Today’s Headlines

  • Suddenly, Congestion Pricing No Longer a Non-Starter in Albany (Politico)
  • The Political Calculus Behind Cuomo’s Tired Infrastructure Schtick (Crain’s)
  • … Which Usually Works Like a Charm (NYT, News, AMNY, NY1, WNYC)
  • Citing Barcelona Attack, Paul White Calls for More Car-Free Spaces (News)
  • After Taking Driver’s Story, NYPD Shouts Down Cyclist Hit-and-Run Victim (Gothamist)
  • Motorist Critically Injures Senior in East New York; Cops Blame Victim (News, DNA)
  • Driver Critically Injures Cyclist in Astoria and Flees (ABC, NY1)
  • Graniteville Motorist in Reverse Drives Into Parked Cars, Fence, House (Advance)
  • Gothamist Takes Motorist Resentment Angle in Post on DOT Car-Share Initiative
  • Nassau Officials Have No Love for People Who Ride the Bus (MTR)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Larry Littlefield

    RE Moynihan: Good thing that after a few more years and additional disasters, that beautiful building will not be begrimed by low-class mass transit riders anymore. Where can I park if I try to go there?

  • bolwerk

    Moynihan Station: it’s beautiful! Grand! A train hall!

    The adjectives are kinda Trumpian.

  • Vooch

    20,000 citibikes are needed for the new Penn Station.

    🙂

  • cjstephens

    Paul White is being ridiculous, and his inability to let a crisis “go to waste” is cringeworthy. If anything, having more car-free spaces would only give potential assailants bigger, better targets. Using terrorist behavior to advance your agenda is distasteful. It wasn’t OK when Rudy Giuliani did it, and it’s not OK now. Shame on TA.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I read the article to see if he said we shouldn’t let a crisis go to waste. He did not. I didn’t find anything he said distasteful at all.

    Sooner of later someone is going to blow up a huge car or truck bomb in Manhattan killing lots of people, like the first WTC bombing but outside near pedestrians. Like OKC. From that point on, I’d bet, the only MV in Manhattan will be those screened, probably under something like the “trusted traveler” program.

    I assume you are in favor of waiting until that incident before enacting such restrictions. On that basis, I hope you won’t condemn those in favor a the time for distastefully using terrorist behavior.

    I said this 16 years ago. It hasn’t happened yet, but the future is a long time, and if the odds of something happening at any given time aren’t zero, the odds of it happening at some point approach 100 percent.

  • cjstephens

    I never said White used those words (they’re a reference to Rahm Emmanuel’s sleazier days at the Obama White House). My point is that he’s using an unrelated tragedy to advance his agenda, which is repulsive. All of the rest of your arguments prove my point: giving pedestrians large areas to congregate provides terrorists with bigger targets, so his advocacy on this point is puzzling. I’m in favor of well-designed pedestrian access, but using terrorism to say they’re a good or a bad thing is shameful.

  • Maggie

    I work in a high threat area where a deadly attack like Barcelona, Santa Monica, or Nice could happen literally any day. Boy do I not want NYC to sit around and wait until AFTER innocent lives are lost to put up pedestrian-protecting bollards and limit the number of vehicles coming through pedestrian-heavy areas.

    Also, it would be a relief for NYC’s clear tolerance of license plate mutilation to come to a quick end.

  • cjstephens

    I’m not disagreeing, but that’s not what White was calling for. And to put your mind at ease, when the driver in Times Square (impaired, not a terrorist) drove off the road, I believe it was those bollards that saved lives.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I think White’s point, well taken, was that while public attention is focused on terror attacks that kill many people at once, having pedestrians killed all the time is taken for granted.

    “Giving pedestrians large areas to congregate provides terrorists with bigger targets.”

    That just means eliminate cities. Congregating has been one of their purposes since ancient times.

  • Joe R.

