Video: Rodriguez, Lander Call for Return to Sanity in Central Park

Via Andy Shen at NYVelocity, here’s the video of this week’s press conference and rally at City Hall, where Council Members Ydanis Rodriguez and Brad Lander kicked off the push to set traffic signals in Central Park and Prospect Park to flashing yellow during car-free hours. It’s encouraging to hear some clear thinking from Council members about traffic enforcement, and great to see the big crowd that turned out on a cold, rainy Wednesday for this event.

The NYPD has handed out 230 tickets to cyclists for running red lights in Central Park so far this year. And while police have apologized for most of the “speeding” citations they hit cyclists with earlier this week, Central Park precinct commander Philip Wishnia has given no indication that the red light tickets will stop.

Rodriguez introduced the bill on Wednesday, and word is that you’ll see it pick up more co-sponsors starting next week.

Video: Kevin Scott

  • Listen very carefully around 2:48 (start around 2:40 or so for context) immediately after Brad Lander says: “Fewer pedestrians are getting killed in accidents, and that’s a great thing.” It sounds like somebody in the vicinity doesn’t seem to think that fewer pedestrian deaths is a “great thing”!

    But in all seriousness, I really hope this bill doesn’t overshadow the car-free parks bill. The timing of these two bills could allow the flashing-yellow bill to be passed as a “compromise” to the car-free parks bill. This would be brilliant political strategy if car-free parks were completely out of the question, but I think it’s reasonably feasible.

  • petesegal

    i don’t think many cyclists respect a flashing yellow light.
    as a pedestrian, most, if not all, of my road conflicts have been with light-running cyclists rather than light-running drivers

  • craig

    The elephant in the room that no one is talking about:

    Bikes should not be put in the same category of motorized vehicles. There is no need for a bike rider to stop at a red light if there are no cars or pedestrians in the way. I know it’s not PC to say that, but the physics are just different. Force = Mass X Acceleration. The mass and acceleration of a cyclist is a fraction of that compared with a motorized vehicle that weighs over a ton.

  • kevd

    “i don’t think many cyclists respect a flashing yellow light”
    because a flashing yellow does not mean yield, or stop

    which is why i’d say “push to cross” would be more effective in Central Park.
    Plus some sort of timer to prevent it from always being red summer weekends.

  • petesegal

    craig,

    being hit by a cyclist can cause serious damage, even death, even if its less than that of a car. so i think that argument is weak

    kevd,

    my point was that many cyclists in my experience don’t exactly yield to pedestrians at flashing yellows or yield signs..”push to cross” is an interesting idea, though

  • csm

    The mayor expressed his opposition to the car-free parks bill:

    http://brooklyn.ny1.com/content/top_stories/136228/mayor-expresses-opposition-to-bill-banning-traffic-in-parks

    The DOT has never supported the idea either. I don’t think the bill has any chance of passing, unfortunately.

  • It’s amazing that our data-driven mayor is so willing to abandon data-driven policy decisions for vague claims of increased traffic on streets around the park.

  • Danny G

    Not a fan of push-button-to-cross in this context. You’re in a park, not an automat.

  • kevd

    My point was that cyclists wouldn’t yield at a flashing yellow, because that is not what a flashing yellow means.
    A “Yields” sign means yield. Flashing yellow means use caution, but it definitely doesn’t mean that they don’t have the right of way.
    So, you shouldn’t be upset with them for not yielding at a flashing yellow (yield sign, sure).

    But we seem to agree on a push to cross. Then early mornings and late evenings cyclists would almost never see a red light. But, in the busy times, when its pretty dumb to be training in CP anyway, there would be a bunch.

  • I don’t agree on a push to cross. I hate push-to-cross; it’s anti-pedestrian no matter who does it. Cyclists are perfectly capable of yielding to peds in crosswalks without losing too much time.

  • Joe R.

    Yield to peds probably makes more sense here but push-to-cross (and traffic light sensors) are definitely something which is needed on regular streets. Lights shouldn’t be red unless there’s cross traffic or a person crossing, period. And we have the technology to make it so. In fact, with today’s technology you might not even need push to cross, but just a system of sensors/cameras to detect a pedestrian crossing.

  • I think the Loop lights should be programmed to reflect different typles of usage throughout the day. In the morning it’s serious cyclists and runners–both groups can easily be accommodated by flashing yellows. When there are cars (which should be never) there have to be reds, and cyclists have to at least treat these as stop signs. During times of peak pedestrian usage–after 10 am on weekends–for example–there’s a pretty strong case to be made that flashing yellows won’t give enough protection to pedestrians. During those times, I could see flashing reds and/or push button reds.

