Today’s Headlines

  • RPA: Canarsie Tube Project Should Include Subway Station Overhauls
  • Port Authority Cancels Bus Terminal Meeting After Electeds Refuse to Attend (Politico)
  • Will Mark-Viverito Episode Change the Way DOT Uses Twitter? (NewsNYT)
  • Gothamist, AMNY Preview This Weekend’s Shared Streets Debut
  • Ben Kallos, CB 8: Citi Bike Station on Pedestrianized UES Street Too Dangerous for Seniors (DNA)
  • DOT Reduces Amount of Space Allocated to Times Square Hustlers (DNA)
  • 149th Street Bridge in Flushing Reopens After Five-Year Closure (TL)
  • School Bus Driver Knocks Over Street Sign, Injures Woman on Tribeca Sidewalk (Post)
  • In Two Weeks, Three Staten Island Drivers Have Crashed Vehicles While ODing on Heroin (DNA)
  • Brace Yourselves: New Evidence Suggests Chris Christie Lied About Bridgegate (NYT)
  • Annoyed by Wind Noise in Your Porsche at 100 MPH? The Wall Street Journal Sees You

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Kevin Love

    From the DNA article about the “dangers” of Citi Bikes:

    “There has been a recent push by the community board and residents to turn the street, which has been closed to traffic since the 1970s, into a permanent pedestrian plaza, but that still hasn’t happened.”

    Kevin’s comment:
    Because bicycles are far, far more dangerous to seniors than car drivers and kill and injure so many more people… NOT!

    In other words, this article is about bigotry and discrimination.

  • Kevin Love

    And the DNA article about Times Square is a recurring classic theme. For the leadership of NYPD and far too many city officials, dealing with the “horror” of nipples in Times Square is a much higher priority than daily death and injury to ordinary people from traffic violence.

  • Larry Littlefield

    A lot of station overhauls were done on the Canarsie during the long CBTC project.

    If federal money was used, the MTA can’t redo that work without paying the federal government back (or at least those were the rules when I was there).

    I’d like to see tail tracks west of 8th and a middle track restored as an interim terminal and Broadway-ENY myself.

    And if you want to go crazy, extend the tracks at Jamaica Center east and take over the bus parking area along the LIRR ROW to build another yard for L and E trains, allowing the MTA to store more of them. That would make part of the ENY yard available for more L trains running from there-in.

  • Reader

    Is there a City Council member more two-faced on bike and safe-street issues than Ben Kallos? Hard to think of anyone else who comes close.

  • Morris Zapp

    Doesn’t help that he gets a pass from safe streets advocates. And he always does.

  • bolwerk

    Some of that RPA stuff seems wishywashy. Platform screen doors? L stations don’t even seem in the worst shape to me, though Bedford is quite bad at least aesthetically.

    The work that needs to be done is ADA and, as you say, tail tracks. Would ADA actually be redundant to a federal grant? And how long does that rule stay in effect? It’s at the point now where any capital work done on the L by the mid-1990s is probably halfway through its useful life now, and it was done for much less busy service.

  • sbauman

    Increasing service levels on the 14th Street Line is a non-issue until they get more trainsets capable of operating on their unique CBTC system. That’s not likely to happen soon because the MTA’s load level guidelines indicate the Canarsie Line will be within them at 22 tph.

  • Shemp

    Hopefully Streetspac takes the opportunity to de-endorse this guy next year

  • Larry Littlefield

    A few years ago the MTA believed 15 tph would be enough. The growth has to be expected to continue until it stops.

    The area’s served by the L continue to grow and evolve. Meanwhile, since you believe the Willie B is headed for a fall, don’t you think a little more redundancy is a good idea?

  • ahwr

    >In other words, this article is about bigotry and discrimination.

    That comment would make more sense if they were looking to open the street to cars but not bicycles. DOT thinks it’s an “ideal spot” because it doesn’t remove parking spots.

    Like them, you ignore the legitimacy of non transportation uses of public space.

  • Kevin Love

    If the concern was about public safety, then the priority would be to make the public space a permanent pedestrian plaza. Yes, that is a legitimate non transportation use of public space.

    As I previously posted, bicycles pose two orders of magnitude less danger to pedestrians than car drivers. 99.3% of injuries to pedestrians are caused by car drivers vs. cyclists. Please see links I previously posted for source data.

    The decision making is not based upon any consideration for public safety, just bigotry and discrimination.

  • nanter

    The Citibike station on that closed street between 3rd and 2nd on 91st is DIRECTLY adjacent to Ruppert Park which is why the concern about loss of recreation space is absurd.

    I’m so glad that ultimately Citibike and DOT end up ignoring these ridiculous CB objections.

