- Just two weeks after announcing the plan, DOT has installed a working version of the heralded Chelsea "cycle track." With markings and temporary barriers now separating bikes from auto traffic, the Ninth Ave lane is the kind of innovation that should add to the swelling ranks of the "urban biker" (as opposed to those commercial and "recreational" cyclists we hear so much about lately). NYC’s "Street of the Future" is already a hit with cyclists, along with most Streetsblog commenters, including Anne, who exclaims: "Wow, it’s like a dream!! Sadik-Khan for mayor!!"
- Moving right along, DOT Commissioner Sadik-Khan revealed measures her agency will employ to humanize Grand Army Plaza: namely, new crosswalks and 11,000 square feet of landscaped pedestrian islands. While it falls short of the community’s long-term vision for a more people-friendly GAP, the plan was described as a "good first step," especially considering the previously unheard of level of engagement between the citizenry and the city.
- The "new DOT’ isn’t getting high marks all around, however. In Queens, some Jackson Heights residents are unhappy about the swapping of a bus stop for on-street parking. The change came following complaints about congestion at the corner at 73rd St. and 37th Ave., but Will Sweeney of the Western Jackson Heights Alliance says DOT’s solution — removing a bus stop and filling in the space with three metered parking spots — isn’t exactly what the neighborhood had in mind. And cyclist and pedestrian advocates slammed the DOT this week for conditions on Houston Street, where four people have died since 2005. The latest victim was Hope Miller, a 28-year-old aspiring actress who was hit by an allegedly impaired driver the morning of September 25. At a Times Up! memorial for Miller, volunteer Ellen Belcher called the Houston redesign "a Robert Moses wet dream that’s more geared to cars than people." City Council Member Alan Gerson has filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the project, citing, among other problems, "the DOT’s refusal to include a protected bike lane." After stenciling the outline of a body on the street to mark the spot where Miller was killed, the group moved on to Bowery and E. 4th St., where 24-year-old Julia Thomson was fatally struck last weekend, to install another memorial. Thomson’s killer, also allegedly under the influence, was charged with vehicular homicide.
- The week would not be complete without some congestion pricing news, and this week offered an especially intriguing development. It seems Walter "We have to do something
about the pedestrians" McCaffrey’s Committee to Keep New York City Congestion Tax Free recently tried to hire UCLA’s Donald Shoup for a study of curbside parking policy. Shoup declined, but pricing advocate Carolyn Konheim says the city itself should try to enlist Shoup to analyze how parking and pricing might work hand-in-hand to reduce congestion. Writes Konheim: "New York is obviously way behind on parking management. In the core of
Manhattan, there are ten times more off-street spaces than in London,
and half the drivers into the CBD pay nothing for parking." Maybe Mayor Bloomberg could be persuaded after his recent trip to Europe. Spending time in London (where he has an apartment) and Paris, Bloomberg was fascinated but non-committal about the French capital’s popular bike sharing program. Better hurry before Gavin Newsom beats us to it.
- For the second week in a row, congestion pricing is the subject of our quote of the week. From Charles Siegel: "During the depression, Will Rogers said that America is the only place where people drive to the poor house. Now that we have entered the age of global warming, we should update
that to say: America is the only place where people claim that reducing
driving is elitist. Haven’t these Queens residents heard that 80% of the people in the
world don’t have cars at all? Have they heard that the shift to
biofuels has already raised the price of corn enough to hard for people
in Mexico to afford food? Have they heard that the emissions from their
cars are already causing drought and starvation in east Africa? From a global perspective, anyone who has a car is part of a
privileged elite. Anyone who works politically to keep driving as much
as he always has is the worst sort of elitist — willing to sacrifice
the necessities of the poor to maintain the luxuries of the middle