Today’s Headlines

  • U.S. DOT Will Devote $745 Million to Amtrak and New York Rail Improvements (Transpo Nation, MTR)
  • If Mayor Bloomberg Had His Way, Red Light Cams Would Police Every Corner (Transpo Nation)
  • Andrea Bernstein: Port Authority Hikes a Model of Political Choreography
  • Crain’s Columnist Greg David Rips Govs, Manhattan Institute for PA Posturing (Crain’s, Post)
  • Times’s Joe Nocera: Tolls Benefit the Wealthy On the Backs of the Middle Class
  • NYPD Cruiser Hits Five-Year-Old Boy in Port Richmond (Post)
  • Pedestrian-Protecting Median Bollards Blamed for Cambria Heights Crashes (NY1)
  • Unwanted BoltBus Stop Moving to Chelsea (DNAinfo)
  • Poll Says Most New Yorkers Don’t Care About Bike Lanes (Gothamist)
  • WNYC Tracks Second Ave Subway Rubble to Construction Firms, City Golf Course
  • How Chris Quinn Uses Taxpayer Cash to Crush Council Dissent (NYT)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

Streetsblog NYC will be on a light publishing schedule today.

  • vnm

    Most of the motorists interviewed by NY1 were in favor of more red light cameras, in order to make thing safer for motorists. If you go on TV saying you’re against them, you sound like a wild reckless driver.

  • Eric McClure

    The only place where one can feel comfortable voicing opposition to life-saving red-light cameras is in the pages of the tabloids, among the “real New Yorkers.”

  • Bolwerk

    Hearing otherwise reasonable people babble about tolls harming the “middle class” is galling. The middle class on down is hurt most by the higher consumer prices wrought by underpriced roads.

    As a generalization, about the only people “harmed” by traffic-taming tolls are people with unlimited time and money to burn. But, since they have money to burn….

  • poncho

    how about those bells? those are awesome, too bad the “report” said nothing about improved pedestrian safety and that these bells have saved the lives of innocent pedestrians from reckless drivers who would have otherwise driven right into a pedestrian refuge.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not against red light cameras, in fact I was disappointed  there wasn’t one covering the intersection where I got a red-light ticket because the light turned after I stopped in the box for peds jaywalking, but in general, I prefer solutions that involve good physical design like traffic islands rather than further expanding the surveillance society.

  • Driver

    Agreed the bells are an excellent safety device for pedestrians.  There could be a better attempt to make them more visible.  On a typical day anyone driving should be able to see them, but in darkness or in severe weather I can see how even good drivers might not see them.  

  • Andrew

    @station44025:disqus All the traffic islands in the world won’t stop impatient drivers from running red lights if they don’t feel like stopping for them.

    And the NYPD has clearly demonstrated either an inability or an unwillingness to consistently enforce traffic laws.

    The only way to stop impatient drivers from running red lights is to consistently fine them each time they do.

    As for surveillance, this is all taking place on public streets, where there is no expectation of privacy.  If you want to run red lights without being photographed, buy up a bunch of land and install your own traffic signals, and you can run red lights to your heart’s content. But on public New York City streets, I, as a pedestrian, am fed up with the treatment of red lights as suggestions.

  • Anonymous

    @Andrew_J_C:disqus  I’ll save the technical privacy debate for ArsTechnica rather than Streetsblog, but the suggestion that because you choose to leave your house you should “expect” to have all of your movements personally identified, recorded, parsed, cataloged, and archived in a searchable database for all time and unspecified future use or misuse is an entirely different proposition than it was just a few years ago.  All of this is happening very quickly in many arenas without the society giving the larger social implications any serious thought. In Germany you can opt-out of Google street view, but I’ve never heard any serious public discussion about how camera or other data is used, stored, or protected in the US.  As you pointed out, law enforcement can’t be trusted to do their jobs properly, so why do you think they would do a better job handling your personal information with discretion?

    Also, an impenetrable physical barrier is a pretty effective way to force a driver to do or not do something, no matter how impatient they are, without undermining our definitions of public space or privacy.  They’ve replaced a lot of lights with islands in Seattle, and they work great.  A line of parked cars or trees keeps drivers out of the bike lane better than any threat of enforcement.  That’s all I’m saying, not that I want to run red lights (except on my bike).