  • nanter

    It’s really about irrational fear. People are bad at assessing risk. The seniors are going to get killed by drivers, but they’re worried about bikes because they “seem” scary because they find them unpredictable. It’s the same problem with our tax money being wasted on “counterterrorism” police officers who serve no purpose whatsoever, standing around doing nothing at subway stations in body armor holding rifles (and should anything happen would do harm by shooting a bunch of innocent civilians).

  • nanter

    Low hanging fruit and all that.

  • ahwr

    99.3% of injuries to pedestrians are caused by car drivers vs. cyclists.

    What share of travel is by car drivers vs cyclists? Do you think that 99.3% of pedestrian injuries on this pedestrianized section of 91st are due to motorists and 0.7% due to cyclists? Know that the presence of cars or bikes traveling through a public space changes how people not traveling through use that space. Maybe it doesn’t have to in other places with a different culture, but in NYC cyclists and drivers don’t behave as ‘guests’ in pedestrian spaces, just like car drivers and pedestrians don’t behave as ‘guests’ in bike spaces. Maybe it doesn’t change the way everyone uses the space. Maybe it wouldn’t for you. Maybe off your bike you are the pedestrian equivalent of a ‘strong and fearless’ cyclist who will ride with poor to nonexistent bike accommodations when that’s all that’s available. And so the presence of cyclists zipping down a hill doesn’t concern you. Should that be the only sort of person public space is available to?

    For some, a place where cyclists ride fast down a modest hill isn’t a good place to walk around without paying attention. Or to let kids play with minimal supervision. Taking away those uses of a space is a loss. But when you focus exclusively on injuries and death you ignore those loses from devoting so much land to transportation. DOT takes the same approach. An ideal spot for bike parking or a bike lane doesn’t interfere with transportation uses of public space. Other uses are ignored. This street has been closed to motor traffic for a long time. It looks like a park. It feels like a park. Should the non transportation value of this park-like space be sacrificed for the political expediency of siting a bike lane or bike share dock that doesn’t interfere with motorists? The same concerns apply whenever bike lanes and bike parking are sited in parks.

    Attempting to devalue concerns over these losses whenever there is a proposal to reappropriate pedestrian space for cyclists by screaming about alleged bigotry and discrimination is highly divisive and wins you no support outside your narrow circle of friends. Why do you feel that such divisiveness, making enemies of those who value land not devoted to motorists, is in your best interest?

    If the concern was about public safety, then the priority would be to make the public space a permanent pedestrian plaza.

    Sounds like they’ve been pushing for that. And the street has been closed to cars for decades, it’s not like there is a plan to open it to traffic that’s being ignored while they focus on bikes.

  • kevd

    While I’m unfamiliar with this particular block, I am familiar with the pedestrianized space outside Baruch College.
    One very reasonable solution – instead of requiring cyclists to dismount- simply install a bike lane, and install signage making it clear that its a slow bike zone with a maximum speed of 10mph.
    The rent a cop who currently yells at cyclist to dismount could instead yell at those who ride fast.

  • ahwr

    install signage making it clear that its a slow bike zone with a maximum speed of 10mph.

    Can you give an example in this city where such an approach is effective? Can you give an example of a bike priority cars as guests street in this city that’s effective? Just because something works well in another place with a different culture doesn’t mean you can transplant the design to NYC without issue.

  • kevd

    “a bike priority cars as guests street”
    I don’t know what that means.

  • ahwr

    But again, I’m not suggesting low speed car traffic. Just low speed bike traffic.

    Why doesn’t the shared space approach work in Riverside park?

    http://gothamist.com/2015/08/24/toddler_cyclist_hit_run_riverside_p.php

  • Shemp

    There over 400 other stations in NYC – maybe the Councilmember could check the record on whether they’ve caused any local problems

  • sbauman

    “A few years ago the MTA believed 15 tph would be enough.”

    They believed that 0 tph would be sufficient a few years before that.

    “since you believe the Willie B is headed for a fall, ”

    I never indicated that nor intended to. The fully loaded weight of an R160 is equivalent to 2000 lbs/ft. Double that for one train in each direction. That comes to 4000 lbs/ft. The live load for the Williamsburg is 7160 lb/ft. That leaves 3160 lb/ft. The live load for the VZ is 4800 lb/ft for 12 lanes of traffic. Proportionately that’s 3200 lb/ft for the Willie B’s 4 traffic lanes. Put some spacing between the trains and there’s even some load capacity available for pedestrians.

    “don’t you think a little more redundancy is a good idea?”

