The selection of Shorris as First Deputy Mayor and Bratton as Police Commissioner could be a positive sign for pedestrian and bicyclist safety in New York City. | Photos: Kristen Meriwether/Twitter; Todd Maisel/NY Daily News
Mayor-elect de Blasio’s appointment of William J. Bratton as NYPD Commissioner and Anthony Shorris as First Deputy Mayor could be an intentional signal to livable streets advocates that pedestrian and bicyclist safety will be a priority for the administration.
The Mayor-elect has noted that “one crash is too many.” The same goes for pedestrian and cyclist fatalities — because these are preventable deaths. Nearly 2,000 pedestrians have been fatally struck by cars in NYC since 2002, along with nearly 150 cyclists. The enforcement of speeding and reckless driving falls under the purview of the NYPD, so Bratton’s appointment is key to fulfilling de Blasio’s vision to reduce fatalities and injuries to zero. However, the philosophy for how streets balance the needs of residents, workers and visitors is established in City Hall, not at “1PP.”
Although it’s still unknown who will be the City’s next transportation commissioner, de Blasio’s appointment of Anthony Shorris to First Deputy Mayor is a positive sign. Shorris brings some strong transportation credentials to City Hall: he is a former director of NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and former Executive Director of the Port Authority of NY & NJ. Shorris also provided critical pedestrian safety research that resulted in NYC DOT’s groundbreaking Pedestrian Safety Study & Action Plan.
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NIMBYs are of concern for pro-park and pro-rail advocates. | Photo: Kathi Ko
Rail advocates make a splash at the Queensway public input meeting in Ozone Park. | Photo: Gregory Homatas
Shortly after this piece was published, we learned that New York Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder, along with faculty, students, and staff from the Queens College Urban Studies Department, will launch a community impact study to help assess the best use for the Rockaway Beach Line’s abandoned tracks.
Since MTR last visited the proposal to transform the abandoned LIRR Rockaway Beach Line (RBL) into a 3.5 mile elevated park (known as the Queensway), a feasibility study for the project has been launched with the support of state funding and private donations. The official project team includes the Trust for Public Land, Friends of the Queensway, and design consultants WXY Architecture and DLand Studio, and community outreach specialists the Hester Street Collaborative.
Over the course of the past two weeks, three public meetings have been held in the neighborhoods where the right-of-way runs (Woodhaven, Forest Hills and Ozone Park). These meetings provided no shortage of evidence that the project continues to live up to its title as the city’s “most controversial potential park,” with tensions rising between Queensway park advocates and “no-way Queensway” opponents who would prefer to leave the right-of-way as-is.
Meanwhile, a third group has been organizing rallies, forums and petition drives to garner support behind not converting the railway, but reactivating it. These railway reactivation advocates have been working to educate the public about how reintroducing rail service to the Rockaway Beach Line would benefit transit-starved communities in southern Queens and the Rockaways.
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A “vision zero” approach to traffic enforcement, including strategies discussed by former New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton yesterday, should be adopted by communities throughout the region — not just in New York City. | Photo: Kate Hinds/WNYC
There’s been a good deal of media attention given to a Vision Zero approach to reduce pedestrian fatalities on New York City streets. But, with new data showing pedestrian fatalities increasing in some places in the tri-state region, a Vision Zero approach must take root in the region as well.
According to data released last week by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle deaths in the United States increased last year, from 32,479 fatalities in 2011 to 33,561 deaths in 2012. But, pedestrian fatalities increased at a greater rate than motor vehicle deaths. In 2012, 4,743 pedestrians were killed on the nation’s roadways, a 6.4 percent increase from 2011 (4,457). As Streetsblog points out,“Pedestrian and bicyclist deaths rose faster than the overall rate [of motor vehicle deaths]— 6.4 and 6.5 percent, respectively…Walking and biking are becoming more dangerous relative to driving.”
While TSTC’s annual analysis, Most Dangerous Roads for Walking, will be released early 2014, preliminary analysis of the three years from 2009 through 2011 (the time period of our last analysis) and 2010 through 2012 shows mixed progress:
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They said Citi Bike would bring “total carnage” to the streets.
We were warned that bike share in New York would be “hell on wheels.”
“Experts“ told us that “It’s, like, super dangerous to ride a bike in the city.”
But so far, not a single bike share user has been killed in New York between Citi [...]
Today is the one year anniversary of the day after Sandy. Relief was at the forefront of people’s minds, but it was also a new beginning: it was the day the region began to think about how to rebuild better and stronger.
