Today’s Headlines

  • State Senate Deigns to Confirm Jay Walder as MTA Chief (Daily Politics, NYT, News, 2nd Ave Sagas)
  • NYC Even More Vulnerable to Rising Sea Levels Than Other Coastal Cities (WSJ)
  • IBO: City Will Lose Out on Atlantic Yards Subsidies (City Room, AYR, News, Bklyn Paper)
  • Forbes Interviews JSK. Did You Know DOT Has a Training Academy for Community Boards?
  • Some Merchants Still Groping for a Reason to Disapprove of Eighth Ave Bike Lane (Chelsea Now)
  • Irene Lo Re Complains to Post About Parking Reform on Brooklyn’s Fifth Ave
  • What Sort of Person Takes an Anti-Bike Group Named "CARR" Seriously? (Villager)
  • Brooklyn Bridge Rehab Will Divert Traffic to Lots of Places, Especially Chrystie Street (Tribeca Trib)
  • UES Home of Wall Street Genius Includes 12-Car Garage (Biz Insider via Infrastructurist)
  • An Encouraging Experiment on Market Street: Less Traffic, Better Public Spaces (Streetsblog SF)

More headlines over at Streetsblog Capitol Hill.

  • Oh Irene, haven’t you noticed that it’s your employees who are the ones parking at the meters, not your customers?

  • J. Mork

    [NYT Fort Greene Blog]
    September 10, 2009, 5:59 pm
    Ask the Candidates: Cars and Traffic
    By The Local

    Should drivers continue to have the right to park in any neighborhood and cross bridges for free? Here are the unedited responses from City Councilwoman Letitia James and challenger Medhanie Estiphanos to two readers’ questions.

    Answers at http://fort-greene.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/10/ask-the-candidates-cars-and-traffic/

  • Larry Littlefield

    “The landmark 126-year-old bridge is in dire need of repair, according to the city’s Department of Transportation. Its concrete roadway is cracked and worn. Its approaches and off-ramps are far too narrow to accommodate the 145,000 vehicles using the bridge each day, and much of the metalwork on the bridge—the anchorages, joints and railings—needs to be replaced and painted. ‘If we don’t do something about it soon, it’s going to have some huge problems.'”

    Damn it…did anyone hear anyone saying the bridge’s metalwork — which hasn’t been painted in 30 years — would need to be replaced until they decided to start this project? What else is being allowed to fall apart, and covered up? This is a freaking outrage.

    I’ve said that no one is going to make an announcement when deferred maintenance re-commences. If Generation Greed wants to suck more out to destroy our future, it is hardly going to admit it, even to itself. Things will work out. Children are resiliant, and well be a senior citizens as well, they tell themselves.

    I can recall two discussions of the bridge’s condition. The first was then all of a sudden a metal arch appeared in Lower Manhattan, to prevent part of the bridge from collapsing, with no notice, review or discussion. They didn’t happen to have an arch that fit perfectly sitting around did they? The rest of the bride was sound, they said.

    The second is when there was some kind of bridge anniversary, and I used the occasion to point out that every piece of metal I could see on the bridge was rusting away, leaving a little less bridge every second to support the bridge into the far off future.

    Did I miss something?

    There is always plenty of discussion of “I want for me now.” Somehow, later is always kept quiet. They need to tell the truth about what later will be like.

  • Larry Littlefield

    May I say further that there used to be crews that painted bridges, starting at one end, painting the whole structure, then starting over. When did painting become a “capital expenditure” that wasn’t done unless it could be borrowed for?

  • Coney

    This CARR nut job gets bonus points for getting Shoot the Freak into this hyperventilating rant about bad bicyclists.

  • The Forbes interview contains a transcription error:

    So what we did is spent a lot of time teaching how we make decisions. And here are some other things that you might ask for. Maybe you want to ask for a traffic common, maybe you want to ask for a speed bump, maybe you want to ask for, so that it’s more of an iterative process going forward.

    I’m pretty sure she said “ask for traffic calming.”

    Also, Forbes uses the heading “Emerald City” for a section talking about Sadik-Khan’s “notion of a greater, greener city.” If we’re the Emerald City, does that mean that Irene Lo Re and Judi Pheiffer are munchkins?

