comprehensive safe streets initiative. Seven pedestrians have been killed by drivers in Bridgeport since 2010. Bridgeport is the second Connecticut city to announce a street safety campaign in as many months. In September, Stamford Mayor David Martin unveiled the Stamford Street Smart campaign.
At first blush, the two efforts appear to have a lot in common. Mayor Finch — who participated in a walking audit with Tri-State in 2013 — described Bridgeport’s campaign as a “multipronged approach” focused on education, enforcement and investment, while Mayor Martin called Stamford Street Smart a “multi-faceted approach” that focuses on education, enforcement and engineering. Both campaigns began with crackdowns on distracted driving, and both include efforts to curb so-called “jaywalking.”
Both Bridgeport and Stamford also plan to address the physical condition of their streets, but how they’ll go about doing so is where there’s a more distinct difference between the two initiatives.
The engineering component of Stamford Street Smart is somewhat limited. Making sure signs are visible at intersections, re-painting crosswalks and synchronizing traffic signals are certainly good ideas, but not something to brag about. In other cities, these measures would be considered part of regular maintenance.
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Bridgeport, CT Mayor Bill Finch | Photo: bridgeportct.gov
A weekly roundup of good deeds, missteps, heroic feats and epic failures in the tri-state region and beyond.
Bridgeport, CT Mayor Bill Finch – The mayor unveiled a comprehensive safe streets campaign in the city which include short and long-term infrastructure improvements and increased enforcement.
NYPD 78th Precinct – The Park Slope precinct replaced a parking spot in front of the building’s entrance with a bike corral.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams – After seven years with Tri-State, our Associate Director Ryan Lynch will now serve as Policy Director to Borough President Adams.
New York City Department of City Planning – After three years with Tri-State, our Staff Analyst Kathi Ko will now serve as a planner for the Queens Department of Planning.
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Regional Plan Association is in the process of developing its Fourth Regional Plan, which is a “multiyear initiative to create a blueprint for our region’s growth, sustainability, good governance and economic opportunity for the next 25 years.” As part of this process, RPA has partnered with Partnership for Strong Communities, Siemens and the Connecticut Chapter of […]