Today’s Headlines

  • NYC Pedestrians Are Safe From School Bus Drivers Today (AP, Post)
  • Columbia Study: Investments in Safer Streets Means Fewer Kids Hit by Motorists (BabyCenter, Reuters)
  • Q Poll: Vast Majority of Voters Don’t Really Know Who Joe Lhota Is (NYT)
  • Critically Injured Cyclist Julian Valencia Works Construction and Builds Bikes (Gothamist)
  • CB-Vetted Crown Heights Bike Corral Becomes Object of Gentrification Anxiety (Patch, Bklyn Spoke)
  • City Asks for Dismissal of Lawsuit Over New Sidewalk on Pelham Parkway South (DNA)
  • Lax NYPD Enforcement Puts Locals at Risk From Truck Drivers in East Williamsburg (DNA)
  • DNA Covers Push for Safety Fixes to Deadly Sunnyside Intersection
  • Proposed Queens Soccer Stadium May Have Competition in Nassau County (CapNY)
  • Ray Kelly’s NYPD: 19 Cops for Traffic Deaths, GPS and Nano Tech for Pain Pills (NYTNews)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Larry Littlefield

    Using the 2007 Census of Governments Finance data, I created a “sold out future” ranking based on high taxpayer pension contributions and underfunded pensions, high debts and low capital construction investments.  As expected, New York City would have been nearly the worst if it had been a separate state, with the rest of the state pretty bad too.

    But not the worst.  That was Massachusetts.  Now they are facing the consequences in transportation.

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2013/01/15/patrick-pushes-for-new-taxes-overhaul-transportation-system/VCROHSUWeJHVO6R88lGUHM/story.html

    Among the features of the new plan:

    “More than half the proposed $1 billion annually would help balance highway and transit budgets, relieve some MBTA debt, run buses at night and on weekends in cities such as Springfield, and end a practice of borrowing for basic highway operations such as mowing and striping.”
    Yes, they were borrowing money for the “capital expenditure” of mowing the lawn.  Of course, painting is also considered a “capital expenditure” in New York, along with other “normal replacement” and “reimbursible expenditures” that are ongoing — and thus just maintenance.
    “The rest would cover initial payments on what the state considers good debt, borrowing to double infrastructure spending to $25 billion over the next decade.”We are so deep in the hole, and our taxes are so much higher than Mass as a percentage of our income, that I’m not sure we can even do that.FYI, based on the data NY was just about the worst on pensions, but was not bad at all on the amount spent on capital construction.  Those who know what things were like in the 1970s and early 1980s can see the results.  And know what to expect when other aspects of our sold out future once again bring capital construction (and maintenance) to a halt.

  • vnm

    And then there’s this nugget:

    Bronx Residents Lobby DOT to Remove Recently Installed Sidewalk (NY1)

    It’s an argument over fire truck access. But FDNY says the sidewalk is OK. 

  • Anonymous

    I object to the snarky tone of the first headline (“NYC Pedestrians Are Safe From School Bus Drivers Today”). I support the NYC school-bus drivers’ strike for job security in the face of privatization. I would think Streetsblog would as well, if only for street safety. Experienced unionized bus drivers with job security invariably drive more safely than those without. We see it with NYC Sanitation workers (see “Killed By Automobile”), we saw it with NYC bicycle messengers. Not to mention the organizing power of solidarity. Let’s climb down from our penthouses, shall we?

  • vnm

    Oh, you already had it via DNAInfo.  Sorry.

  • Guest

    I agree with @Komanoff:disqus on this one. I’m not so thrilled at the prospect of one busload of kids turning into two dozen or more private car trips. Even if both options were equally safe for all involved, the congestion caused by the latter is no laughing matter.

  • jrab

    I will quote from Mr. Komanoff’s previous thinking on this topic, seen at this link:

    http://www.streetsblog.org/2010/03/04/to-save-student-metrocards-trim-the-fat-from-bloated-bus-costs/#comment-173285864

    More fun with numbers: The 2010 yellow bus budget is 48% greater than the 2002 budget. But inflation (CPI) from 2002 to 2010 is only 22% (it was 19% to 2009, and I’ve extrapolated the 2002-2009 rate for an extra year to 2010).