  • Carice

    Hmmm, so bike lanes encourage lounging? Sign me up for more bike lanes!

    “D.O.T.’s focus is on the establishment of bike lanes, which are causing controversy, and encouraging people to lounge in lawn chairs in Times Square”

    Just one of the more bizarre ramblings in that article

  • rlb

    — Committee members asked for toll-free passage on the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel during lane closures on the bridge, a move they said might prevent detoured traffic from tying up the toll-free Manhattan Bridge.

    “The possibility of making the [tunnel] available for free during that time, and only during that time, would seem to make sense,” committee member Paul Hovitz said. “It would take a lot of the brunt off of the streets that the traffic exits onto.” —

    There has to be a better way.

  • Rlb, the better way would be to make all East River bridges and tunnels cost the same amount. But Hovitz’s idea is really, how should I put it? uninformed about the nature of supply and demand.

  • NM

    So the CARR letter was a little over the top. (“Homegrown terrorism?” Wow.) Still, I’m not sure it’s fair to call them anti-bike. As far as I can tell, they’ve asked only for safer riding. I support increased enforcement, since every time I see a cyclist flying through a crowded crosswalk against the light I know that New Yorkers will hate us that much more and will not support the bike lanes and infrastructure we need to ride safely.

    Upsetting drivers is one thing – they are going to be bothered every time we are using ‘their’ space on the street and they have to slow down a bit, and they and their votes are few compared to pedestrians. But if we’re pissing off the average pedestrian, we’re doing something wrong. Pedestrians (and by that I mean ‘everyone’) are not stupid – if cyclists stop at a light, check for pedestrians and oncoming cars and THEN noodle carefully through the light (much like the average jaywalker does), I don’t think you’d see this kind of reaction. And if it’s hard to stop because we have clipless pedals and no-brake fixies . . . maybe those were never designed for city riding.

  • Judi Pheiffer, owner of Bob and Judi’s Coolectibles on Fifth Avenue, said increased parking rates make strolling along the neighborhood’s commercial strips a thing of the past. “People are running in and out of stores rather than leisurely shopping,” she said.

    I walk by Bob and Judi’s three or four times a week because my gym is at the corner of their block, and I’m very inclined to go inside today and give her a piece of my mind. For lack of a better word, that’s utter bullsh*t. Few people are driving along 5th Ave. to go into their store. Most people who stop in are walking. This idiocy angers me, and I guess I should add theirs to the list of places I won’t shop.

  • I don’t understand the Aunt Suzie’s lady, she had a “Free Air for Bikes” sign out front of the restaurant all summer. Is that supposed to make me feel better about her calling to remove traffic safety markings for vulnerable road users?
    There seems to be no interest in the prevention of double parking on 5th, which is rampant all along that stretch from 20th street to Flatbush- what parked car is actually being inconvenienced there? I haven’t done a study, but cars do seem to sit for hours as it is, and the bike lane is (by their inaction) an NYPD sanctioned drop-off or standing-anytime zone.
    Also why would a business owner fight turnover?
    With all the residents in the walkable area, I wonder about the percentage of diners who actually drive to eat on 5th?

  • The reality is that only a small percentage of the customers patronizing Brooklyn’s Fifth Avenue businesses are coming by car. DOT’s intercept study before the implementation of ParkSMART, and a corresponding merchant survey (which only the Community Bookstore on 7th Avenue participated in in earnest, the others claiming to be too busy or that it was too disruptive) indicated that about 5% of patrons were coming by car. The figure for restaurants alone is probably a bit higher, and for non-restaurants, probably lower. But I haven’t encountered a merchant yet who can point to any data about their customers’ travel modes.

    Irene, at least, favors extending the hours for meter-parking later into the night, which would help make parking easier for restaurant patrons. Personally, I’d have one-hour parking in effect until 6 pm, and then two-hour parking between 6 and 10 pm, so people wouldn’t have to feed the meter again between their entrees and desserts.

