Today’s Headlines

  • Only Two Out of 21 Drivers Who Killed Cyclists Last Year Arrested, And Here’s Why (Transpo Nation)
  • 710,000 Fewer Parking Tickets Issued Last Year, But At Higher Cost (Post)
  • With Newest Bill, City Council Still Letting Parkers Drive Transpo Agenda (Post)
  • Midtown-Bound M Train Sees Huge Ridership Gains (Kabak)
  • Whenever Albany Says “Parity,” MTA Riders Should Run The Other Way (Cap’n Transit)
  • State Budget Provides Small Boost For Long Island Bus Riders (MTR)
  • Staten Island Hit-And-Run Killer Turns Self In, Charged With Fleeing Scene (Post)
  • Half of Lots in SoHo Historic District Expansion Are Vacant or Parking (Post)
  • Local Officials Ask For Transit on Tappan Zee, More Time to Comment (LoHud)
  • Markowitz: Sam Schwartz Bike Tolls Would End With Pedestrians Paying Too (Crain’s)
  • Plan Advances to Create Pedestrian-Oriented Market Under Harlem Train Tracks (News)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Mike

    The quotes from the Bronx ADA in the Transportation Nation story are absolutely infuriating.

  • Bridge walker

    I am shocked — shocked! — to learn that even with the carrot of bike tolls, Marty Markowitz is against the stick of East River Bridge tolls.

  • But it’s important to understand the reasoning in those comments, even if you find the ultimate conclusion to be disagreeable. 

    He’s right, the tolerance of unsafe driving practices are not a result of the government being unable to regulate or penalize – they’re a result of public policy that reflects the overall public’s stated wishes. The reason why there are not enough cops looking for reckless drivers – and the reason why the laws are so toothless against them even when there are policing resources available – is because the public wanted it to be that way. Or, more specifically, more people make louder disapproving noise when enforcement against motor vehicle violations gets stricter, or when laws get tougher, or when taxes are raised to support increased police staffing; few people truly fight in favor of any of these things. There’s little evidence that people want the government to make roads safer; there’s plenty of evidence that there would be public outrage to do anything to make them SLOWER.And indeed, the roads are unsafe, but road safety is not something that many people rally behind. As a matter of fact, though it would be reasonable to make that a top-line election year issue, the reality is that the people who are motivated enough show up to pro-safety rallies are the family and friends of the dead and gravely injured. The vast numbers of people who are severely disenfranchised by poor driving habits really don’t care enough to make that stand. Compare that to the merciless public relations beatings that governments have to withstand when anything disenfranchises a driver. In our culture, the “greater good” doesn’t even occur to most people when it comes to road use. They’re just thinking, “I need driving and parking to be faster, cheaper.” Mainly because, even in an environment where they can freely blow off any driving rules that inconvenience them, driving and parking are still pretty freaking time-consuming and expensive in dense urban areas. I feel no pity for their stress; they’re quite safe in their vehicles (unlike their victims), and perhaps they should have learned long ago that their driving habits are unsustainable, safe or unsafe. 

    Logically, drivers should not be accommodated as much as they are, and more resources should go into protecting vulnerable road users and strengthening public transit. Many thoughtful people agree. But we’re a long way off from the point in time where the road-raging public will agree with that.

  • Albert

    I LOVE the idea of creating a “La Marqueta Mile” along and under the Park Ave viaduct.  For years, every time I ride by those magnificent stones I’ve wondered what Mom-and-Pop use it could be put to, instead of looking forbidding.  There is also much similarly wasted, ugly, dangerous space under bridge approaches.  I happen to be a big fan of how the Food Emporium beautifully uses the space under the Queensborough Bridge at 1st Avenue, but the mind boggles at the much greater potential if a mile of Park were to be re-purposed by and for those who live in East Harlem.

  • The “La Marqueta Mile” concept is awesome.  Being under the tracks would never be the same as being on them, so the comparisons to the High Line are absurd, but this much undeveloped public space in NYC is a rarity and presents a huge opportunity if done right. 

  • Joe R.

    I agree with Brian Van Nieuwenhoven here. Traffic laws are only sporadically enforced because doing otherwise would make driving slower and less convenient. Apparently the general public, or at least the portion of the general public which the powers-that-be listen to, made a decision that any street users other than cars should be marginalized so cars could get where they’re going faster. Nevertheless, I’m still shocked at how the police rarely ticket driving practices which not only classify as reckless, but border on sociopathic. It’s one thing to go 5 or 10 mph over the limit if you’re otherwise driving reasonably and paying attention to your surroundings. It’s quite another to jockey for position to be the first one in line at the next red light, or to reach highway speeds trying to “make the light”, or to use your car to bully your way through a line of crossing pedestrians as you’re turning. Those are only a handful of the things I’ve seen motorists do right in front of police, and yet the police did absolutely nothing. Those same police however wouldn’t hesitate to ticket a cyclist slow rolling through a red light.