Although the region’s transportation infrastructure was dealt a series of incredible blows, we can look back one year later with a better understanding of our transportation system’s vulnerabilities, as well as more insight into how state and local governments can improve our transportation infrastructure to become more sustainable and more resilient against future storms. It’s obvious that Sandy presented the region a whole host of challenges, but damage from the storm also presented opportunities:
A chance to plan and rebuild smarter. The last 12 months have seen a variety of new ideas about how to weather-proof buildings and infrastructure. Now that we’ve seen what kind of havoc storms can cause, we must use this rebuilding opportunity to be better prepared for the next storm. Sandy wiped out roads in low-lying coastal areas, which has presented communities with an opportunity to rebuild them in a way that is able to withstand storm surges and provide real transportation choices like walking and biking that keep people moving not only in the time of crisis but also every day.
Another reason to learn how to ride a bike. Riding a bike is a great way to get around, especially when subways are shut down due to flooding. Bicycle ridership skyrocketed in New York City in the days following Sandy.
A wake-up call to refocus on fix-it-first. Sandy took a heavy toll on roads, rails and bridges, which should serve as a wake-up call to state governments: before wasting money on highway widening projects, existing infrastructure must be in a state of good repair and able to withstand wind, rain and flooding.
A reminder that planning is only as good as execution. N.J. Transit failed to follow its own storm plan, and they paid the price with 273 railcars and 70 engines that were destroyed by flooding. The Brooklyn Navy Yard, where yet-to-be-launched Citi Bike equipment was being stored, saw six feet of flooding, which damaged “the bikes—and their circuitry-filled docking stations,” delaying the full first phase of the Citi Bike rollout.
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Tri-State came across this 1937 children’s alphabet book, The ABC of City Planning (hat tip to the Citizens Housing and Planning Council) published by New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia’s Committee on City Planning. The book, CHPC writes, was “intended to instill understanding and enthusiasm in children for the city’s built environment.”
Some of the book’s entries [...]
Many U.S. cities, including Albany, NY (pictured), have established residential parking permit programs. | Photo: Cindy Schultz/Times Union
On-street parking on residential streets is free throughout New York City, which makes finding a place to park incredibly difficult in some neighborhoods, and provides an incentive for owning a vehicle. In a dense, congested city like New York, it seems counter-productive to allocate so much public space to cars without asking vehicle owners to pay at least something for it.
So far, efforts to implement a residential parking permit (RPP) program in New York have been thwarted despite advocates repeatedly calling for such a measure. But that doesn’t mean the conversation is over. Here are five reasons why the next Mayor should revisit the idea of an RPP program:
1. Everybody else is doing it. Certainly not the best reason to do something, but it’s worth noting that just about every other major American city has a residential parking permit program. Some of them even charge money for them. In Washington D.C. permits are just $35 a year for most vehicles registered in the District, while San Francisco, whose residential permits are the most expensive in the United States, charges $109 per year (30 cents per day). That’s still a bargain compared to what you’d pay for garage parking in New York City.
2. People are willing to pay for it. According to a recent study, about half of New Yorkers said they would be willing to pay $408 a year on average if it meant that finding parking near their homes would be easier.
3. It will reduce congestion. As Seinfeld‘s George Costanza famously said about parking, “Why should I pay, when if I apply myself, maybe I could get it for free?” Turns out, a lot of us are just like George. Drivers who are looking for somewhere to park account for 28 to 45 percent of traffic in places where on-street parking is under-priced (or in this case, free).
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Despite testimony from safe streets advocates, the NYPD does not support the creation of a city-wide crash map. | Photo: Ken Maldonado/Times-Ledger
To paraphrase the Talking Heads: Heaven is a place where the data’s good.
Unfortunately, Heaven is not in the tri-state area.
Coverage of last Thursday’s New York City Council transportation committee hearing on Intro 1163-2013, a bill that would create a city-wide crash map, highlighted NYPD’s ambivalence to taking a data driven approach to improve safety of all users of NYC’s roads.
According to Transportation Nation, the NYPD is concerned that:
- “the bill doesn’t define the term ‘traffic crash’ or distinguish between ‘reported’ and ‘unreported.’”
- Using the current DMV form, crash locations are recorded as occurring at an intersection (even if the crash occurred down the block).
- “A map would require the NYPD to collect information not contained in its standard DMV collision report” and
- “The bill would add “new and potentially complicated elements” to the in-the-works crime map.”
Fortunately, these concerns shouldn’t prevent the NYPD from supporting the crash map legislation. In fact, addressing some of them would make data more useful for advocates, who have testified that better data can create a safer city – and that the data the NYPD currently provides for the public is “garbage.”
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After the horrific incident that led to the maiming of British tourist Sian Green in August, and the recent news of the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission’s oversight that kept 4,500 dangerous drivers on the road, you’d expect better behavior than this from New York City cabbies.
(Yes, that’s a portable television [...]
Photo: Surveillance video via NY Daily News
A 19-year-old cyclist struck actress Nicole Kidman on a sidewalk outside a Manhattan hotel yesterday, knocking her to the ground. Fortunately for Kidman, she was only a little shaken up after the crash, and was able to walk away without any serious injuries (though she’s still [...]