Today’s Headlines

  • MTA Announces Spending Cuts; Sander Says Fare Hike a ‘Real Prospect’ (NYT, Post, Sun)
  • Spate of Sidewalk Crashes Bolsters Calls for Pedestrian Safety (AMNY)
  • Speeding Truck Caused Deadly Chinatown Crash (News, Sun, Post)
  • DOT Turning a Deaf Ear to Pleas for Greenwich Street Traffic Calming (Downtown Express)
  • NYT Gives Summer Streets the ‘He-Said, She-Said’ Treatment
  • Queens Transit Riders Voice Concerns at Meeting About Bus Service Consolidation (News)
  • City to Provide Special Bus Route to Bronx Floating Pool (City Room)
  • Fine for Jumping Turnstile May Rise to $110 (Post)
  • Supreme Court Declines to Hear Atlantic Yards Case (NYT, News, Post)
  • Paris to Launch Vélib-esque Sharing System for Electric Cars (Guardian)
  • Larry Littlefield

    As in the 1960s and early 1970s, the political fun and games (among people who have placards and don’t use mass transit, and people who want a good deal today and plan to move away tomorrow) over the fare will likely provide a diversion from the fact that normal replacement is being slashed and the system allowed to rot.

  • The NYT article is pretty positive considering how radical a change it is from the business as usual approach to experimentation with streets (i.e. dismissed as completely out of the question)

    Bette’s comment is to be expected at this stage:

    But some people think bicycles themselves can be a hazard. Bette Dewing, who lives on the Upper East Side and is a longtime advocate for pedestrians, said she was concerned about the safety of residents, particularly the elderly and disabled, while hundreds of bicycles whizzed down the streets.

    “They have certain lanes that they’re supposed to stay in but they don’t. It’s just a free-for-all,” Ms. Dewing added.

    She represents a different generation, but one that holds sway on many community boards around the city. If they can be converted on this issue, it would change the landscape of livable streets

  • Larry Littlefield

    “If they can be converted on this issue, it would change the landscape of livable streets.”

    My observation is that the number of people with open minds is very limited, and the number willing to look beyond their own “I want for me now” more limited still. The typical view — I won’t use it, so it won’t benefit me, so I’m against it.

    For folks like this, the bicycle on the sidewalk is representative of everyone on a bicycle. The car on the sidewalk is an exception.

  • nobody

    “They have certain lanes that they’re supposed to stay in but they don’t. It’s just a free-for-all,” Ms. Dewing added.

    Sorry Ms. Dewing, that’s incorrect. Bicyclists are not required to stay in bike lanes, and furthermore, bike lanes do not go everywhere. But why let the facts get in the way?

  • Geck

    Actually you are required to use a bike lane if one is provided.

  • Geck,
    Actually, Section 1234 of Article 34 states that bikers are supposed to stay in *usable* bike lanes. Since a lot of bike lanes in the city are really quite unusable (potholes, double-parked cabs, mindless pedestrians, delivery bikers going the wrong way, etc.), a biker might reasonably and legally choose not to use the bike lane in a lot of places.

  • john deere

    Geck, if you read the full wording of the rule, it’s filled with so many exceptions to the rule, including the “included, but not limited to” phrasing, which leaves it open to a matter of interpretation whether a cyclist has to ride in a bike lane when unsafe conditions are present, and what those conditions are.

    Here it is (from Bicycle Defense Fund website).

    —34 RCNY § 4-12(p) Bicycles.
    (1) Bicycle riders to use bicycle lanes. Whenever a usable path or lane for bicycles has been provided, bicycle riders shall use such path or lane only except under any of the following situations:
    (i) When preparing for a turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
    (ii) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, motor vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, pushcarts, animals, surface hazards) that make it unsafe to continue within such bicycle path or lane.

