De Blasio Gives DOT Permission to Put Safety Above Community Board Whims

Mayor de Blasio says “community boards don’t get to decide” which streets will be made safer. Will DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg follow through?
Mayor de Blasio says “community boards don’t get to decide” when streets will be made safer. Will DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg follow through?

When DOT allows community boards to veto street safety projects, streets aren’t as safe for walking and biking as they could be.

This year, for instance, when facing opposition or anticipating blowback from community boards, DOT watered down a road diet and other safety measures planned for Riverside Drive; proposed disjointed bike lanes for Kingston and Brooklyn avenues; abandoned a project that would have converted a dangerous slip lane in Harlem into a public plaza; and stalled a road diet for 111th Street in Corona, despite support from Council Member Julissa Ferreras.

This is bad policy that can have catastrophic real-world consequences. This week an MTA bus driver killed a pedestrian while making a turn that would have been eliminated had DOT not bowed to community board demands to scrap the plan.

Bill de Blasio has recently been taking a firmer tone about the limits of community board influence on housing policy, and last week Streetsblog suggested the same approach should apply to street design.

Maybe the mayor read that post, because in a Wall Street Journal feature on Vision Zero published Monday, de Blasio explicitly gave Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg the latitude to implement safety improvements that don’t get a “yes” vote from community boards:

Others say City Hall officials have been too deferential toward the city’s community boards when it comes to street redesigns. Recently, the city scrapped pedestrian islands that had been proposed for Riverside Drive after opposition from a Manhattan community board. Similar criticisms surfaced under Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“They’ll know they need to narrow vehicular traffic lanes or remove parking spaces, but if a community board rejects them they’ll go back to the drawing board and change it,” said Keegan Stephan, an organizer with the pro-biking group Right of Way.

Mr. de Blasio said he is prepared to move forward with or without their support. “I respect community boards,” he said. “But community boards don’t get to decide.”

That’s what Vision Zero is supposedly all about — the moral imperative of preventing needless deaths. Let’s see what Trottenberg and DOT do with the mayor’s public stand supporting safety over the whims of community boards.

  • Andrew

    Eugene Falik is (or was) chair of the Bayswater Civic Association’s Traffic Committee.

    This is Eugene Falik. And this. Oddly enough, he doesn’t think there are enough speed limit signs.

    Believe it or not, this guy’s for real.

  • Andrew

    He is serious. Believe it or not.

  • eugenefalik

    IF you had read the original posting, I said that the pedestrians were crossing against the red light and facing “Don’t Walk” signs. They stand in the street, as close to the vehicles as they can and hold their briefcases in front of them so that a vehicle lawfully proceeding on a green light is likely to be damaged by the briefcase.

  • eugenefalik

    More pedestrian prosecutions would do wonders to lessen injuries.

  • eugenefalik

    State law (NYS Vehicle and Traffic law, section 1180) is that the speed limit throughout the state is 55 mph UNLESS a jurisdiction has enacted a lower speed limit AND posted it at all entrances. When the NYC speed limit purported to be 30 mph, there were almost no igns at entrances to the city.

  • eugenefalik

    As usual, you people live on anecdotal “evidence.” Engineers use real data. That’s why you prefer traffic management by political hacks instead of engineers. When the Zero Vision program starts to cost the city and state billions of dollars for failure to comply with federal law, you people will be back in the cold.

  • eugenefalik

    But that is exactly the point. Traffic engineering can have a dramatic effect on safety. Politics may or may not. Of course, as stated previously, removing drunks or those under the influence from the road along with those who are unlicensed or whose licenses have been suspended or revoked would go far to making the roads safer as would correcting defective vehicle (bus) design that results in significant blind spots. But the nuts on this blog aren’t interested in facts.

    I think that I’ve finished wasting time here.

  • bolwerk

    Hey, it’s Poe’s Law, not Poe’s Rule of Thumb, for a reason!

    A quatloo for you if you can find a post where he condescends to someone about how ignorance of the law is no excuse.

