Today’s Headlines

  • RE: New York Has Angriest, Most Aggressive Drivers in U.S.

    I’m sure the high incidence of cab drivers has something to do with it. The reason they drive like maniacs is to make more money.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Times article on bicycle riders’ PR nightmare:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/16/nyregion/16entry.html?ref=nyregion

    I’m not sure I agree NY has the most aggressive drivers in the U.S. I’ve heard that said of many places.

  • Larry, I am beginning to believe in a Times-sponsored conspiracy to belittle cycling and cyclists. I feel that I am waiting in vain for a positive article about on-street riding. Their Tuesday cityroom blog series seems to be a kvetch-of-the-week feature, in which well-meaning cyclists respond to an endless series of provocations with honest complaints: “I have to towel dry before entering my office,” or “My bike got stolen out of the utility closet where I’d parked it.”

    I wish they’d do the same thing for automobilists:

    Headline: Aren’t We There Yet? Drivers inconvenience others with traffic delays, search for parking

    “I had to miss my morning teleconference because all three lanes on the Verrazano were blocked by an accident. Luckily my straphanger colleagues were able to cover for me and fill me in when I finally arrived.”

  • vnm

    Re parking tickets: I was walking to the train this morning on a garbage-filled street just as the street sweeper was going by. Two cars were parked on the side of the street where they were not supposed to be, blocking cleaning. A third guy was idling his minivan on that side, yelling over to someone on the other side of the street. The street sweeper just drove past the three parked/standing vehicles. As a result, half of a city block will be filled with litter until Friday. It’s disgusting. There was no one there to ticket these cars, or even give them one of those green window stickers informing them of their violation. I’d like to see stronger parking enforcement. Where is my City Council on this?

  • RE: Obama Admin Reportedly Looking to “Downsize” Mid-Size Cities

    They said the same thing about NYC in the 70s… That it would have to “shrink or die”. Yet… clearly it offered something that made the opposite happen. Maybe these dying rust-belt towns can figure out what that is before it’s too late.

  • J. Mork

    To expand on Rhywun’s comment, the way taxi fares are calculated now encourages them to speed whenever possible so they can sit as long as possible.

    The distance to any destination is what it is. But the more time they spend not moving, the higher the fare goes.

    Why not just do a straight time-based fare? This would encourage drivers to go as slow as possible.

  • Speeding Taxis

    Along with or instead of changing the fare structure, the city could also monitor taxi speeding via their GPS units and fine them based on that, and/or install speed radar cameras. The TLC can probably fine cabs for speeding based on speed camera evidence.

  • New York Has Angriest, Most Aggressive Drivers in U.S.: This is something I notice every time I travel abroad, especially when I return. Being back on the streets of NYC is like being thrust into a loony bin. It’s especially dispiriting after you’ve been in a city with a relaxing car-free city center. The only European drivers as nasty as New Yorkers are in Rome.

  • “Why not just do a straight time-based fare? This would encourage drivers to go as slow as possible.”

    That’s a terrible idea.

  • I have to speak up for taxi drivers. When I’ve been motoring in NY, I’ve noticed that the private drivers (like myself) are worse behaved than the taxi drivers. I attribute this to the relative amounts of time spent motoring by the two groups: the taxis spend the entire shift driving, so there’s no incentive to “save time” by driving aggressively. Private drivers are trying to get to appointments, so the faster they get there the less late they will be.

  • Re: Parking tickets.

    The claim that traffic agents and cops are handing out fraudulent tickets is just bunk.

    We’ve probably been issued 10 parking tickets over the last decade, either for letting the meter lapse or forgetting to move the car back after alternate-side rules had ended. The tickets may have been written one minute after the meter ticked or one minute after alt-side had ended, but the violations were legit (even the one for having a wheel on the curb, though that one ticked me off). We’ve never fought a ticket because each time, we had violated the parking rules.

    Has anyone here ever been issued a ticket that was actually cooked up?

  • Here’s an interesting one: “World Health Organization Examines Traffic as Health Hazard.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/16/world/16traffic.html

  • Ian Turner

    It would seem the right way to restructure the fare would be to include both distance and time, for the right blend of incentives. So you could compose the fare as follows:

    $2.50 flag fall
    $0.40 per 60 seconds, idle or otherwise
    $0.15 per 500 meters

    That fare structure would be equal to the one today if cabs drove an average of 16 miles per hour including waiting time.