  • Andrew

    @station44025:disqus The instant I enter public property, I expect anybody wants to take my picture to take my picture and to do with that picture as they please.  Expecting anything less would be unreasonable.  If I want to wear a mask, I can wear a mask – but if I’m driving a car, I’m not allowed to put a mask over the license plate.

    I’m not sure what traffic signals have to do with keeping cars out of bike lanes.  My concern is with cars entering intersections (and especially crosswalks) when they shouldn’t be entering those intersections.  What sort of impenetrable physical barrier can keep them out when they shouldn’t be there but will let them in when they should?

  • Ian Turner

    Andrew: Actually, you can’t walk around in public with your face covered. Against the law in New York State.  http://varsity.reallifesuperheroes.org/2010/07/31/anti-mask-new-york-penal-law/

  • Anonymous

    It may be your expectation that you don’t have any rights to privacy or your likeness, but you actually do, and they do have value, so don’t be so hasty to cede them. It is not unreasonable.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personality_rights

    If you turn some signalized intersections into mini-traffic-circles, cars cannot drive straight through them, are forced to slow down considerably (also reducing speeds in between intersections) and yield to other vehicles.  They can’t work everywhere, but they could replace a huge number of traffic lights, and they work passively, without electricity, law enforcement, or fines.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traffic_island

    As an aside, it is technologically possible for anyone who takes your picture to use facial recognition software to identify you, find out where you live, what your income is, the names of all your family members, your political leanings, look up all your comments on comment threads, investigate your spending habits, and follow your movements.  Look yourself up on Spokeo.com if you don’t believe me. Facebook and Google both have facial recognition in place, but currently disabled due to privacy concerns.

    Whether or not the government should be doing this as a matter of course is a fair debate to have.  The cameras record every single person who goes through an intersection, not just the red light violations.

  • Joe R.

    @station44025:disqus I agree with your comments regarding privacy, all the more so because the city can largely solve the existing problem of dangerous intersections without the use of the red light cameras which were already found unconstitutional in several states.  I’ve little doubt once it hits the courts here, both red light and speed cameras will be found to be unconstitutional.  Passive solutions to traffic issues work far better than fining people for doing things they do on account of very poorly designed infrastructure.  Roundabouts will largely solve both the speeding and dangerous intersection problems, while finally allowing pedestrians/cyclists to operate more or less optimally.  Narrowing streets will further solve the speeding problem.  I don’t deny that dangerous driving is a MAJOR problem in NYC.  The problem is the city prefers the status quo because they reap major financial benefit by handing out tickets for all sorts of things.  Fixing the infrastructure issues would work far better, but would end up costing money instead of bringing it in, at least by the most simplistic accounting method.  On balance, properly designed streets would save the city lots of money, but don’t tell that to those who benefit from the status quo (i.e. judges, court officers, lawyers, companies which make traffic signals and red light cameras, etc.)  It’s all a patronage mill, which is why things here never change.

  • Joe R.

    Here’s a good read on traffic safety:

    http://www.bikewalk.org/pdfs/trafficcontrol_backtobasics.pdf

    From the above article:

    “Advertised as a panacea for all traffic ills in its early days, the traffic signal turned out to be one of those medicines that cures one disease and gives you another. It has been known since the late 1920s that signals reduce right-angle accidents at the cost of causing more rear-end and left-turn collisions. They first compress an hour’s traffic into half an hour of green time and thereby halve all headways. They then make drivers go fast and keep close to the vehicle in front for fear of missing the green light, with their eyes up in the air rather than on the road. The combination of high speed, tailgating, diverted attention and sudden stops causes rear-end crashes. Yet every safety advocate insists on moderate speed and heightened attention at intersections. Following too closely is forbidden by law. The traffic signal encourages a violation of the law and of the most elementary safety rules. The pedestrian’s faith in the traffic signal is equally misplaced. That signals did not improve pedestrian safety was known 70 years ago. As many get run down walking with the green light as get run down walking against red.

    Traffic signal control is so unsafe that the official Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices already in 1935 recommended a 12-month trial of less restrictive alternatives. Today’s Manual lists 12 alternatives to be considered in preference to signal control, among them all-way stops and roundabouts.”

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