    Just like in Time’s Square, it’s a huge inconvenience to have a mandatory dismount zone in the middle of the only protected bike route through midtown, but the tourists basically “own” it so cyclists who want that protected cycling experience have to push for another route to be built. Same thing in Central Park–just too many tourists and locals who want an experience free from higher speed traffic of any kind, including bikes. Cyclists can’t have everything they want whenever they want it. But at least let them share the Loop with runners for training between 6 am and 10 am.

  • And we have the technology to make it so. In fact, with today’s technology you might not even need push to cross, but just a system of sensors/cameras to detect a pedestrian crossing.

    I would be willing to consider this, if the wait is short. The main thing is not to make pedestrians wait too long.

  • petesegal, will the people who don’t yield to pedestrians at a flashing yellow do so for a different signal?

  • Chris

    I found a way to defeat these red lights when you police are around, just dismount and walk your bike across, instant pedestrian. Yeah its a hassle, but it beats waiting out a light. Also fun to see the smirk on the coppers’ face.

  • Joe R.

    That’s a great strategy Chris. The cop can’t ticket you then without also ticketing every pedestrian crossing against the light, or it would be selective enforcement (i.e. only ticketing peds who are walking bikes). As we’ve seen already under Guiliani, any campaign to ticket jaywalking/red-light running pedestrians is quickly met with enough outrage to stop it almost instantly.

  • eveostay

    I’d be in favor of push-to-cross for drivers. Since traffic lights are there for their convenience, this seems like the fairest option.

  • Running a little behind on my todo list, just emailed my councilmember to support this bill; we need it for Prospect Park too.

  • Suzanne

    “[I]t’s a huge inconvenience to have a mandatory dismount zone in the middle of the only protected bike route through midtown, but the tourists basically “own” it so cyclists who want that protected cycling experience have to push for another route to be built. Same thing in Central Park–just too many tourists and locals who want an experience free from higher speed traffic of any kind, including bikes.”

    This is a big problem. There are just too many users (almost none of whom follows the laws or even common sense) and not enough space. Normally I’d say “can’t we all share the road” but only having peds, bikes and cars completely, physically separated seems to work in NYC.

    Of course, Iris Weinshall and Chuck Schumer seem to hate that idea so I guess cyclists are going to keep terrorizing peds and drivers both cyclists and pedestrians for the foreseeable future.

  • wkgreen

    You could put in a ‘push to cross’ button, but I seriously doubt that anyone would ever use it. Pedestrians, as often as not, don’t even bother to cross at the crosswalk anyway, and when are there ever so many bikes that the roadway becomes that difficult to get over? If the button is rarely used it would become pointless to have it, and cyclists, not expecting it, would not think to watch for it when it was. Best to leave it at flashing yellows that will cue cyclists where to watch out while giving everyone going with the flow of traffic (including runners, skaters, carriages, etc. as well as cyclists) the right-of-way.

  • zach

    Most pedestrians won’t ever use the button, which is fine, great even. Most cyclists don’t want the button pushed, and most pedestrians can weave their way through without trouble.

    For the elderly, the parent with small child, etc, the button will be great.

    Yes, a pedestrian can be killed by a bicycle. A pedestrian can be killed by banging into another pedestrian if done just right. That’s not the point. A bicycle going the same speed as a car, if it (vehicle+rider/driver) weighs 10% as much as a car, it will impact with 10% as much force (plus extra damage for getting tangled in bicycle, but still a small fraction), so the penalty for speeding/crossing a red/etc should be much less than for a car, but more than for a ped.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Reason Makes a Comeback in Central Park

|
It may now be safe for cyclists who want to get some exercise — as opposed to waiting for lights to turn green or for officers to finish writing $270 tickets — to return to Central Park. At a meeting Wednesday night with representatives of groups that use the park’s loop road, the Central Park […]

Tonight: Ask NYPD for a Return to Sanity in Central Park

|
Major crimes in Central Park may be up by 50 percent, but that hasn’t stopped significant resources from being spent on the ongoing NYPD crackdown targeting recreational cyclists in the park. Precinct officers are stopping cyclists for a variety of infractions, including spot equipment checks for missing bells and lights, but most notoriously are handing […]

NYPD’s Selective Approach to Selective Enforcement in Central Park

|
NYPD’s official stance on traffic violations committed by cyclists in Central Park is one of zero tolerance. At least that’s the word from Captain Philip Wishnia, commander of the Central Park Precinct, who met with the parks and preservation committee of Community Board 7 this week. The West Side Spirit reports that when committee members […]

Hundreds Ask NYPD to Cease Irrational Bike Crackdown in Central Park

|
A crowd of 300 people, outraged at a police ticket blitz that threatens to effectively eliminate Central Park as a place of recreation for cyclists, ran into an unyielding blue wall at last night’s meeting of the Central Park Precinct’s community council. The precinct commander, Captain Philip Wishnia, offered no hope that his precinct’s enforcement […]