Today’s Headlines

  • $185 Million in Federal Sandy Funds Will Flood-Proof Amtrak Gateway Tunnel (DNA, News, CapNY)
  • 30 Percent of Citi Bike Members Are Women; JSK: “We’ve Got to Do Better” (Velojoy)
  • Hot Ride: Man Faces Larceny Charges After Riding Off With Improperly Docked Citi Bike (Post, News)
  • Woman, 25, Injured on Bike-Share; Police Say She Ran Red Light (Advance, Post)
  • Petrosino Square Bike-Share Protest Shows There Isn’t Room for Art… By Staging Art (Gothamist)
  • Gawker Shows a Strong Grasp of Donald Shoup’s Principles for Curbside Parking Policy
  • DOT Buckles Under Pressure on 125th Street Bus Plan, So the Observer Talks About… Bikes?
  • Upper Manhattan (DNA) and Bronx Neighborhoods (News) Ask DOT for Slow Zones
  • Jimmy Vacca’s Transportation Committee Devotes Hearing to Muni-Meter Paper (News)
  • Why Is It So Hard to Travel From Brooklyn to Queens? (Atlantic Cities, 2nd Ave Sagas)
  • Staten Island Residents Ask City for Better Sidewalks and Bike Lanes in St. George (DNA)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Ever try to get from Brooklyn to Queens, two of the most populated boroughs of New York City? Without a car, it’s nearly impossible, as most subway lines require one to go through Manhattan first.”

    No problem on a bicycle. I can beat a subway trip from Windsor Terrace to Citifield.

    Brooklyn to Staten Island, and Queens to the Bronx, are tougher.

  • carma

    i go from queens to brooklyn quite often. ive done it by car, train, bike.
    without traffic it takes me <30 minutes.

    with bqe traffic it takes 1 hr + (not including parking)

    train if i time the connections can take 1hr 15 minutes to 1hr 30 + a bus transfer from where i am.

    by bicycle, its always 55 minutes for a 13.6 mile trek unless there is a headwind blowing towards me.

    i WISH there was a better interborough train. no, the g train doesnt cut it since it got circumcised to court sq.

  • Jared R

    Bring back the circumferential railroad proposal.

  • Anonymous

    The folks from Gawker read Streetsblog, even if they’re wary of linking to it. By the pattern and tone of their stories. there’s no way they don’t.

  • Voter

    Wow. Just wow. Lose $2 to a parking meter and Jimmy Vacca is on it. Lose your life to a reckless driver and Jimmy Vacca is nowhere to be found.

    We need a new transportation committee chair pronto.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I’m sure speaker Vacca will appoint one.

    What is the meaning of all the Mayoral candidates going all out to signal their hostility to those who ride bicycles? And to the fair share solid waste plan? The same as a million other discussions, and secret phone calls, in New York, particularly in the state legislature.

    A small share of the population with existing privileges matters a lot. The rest and the common future matter not at all.

    Whose fault is that? The politicians? The media? Or the vast majority of people, who do not bother, and do not matter?

    Hint hint. It really doesn’t matter how hard you pressed when you filled in the circle to vote for Obama. You are still screwed.

  • tyler

    Vacca’s ridiculousness aside… When I rented a car in Europe and parked in Amsterdam (of all places), the meters were a little more logical in one way. If fee parking ended in 30 mins, but you paid for 2 hours, the receipt would read 8:30 AM — the next morning. (i.e., the remaining 1-1/2 hrs after fee parking started again.) Why don’t ours do that?

  • Larry Littlefield

    “A police report says a New Yorker in his mid-20s was riding the new blue, Citi Bike bicycle south on MacDougal St. at Houston St. in the city’s West Village neighborhood when the accident occurred Thursday afternoon. The report says the cyclist was trying to beat the light when he was struck by a livery driver in an SUV, who had the green light.”

    Houston is a wide street. The cyclist was on the side street, crossing it.

    If you are riding at a leisurely pace and barely catch a green light, you will be riding against a red by the time you get to the other side.

    And if a motor vehicle jumps the green going the other way, or worse there are no motor vehicles backed up and a speeding vehicle hits the light just as it turns green, they will hit you.

    I’ve run into the same problem at Delancey and Lafayette, though the light pattern seems to have changed.

    Walking or riding, the transition from green to red is dangerous when crossing NYC arterials. Another risk is crossing with a green light but having to stop because of a wave of jaywalkers, and getting hit from the side as the light changes.

