Today’s Headlines

  • Bloomberg Unveils Budget Austerity Measures for 2012 and Beyond (News)
  • Bosey Johnson, 53, Killed Crossing Boston Road in the Bronx (Post)
  • Student Driving U-Haul Kills Tailgater at Yale-Harvard Game; No Charges (Gothamist)
  • The Times Frames Prospect Park Bike-Ped Crashes as a Consequence of Brooklyn Bike Boom
  • Bike Collision Victim Cites Parks Department and NYPD in Suit Against City (Bklyn Paper)
  • Staten Island Anti-Toll Rally: Feel the Entitlement (NY1)
  • Where Are the Renderings of Atlantic Yards Transit Improvements? (2nd Ave Sagas)
  • Daily News Critiques TWU’s Negotiating Stance
  • See How the One Percent Cruise on NYC Streets (NYT)
  • Is the Car Horn Blaring Outside Your Window Protected by the Constitution? (NYT)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Anonymous

    The honking outside my home has finally made me do it:  an online petition about the “taxi of tomorrow.”  Please sign and share.   http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/taxi-horn/

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t find any reports of this, but last Saturday I noticed stronger than usual police presence in Central Park, and I saw a couple of cyclists get stopped by police for going through red lights. I wonder if they decided to undertake a new ticketing blitz in response to the recent crashes in Prospect Park?

    In one case, I didn’t see the cyclist go through the red light, but I saw when the police caught up to him (yelling “red light!” through the window). In the other, I did see the cyclist go through the red light right next to a police car. Not a good idea, I guess. But at least I can say that he wasn’t endangering any pedestrians at the time, because there was no one crossing or about to cross.

  • Cycler

    Too funny about the Sprinter.  My family was teasing my husband that that’s what he needed to get enough headroom (he’s 6’5″)   We didn’t think of it as a luxury item, but a delivery truck.  I guess that just about anything can be made a status symbol with the application of money.  Ridiculous in a city too.

  • DSNY

    The Post has this story of an ex-sanitation worker who got rich off of a disability claim who’s taking over a public street to park his expensive cars.

    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/bronx/road_hog_fAhBi2Tt8xyP4eQ8PhBWGL

  • dporpentine

    @qrt145:disqus I talked with a woman last week who said she’d been ticketed twice in a week for running the lights around Prospect Park. (Not the lights *in* it–which would at least address where bikers have actually been hitting pedestrians.)

    Just nothing that as anecdotal evidence that there may well be a new, lower-key ticket blitz going on.

  • carma

    heres my take on the red light running.  if you are on a bike and you are approaching an interesection with a red with heavy motor vehicle traffic and pedestrian crossing.  it should be mandatory to stop (plus its the law).

    however, if you are in a small cross street and there really is no oncoming perpendicular traffic with no signs of any pedestrian crossing, it is a bit silly.  now, of course, this cant be applied to a car/truck, because it is much more difficult to stop on a dime with a 3000 lb motor vehicle than it is on two feet/wheels.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I still believe serious thinking is required about where, when and under what circumstances people should be able to ride bicycles at high speeds for exercise and training.  It has to be somewhere at some time, and the more awareness there was of where and when that was, the less potential for collisions there would be. 

    I’ve made my suggestion.

    It doesn’t help the city meet my needs to have some cyclists who claim, reasonably, that they should not have to stop at lights in the park when it is closed to motor vehicles, but also say that pedestrians should not expect to be able to cross the roadway without being hit unless they do so at the crosswalk and with the light.

  • Paul

    There’s exactly two ways on or off Staten Island that don’t require paying: the ferry and a walkway over the Bayonne Bridge that leads to no connections. You’ll note that both of those are only available to pedestrians, bicyclists or mass transit riders. ALL vehicular traffic of Staten Island residents (aside from intraborough traffic) is tolled. I think you need a refresher on what “entitlement” means.

  • Joe R.

    Basically, I’m with carma on red lights-yield legal right-of-way to anyone
    entitled to it.  Then and only then go through it, provided nothing is coming, and then only if no police cars are visible. 
    If all cyclists did this, we probably wouldn’t hear a word about “scofflaw
    cyclists”.  And incidentally, even yielding legal right-of-way to cross traffic
    at reds seldom requires a complete stop.  If I see an intersection is too busy
    to pass the red light, I just coast down and adjust my speed so I hit the light
    just as it’s flipping to green.  No stopping required, and I keep my
    manueverability, plus a small amount of momentum.  Most rides I never come to a
    complete stop.

