Today’s Headlines

  • Ray Kelly, Calling Speeding “Inherently Dangerous,” Urges Albany to Enact Speed Cams (News)
  • Police Union and Marty Golden Oppose Speed Cams Because They Aren’t Human Cops (News)
  • Bushwick Precinct Issued Eight Speeding Tickets Last Year (News)
  • Woman, 50, in Critical Condition After Out-of-Control Driver Hits Her on Mosholu Parkway (Post)
  • After S.I. Pols Push MTA to Nix SBS Blue Lights, Riders Having Trouble Telling Buses Apart (CapNY)
  • Metro-North to Penn Station Offers a Glimpse at MTA’s Next Capital Plan (2nd Ave Sagas)
  • Repeat DWI Ex-Cop Gets Reduced Sentence for Killing Bronx Grandma Who Was Crossing Street (Post)
  • Two Officers Busted for DWI and Hit-and-Run in Queens (NewsDNA, Post)
  • So This Is What It Takes for NYPD to Arrest Someone for a Car Crash (Post)
  • Judge Tells Cyclist to Pay Up After NYPD Issues $1,250 Fine in Single Traffic Stop (Gothamist)
  • In North Brooklyn, Drivers Want Cops to Look the Other Way on Double Parking (Bklyn Paper)
  • Brooklyn Spoke Has Little Patience for Vinegar Hill’s Anti-Bike Nonsense
  • State Wants Substantive Tappan Zee Public Input: Slanted or Square Tower Tops? (LoHud)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Speed Cam Bill PBA opposes speed cams because live cops on the street are better. maybe so…but that’s not where the live cops are being deployed. 90%+ of the speeding enforcement is done on the controlled access highways, where “cops on the street” is meaningless. As a practical matter, no speed cams means no speeding enforcement in new York City neighborhoods, because for the most part cops don’t do speeding enforcement in neighborhoods.

  • Anonymous

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/nyregion/new-york-state-will-fight-fake-licenses-with-new-tactics.html

    I’m glad NY state is working hard at protecting us from underage drinkers. But you know what would be even better? Making sure that only safe drivers are licensed; revoking the licenses of drivers who kill or injure, and having real penalties for driving when a license has been revoked due to dangerous driving.

  • Bolwerk

    Having deliberately accomplished no permanent improvements, the SBS experiment is probably winding down. Drivers now are openly flouting the SBS lane restrictions, and the cops are too busy frisking minorities and pestering cyclists to care. The paint is wearing off the SBS lanes, where they even bothered to use any. After Bloomberg is gone, there will be no defender of even this paltry improvement and Mayor Quinn or Mayor Liu can reclaim the lanes for the suburbanites.

  • Bolwerk

    The solution to “underage drinking” is legalizing it and enjoying the extra tax revenue, instead of blowing countless billions$ trying to stop it. Of course, anti-alcohol prigs can’t imagine they’re the cause of most of the problem they seek to eradicate.

    If they were worried about the safety of young people, they’d have made the driving age 21.

  • Anonymous

    Reclaim the lanes for more congestion that is. I wish people weren’t so stupid. More lanes = more congestion. More parking spots = more people trying to park, which means, the same or less available parking.

  • Don’t tell that to the commuters who use SBS and see a significant improvement in commute times. It’s a program that matters and that now has more political support than whatever suburbanites can muster. Support the idea politically because it provides a real benefit, don’t just tear it down because you’re dissatisfied with the quality of the execution.

  • Anonymous

    I think (a) underage drinking laws contribute to the infantilization of the culture and (b) they are necessary under the current model of private automobile ownership. They demonstrably save lives, spare people many injuries and much personal pain, etc.:
    http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/809860.pdf

    (If you like your research sauced with straight Liberterianism and very carefully parsed to accord with ideology, there’s this: http://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/regulation/2009/2/v32n1-1.pdf.)

    Obviously, because these laws infantalize people, they also contribute to all kinds of problems–among them, I’m guessing, binge drinking and idiot culture generally.

    I’d be very happy to have the legal driving age raised to 21–or work to rejig the car insurance formula such that young drivers become essentially uninsurable. But that will be a very hard sell almost everywhere outside of this one city.

  • Anonymous

    “So This Is What It Takes for NYPD to Arrest Someone for a Car Crash”

    This story is exactly why car ignition and operation credentialing needs to join us in the 21st century.