    Why is the 2002-2010 rate of increase in spending on yellow buses more than double the rate of inflation?

  • Anonymous

    Agree with Charlie and Guest on the school bus headline. Putting the labor/contracting issues to one side — the (at least) formerly mobbed up industry has special concerns — Streetsblog can’t be in the business of opposing the use of all motorized transportation. Would an MTA strike (“NYC Pedestrians Are Safe From MTA Bus Drivers Today”) be good for the city? Or even a world without the far more dangerous garbage trucks? 

    We need to reduce unnecessary motor vehicle trips, shift trips to safer/greener modes, and ensure that those vehicle trips we have are as safe/green as possible. I don’t see how eliminating one transit option — even one that, like all buses and trains will sometimes tragically kill people — is part of that. 

  • > NYC Pedestrians Are Safe From School Bus Drivers Today

    Har! They’re talking about this on WNYC right now, but the whole discussion is about the drivers and whether to privatize, no one seems to be asking the question: why do we have the damn things when we have mass transit?

  • Anonymous

    ” I support the NYC school-bus drivers’ strike for job security in the face of privatization. ”

    School buses are the worst idea ever exported from the United States. CHildren should ride municipal buses to school as part of the process that civilizes then and prepares them for adulthood. 

    If we must use school buses, then yes, the drivers should have proper jobs for everyone’s safety, but NYC is the city least in need of them in the whole country.

  • Charles @Komanoff:disqus wrote:

    > Experienced unionized bus drivers with job security invariably drive more safely than those without.True. Why not fold them into the MTA?

  • @Komanoff:disqus 
    I think you raise a good point about safer bus drivers.

    Based on a quick read of the situation, the sticking point is that the city doesn’t want to guarantee employment for any drivers through third-party contracts. I think there’s merit to the city’s stance, even if the union has a point about the benefits of steady employment. The one thing in this situation that seems to be the most disagreeable to me is the fact that there’s a middleman in the first place – that the city transports 1.1 million children through bus routes contracted to dozens of private companies all negotiating for their own terms. Why doesn’t the DOE direct-hire the bus drivers? 

  • swifty

    Yes, Poor People First and unions are extremely important bastion of fundament human rights, but if anyone doubts that school buses are dangerous, noisy, polluting, wasteful and a very expensive way for kids to go to school please take a leisurely bike ride down Red Hook’s Van Brunt Street any school day after the strike between six or seven in the morning; never mind walk on the sidewalks and wear something to protect your lungs and be very careful crossing where you can; never mind, your life is too precious . . .

    and, dream of a future where people have good meaningful jobs not way under-employed learning advancing . . . where such ideas are not met with terrific cynicism.

  • Brad Aaron

    At least three people were killed by school bus drivers in 2012. Who knows how many injured. That number will not rise today.

    Of course it’s not that simple, for all the reasons stated and then some. But if the best we can do is “It could be worse,” I’d say the point of the headline stands.

  • Jjmacjohnson

    The attack on union workers never ends on this site.

  • Brad Aaron

    @933cea0c68f09824bde2e6aec8f7869d:disqus Read this comment thread, then get back to me on that.
    http://www.streetsblog.org/2009/08/10/what-if-everyone-drove-to-work/

  • Ian Turner

    @933cea0c68f09824bde2e6aec8f7869d:disqus : As far as I can tell, the unions’ attack on the public purse is the thing that never ends.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “A lawsuit that claims a new sidewalk must be removed because it dangerously narrows part of Pelham Parkway South should be dismissed because residents missed the deadline to file it, city lawyers argued Monday in Bronx Supreme Court.”

    I suddenly begin to wonder if missing the deadlines is part of the strategy of those who oppose pedestrian and bicycle improvements.  It lets things get dragged out longer, with a court case on the statue of limitations followed by several appeals, followed by a court case on the merits followed by several appeals.Sure beats a discussion of the merits.
    Sure beats a discussion of the merits.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The objections to bike corrals based on fears of “those people” moving in reminds of similar calls for restrictions on the types of businesses that were thought to cater to Afro-Americans 20 years ago.