  • Andrew

    IF you had read the original posting, I said that the pedestrians were crossing against the red light and facing “Don’t Walk” signs.

    Actually, no, you said nothing of the sort.

    They stand in the street, as close to the vehicles as they can and hold their briefcases in front of them so that a vehicle lawfully proceeding on a green light is likely to be damaged by the briefcase.

    Yet somehow I’ve never seen or heard of a motor vehicle damaged by a pedestrian’s briefcase. So perhaps pedestrians and their pernicious briefcases aren’t quite the threat you make them out to be.

    If you’re seriously worried that a briefcase will damage your car, you’re driving way too fast. Slow the heck down.

  • Andrew

    More pedestrian prosecutions would do wonders to lessen injuries.

    Which traffic engineer makes that outlandish claim?

  • Andrew

    Way to miss the point.

  • Andrew

    As usual, you people live on anecdotal “evidence.” Engineers use real data.

    And your rants about pedestrians and their menacing briefcases fit into which of these two categories, anecdotal “evidence” or real data?

  • Andrew

    Traffic engineering can have a dramatic effect on safety.

    Indeed. Traffic engineering that takes into account the needs of pedestrians can have a dramatic positive effect on safety. Traffic engineering that ignores pedestrians can have a dramatic negative effect on safety. Which of the two approaches do you espouse?

    Of course, as stated previously, removing drunks or those under the influence from the road along with those who are unlicensed or whose licenses have been suspended or revoked would go far to making the roads safer as would correcting defective vehicle (bus) design that results in significant blind spots.

    Redesigning streets to improve the pedestrian experience and penalizing drivers who choose to engage in illegal acts that endanger others would go far to making the roads safer. Improving infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists, and bus riders gives people reasonable options for getting around and reduces the number of drivers on the road, further improving safety. But that doesn’t fit your narrative, since you don’t want to have to slow down or bother to watch for pedestrians and cyclists.

    But the nuts on this blog aren’t interested in facts.

    I think the reader can determine who the nut is. (Watch out for those menacing briefcases!)

    I think that I’ve finished wasting time here.

    Good riddance.

  • Alicia

    You missed the point yet again. fdtuft wasn’t “calling names”, he was poking fun at bob’s spelling.

  • fdtutf

    Correct, or more accurately just making a mild joke about the spelling. Thank you.

  • Andrew

    Those pernicious briefcases must have chiseled away at his sense of humor.

  • neroden

    Way to blame the victims. When a driver speeds onto the sidewalk to bypass traffic and runs over pedestrians, you blame the pedestrian.

    Go to hell.

  • neroden

    Neither the mayor nor the Transportaiton Commissioner may, by law, make any alterations to roads which make pedestrians less safe; this constitutes reckless endangerment. But they have done so for decades.

  • neroden

    As usual, you live by anecdotal “evidence”. People like us use real data.

    Real data shows that the crash rate of auto drivers over 65 is higher than for drivers under 65; the crash rate of auto drivers over 75 is higher than for drivers under 75; and so on.

    Perhaps your 101-year-old father is an exception. But that’s just an anecdote. Most 101-year-olds would not pass a driving test; we know this for a fact.

  • neroden

    The 30 mph signs are posted at every entrance to the city where cars are allowed. Every single one.

  • eugenefalik

    Take a ride on Central Park West at 86 Street. Do it on a rainy night. A classic case of politics over MUTCD.

  • eugenefalik

    This is contained in section ???? of the Administrative Code? City Charter? Vehicle and Traffic Law? Your wishbook?

    Most engineering involves choices, sometimes even who will live and who will die.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    the real reason women get raped is because they fail to dress defensively /s

  • Alexander Vucelic

    eliminating cars from Park Avenue during Summer Streets – in 5 years not a single person was hurt or killed where cars were eliminated. That’s a pefect record.

  • eugenefalik

    Not the last time that I took the Southern State west bound to the Belt. And generally but not always) they are now 25 mph, but what’s the difference?

  • eugenefalik

    Absolutely. Let’s ban all motor vehicles from the city. I have room on my property to farm. Do you? Perhap you’ll get a mult to bring in food? The streets were a lot safer in those days!