    Cars should not allow ignition/drive engagement until a licensed driver inserts their license (car reads smart chip to ID the driver, look for restrictions, etc.). Driver also types in a PIN on a pad, or uses a fingerprint reader. Car can now drive…
    Such a requirement will eliminate all those drunk driver hit and runs where the owner denies they were behind the wheel at the time of the wreck. Can’t deny it if it’s recorded to the black box.

    In this case, the driver leaving the seat should reset the credential/permissions. Modern cars know when someone leaves the driver’s seat – it’s part of the air bag system.

    Of course, this was not a modern car. But we have to start somewhere.

  • Bolwerk

    I trust the “Libertarians” even less than I trust the government’s attempts to validate its own policies. However, I don’t see anything “demonstrable” about the claim that the laws save lives, and find at least as much anecdotal evidence to the contrary. Quelle surprise (especially to Rand fans), authoritarianism usually doesn’t bring about good outcomes. One probable outcome is they delay death until 21; also likely, they increase alcohol-related deaths by criminalizing the social process of learning to handle alcohol by consuming it with role models, never you mind binge drinking.

    But yeah, of course addressing the problem effectively requires political change on multiple fronts. The key problem is cars the killer, not booze, even if you recognize that the two don’t mix well.

  • Bolwerk

    Well, it was a significant improvement in commute times. I don’t know how much SBS advocates/planners actually use it (I suspect most of them drive), but it quite literally has become a lot more like any other bus since they removed the lights.

    Anyway, I’m not saying it’s an
    inherently bad idea; I’m saying it was designed to be undermined. At least First Ave. and 34th Street
    should have been permanently segregated LRT, which, while somewhat more
    expensive up front, would have been impervious to this issue with lights
    and, even better, not a place drivers would go. Nobody wanted to commit to permanently dedicated space for surface transit.

  • I agree with you factually, but this should make us determined to see through a proper citywide BRT network. Shrinking from the task only means the suburbanites have won.

  • Bolwerk

    I’m not sure what citywide BRT network means. I really think, conceptually, lane-segregated SBS is fine the further away from Manhattan you get. Inside Manhattan and nearer to it, LRT needs to be an option – especially since it’s much harder for the suburbanites to take it away from us once we have it!

    With allowances for some elevated highway structures that aren’t going away, I think the idea of grade separated BRT in New York City is mostly just silly. Subway costs with bus performance – no thanks, just build a subway.

  • Joe R.

    And speed enforcement on limited access highways serves no safety purpose whatsoever, even for motorists, because the speed limits on the highways in NYC are about 15 or 20 mph too low in most cases. It’s just another case of the police doing enforcement where it brings in the most revenue. For the same reason, don’t be surprised if most of the speed cams end up on limited access highways. For some reason we’re worried about people going 60 mph on a road where most of the time it’s perfectly safe to do 75, but nobody cares that we have drivers going well over 40 mph in areas with pedestrians and cyclists.

  • Joe R.

    I feel the same way. I had my first taste of alcohol when I was about 6. And I never became an alcoholic, probably because alcohol wasn’t a “forbidden fruit”. While we’re at it, let’s not forget the 40 year “war on drugs” which not only hasn’t stopped recreational drug use, but probably made the problem worse. The more silly laws there are, the more we have adults who act like children because they’re treated like children.

  • Joe R.

    If the city wants to improve SBS, how about they do it right? That means bus lanes physically separated from the rest of the road by jersey barriers or bollards, traffic signal preemption, and higher speed limits for buses. The latter wouldn’t make a difference for local service but it would speed up express buses significantly.

  • Politically and logistically, the current SBS solution for First and Second Avenues is mostly fine. Enforcement issues aside, there’s a benefit to riders and those lanes are still useful and safe for other urgent traffic uses. Boo hoo for Joey Baggodonuts from Bay Ridge who hates taking the R train.

    Anyway, that solution, as non-ideal as it is, should also work for all the other major cross streets. We don’t need grade-separated bus or rail transit. The right move for transit corridors is: local bus service, SBS, then a potential look at subway expansion (like, for example, the proposed Second Avenue subway design that was deemed necessary, oh, only 70 years ago). Surface light rail is a nonstarter in this political culture, though it’s a capacity upgrade from SBS and a lot less expensive than subway transit. Maybe we can get that sort of thing on the capital plan in 10 years. Sadly, right now our struggles to win political sign-offs on infrastructure upgrades are barely enough to get 6-foot bike lanes approved.

