The Week in Review

The Copenhagen SUV finds its way stateside

CONGESTION OBSESSION: What is congestion pricing? That’s the questionable question at the crux of the debate between those who say New York must implement something like the Bloomberg plan in order to collect $354 million in federal funds, and those who don’t. It seems "those who don’t" would just as soon forfeit the federal windfall in favor of their version of parking reform, but pro-pricing advocates this week dissected recent parking suggestions put forth by the anti-pricing crowd and found them sorely lacking as a congestion cure-all. On the other hand, a pair of Lindsay Administration veterans who have been pushing for East River Bridge tolls for about as many years as Rohit Aggarwala has been alive argue that a time-consuming Environmental Impact Study should precede pricing implementation — which Zipcar co-founder Robin Chase says will be outdated anyway once politicians catch up with technology. Meanwhile, just in time for upcoming public hearings, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign released what should be a blockbuster report, (again) confirming that (a) relatively few New Yorkers drive into the proposed congestion pricing zone to work; and (b) those who do drive into the CBD tend to have more money than those who don’t have cars and rely on transit or other commuting methods. Someone should really pass this info on to Assemblyman Richard Brodsky. Look for him in the handicap zone.

WHICH PAPER? There was much discussion this week about the future of mobility in the city, congestion pricing aside. DOT received generally positive reviews for its new program to point pedestrians in the right direction, while opinions differed on whether cyclists should have to rely on signage — or traffic laws — to make their way. (This rhetorical quandry apparently also burdens at least one city cab driver.) Lawmakers finally devoted a couple of minutes to MTA’s pending fare hike, calling on the agency to wait for help from Albany instead. Straphangers, though, may have more than future fares to make them anxious; when quizzed about the issues facing the city’s transit provider, prospective MTA chief H. Dale Hemmerdinger was nonplussed, responding: "I only know what I read in the paper."

BROOKLYN’S SORROW: Brooklyn was devastated this week by two cyclist deaths in just over two hours on Thursday. One of the drivers, who police say was speeding, was charged with criminally negligent homicide, a rarity at a time when a sober motorist who doesn’t flee the scene can expect a pass for killing a cyclist or pedestrian. It would be nice to think prosecutors and police are starting to recognize motor vehicles as an urban public safety hazard, but when you can back over an infant in your Escalade without legal repercussion, it’s much too soon to make any judgments.

COMMENT OF THE WEEK: In a week of heavy-duty Richard Brodsky analysis, Streetsblog commenter JF points readers to a passage in the Riverdale Press in which the Westchester Assembly member tells a Bronx crowd that he "did
not enter public life to enable essentially well meaning, very nice but
wealthy people to decide that there are some places people cannot go,"
within a city. "The hypocrisy of this statement boggles my mind," JF writes. "Has Brodsky ever tried
to get around Elmsford without a car? There are plenty of places in his
district that wealthy people (well-meaning or not) have decided are not
for pedestrians or cyclists. And the inconvenience is a lot greater
than for the ‘poor’ people that Brodsky is defending to pay $8 a day."

Photo by bicyclesonly via the Streetsblog Flickr photo pool

  • i think brodsky live on saw mill river road /rt 9a in elmsford . there is no sidewak on that road and the section in front of his house was totally resurfaced and rebuilt not that long ago. This is the flattest north- south road in Westchester, it would have been great to put shoulders on the road to enable bicycles , but no shoulders were added , they kept it a very dangerous road for bicyclist.
    mr brodsky should be forced to take a bus on xmas and thanskgiving to visit his family, he would be waiting out side a very longtime

  • Davis

    Are we to assume then that Brodsky entered public life to enable “essentially well meaning, very nice but wealthy people” to enjoy the peace and quiet of Westchester and a free drive into Manhattan?

    What in the world is this guy talking about? Do people buy it?

    If there is any Assembly District in NY State that has essentially (and in some cases, literally) put up gates and said: “Poor, non-white peoples: This place is not for you, it’s the one he represents.