    Yes I do which is why I’m critical of repeated MTA blunders which have reduced capacity on the 14th Street Line. Among these are: not providing sufficient compatible rolling stock to operate at capacity when they installed CBTC; failing to design the rolling stock to utilize the full available station length and removing intermediate terminals to overcome limitations at Canarsie and 8th Ave.

    The MTA is further reducing redundancy by rejecting building a third tube. This would have completely eliminated any problems for tube reconstruction.

  • Joe R.

    Totally agree on the third tube. I even floated that idea myself when I learned the existing tubes needed to be repaired. Redundancy never hurts. In fact, a third tube during tube reconstruction would be exactly what we need to show people the value of redundancy.

  • Joe R.

    I’ve already had a similar lengthy exchange with ahwr over putting traffic signals to flashing yellow light nights. Most of his//her rebuttal took the same form of it can’t work here. Now this may or may not be true, and it may or may not be true of the subject you’re discussing, but I think it makes sense to at least try new things. If they don’t work as expected, you can always go back to what was there before.

    Maybe 5mph is better. Hard to know without ever trying something.

    5 mph gets you into a grey area where bikes become wobbly and perhaps more dangerous. I’d say 10 mph is a reasonable “slow” speed for bikes. It’s slow enough that you can stop on a dime and/or maneuver deftly around anything in your path but not so slow you wobble all over the place.

  • Joe R.

    Too much volume, perhaps? Shared spaces just don’t work when there are large numbers of either cyclists or pedestrians, or both. Large numbers of one user means mob rule at the expense of the minority user. Large numbers of both users is a mess, period.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Haven’t you said — for years — that the fact that the outer spans of the Willie B are supported from below, whereas the mid-span is supported by the cables from above, mean the bridge is putting the two towers together?

  • Vooch

    plenty of cities have Solved the question of pedestrian zones and cyclists – usually a simple Series of Signs ‘Entering pedestrian Zone cyclists please Slow Down To Walking pace’ solves the conflicts.

    When the ped Zone Is crowded at Times Square densities – dismount Signs Are Posted but Not necessary because the density of peds preclude cycling

  • ahwr

    Mixing even a handful of stressed commuters with park visitors is a bad idea. Through routes for cyclists shouldn’t be routed through pedestrian areas just because it avoids the bad press of getting rid of auto parking or makes a more pleasant place to ride. Shared spaces work in places with the culture to support them. NYC doesn’t have that culture.

  • ahwr

    Plenty of cities have a different rider culture and have the good sense not to route commuters through pedestrian rich spaces.

  • Vooch

    Plenty of cities have a different DRIVER Culture and have the good Sense Not to Route DRIVERS through pedestrian Rich spaces such As:

    Midtown
    Wall Street
    14th Steet
    Broadway
    12th Avenue
    125th Street
    Central Park
    Prospect Park
    Grand Concorse
    East Tremont Ave
    Atlantic Ave
    Astoria
    Roosevelt Avenue
    Downtown Flushing
    Williamsburg
    Brooklyn Heights

    etc
    etc

  • ahwr

    Plenty of cities have a different DRIVER Culture

    Yes they do. Which is why their solutions are not automatically appropriate in NYC.

  • bolwerk

    A variation on the “New Yorkers can’t behave” canard? I really have yet to see one traffic- or transportation-related idea work in several other cities and fail here. That is, unless the failure is political, which usually means not trying because it would fail based on some spurious assertion about behavior/culture.

    (Is the jury still out on trash can-free subway stations?)

  • kevd

    Because its a long, linear route and the only bike lane running north between the river and Central Park. (though this is changing, now I believe)

    So cyclists who are traveling long distances are funneled into a lengthy shared space. Having ridden that stretch, I would avoid it if I could.
    That isn’t a single block or plaza of shared space – where those sorts of things make sense, but the only direct bike lane north for roadies heading to the GWB, 9W and Nyack.
    NYC is forcing cyclists who are traveling long distances to go through a very popular park area for pedestrians.
    Id MUCH rather use a bike lane on riverside (or a better bike lane in the park that isn’t shared space).

    Share space is more effective as a tool to limit motor vehicles, while not overly inconveniencing non-motorized traffic.
    The riverside park shared space is about making peds and cyclists fight each other for the scraps, while leaving the spoils to drivers.

  • kevd

    “usually a simple Series of Signs ‘Entering pedestrian Zone cyclists please Slow Down To Walking pace’ solves the conflicts.”
    Usually – but there are always some assholes.
    So, enforcement may also be necessary.
    Just like with cars driving 45mph or double parking in bike lanes.