    As for Prospect Park/Central Park, ban cars and take out the traffic lights.  The idea of having traffic lights in a park is idiotic to start with.  People go to parks as a refuge from the formality of city streets, not for more of the same.  I agree with Larry that there’s a need to provide people places to ride bicycles at high speeds without stopping.  The question is where and when.  If we decide to do this on the roads in some parks, then we need to make some accommodation for pedestrians to cross without requiring cyclists to slow down.  Overpasses or underpasses are about the only thing which would work.  You don’t necessarily need to make the pedestrians be the ones who have to go up or down, either.  You can make the road dip below grade level in order to have a pedestrian overpass which doesn’t require climbing up or down.  If the road is no longer open to motor traffic, then it only needs to dip down maybe 8 feet or so to give enough clearance for a pedestrian overpass.

  • random internet poster

    “Between the traffic and the tolls, what is the point of coming to
    Staten Island? It’s a really inconvenient, unpleasant place to travel
    to, and that’s just gonna keep happening. It’s just gonna get worse and
    worse and worse,”

     — TRUE NUFF!

  • Anonymous

    Horns vs. Leaf Blowers: All the horns honking in the city are nothing compared with the high-pitched whirring sounds coupled with clouds of exhaust fumes and blown topsoil particles that come from leaf blowers in the suburbs.  Relentless, wall-piercing, and going virtually non-stop from early morning to dusk. 

  • Daphna

    To qrt145: thank you for informing Streetsblog of this.  Captain Wishnia of the 22nd Precinct ordered the massive crackdown on bicyclists going through red lights in Central Park during the car free hours last Winter/Spring.  He was finally forced to give up his “zero tolerance” and acknowledge that bicyclists can proceed through red lights during the car free hours safely as long as they yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.

    If he is again doing a ticketing blitz, all in the community need to know.  People can call 311 and make an “agency complaint” against the NYPD for not enforcing the HOV restriction in the morning in Central Park, for not enforcing the speed limit anywhere on the loop in Central Park to motorists, and for instead ticketing cyclists for red light running during the car free hours when it is acknowledged that those lights should be blinking reds during the car free hours (except that the technology does not allow for that).

    Also, the local city councilmember (Gail Brewer – (212) 873-0282, (212) 788-6975) should be informed and Community Board 7 should be informed.  In particular the Parks Committee of Community Board 7 should be informed since they were influential in getting Captain Wishnia to change.

    Manhattan Community Board 7250 W. 87th StreetNew York, NY 10024Phone: 212-362-4008Fax: 212-595-9317Email: office@cb7.org

  • Streetsman

    “See How the One Percent Cruise on NYC Streets (NYT)”

    The ever-relevant, sharply-focused journalism of the Times’ transportation beat. Looking at the hard issues facing our city in crisis. Christine Haughney at it again…

  • Anonymous

    Larry, of course you’re right.  That there should be hours set aside for cars to drive in the park is taken for granted, but I don’t put long odds on bicycle hours.  It is not as if it is impossible, or even difficult to cross the park roads in between passing bikes, but it does require looking before you step into the road, so the whole thing really starts to feel like a pointless persecution of cyclists.  Maybe putting a button activated crosswalk signal would be a good idea, but nonsense like creating engineered bottle-necks at the bottom of a huge hill like in PP is a terrible idea.

  • Daphna

    Sorry, the Manhattan Community Board 7 information came out un-spaced in my post.
    It should be: 250 W. 87th Street, New York, NY 10024, Phone: 212-362-4008, fax: 212-595-9317, email: office@cb7.org.  Chair: Mel Wymore, District Manager: Penny Ryan

    For Gail Brewer, this website shows contact info: http://council.nyc.gov/d6/html/members/home.shtml

  • Larry Littlefield

    The question is, if the right lane of the FDR drive was open to cyclists riding at least 20 mph from the start of civil twilight to 9 am on weekends, would the fast riders congregate there?  Volunteers could drive pace cars behind groups of them for added safety.

  • Daphna

    It is frustrating that the person injured by a bike collision garners so much media attention.  I wish that the tens of thousands of those injured yearly by motor vehicles each garnered the same amount of attention.

    A bicyclist is more vulnerable than a pedestrian.  Both are unprotected and the bicyclist is on two wheels and can easily tip over.  People inaccurately equate bicyclists with motor vehicles who can menance pedestrians and remain unscathed themselves, but bicyclists are just the opposite – they must take care at all times not to hit anyone or they will be more hurt themselves than the person they hit.

    Why are people so accepting of 5-6 deaths a week from drivers and countless people injured (just in NYC) each and every week for years? And yet a single non-life threatening injury from a bicyclist ignites outrage (or at least media attention and sympathy)!? 

  • wkgreen

    Of the articles that I’ve read about the Prospect Park situation, this NYT article is the best at actually painting the picture of what an unpredictable environment that the road there has been allowed to become. I was at the task force meeting last Wed. and several speakers there discussed the danger of putting barrells to create what is essentially a chute down the hill that ends at the intersection. This weekend I saw a kid going through it while sitting on a skateboard unable to stop at the bottom but slow and low enough to be an invisible hazard to cyclists behind who were unable to maneuver around. On Sat. morning a runners’ road race was set up in the park with no warning to anyone coming in to the park and with the start/finish line set up at the exact intersection (Center Dr. and West Dr.) where the woman whose family is suing was struck. No one ever seems to think very deeply about these things, or apparently, to follow the advice of cyclists that many seek to blame.