  • mike

    So that’s the first reported accident in how many thousand Citibike rides? Not bad, really. Bound to happen sooner or later.

  • Stacy Walsh Rosenstock

    Anyone who jumps a light on Houston Street is taking a chance, whether they’re walking, on a bike, or in a car. THe bikes state right on the handlebars that you should not run red lights… I wonder what happens when someone does have an accident. Is the rider responsible for repairs? Are they responsible for the entire bike?

  • Anonymous

    I completely agree that jumping a light in Houston is stupid. That said, I hesitate before taking the Post’s version of the NYPD version of a crash as fact, given their history of … how do you call it? … lying.

  • Anonymous

    I travel between Brooklyn and Queens a lot. Mostly between North Brooklyn, and Southwest Queens. These areas are very close geographically, separated only by a stretch of the Newtown Creek and associated kills and inlets.

    By bike its almost never more than 20 minutes.
    By car, it’s about 12-15 minutes with no traffic, and can be easily 30-45 minutes if traffic is heavy (not including parking).
    By train, it’s 45 minutes at best (3 different trains required) and can easily be over an hour at off peak times.
    A bus-train combo (1 bus, 1 train) can be done in 20-25 minutes, but that’s only if the bus is running on schedule (almost never) and is usually more like an hour.

  • Stephen Bauman

    The cyclist may not have run a red light. The duration to go from green in one direction to green in the other is 4.5 seconds (3 seconds green and 1.5 seconds red-red).

    A cyclist going 10 mph will travel 68 feet during 4.5 seconds. Houston St is approximately 100 feet wide. That cyclist crossing Houston St with a green light is not guaranteed safe passage across Houston. That cyclist can end up halfway through the far roadway before hitting cross traffic. A slower rider, say 8mph, will travel only 54 feet before encountering cross traffic.

    I have ignored the effect of traffic light placement. NYC does not follow FHWA guidelines for size, number and placement of traffic signals. The FHWA guidelines were established by engineers whose criteria was to make sure the signals were visible to drivers. They took horizontal and vertical fields of vision among other factors into account in determining what would be visible. NYC is not required to follow these guidelines because its speed limit is 30 mph. However, the lower speed limit has not increased driver visual acuity.

    The vertical field of vision is 10-15 degrees and traffic light height is 15-20 feet above street level. This means that a signal will not be visible to somebody looking straight ahead who is closer than 55 feet to the signal.

    The signals for cross traffic on Houston St are placed on the medians. They are approximately 50 feet away from the cross street. An approaching cyclist or motorist will not see a light change from green after entering the intersection because it is no longer in his field of vision. Any car travelling more than 15 mph would clear Houston St before cross traffic had a green signal.

    The cyclist would have the option of bailing out at the median, if he knew the light had changed from green. However, there’s nothing in his field of vision to alert him to this change. If NYC also placed traffic lights at the far side of the intersection, the cyclist would be able to pick up the change. He would be able to stop before cross traffic got a green signal.

  • Anonymous

    Can you help me with my kid’s science fair exhibit?

  • Driver

    However, there’s nothing in his field of vision to alert him to this change.

    There is the pedestrian signal, which usually stops flashing when the light turns yellow. And many of these pedestrian signals now have countdown timers, which would give an accurate indication of when the light is going to change.

  • Joe R.

    You may well be correct here. Strictly speaking, any traffic which is at least halfway through the intersection when the light goes from yellow to red hasn’t run the red light. And the way the traffic lights are set up, with 1.5 or so seconds of red-red, that works fine for motor vehicles traveling at 30 mph. You cover 66 feet in 1.5 seconds at 30 mph. That means you can get halfway across even a very wide (~130 feet) street before cross traffic gets the green.

    Obviously this doesn’t work for bicycles, especially for slower cyclists on wide, busy streets. Assuming there was a pedestrian signal, that can be used sometimes if the main traffic signal isn’t visible. I use pedestrian countdown signals all the time to gauge whether or not I can make lights. If I’m a block away and have 8 seconds or more, I can usually make the light (unless I have headwinds or am traveling uphill) by picking up the pace. If I know I’m not making the light on green, I might still try if I can hit the intersection before the yellow-red transition. I’m usually safely across before cross traffic gets the green. The caveat when doing this is that I check to see if and where cars on the cross street are. If there are no cars waiting for the green light on the cross street, then it’s safe to hit the intersection at full speed on the yellow-red transition. If cars are waiting on the near side but not the far side, it’s also generally safe (note: I cover my brake and am ready to do a quick right turn in case these cars “jump the light”). If cars are waiting on the far side of the intersection, I don’t deem it safe to pass on the yellow-red transition, so I slow down or stop, and treat the red the same as I normally treat steady reds (i.e. look both ways, only proceed if there’s no cross traffic within about 100 feet of the intersection).