    Anyway, compulsory bike lane laws should give their advocates pause. In the name of “safety” bicyclists are forced to use a specific lane, whether it’s safe or not, whether they cyclists want to use it or not. There’s a lot of cheering for bike lanes on Streetsblog, without the realization that cyclists may then be compelled to use them. Bike lanes may serve motoring interests just fine, insofar as they “get cyclists out of the way.”

  • If they’re going to raise fares, how about if they raise the base fare too this time, rather than the way they structured it last time to stick it to regular riders and spare occasional transit users.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Not for nothing Josh but that was the intention of the board when they first discussed the last fare increase but it was shouted down by many people concerned about the people who can’t afford the monthly ticket. It was not the goal to “stick it to regular riders” in any event, the goal was to keep up with rising costs. The average fare continues to increase at a slower pace than inflation or has up to this point. How long the MTA can continue keeping fares below the COL is problematic as costs associated with producing a ride continue to escalate faster than the COL. Before the last fare increase the average cost of a ride was $1.299. Factored against inflation that brings the fare back to about 1980 levels.

    And, as long as the riding public is led to believe that the board is screwing them there will never be the political will to move any other resources, congestion pricing, tolled bridges, gas tax, whatever in the direction of farebox relief and/or system expansion and service improvement.

  • Geck

    I wasn’t suggesting that lanes must be used when unsafe to do so. But on the whole, I think cylists are well advised to use designated lanes when they are available (but to move into traffic approaching intersection when vehicles are turning through the lane). New York City streets are congested enough that I am grateful to sometimes have my designated space on the road (and for drivers and pedestrians to be made aware to watch for bikes by the presence of a lane).

  • Just responding to some of the comments:

    If cyclists are legally compelled always to use bike lanes, then it is generally better to have no bike lanes at all.

    Let no advocate forget that.

  • Max Rockatansky

    I prefer to think of bike lanes as getting motorists out of the way!

  • Larry Littlefield

    One point about the projects deferred until 2010. Will the projects that would have been done in 2010 be deferred as well?

    There is no such thing as a “deferral” unless it is a funded deferral. If they had the money, and were merely waiting for construction to get cheaper, that would be a good thing. But this deferral is unfunded.

    What is happening is the rate of ongoing normal replacement is being cut below the level required to keep the system from deteriorating.

  • fdr

    No reaction from the Sadik-Khan fan club to Charlie Komanoff’s article on DOT’s refusal to put a traffic signal on Greenwich Street?
    “Sadly, D.O.T.’s much-ballyhooed regime change hasn’t made a dime’s worth of difference. Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan has been lauded for pushing innovative traffic policies like congestion pricing and protected bike lanes, but she has turned a deaf ear to our pleas. Sadik-Khan has even rebuffed our invitation to come observe conditions for herself when schools have let out and Greenwich St. swarms with kids and caregivers.”

  • CC

    Bike lanes can be great, but it is true that requiring cyclists to use them is counter-productive. Cyclists should always have a choice since bike lanes do not accommodate all users in equal fashion.

    This is a fundamental problem with bike lane design. Unlike walking on sidewalk, where speed differences are not that great even between swift walkers and slow-pokes, speeds and abilities in bike lanes vary dramatically. I don’t enjoy traffic, but I’ll often take 10th Avenue over errant bikers and roller bladers on the congested Hudson River bike path… lovely as it may be.

  • mr. brownstone

    fdr – if the location in question has a pretty tame safety record, then is it really a dangerous location? just food for thought.

  • How predictable and idiotic for the Times to inject aimless and vague complaints about “hundreds of bicycles whizz[ing] down the streets” into a discussion of an experiment for a 5-hour car-free period on Park Avenue.

    Many Upper East Side “advocates” (I don’t know whether to count Ms. Dewing in this group) have worked hard to block the installation of bike lanes on the Upper East Side–largely with great success–so the complaint that bicyclists don’t use the lanes is really just a complaint that the bicyclists have not (yet) been forced out of the Upper East Side.