  • Alexander Vucelic

    gene,

    you asked for one exsmple – you got it 🙂

    BTW – somehow , mysteriously, the ancients of 1905 Manhattan had great secret wisdom and great magic powers which we fail to master. See these ancients were able to move food and goods for a island with a larger population than we have today WITHOUT Killing Motor Vehicles !!!!

    Amazing; Incredible; Magic

    Even our greatest minds are unable to unlock the secrets of how it was possible to move goods and food in 1905 Manhattan without killing & maiming 50,000 New Yorkers every year.

    We must ask our scribes to study each and every codex, scroll, and inscription for the answer must be buried within

  • ahwr

    See these ancients were able to move food and goods for a island with a larger population than we have today WITHOUT Killing Motor Vehicles !!!!

    Instead they used killing horses, wagons, streetcars, subways/els etc…

    In 1907 362 fatalities in Manhattan were caused by vehicle crashes. 37 by automobiles.

    https://books.google.com/books?id=wkVRAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA494#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Nationwide if the per capita death rate from vehicle crashes was the same in 2014 as it was in 1907 then there would have been close to 87k deaths instead of 33k. That’s excluding the deaths from pollution and disease resulting from transportation which have declined substantially. Disease was a big problem when NYC had 120k horses shitting in the streets.

    http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/06/09/when-horses-posed-a-public-health-hazard/

    http://www.banhdc.org/archives/ch-hist-19711000.html

    I’m not saying there isn’t room for improvement. Just that the past was no utopia. Pretending it was helps nothing.

  • Joe R.

    I think the point was more that NYC was able to function without large numbers of motor vehicles. Obviously we’re not going back to horses, plus rail is much safer now than it was back then. The primary cause of transportation deaths nowadays is motor vehicles. Those who say the city can’t drastically reduce the number of motor vehicles on the streets without impairing its ability to function are ignoring the reality of a century ago. Private automobiles can mostly disappear yesterday and the city will function just fine. Delivery trucks and the like might take longer to get rid of, but it can probably be done.

    Carnage alone isn’t the sole reason for wanting to reduce the numbers of motor vehicles. In general heavy traffic delays other modes, plus it radically reduces the quality of life with noise and pollution.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    Manhattan Population was almost 50% greater . This Population was comcentrated below 60th street resulting in a density greater than Calcutta.

    Surely a dangerous mix

    Manhattan was then a manufacturing hub – heavy Equipment and goods moving.

    Street Railways Account for 50% of 1907 deaths. Are you suggestiing we’d still use street Rail to move goods today ?

    Would be better the see injured rates of 1907 to understand the different risk Profile

    Today – Cars kill or maim 50,000 New Yorker’s Every year.

  • ahwr

    ~2.3 million people in Manhattan in 1907 and more deaths than all of NYC with 8 million people today.

    Don’t know if the injury data you want exists.

    The way the “ancients of Manhattan” moved people and goods was far deadlier than the system we have today. Shifting from their horse based system to automobiles was a public health and livability bonanza. As I said in the earlier post, there’s room for improvement today, but the past was no utopia.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    What was injury rate ? 50,000 (today) versus ?

  • Alexander Vucelic

    how about lets all agree that the 20,000 Manhattanites who commute in Their single occupancy private cars to Their Jobs in Manhattan need to stop being subsidizer for Their commute ?

    how about we all agree that the 30% of CBD motor traffic that has no destination in the CBD also cease being subsidized ?

    how about we all agree that street space Is simply too valuable to allow people to store Their private Property ( cars ) for free ?

  • Joe R.

    Really the same thing applies to subsidizing car commutes for anyone driving in the city. That especially applies to people who drive in from outside the city. If we stopped doing those things, my guess is traffic will drop by at least 50%.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    about 150,000 private cars commute Into the CBD daily

  • fdtutf

    And the reason for fetishizing the MUTCD would be?

  • Miles Bader

    Eugene fetishizes cars, so it’s no wonder he does the same for things that promote cars….

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