    Even though Mr. White didn’t use this angle, terrorism is a great reason to severely curtail the numbers and types of vehicles entering Manhattan. It’s one of the few reasons the general public might buy. The fewer vehicles going into Manhattan, the easier it is for police to check them. Under the guise of terrorism, I’ve long thought of banning private autos entirely from Manhattan, and requiring an inspection for all delivery trucks entering.

    Yes, if Mr. White wants more pedestrian plazas without protecting bollards then I’m against the idea. However, as a matter of course these plazas should always be protected by bollards. Ditto for any busy sidewalks. I especially support bollards around police stations and car dealerships to prevent illegal parking on sidewalks.

  • cjstephens

    I think we can all agree that pedestrians are far more likely to be killed by a driver who is reckless (or impaired) than by a driver who has terrorism in his heart. By a factor of approximately a zillion to one. Similar to how you are much more likely to get killed driving to the airport than on an airplane. Bringing terrorism into the mix of factors needed for good transportation policy and pedestrian safety is sensationalist and, I think, shameful.

    I think you may also be falling into the trap of thinking that private autos driving into Manhattan are the biggest enemy to safety and smooth traffic. Market(-ish) forces already discourage private autos in the form of high tolls and astronomical parking. If you’re driving your private car into Manhattan, it’s because you really, really need to or because you have subsidized parking. If you look at recent statistics, it would appear that most collisions with pedestrians and cyclists are by commercial and for-hire vehicles. The last thing I want to see as I take the bus into Port Authority is a long line of vehicles waiting to go through security theater like passengers at the airports. It won’t make us any safer.

  • cjstephens

    I think you’re giving White way too much credit.

  • Joe R.

    The only reason to bring terrorism into the discussion is because it seems much of the general public rejects good transportation policy on its own merits but many will give up virtually all their freedoms the minute you yell terrorism. I wish that wasn’t so but in the end I’m open to any method if the end result is the same.

    As for private autos in Manhattan, true that they’re not involved in the majority of fatal incidents but their sheer numbers, despite the already strong market disincentives you mention, cause huge problems for everyone. If we cut general traffic levels by even 25%, that means another lane on the avenues we can appropriate for another purpose.

    The last thing I want to see as I take the bus into Port Authority is a long line of vehicles waiting to go through security theater like passengers at the airports. It won’t make us any safer.

    No, it won’t make things safer. The only idea for doing it is to give yet more disincentive to drive into Manhattan.

  • cjstephens

    Again, I think you’re exaggerating the impact of private vehicles driving into Manhattan. The sort of scrutiny you’re talking about would have the biggest impact on commercial traffic. I live in Manhattan. This means that all the food I eat, all the mail I get and every package I receive comes in on a truck. Harassing these trucks in the name of “fighting terrorism” is going to do nothing to make me safer and will make the cost of living here even higher. And, on a separate note, please don’t blame the GOP for trying to expand the TSA’s remit. That happened under the Obama administration with the full-throated support of Chuck Schumer.

  • Joe R.

    I’ve said the exactly same thing, although I don’t recall doing so on this forum. In my opinion an attack with large conventional bomb, a dirty bomb, or even a small nuclear weapon are 100% certain to happen within a medium time frame. That’s why implementing security now, with a trusted traveler program so you avoid delaying people after they’ve been vetted, probably isn’t a horrible thing. We can even tweak this to reduce its impact on essential delivery vehicles but not private autos or for hire vehicles (i.e. they have to be searched each and every time they come in) in order to discourage car travel.

  • Joe R.

    See below in my response to Larry. Some kind of trusted traveler program would let delivery vehicles and buses flow in smoothly while only delaying private cars and for hire vehicles. The combination of the latter two certainly have a huge impact, including when they drive through the outer boroughs on their way into Manhattan. Taxis and other for hire vehicles seem to make up 50% of Manhattan traffic sometimes. Reducing them could have a huge positive impact on delivery vehicles.

    In the end I have no desire to make your cost of living go up. We should do things in such a manner as to not affect valid commercial traffic. We should also avoid “security theater”. If it doesn’t really make things safer, then we shouldn’t be doing it. That even includes private cars and for hire vehicles. If we can search them via scanners without delaying them, then that’s what we should do.