  • David_K

    I’m with Joe R. (ban cars and take out the traffic lights).  This topic was debated the other day on Brownstoner, and someone commented that she went to the park with her little kid, who stepped into the path of a jogger when she (the little kid) had the light.  The jogger almost ran into the child, and yelled at the mother “hey, watch your kid!”  The commenter asked,shouldn’t the red light rule apply to joggers?  And if not, why not?  She asked this to highlight the absurdity of the red lights themselves.  They do not help matters in the park; maybe a flashing yellow at intersections would be better.   Red lights are for cars, and cars do not belong there.  However, even if you ban cars and remove lights, you still have the problem of some cyclists behaving like idiots.   As a cyclist myself, I hate to say this, but it’s true.

  • Anonymous

    David_K, others: I agree.  A certain number of people in any group are going to behave like idiots.  There are all sorts of potential obstacles for cyclists, from loose soccer balls to off-leash dogs to running children to kids purposely jumping into the road as a joke to loose skateboards to people spacing out on their smartphones and ipods, so I don’t think idiotic behavior is the sole province of cyclists.

  • Joe R.

    Sure, some percentage of cyclists behave like idiots.  You can say the same about any other group.  The thing is it seems a lot of people think policy towards cyclists should be dictated by the behavior of this small minority of idiots.  I never see this kind of logic applied to any other group.  A minority of motorists drive like complete idiots.  You don’t see calls for not building more roads until motorists “start obeying the law”, but you constantly hear people saying cyclists don’t deserve their own space because they (insert some type of behavior only a minority of idiot cyclists engage in).

    Another factor is large numbers of cyclists are a relatively new thing, so bad behavior gets noticed.  Bad motorist and pedestrian behavior at this point is just so much background noise.

  • dporpentine

    I don’t think obnoxious cyclists in Prospect Park are anything resembling a minority.

    I go through the park in the morning and at night almost every workday and I always stop at the lights when pedestrians have the right of way. And I have never–*never*–been joined by another cyclist stopping. Never. Not once. Ever. Never. Over the course of years.

    And as a pedestrian I have the same experience: wave after wave of people on bikes not giving a, hmm, toot about my wanting to cross the park without being threatened.

    The lights are needed and they need to be respected. But the cars should go.

  • Joe R.

    Sorry dporpentine, but traffic lights really aren’t an answer even on regular streets, except in exceptional circumstances, and they have no place at all in parks.  This is NYC.  Neither cyclists nor pedestrians will ever reliably obey traffic signals, even on regular city streets, never mind in parks, simply because given the sheer number of signals, doing so will make walking or cycling take 2-3 times as long.  Maybe if we used traffic signals far less, and only where really required, we might have good compliance.  Unfortunately, NYC made a decision to use them willy nilly whenever some community board complained enough.  End result, no group really has great compliance with traffic signals, even motorists.  First lesson with any traffic control device is the more it is used, the less seriously it is taken by all users.  Apparently, this lesson was lost on NYC DOT.

    Faced with this reality, we can do one of two things in parks, depending upon the volume of bicycle traffic.  If bicycle traffic is sporadic, as I believe it is 99% of the time, then it’s easy enough for a person crossing to wait until they see a gap in traffic, then cross.  I don’t feel pedestrians should have the right-of-way on roads in parks.  They already have access to everywhere else in the park.  There are many pedestrian walkways where bicycles are prohibited, and where pedestrians rightfully get livid when a bicycle intrudes on their space.  They need to see the other side of this-namely that they’re basically intruders in the few places where cyclists are allowed, and so must wait for a gap in traffic to cross.  And it’s a lot easier for a person walking to stop and wait a few seconds for a cyclist to pass than it is for a cyclist to stop from 20 mph, then go through a bunch of gears getting back up to speed.  Generally, at intersections of different modes the laws of physics dictate right-of-way.  For example, we don’t have trains stop at railroad crossings to wait for cars because it’s far easier for cars to stop.

    Assuming bicycle traffic is too heavy much of the day to allow crossing within a reasonable amount of time, then we need to think about grade separation as I mentioned earlier.  For some reason that seems to be a dirty word around here, but fact is sometimes it’s the only answer when two modes with disparate requirements would otherwise be in conflict.  If we need to install a few grade-separated crossings at busier spots, it’s well worth the expense if you ask me.  And as I said earlier, you can even have the road dip down under the overpass so pedestrians won’t need to climb up to cross.

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