    If these “advocates” were a little less narrow-minded, they might realize that many of their neighbors use a bicycle as transporation and that 75% of the bicycle traffic on the UES is generated by their own insatiable lust for take-out food.

    In any event, the law does not require the bicyclists to use a bike lane that is not reasonably safe or available for use, as it should be.

    I think one of the “Summer Streets” days, I’ll ride the length of Park Ave. with my kids, with signs mounted on their bikes. Here are some thoughts on what the signs might say (suggestions are welcome):

    “I Could Ride to School if Summer Streets was Year-Round.”
    “Make New York Streets Safe for Children”
    “New York Families Deserve Safe Streets.”
    “Do You Really Miss The Cars?

  • fdr

    Mr. Brownstone…read the Downtown Express article. Komanoff seems to think it’s an accident waiting to happen.

  • Jason A.

    I’ve come to think that Ms. Dewing and her like, who insist that our streets are overrun by two-wheeled tyrants, need to be sold on the benefits of a healthy road diet. I can’t see how anyone can deny that speeding is a problem in the city. I wish I had a nickel for every knucklehead that accelerates into a red light, or magically makes an additional lane to rocket around a sluggish row of cars (etc…). It’s truly a grave public health menace – particularly for the elderly – and re-engineering our streets is the only strategy I can see for addressing the problem.

    While Ms. Dewing will likely keep on believing whatever fantasy she wants about bicycles in the city, maybe we need to emphasize the oft-neglected benefit of bike lanes – it slows the cars down. Speeding is out of control and bike lanes are a great win-win tactic towards getting cars to travel at city-appropriate speeds.

  • lee

    re greenwich street:
    First, I bet most motorists are not aware that they must stop for a painted crosswalk if there is no traffic control device.
    Second, without seeing the car and ped count data I can only guess at this, but I know of other areas in the city that only meet the signal warrant threshold for a short time, (e.g. as students arrive at and leave school,) so no signal is installed. It would not surprise me if that were the case here.

    Third, Just put up stop signs yourself. One on each side of the street. DOT takes signs down overnight with no notice so why can’t the people put one up?

  • Josh (#8): Those of us who don’t buy unlimited cards are in fact paying more. We used to pay $20 for 12 rides (or $40 for 24 rides). Now we pay $40 for 23 rides. That’s one fewer ride, and we have to buy in larger increments to avoid fractional amounts, which would make having the card lost or stolen more of a drag.

    It’s a shame to see transit users sniping at other transit users. Save your animosity for the people who killed congestion pricing by preventing it from coming to a vote in the state legislature.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Even that, Mark, factored over the life span of the fare increase is well below the Cost of Living Index. Either you look at fares that roughly approximate the COL or you look at the Kheel Plan, either is cool with me. But to act like fare increases always result in some enormous screwing actually works against expanding good transit service in NYC. Transit service is actually fucking excellent and the price is cheap. What do they pay in Japan, Germany, Italy, France?

  • mr. brownstone

    fdr – i read the article. what exactly is an ‘accident waiting to happen’ – is that like bicyclists terrorizing old ladies on the sidewalk (which i’m not denying is an image problem, tho may be not a substantial safety threat)? i’m talking about perception vs reality here. if someone says somewhere is an ‘accident waiting to happen’, does that automatically make it so? if historical crash data does not back up that claim, then how are you supposed to debate it on the merits? i’m not downplaying people’s perception of safety risks, just asking whether a ‘gut feeling’ (ask our president about that) is enough to go on in investing scarce city resources.

  • mr. brownstone

    by the way – on my ride in this morning – i watched a dollar van blow through a red light. no, not blow through a light that had just turned red. just blatantly go through a light that was already red because they didn’t feel like waiting and there were no traffic cops around. that’s the second time i’ve seen that happen in downtown brooklyn. my gut tells me that they (dollar vans) are an accident waiting to happen, but only time will tell i guess..