    The good news is most New Yorkers are sufficiently enlightened that bigoted New Yorkers avoid calling for “white people” or “black people” to be kept out of the neighborhood or driven out of the neighborhood in a straightforward way.

    The bad news is that these sorts of prejudices are there below the surface, and tend to manifest themselves in these bizzare ways, with opposition to new schools, parks, businesses, even bicycles.  Good thing no one is threatening to open a Starbucks!

  • Brad Aaron

    Raw numbers:

    “New York City school buses were involved in 1,700 accidents last year — an average of nearly five per day, DNAinfo.com New York has learned.The accidents — all of which were caused by the public school bus drivers, Department of Education records show — resulted in more than 900 injuries, according to safety records obtained through the state’s Freedom of Information Law.”

    http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20121210/new-york-city/citys-public-school-buses-were-involved-1700-accidents-last-year

  • Guest

    Brad, no one is saying school bus drivers have a perfect record, but the stats you cite are far lower than the number of crashes caused *per month* by private automobiles, livery cabs, and taxis all of which are being used in higher than normal numbers due to the strike.  So while we may be safe from school bus drivers today, we are not safer overall.

    A school bus strike is a transportation crisis for thousands of families. I don’t think it benefits advocates to appear as we’re against motorized transportation, as @LyleLanley:disqus already mentioned.

    So your point stands on substance but fails on style, at least in my opinion.

  • swifty

    brad, roughly equivalent in material weight of two hundred one-ton autos moving one thousand people considering each subway train of six thirty-five ton subway cars . . .

    “breathtaking”

    Not really.

  • Anonymous

    School bus drivers, at least when they’re behind the wheel, seem very open to the idea of killing me, whether I’m on foot or on my bike. My anecdotal sense is that they’re not quite as murderous as garbage truck drivers but they’re considerably worse than your standard delivery truck. I’m happy not to have them on the road.

  • Anonymous

    Nevermind about the school bus drivers.  What about all the kids on their way to school who get mowed down every year by “just normal folk” drivers who speed or don’t see them due to bad street design?  Now that Science backs up common sense, and the DOT persists in prioritizing street calming measures along desolate areas of the city (bulbouts along 3rd Avenue in Brooklyn come to mind) instead of adjacent to schools, somebody really needs to cry foul on behalf of the kids.  Walking to school safely shouldn’t be a death defying feat. Safe routes to ALL schools. The time is now.

  • Joe R.

    Good riddance to the school buses. Hopefully they’ll stay on strike permanently.

  • Joe R.

    @oschwar:disqus I agree 100%. For most of the history of NYC public schools, kids went to whatever school was closest, and most walked there. There’s no good reason 152,000 out of about a million students should need to be bused. It costs the city over $1 billlion a year which is better spent in the classroom.

  • Don’t the activism police draw more attention to the activism they disapprove of by making an internal controversy out of it? And even so, it is difficult to concoct a scenario where the thing they say they are worried about happening actually happens. Nobody in sheepshead bay is studying the tone of today’s headlines in streetsblog to decide whether bike lanes and curb extensions are mainstreamy enough to satisfy their conformity fetishes. Their minds are made up one way or the other based on cultural cues much closer to home, the opinions of people they respect – and that tide continues to turn. (I think we may have under-appreciated the cultural effect of Sandy, because something positive is happening.)

    More importantly, I can’t bear to read a link to the city council’s latest plan to exempt bird watchers from double parking laws during migration season, or whatever, without a little dose of humor. Please ignore the pearl clutchers and keep the barbs coming.

  • jrab

    As a school busing alumnus, I can suggest a couple problems with the technique for Streetsblog readers who don’t share the resentment of buses that I have.

    Buses demonstrate to impressionable children that neighborhoods are single-use, and keeps them from exploring the streets around their homes (with or without their parents) as they travel to school.

    Kids waste time on buses; I got an email from a local parent saying that her sprout spent an hour and a half each day on the bus. If the kid walked 15 minutes to school, she would have an extra hour every day for play or learning in a more interactive environment than the back of a motor vehicle.

    Buses send kids out of the neighborhood and make it more difficult for parents to pick up the kid at the school if there’s a problem.

    And, of course, there’s the poor driving record and the noisy idling diesel engines to consider as well.

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