  • Manhattan User

    The taxi fares are already structured to account for time. See:

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/tlc/html/passenger/taxicab_rate.shtml

    “The meter is required to be engaged or “hired” when a taxicab is occupied by anyone in addition to the driver

    Standard City Rate (Rate Code 1)
    $2.50 upon entry
    $0.40 for each additional unit
    The unit fare is:

    one-fifth of a mile, when the taxicab is traveling at 6 miles an hour or more; or
    60 seconds when not in motion or traveling at less than 12 miles per hour.
    The taximeter shall combine fractional measures of distance and time in accruing a unit of fare. Any combination of distance or time shall be computed by the taximeter in accordance with the National Bureau of Standards.
    The fare shall include pre-assessment of the unit currently being accrued; the amount due may therefore include a full unit charge for a final, fractional unit.
    Night surcharge of $.50 after 8:00 PM & before 6:00 AM
    Peak hour Weekday Surcharge of $1.00 Monday – Friday after 4:00 PM & before 8:00 PM”

  • James

    Re: the aggressive driving endemic to NYC, I think a distinction should probably be made between yellow cabs and gypsy cabs/livery vehicles. The latter are way, way more aggressive than the former and are just damned dangerous to be around at all times. But you know, it’s not just the cabs that are the issue. The most egregious offenders I see on a daily basis are motorists in private vehicles. The sense of entitlement, of “me first, screw you” is just jaw droppingly bad a lot of the time. To paraphrase the book “Traffic”, “civil society disappears behind when the wheel”. The rest of us are left to live with the ramifications of this disappearance every day in our neighborhoods.

  • Sorry, I don’t think yellow cabs are any better than other vehicles. I’ve come within a couple feet of being hit by them twice in the past month as they shot through intersections in the middle of the pedestrian interval with people crossing in front of me and behind me.

  • The World Health Organization study is huge — I hope that people pay attention to it. Really big news. The “money” quote from the NY Times story (link provided above by Steven):

    “Traffic injuries are the ninth leading cause of death worldwide, and public health experts say that without intervention they will rise to fifth within 20 years, surpassing AIDS and tuberculosis.”

    What a nightmare. And as pointed out in the headlines roll, almost half of these deaths are from the pedestrians, bicyclists (and motorcyclists) just trying to share the road. Can we hope that our health-conscious mayor, who among other things has endowed an entire school of public health (Johns Hopkins) wil pay attention? What about at the national level? Every transportation policy speech should reference the “9th Leading Cause of Death Worldwide” statistic as something to mitigate.

  • The unit fare is:

    one-fifth of a mile, when the taxicab is traveling at 6 miles an hour or more; or
    60 seconds when not in motion or traveling at less than 12 miles per hour.

    It looks like when the cab is going between 6 and 12 mph, the fare is calculated based on time and distance together. To encourage drivers to go slower, the city could increase the maximum for the time rate to 18 MPH.

  • Ian Turner

    The Brad Pitt story is likely aprocyphal, as the only citation available seems to be an AP story with no photo.

  • J. Mork

    Here’s a video of the Pitt thing. Could easily just be a prank, though, still.

    http://www.russiatoday.com/Art_and_Fun/2009-06-11/Meet_Brad_Pitt__in_Siberia_.html

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Traffic injuries are the ninth leading cause of death worldwide.”

    I have a suggestion — perhaps a project for Streetsblog.

    Network TV is hemmoraging money, and desperately trying to come up with cheap reality TV concepts to draw viewers. America’s Most Wanted and COPs, which pray on the fear of crime, and popular news-based examples.

    How about a weekly reality TV show based on aggregating local affiliate footage of horrible motor vehicle accidents?

    It could be a viceral, video equivalent of The Weekly Carnage, and called something like Death Race America. Life and auto insurance companies (but probably not auto companies) could be tapped for sponsors.

    After all, the auto manufacturers are cutting back their ads. So there’s a way to retaliate.

  • there’s no incentive to “save time” by driving aggressively

    Sure there is: $$

    I’ve been in enough cabs to see how dangerously they typically drive. And it’s very apparent that they’re doing so in order to maximize their profit. As for private cars, well, yeah, they drive more recklessly here than elsewhere, but in my experience, not as recklessly as cabbies.