    Note also much of the high costs of goods and services in Manhattan is due to high rents, not the cost of transporting goods. I’ve read in some areas a small grocery store will be paying $100K a month rent.

  • cjstephens

    If I recall correctly, there are already some scanners at the tunnel entrances looking for radiation. However, given the volume of vehicles of all kinds crossing the bridges and tunnels, any kind of non-automated search would result either in chaos or the kind of cursory search that is no different from security theater.

    I think we disagree over the role of for-hire vehicles. I don’t see them as the problem (OK, some cab drivers are jerks, but that’s a different story). Their existence allows far more people to live in a dense area without having to own private cars of their own, which is a good thing for everyone involved.

    And, sure making deliveries more expensive wouldn’t be the main reason why living in Manhattan is prohibitively costly, but that’s no reason to tack on more cost.

  • Maggie

    That driver injured 20 pedestrians and killed an 18-year-old woman before bollards stopped him, so unfortunately no, my mind is not really at ease yet that New Yorkers are safe from homicidal motorists in midtown. It’s so easy to picture atrocious scenarios. Picture the crowds leaving dozens of Broadway theaters, night after night after night. I hope we won’t wait until after a mass casualty event to put in place high quality-of-life infrastructure measures designed to avert loss across the city.

  • cjstephens

    What’s your solution, then? Speed bumps on every block so that no vehicle in Manhattan can go above 5 mph? I prefer to use common sense and not live in fear.

  • Maggie

    I’m not an architect or an urban planner, but they do a nice job with these projects. This is my personal view: I don’t think there’s a lot of common sense in your argument. Instead, you’re using straw men. White’s column, sensibly, argues against proposed legislation to legalize intentionally running down protesters, which isn’t just hypothetical anymore because literally a Nazi just intentionally ran down multiple protesters. You’re calling his agenda repulsive to you. Why?

    You called that common sense but I certainly don’t agree. Obviously there is a common sense way to mitigate dangers, but it doesn’t involve ignoring them.

  • cjstephens

    You want to talk about straw men? The legislation White is talking about isn’t being proposed here. Also, it doesn’t legalize intentionally running down protesters (re-read the article). And it is way too soon to determine whether that Nazi sympathizer in Virginia intentionally ran down those protesters (yes, seriously, the press coverage has been so dramatically wrong about so much of what happened there). So, basically White was using the tragedy to get his name in the papers. And yes, I find that repulsive. Could what happened in London, Nice, Barcelona, etc. happen here? Yes, but fencing in pedestrians because of what terrorists might do is simply letting them win. I think we can both agree that there is far more productive work to be done protecting pedestrians (and cyclists) from garden variety reckless drivers. Using scare tactics makes this work more difficult to achieve.

  • Maggie

    Interesting. How has the press coverage been wrong about so much of what happened in Charlottesville?

    I still think the line of reasoning you use is too facile. “Could it happen here?” Sure, but if we improve conditions, TERRORISTS WIN is dismissive and unrealistic. We should be designing public streets and plazas so we’re safe from distracted, impaired, or murderous drivers – I agree.

  • cjstephens

    I’d rather not get too off topic here, but yes, I would say that much of what the mainstream media reported, especially at first, was not accurate. You only had to read a few first person narratives to realize that there were two groups there itching for a fight, and the ones that showed up most prepared to rumble weren’t the Nazi sympathizers. When the president pointed out that there were two sides at fault, many people gasped because they were simply unaware of the full story. To bring this back to the original topic, it will be interesting to see if an investigation is ever done about what led up to the car-as-weapon part of the events.

    So, again, to find some common ground, yes, we should be designing public spaces to protect from distracted and impaired drivers, but when that design deviates to take into consideration murderous drivers (a barely measurable number for now), then I have qualms. It puts us at risk of making the same mistakes the TSA has made with air travel.