    I mean, jesus, at least the Upper East Side of Manhattan has extensive subway and bus service and you can walk or bike there from East Harlem, the South Bronx and Queens. You may not get a dinner invitation to someone’s townhouse on 76th and Madison but compared to most of Westchester, the wealthiest precincts of Manhattan are wide open and welcoming to anyone, congestion pricing or not.

    If people beyond Streetsblog are paying attention at all, I sure hope they aren’t buying his populist schtick.

  • JF

    Let’s not go overboard, Davis. Brodsky’s district is very large, and includes towns like White Plains, Tarrytown, Ossining and Mount Kisco that have large nonwhite populations. Some of them are even working class. Many of the well-off areas are accessible from the city (by Metro-North) and from the working-class areas (by foot or bike).

    My point was that there are large parts of Brodsky’s district that are very difficult to get around without a car. No sidewalks, sidewalks on only one side of the street, no shoulders, high traffic volumes, spotty bus service. Many of them (including Elmsford) used to have regular train service, but allowed the Putnam line to be abandoned. Elmsford is one of the least welcoming places for non-car users in Westchester. It’s that way because of the decisions of wealthy people.

  • gecko

    Sound’s like Brodsky’s district should get cycle track connections and optimally a network.

    Can’t get over the peddle-powered “Copenhagen SUV” in The Week In Review’s picture. Hopefully, the city council won’t try to limit use of these also.

  • JF

    Actually, Gecko, there are quite a few good bike/pedestrian trails in that part of Westchester. This map (PDF) shows the trail that they’ve made out of the old Putnam Line, plus the parallel Croton Aqueduct and Bronx River Pathway trails. The problem is that they don’t connect residential areas to job centers (or even train stations in many cases), so they’re not much good for commuting. They’re also primarily north-south, and the east-west connections are hard to come by.

    If you look at that map, you’ll see a gap in the South County Trailway right in the middle of Elmsford. That gap has been there since ground was broken on the trail in 1988, and it’s not scheduled to be connected until 2009.

    I just love the idea of the guy with ONE chauffeured black SUV telling us not to let the guy with TWO chauffeured black SUVs run our lives.

  • gecko

    JF, Great map! Seems that all those good bike/pedestrian trails should make getting the cycle track connections easier to achieve.

    Thanks for the info.

  • JF

    I’m sure Brodsky’s working on it as we speak.

  • Hilary Kitasei

    Just FYI: the Bronx River Parkway is a Scenic Byway – which allows for the maintenance and extension of all those trails! 🙂

  • gecko

    Or, maybe Brodsky could be convinced to go cycle rail using fast 30-mph hybrid human-electric recumbents bolted to sleeves riding monorails not much different than the guard rail in front of the West Side tow truck pier where the doctor got killed, straight down to Times Square.

    And, if he went it alone on this crazy thing and got a little buzz on in town, no matter, because coming back he wouldn’t have to peddle, he wouldn’t be able to hit an awful lot, and steering would be minimal if at all; at least on the rail.

  • gecko

    . . . Moonlit snowy nights would be magical.

  • JF

    Not all of them. The Old Croton Aqueduct is a state park, and the North and South County Trailways are county parks. There are multiple ways to fund trails.

    Not to say that the other parkways in Westchester – the Saw Mill River, Taconic, Sprain Brook, Cross County, Hutchinson River and Bear Mountain – couldn’t stand to be restored to parkway standards. I know the Hutch used to have a bike path along much of its length – you can still see traces of it in the Bronx, and it’s in active use in Saxon Woods County Park.

  • gecko

    JF, So maybe NYS could look into helping make the transition to congestion pricing less difficult for people by providing safe cycling on trails and cycle tracks on roadways used by cars, or even multi-modal transport to important connections?

    And, maybe Brodsky can provide some insight where this would be needed?

  • Hilary

    I think it is insane to extend the 7 line without connecting it to a waterborne transit node.They have a chance to link it to New Jersey and aren’t?? What on earth are they thinking??

  • Hilary

    Sorry= my last post was supposed to be in response to the news roundup story. maybe you can move it? Thanks.


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