  • Bolwerk

    No, shatter the boxes. What is good about the SBS is the POP collection, length, dedicated lanes, and the quasi-level boarding. At least the first should be employed on every bus in the city; the others should be employed, over time, where possible. Plenty of corridors in the city are past the point where SBS/BRT is sufficient surface transit, however, and First Ave. is one of them.

    The offensive part is all this saves money, over time. LRT lowers operating costs over buses, and POP lowers collection and operating costs, including fuel, vs. not having POP. I imagine it’s even good labor relations, since I doubt drivers are especially eager to worry about collection.

  • Andrew

    On the contrary, SBS is starting up on the M60, B44, and Bx41 later this year. And if you claim there have been no permanent improvements, then what’s this? http://mta.info/mta/planning/sbs/docs/SBS-M15-ProgressReport.pdf

    Even if the new city administration isn’t as gung ho about SBS as Sadik-Khan is, NYCT, which actually operates the buses, is still very much in favor. SBS is one NYCT project that’s garnered a good deal of political support. It isn’t going away any time soon. At the very least, there will be seven SBS routes in place by the end of Bloomberg’s tenure, assuming all runs according to the current schedule.

  • Andrew

    So, the Brooklyn precinct that issued the most speeding tickets in 2012, in Greenpoint, issued an average of 1.5 per day. The one that issued the next-highest number of speeding tickets, in Sheepshead Bay, issued about one ticket every two days.

    Ten times more tickets were issued for tinted windows than for speeding.

  • Bolwerk

    You may be able to make a case for that in the boonies, but the speed limits in NYC probably are about right. Do you really think anyone should be going over 50 on the FDR?

  • Bolwerk

    That’s…exactly what I mean. Those are bus lanes, where the paint wears off and police start ignoring their enforcement duties. They should have been permanently separated lanes that nobody else could drive in, at the very least, but that would be too bold.

    Evidently, either that’s an old document or the stock photos they used are old. Of course, given my suspicion that SBS advocates aren’t quite so coextensive with SBS users, I guess that works.

  • Joe R.

    It all depends on the curvature of the road. Maybe 50 is OK for the FDR, but most of the LIE once you get out of the Midtown Tunnel is good for 75 or 80. It’s good for about 100 once you’re past the Nassau-Suffolk border. If we actually start enforcing the 30 mph limit on local streets, I’m all for increasing expressway speed limits as a way of giving an incentive to use them. If you’re more likely to get a speeding ticket on local streets than on the expressway (instead of vice versa as is the case now) then more people will use expressways.

  • Andrew

    That link is to the one-year progress report, issued in November 2011. Since then, at least one bus bulb has been installed (although they were all supposed to be installed by now – I’m not sure what the holdup has been), and I think camera enforcement has expanded to the buses as well as to fixed cameras. Ridership on the M15 SBS is continuing to grow, while ridership on the local is declining. SBS is not perfect, but it’s a major improvement over what it replaced, and it’s had a lot of political support.

    Bus lane enforcement should never be primarily entrusted to the police – it should be automated as much as possible. It’s hard for a motorist to argue that he wasn’t delaying bus service when a bus took a picture of his car in the bus lane.

    If there were a single physically separated bus lane, buses would never be able to pass each other. That would cause problems whenever the SBS caught up with a local and whenever a bus had a particularly long dwell, say to pick up a wheelchair. (There are a lot of hospitals along the M15 route, so it picks up more wheelchairs than most lines.)

    You claim that “the SBS experiment is probably winding down” as the SBS system continues to grow.

  • Joe R.

    You have a point about physical separation and buses passing each other. I think that could be mitigated by having some of the local bus stops “indented” into the sidewalk. Yes, it takes up some sidewalk space, but maybe you only need to do this every 10 or 20 blocks.

    Automated enforcement is good also, but this being NYC it won’t keep the bus lane clear 100% of the time.

  • Andrew

    Why do you only need to do this every 10 or 20 blocks? A bus can obstruct another bus at any local or SBS stop.

    A bus isn’t a train. Why give it one of the disadvantages of trains – the limited ability to pass – when we’re not giving it offsetting advantages?

    Nothing will keep the bus lane clear 100% of the time, but decent automated enforcement can come close.

  • Anonymous

    It also depends on the potholes. The surface of many NYC highways is so bad that I wouldn’t feel safe driving at 75 mph on them even if I literally had the entire road for myself.

  • Joe R.

    I tend to think potholes enforce a lower speed on their own, regardless of what the sign says. I know it works that way on my bike. I would imagine most drivers will do likewise to keep their vehicle from being damaged.

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