    The only way I see things changing is if more people start walking or biking as cars increasingly become too expensive to use. There will eventually come a tipping point where a critical mass of the populace will finally say “enough is enough”, and the police will have to act-not just in occasional crackdowns, but with continued enforcement of the most dangerous driving practices. Even as a cyclist or pedestrian, it doesn’t bother much if drivers get a free pass to go 5 or 10 over the limit if traffic is light. It does however bother me no end to see selfish, highly dangerous maneuvers by motorists just to save a second or two, if that. Often no time is saved at all, and the motorist ends up waiting at the next red light right next to the people he/she desperately just had to get in front of. Enforcement of the most dangerous driving practices might even have the support of a majority of drivers because these practices almost never make driving faster, but they endanger everyone else on the street.

  • Anonymous

    It seems like if you turn yourself in after a hit and run you shouldn’t be charged with running. Otherwise no one would ever stand up and do the right thing.

  • Charles_Siegel

    Yes, the police tolerate unsafe driving because that is what most of the public wants.

    But what the public wants changes over time, and it changes largely as a result of public discussions like this one.  In 1800, the American public was overwhelmingly in favor of slavery, but by 1900 it was not.  In 1900, the American public overwhelmingly believed that a woman’s place is in the home, but by 2000, it did not.

    Neither of these changes would have happened if people had said, “we just have slavery because it is what people want, and there is nothing we can do about it,” or “women are second-class citizens because it is what people want, and there is nothing we can do about it,” and “there is little evidence that the public wants to end slavery ….” and so on ad nauseum. 

    If you wait for evidence that the public wants the change, before you advocate for the change, the change obviously will never happen. 

  • Anonymous

    @mistermarkdavis:disqus There has to be a penalty for running, even if you later turn yourself in. Otherwise, drunk drivers will know that the most (selfishly) rational course of action is to run, and turn themselves in after sobering up.

  • Bolwerk

    It’s funny the city so obsessively wants to preserve “historic” buildings.  Meanwhile, it won’t let us build more such buildings, some of the most livable, elsewhere because of zoning rules and parking minimums.  If SoHO is so nice, it stands to reason that its form should be possible to reproduce elsewhere.

    Traffic laws are only sporadically enforced because doing otherwise
    would make driving slower and less convenient.

    That’s probably not even true.  Reckless behavior by drivers may sometimes benefit the driver himself, but it’s likely to slow everyone else down, not to mention cost public money.

    Of course, the dumbest, most irrational, and most reckless drivers yell the loudest too.

  • Sean Sweeney

    Streetsblog Headline:
    Half of Lots in SoHo Historic District Expansion Are Vacant or Parking

    Why am I not surprised (but amused) to see streetsblog promote yet again the false propaganda of REBNY – the Real Estate Board of NY – a bunch of landlords who, when not trying to evict rent-stabilized tenants, fought tooth and nail to prevent the SoHo Historic District Extension.

    REBNY’s bitter, preposterous, unattributed and unsupported claim that “49.6% of the buildings were vacant, lots, garages, or parking lots” could be seen by a blind person – or someone at streetsblog with enough motivation to Google “soho historic extension” – as patently and maliciously false. 

    In fact, about 98% of the Extension are occupied and thriving buildings.  There is but one parking garage in an historic building on West Broadway, and this Houston Street lot, which will soon have an attractive modern commercial building on it.

    Keep believing and promoting the landlords’ hype, streetsblog, while the SoHo Alliance is working to get the last remaining parking lot in SoHo – directly across from this gas station – turned into a park with public art.
    http://www.dnainfo.com/20120407/greenwich-village-soho/residents-want-empty-houston-street-lot-become-park

  • If we’re going to protect the City’s historic districts then obviously we need not only to protect the existing buildings within the district, but also  to carefully examine what kind of new construction is permitted in those areas. Realtors certainly don’t hesitate to describe adjoining blocks as Soho. So why should they complain if these additional buildings are included? More than 70 years after Moses bulldozed dozens of buildings on Houston Street to make way for 8 lane traffic mess it is today. The scars left by Moses are only beginning to heal with a few buildings popping up that actually face Houston. And quite frankly, Houston Street has less than half as many parking lots and gas stations as it did 40 years ago. 

    While it may be questionable as to how high developers can build over a subway line, a community park or pedestrian mall where shoppers and officer workers can relax or have an open air lunch, would seem much more appropriate use for the Houston/Broadway site. Just because Soho’s a former industrial area doesn’t mean we should exploit every inch of open space.

  • JamesR

     [I]”Compare that to the merciless public relations beatings that governments
    have to withstand when anything disenfranchises a driver. In our
    culture, the “greater good” doesn’t even occur to most people when it
    comes to road use.”[/I]

    I’d actually go further than that and argue that in American culture, the greater good doesn’t occur to most people, period, for any reason. This is a culture of “me”, not “we”.  All it takes is a brief visit to the cities of pretty much any other developed western nation to make it clear that the roads don’t have to be a hellish free-for-all. Europeans and Canadians manage to operate vehicles in dense urban environments without resorting to childlike behavior behind the wheel. Why? Because those places have a functional social contract and sense of community. 

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