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Week in Review

The Week in Review

5:38 PM EST on November 9, 2007

Attack of the Livable Streets Zombies: DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan practices her mind-control technique on StreetFilms' Clarence Eckerson and Streetsblog's Aaron Naparstek Tuesday evening.

The week's top story in the livable streets universe was Jan Gehl's appearance at Tuesday's NYC Streets Renaissance event. The popular (and quite funny) Danish urbanist enthralled the crowd with his vision of New York as a world leader in pedestrian and cyclist mobility. With Gehl's talk supplemented by jaw-dropping renderings from Streets Renaissance's Carly Clark (set to a beat-dropping soundtrack by Clarence Eckerson), expectations are high. Alas, we'll have to wait a while longer to learn what Gehl has in store for us, probably after his proposals are filtered by the DOT and Mayor Bloomberg, with whom Gehl was reportedly meeting this week. But so long as the mayor digs techno, we're gold.

FIDLER ON THE LOOT. Speaking of gold, if you thought congestion pricing was pricey, Council Member Lew Fidler's alternative makes the Bloomberg plan look like a walk in the park (which is free, see). With a tax on businesses instead of motorists, Fidler's aptly acronymed "9 CARAT STONE" proposal would avoid congestion pricing by, among other measures, building $18 billion in tunnel infrastructure, moving city agencies out of the CBD (?), and somehow convincing the federal government and/or automakers to develop hydrogen cell vehicles (a.k.a. the car of the future). To his great credit, Fidler has engaged Streetsblog commenters on his plan, a product he says is the result of six months of research. However sincere the Fidler alternative may be, though, you can bet its insane price tag, indefinite timeline and insurmountable political hurdles are a huge draw to stall tacticians like Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, who, though he still pleads ignorance when it comes to the mayor's plan, is already romancing the STONE.

P.S. Blinded by the glow of Fidler's bling, it may have been easy to overlook Gridlock Sam's congestion compromise, also made public this week. If so, here it is.

DATA ERRATA. This week the City Council took a step toward changing the super-secretive treatment given by the city to pedestrian and cyclist injuries and fatalities. A bill introduced by Council Member Vincent Gentile would require information sharing between the PD, DOT, elected officials and community boards after any crash in which a pedestrian or cyclist is hurt or killed. But DOT is resisting part of the legislation that would require the investigation of all crash sites. At a council hearing Thursday, Deputy Commissioner David Woloch said such a mandate would be cost prohibitive and not all that useful. Further, Woloch said, DOT already studies every fatal crash site, "along with an additional 2,000 targeted locations." Yet back in April, Woloch and Director for Street Management and Safety Ryan Russo testified that DOT had no formal process for analyzing the site of a fatality, and said there is no set process for gauging input that might correct dangerous conditions before a collision occurs. So how are they studying these fatality sites, and how did they choose those 2,000 other locations? At the time, Woloch and Russo also said DOT was compiling a comprehensive study of pedestrian injuries and deaths, to be completed later in the year. Streetsblog has queried the agency to find out when this study, the first of its kind for DOT, will be ready. Stay tuned.

COMMENT OF THE WEEK: One of the week's hottest comment threads was on Alex Marshall's call to desegregate cyclists and pedestrians on the Brooklyn Bridge. Riffing on Fidler's congestion pricing alternative, (Not really) Lew from Brooklyn wrote: "How about building a cycle tunnel underneath the East River? It
could have huge moving sidewalks in both directions, which would help
move cyclists even faster on their commutes. Then we could leave the
Bridge to pedestrians and cars. We could add this tunnel to my other three tunnels and pay for it
with a trillion dollars that the Feds are dying to give New York."

Photo: Jonathan Barkey

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