  • kevd

    “Mixing even a handful of stressed commuters with park visitors is a bad idea”
    Unless it is only over a short distance, with strong physical indicators that is not a road. Nearly everyone will ride slowly for a couple hundred feet.

    But I can mostly get on board with your statement. Shared space very much IS NOT for high volume, lengthy cycle commuting routes, but for places that break up motor vehicle routes and allow non-motorized traffic through.

  • sbauman

    The tower tops are being pulled together due to loading in the center span. It will not lead to an immediate catastrophic failure like overloading the main cables. Given the present loading, the day of reckoning for a failure due to the tower bending is many decades if not a century in the future.

    That day of reckoning can be delayed further by properly maintaining the main cable cradles in the towers. This allows the cables to move with increasing center span load, rather than the towers.

  • ahwr

    So, enforcement may also be necessary.

    Will the response to any enforcement be to criticize it as a waste of resources as long as there are drivers somewhere in the city doing _____?

  • kevd

    are asking me to speak for every person on a bike everywhere?
    You’re a fuckin’ muppet.

  • Joe R.

    I don’t know how you would enforce against speeding bicycles on such a street. There’s no motorized vehicles, so how do you catch the speeder in the first place unless they voluntarily stop? On top of that chasing a speeding bike is likely to make things even more dangerous. Now you have two vehicles speeding, not just one. And the chase will prompt the fleeing cyclist to go faster than they otherwise might have.

    What would most likely happen is you’ll only be giving out sanctions for excessive speed if the speeding actually results in someone getting hit. That’s probably OK since it penalizes the people who actually caused harm.

    I personally think speeding on bike-ped streets is mostly self-enforcing. If there are lots of people walking then it’s hard for cyclists to go fast. As a result, most don’t even try. When there are few people walking you’ll get more fast riding, but at such times riding faster presents far less of a hazard given that a cyclist has room to maneuver around people.

    You mention different riding culture elsewhere just as you mentioned different driving culture when we were discussing getting rid of traffic signals. This different culture didn’t appear overnight. If we never give NYers a chance to adapt to more shared spaces (or roundabouts or fewer traffic lights), then how will we change this culture? Yes, such things may be a little ugly in the beginning as people adapt to them but you’re basically suggesting NYers are incapable of adapting at all. This is patently ridiculous. We’re probably the most adaptable people on the planet given the pace at which other things in NY change, a few troglodytes on community boards notwithstanding.

  • HamTech87

    The photo shows the benches on the sidewalk above the curb. Odd that there are these complaints. Do the benches on the Broadway medians in Manhattan justify closing of Broadway to cars?

  • Daniel

    City hall park is an example of a bike lane in a heavy pedestrian area, and it works despite a very poor execution and an exceptionally high density of tourists. Though in this case there should just be a separated two way lane around the park. — The NYC DOT engineers could do with a trip to Stockholm to see how to execute pedestrianized streets with slow bike lanes through them. NYC is a big city, we need many solutions. Pedestrianization with bike lanes is a popular and well executed strategy in Stockholm and I can assure you cyclists go slow there and they employ more circuitous but faster arterial routes when they aren’t accessing the area.

  • rao

    DOT put the station on the pedestrianized block of 91st Street in part to avoid taking away car parking. If they move this to one of the avenues as Kallos suggests, it could be a win.

  • ahwr

    Does city hall park work from the perspective of the cyclists riding through, or the other people in the area not on bicycles? There’s value in spaces that aren’t as densely used retaining a park like/care free atmosphere for pedestrians. Not everyone should have to be a strong and fearless rider in order to go for a bike ride in the city. Realize the same should be true of walking, and if anything walking should meet a higher standard of accessibility. Are there examples in NYC of spaces where cyclists are routed through a pedestrian area where riding at fifteen MPH would be incompatible with that care free atmosphere, but the area is empty enough that it wouldn’t strictly be dangerous to ride that fast, and cyclists reliably choose to restrict themselves to 5-10 mph?

    they employ more circuitous but faster arterial routes when they aren’t accessing the area.

    That’s a critical part of a potential solution that isn’t present on the pedestrianized stretch of 91st. Asking people to ride slow and courteous doesn’t seem like it has any chance of working absent heavy handed enforcement that readers here generally seem upset to read is happening. Asking people to ride slow and courteous OR take this other route seems like it has a much better chance of working. Maintaining access for cyclists in a pedestrian area is different from routing a main bike route through a pedestrian area.

  • ahwr

    I don’t know how you would enforce against speeding bicycles on such a street.

    Motorcycle cop on 2nd, maybe a second cop somewhere on 91st to radio the motorcycle cop when he thinks someone should get stopped. You don’t have to chase someone on 91st between 2nd and 3rd.

