Today’s Headlines

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • J

    The Union Square plan is a fantastic idea. Let’s hope they continue reclaiming underused space in popular pedestrian destinations. The comments section was also very heartening. The overwhelming majority of comments on NY Times were in favor of the project.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I don’t know where I read it and can’t find the article, but I believe I saw that a City Planning proposal is in the works to allow shared and rental cars to occupy a percentage of required parking spots in middle density residential districts, with a minimum of five.

    Hertz and/or Zipcar were quoted as saying reserved (free) on street parking would be better, but it’s a start.

    Because we are in the United States, trips from anywhere to a large number of destinations are best made by automobile, not only in terms of convenience but also cost and energy use, particularly if there will be multiple people in the vehicle. Once people have absorbed the fixed cost of an automobile, however, it is in their incentive to take additional trips by car that could have been made otherwise. So the expansion of shared automobiles is an essential part of reducing auto dependence.

  • Mike

    From the Post article on taxis:

    An NYPD highway patrolman said so many drivers speed that he and other cops don’t bother ticketing unless motorists go at least 15 mph too fast.

    “We don’t generally pull you over unless you’re going 15 to 20 over the limit, but don’t quote me on that,” said the officer, who was looking for speeders on the East Side Thursday.

  • I walked up Humboldt to McGuinness just yesterday. It (especially the BQE crossing where it ends) is no place for pedestrians. If I had kids I wouldn’t let them near there.

  • Now it’s on the record: the NYPD thinks it’s perfectly safe to drive on city streets at a speed in which a pedestrian has less than a 10% chance of survival if struck.

    This city is not safe for us.

  • TKO

    Ah, Marty Markowitz must be smiling. Walmart in Brooklyn. Is there a chain store he does not love? Screw the Mom and Pop operations that have made Brooklyn famous instead lets be one big mall that you can find anywhere in middle america.

    Build it and they will come!

    If only Marty Markowitz would leave.

  • Boris

    It’s rapidly becoming a tale of two cities: one where bikes and pedestrians vastly outnumbers cars, and another where everyone drives to Walmart. And one mayor is OK with both because that is what the locals seem to want. I just don’t get it. Although I generally agree that community boards and other local groups should have some say, we can’t have large-scale change if we balkanize the city like this.

  • “The average speed on Park Avenue at East 84th Street was 37 mph.”

    We need a 20 MPH limit on Park Avene.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “It’s rapidly becoming a tale of two cities: one where bikes and pedestrians vastly outnumbers cars, and another where everyone drives to Walmart. And one mayor is OK with both because that is what the locals seem to want. I just don’t get it.”

    I’m OK with it too. Long term social change has to start somewhere.

    If New York City ends up with a large part of its area, including its most vibrant and important job centers, in a situation in which the private motor vehicle plays a much smaller role and bicycles a much greater role than in the past, and people like it, that is a model that can spread to other places later. An option will have been created. People will be able to choose that option, thus manifesting the demand and allowing it to spread.

    If the short term price is to accomodate people living the way they are already living in peripheral areas of the city (to the extent possible), and have them drive to a Wal-Mart within the city (with the city getting the jobs and tax revenues) rather than Nassau County, sobeit. It took 100 years to get into this situation, and it will take 100 years to get out of it.

  • Boris

    People have been choosing that option at least since the mid-90’s, driving up real estate prices in places like the East Village. The demand has already manifested itself. We now need more options, but they aren’t coming if all new construction is anti-urban.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “The demand has already manifested itself. We now need more options, but they aren’t coming if all new construction is anti-urban.”

    The big trend of the past decade has been a shift in residential construction in many metros from the exurban edge to existing centers. The big debate is whether to allow this pro-urban development, or prohibit it because people are going to drive anyway.

    I don’t see it as “anti-urban.” I see it as a half step back, trying to accomodate what has been while moving to what will be.

    People look at buildings and believe they are permanent. That depends on how long your perspective is. There is now discussion of repurposing the parking lots of NYCHA projects. A new zoning provision (which I saw but can’t find) would repurpose required parking for individual vehicles for shared vehicles. The parking lot at the Junction in Flatbush was replaced by a Target.

    Down the road, the parking lot of a large store within NYC at Spring Creek may be similarly repurposed. At least there, rather than in Ronkonkoma, it is accessible by transit and the drives NYC residents take to it would be shorter.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Aha, here’s the carsharing/parking story. I was in the NY Post lite that came with my wife’s WSJ this morning.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703876404575200562335219460.html

    “At a public parking facility, car-sharing vehicles would be allowed to occupy up to 40% of the parking spaces. In a garage connected to a residential building in a medium- or high-density neighborhood, car-sharing vehicles would be limited to up to 20% of the spaces, or a total of five spaces, whichever is greater.”