    OK, that’s how I treat lights which are transitioning but what about the situation mentioned by Stephen? If I’m riding slowly, perhaps because it’s a steep upgrade or a strong headwind, I can still get caught with cross traffic crossing a wide intersection even if I start crossing on green. Unfortunately, unless the intersection has pedestrian countdown timers, you really have no way of knowing how long you have before the light changes. Some pedestrian signals flash red 20 times before going steady red, others only 3 or 4 times. We really need to have make countdown timers mandatory at wide, busy intersections. I don’t know if Houston Street has them or not. If so, then it’s imperative for cyclists to use them to determine whether or not they can cross before cross traffic gets the green light.

  • Steve–agree 100%. Just made the same comment (without nearly the same technical depth!) on the more recent thread before I read this.

  • Daphna

    It is a shame the NYPD and Post reporters do not do investigating and analysis before inaccurately making the harmful victim blaming statement that the cyclist ran a red light. At least the Advance reported that the victim was trying to beat the light. If a vehicle is across the stop bar (or the crosswalk in the event of no stop bar) when the light is still green, even if the light turns yellow and red shortly thereafter, the vehicle is supposed to proceed through the intersection. This is the law. All vehicles, including bikes, are supposed to proceed through an intersection if they crossed either the stop bar or the crosswalk while the light was still green. It may not be wise for cyclists who travel at lesser speeds than autos, but it is the lawful way.

  • Joe R.

    While on this topic, in December I rode from my place to a friend’s place in Coney Island, 17.5 miles each way. By train it’s at least 1 hr 35. Driving might be as quick as 30 minutes or as long as 1.5 hours (I don’t drive but when my friend comes to my place that’s his range of travel times). By bike it took 1 hr 20 each way. That’s fighting stiff headwinds each way. On a normal day I easily could have made the trip in 10 or 15 minutes less. 8 of the 17.5 miles are on the Belt Parkway Greenway where I can ride continually at whatever speed I want.

  • Daphna

    Every driver has to carry insurance by law and there is a “no fault” insurance rule in NY. Thus the driver’s insurance must cover the damage to the bike and cover the victim’s medical bills that are not covered by his/her own insurance. Hopefully the victim will know to file a claim against the driver’s insurance under the no fault category.

  • Joe R.

    Yes, you’re correct here that any vehicle which enters an intersection on green has the legal right-of-way, even if it doesn’t reach the other side before cross traffic gets the green. It’s always prudent to check for cross traffic at all times, even when you have a green light. Had the motorists on the cross street done this, the collision never would have happened. Unfortunately, drivers in this city treat traffic lights like the Christmas tree at drag strips. Once it goes green, it’s pedal to the metal and everyone better just get out of the way.

  • Stacy Walsh Rosenstock

    In New York State No Fault Insurance covers medical but I’m not so sure about property.http://www.dfs.ny.gov/consumer/faqs/faqs_nofault.htm

    Either way, I’d imagine the rider would have to receive some kind of bill from CityBike before they could attempt to recover any damages to the bike.

  • Stephen Bauman

    There’s a problem using the far side pedestrian signal at this intersection (MacDougal&Houston). It’s outside the horizontal field of vision at distances beyond 88 ft from the signal. That’s assuming there’s nothing blocking the line of sight because the lower mounted pedestrian signal can be blocked from the roadway by pedestrians.

    The cyclist is really in no-man’s land as soon as he crosses that first traffic lane on Houston.

  • Andrew

    I had no objection to this issue when Greenfield first raised it, and I have no objection to it now that Vacca is on it. If they were seriously addressing some of the existing transportation crises, such as the death-by-car crisis or the transit funding crisis, and also asked the city to please find a way to fix the machines to not take money when they’re out of paper, I’d be 100% on their side.

    But if their only concern is the receipt paper, then I have major objections.

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