    On top of that chasing a speeding bike is likely to make things even more dangerous.

    Most of the damage from a speeding cyclist is the incompatibility with a park like atmosphere, not the probability of physical harm. I don’t think it would be excessively dangerous to try to catch someone.

    I personally think speeding on bike-ped streets is mostly self-enforcing.

    What standard of accessibility to the space is to be maintained for pedestrians? You can cast off the comments from all the people who complain about cyclists as coming from cranks or whatever disparaging term you want, but that doesn’t mean cyclists aren’t interfering with their ability to use the space. You’ve said you think it’s a human rights violation to enforce a no sidewalk riding ordinance against someone who isn’t comfortable riding in the street, what do you say if a similarly vulnerable/sensitive person isn’t able to use this street because of the way people ride bikes through it?

    . If we never give NYers a chance to adapt to more shared spaces (or roundabouts or fewer traffic lights), then how will we change this culture?

    The transition period to a city with a different culture would be (will be) a mess, and one that takes time. But there are ways to make it less bad. I don’t think pretending we have a different culture and that the designs that work well with that culture should be installed tomorrow is going to work well. At the same time learning lessons from other cities to avoid having to make their mistakes would help. Relevant here, the less you ask people to restrain themselves while biking (or driving) the better compliance you’ll get. You don’t even have to go to Europe to see that in action, it’s like setting a speed limit at the 85th percentile speed. Shared spaces shouldn’t be through routes for cyclists. This doesn’t have to be mean banning bikes on places like 9st. Maintaining access for cyclists in a pedestrianized zone is different from sending commuters through one. And don’t ask people to ride slow on a downgrade when you can avoid it. Here that could mean maybe a better bike facility should go in on 89th between the park and the river (instead of just between 1st and east end), with a counterflow lane on the park side of 5th running to 90th if a two way facility isn’t put in for the length of the park. And the citibike dock, or if the city wants to get rid of some car parking spaces to put in some on street bike corrals, maybe 89/90 and 2nd or 91st and 3rd would be better locations than 91st and 2nd.

  • Joe R.

    I think we’re both in agreement that a bike through route really shouldn’t go through a pedestrianized street. However, what we’re talking about here is access to a Citibike dock, assuming this is the most logical place to put one (it may not be).

    And don’t ask people to ride slow on a downgrade when you can avoid it.

    I’ve said that repeatedly myself, particularly with regards to the East River bridges. In general , it’s probably prudent to design bicycle facilities for at least the speeds cyclists will be going on a downgrade freewheeling with a worst case tailwind. On the East River bridges this is likely well in excess of 30 mph. This means a wider than usual path, plus physical separation both from bikes going the other way and pedestrians. It also implies adequate space where the grade levels off to reduce speed to normal by simply coasting down (a block or two is typically adequate for that).

    You’ve said you think it’s a human rights violation to enforce a no sidewalk riding ordinance against someone who isn’t comfortable riding in the street, what do you say if a similarly vulnerable/sensitive person isn’t able to use this street because of the way people ride bikes through it?

    I’d have to see the specific situation. A major bike through route on a pedestrianized street could easily make the street unusable for walking, even for people like me. On the flip side, a very low level of bike traffic shouldn’t be an issue for anyone, provided adequate space to pass exists. Most NYC streets are at least 30 feet wide, not including the sidewalk. That actually should make them much safer and pleasant as shared streets than a similar level of bike/pedestrian traffic on a sidewalk would be.

    Motorcycle cop on 2nd, maybe a second cop somewhere on 91st to radio the motorcycle cop when he thinks someone should get stopped. You don’t have to chase someone on 91st between 2nd and 3rd.

    So with 16 hours a day police coverage 7 days a week you spending ~$300K annually. Seems like a waste of money and police manpower given the danger levels to the public. Besides that, I’m sure someone would just double back and exit at 3rd if they thought they were made. So now you need a 3rd cop on 3rd to catch those people. Now you’re up to $450K annually for enforcement. With this kind of money you might as well just build a better route for bikes elsewhere. That’s really the pitfall with enforcement. Enforcing good behavior with bad infrastructure often costs more than just building good infrastructure not needing enforcement.

    Relevant here, the less you ask people to restrain themselves while biking (or driving) the better compliance you’ll get.

    Hence my ideas to eliminate unnecessary stopping on the part of all three groups by eliminating or modifying traffic signals. Constantly asking people to restrain themselves, particularly when they can see for themselves there’s no safety or other benefit, leads to the kind of aggressive driving just to gain a few feet of progress which we see. The same thing applies to cyclists and pedestrians, except at least those groups generally don’t kill people when they scramble for forward progress.

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