    “The car-sharing companies said they hoped the city would follow the lead of other cities—including Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Arlington, Va.—and eventually offer on-street parking spots.”

  • J. Mork

    Thanks for that link, Larry. I like this graf:

    Janette Sadik-Khan, the city’s transportation commissioner, said she’s open to reviewing that possibility [– allowing the car sharing companies to park their vehicles in the street]. “We are always looking for new ways to better manage curbside parking as a means to reduce congestion,” she said.

    That’s great news. I think the city should consider charging a fee to allow this — as long as it’s less than what the garage owners currently pay, it’s a win for everyone — the city makes money and car ownership goes down at the same time. (Car ownership goes down because car sharing gets cheaper and more convenient.)

    Car owners would scream about the lost spots, but they should be told that fewer cars per household equals less competition for their free parking spots. (We can start charging them, too, after the revolution.)

  • (should be “as long as it’s less than what the garage owners currently *charge*)

  • Larry Littlefield

    Mork, I think the car sharing vehicles are parking for free on the street right now, and no one is fining them. DOT could just interpret shared vehicles for personal use as being equivalent to the personal vehicles already allowed. That’s the way the city does things, though not the way it should do things.

    What they may want is reserved spaces (aka placard), which would drive people nuts. The only way that works is a program in which existing car owners (like me) agree to give up their cars in exchange for a reserved shared car space on their block. Call me on that one in three to five years.

  • Car Free Nation

    The problem with on-street parking for car-sharing is the alternate side parking rules. Unless there were spots that were exempt from these rules, I can’t see how car sharing companies can actually use the space. They’d have to hire someone to move the car when it wasn’t in use. (Perhaps that’s less expensive that garage space, but I doubt it.)

  • RE: Car Sharing zoning text amendment

    This is an issue that’s going to community boards as soon as May. I’d like to see that a parking-lot space for a shared car counts for more than one private vehicle spot in zoning districts where minimum parking standards apply.

    For example, your building is required to have space for 10 vehicles, but you offer 2 shared-vehicle spots which each count for 3 private autos, so you’d only need those 2 spaces plus 4 more. Six parking spaces rather than 10.

    Regarding on-street parking: currently there is no on-street shared-vehicle parking (because as of now there is no system to designate curb space for a private entity, and the shared-car would have to be left in a predictable location). That is something that has been on the mind of DOT for more than a year. I’d welcome DOT to come to us and say that they wanted approval to make curb space available for shared vehicle use, in return for a fee as you suggested, J. Mork.

  • Larry Littlefield

    This is potentially a very interesting piece of the puzzle.

    My Saturn wagon is now 13 years old, which is the average age at which a U.S. private motor vehicle is scrapped. I’m waiting for one more credit card bill and I’ll be able to total up the cheapest possible average cost of a car where I live, for a family that doesn’t use the car to get to work/school.

    I’ll post on Room 8 when I have the answer, but it looks like the total will be well over $400 per month in today’s dollars. One can buy a lot of car service rides and Zip Car/rental car use for that. I’ll have to reconsider the buy vs. rent calculation I did 13 years ago when the Saturn wears out.

  • Larry, yes, I mean on-street reserved spots. You can park any kind of rental car on the street while you are renting it.

    Why couldn’t the city could just take some spots and say they are reserved for a particular car-sharing service? There’s no one-for-one trade necessary. If a block loses one car space, someone will have to park somewhere else in the short term. In the long term, it will even out. It might drive people nuts, but the current situation also drives people nuts (pun intended).

    CFN — part of the agreement could be to keep the street clean in the reserved spots (rather than have to move the cars). You’d have to ask the companies whether that is feasible.

  • Ian Turner

    One way that the carsharing companies could mitigate the cleaning issue would be to offer free/steeply discounted rates during the cleaning time period, to encourage their customers to get their cars out of the space. Then based on the records they could have a team of leafblower operators to cover the cars which were not taken out during the cleaning time.

  • Now it’s on the record: the NYPD thinks it’s perfectly safe to drive on city streets at a speed in which a pedestrian has less than a 10% chance of survival if struck.

    The FRA thinks it’s perfectly safe to drive a train at a speed at which it has a 0% chance of survival if it strikes another train heads-on.

    In both cases, the important question is “How frequent are crashes?”. The FRA actually focuses on this less than it should, to its detriment. NYPD and DOT presumably focus on ways to make car/ped crashes less common – for example, by having frequent, timed stoplights, allowing pedestrians to cross roads when they’re clear of cars. The passive safety of low speed is going to help very little in a crash with a 2-ton vehicle.

  • Paul White’s “Bring on Bike-Share in NYC” is excellent and could easily double cycling in this town to one-half million bringing on a truly wondrous transformation.

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