  • brent

    NM- I agree that many cyclists in NY exercise terrible riding habits, but regardless, the article is totally anti-bicycle because it exaggerates the threat cyclists pose to pedestrians. Jack Brown gives several statistics of cyclists running lights, riding the wrong way, etc. Then he says these numbers do, “not indicate the deaths.” The argument of your article, Mr Brown, is that cyclists are a threat to the lives of others, thus you should take the time to research this more meaningful statistic. I guarantee it is an insignificant number. He uses the same unfortunate example of a pedestrian who was struck and killed by a delivery cyclist that seams to be one of the few instances these ranters can ever come up with. Meanwhile, people are killed by reckless drivers in NY practically every day.

    One thing I found interesting in the article was that there is a lawsuit against the catering company who employed the delivery bicyclist. If they are able to do that in one of the rare and sensational cases when a cyclist kills someone, is it possible to sue a company that uses delivery automobiles that cause death or injury? There would be lots of those cases.

    Wow, I’ve never seen the anti livable streets http://www.commuteroutrage.com before. This is some real scary windshield perspective ranting!

  • Adam

    Eric,

    I agree that the merchants haven’t shown that drivers are a majority of their businesses. However, the drivers are certainly some of their business, say 5-10%, and that is enough to be the difference between profit and loss.

    I often drive to 5th Ave to shop and have generally been able to find parking for the short time I am there.

    The concept of increasing the rate does not make sense to me. Why would we want to discourage shoppers from using metered parking? Shoppers are staying there for only an hour or two by definition, so what benefit do we derive from encouraging them to leave sooner? Shorter shopping stays? There must be an economic curve where the length of time shopping vs the money spent drops after a time period, say 1.25 hours. By reducing average stay time to 30 min or so, eventually the curve will become less elastic and result in less total money spent. For example, if I go to Brooklyn Industries and have the choice of feeding the meter another dollar to go to Bierkraft or going home, that price (and my availability of quarters) may subtract some serious economic activity from the neighborhood.

    In sum, I think parking tickets are enough of a deterrent to excessive stay-lengths, so if we are targeting merchants who feed the meters all day long, we could do it through better policing.

  • @Adam,

    Yes, certainly a portion of their business is drivers, and yes, 5% to 10% could mean the difference between making money or not.

    But when you say you “have generally been able to find parking for the short time” you’re there, does that mean you find parking quickly? DOT’s data shows that there are only ever a few available spots on Fifth, so cars end up circling, which is a problem, since it causes congestion, emissions, etc. Demand during peak times is greater than 100%, which means there are cars parked in front of hydrants or double-parked. If it takes too long to find a spot, some people will certainly choose to go elsewhere, which also means lost business.

    The trick is finding the balance between time and cost. Would it be worth it to you to pay an extra buck or buck and a half per hour if you found a spot in two minutes vs. ten? The answer to that question is going to vary for different people. The whole point of DOT’s ParkSMART pilot is to find the sweet spot, in which a spot or two is always available on each block. $3 versus $1 an hour doesn’t seem, to me, anyway, like too much of a premium if you’re dropping $100 between Brooklyn Industries and Bierkraft; if you’re only picking up dry cleaning, than whether or not a quarter buys you five minutes or fifteen minutes, it’ll make little difference, whereas the prompt availability of a spot would make a difference.

    While you may skip Bierkraft because you have to spend an extra 50 cents, it’s certainly conceivable that someone else may skip it because he or she can’t find a spot in an amount of time he or she considers acceptable.

    Higher meter rates also combat long-term parkers who (illegally) feed the meter for several hours or all day. When on-street is a lot cheaper than off-street parking, more people will use the meter spaces for extended periods. I’m sure there are a few merchants who complain that their customers can’t find parking while running out to put another quarter in the meter.

  • > The trick is finding the balance between time and cost.

    This would be really simple if people would accept market pricing.

    Raise the prices steadily and slowly, and measure the number of cars trolling for spaces. When the number of cars trolling stops falling, stop raising prices.

    The people who benefit most from this are the drivers who can afford the higher rates. The only people who lose are the drivers who can no longer afford to park, and they should quit their bitching and step up to flavor.