Today’s Headlines

  • Denver Police Issue Bike Threat Alert (TIME/Swampland)
  • Times Dumbfounded by Instant Popularity of Broadway Boulevard
  • On Heels of Summer Streets, TA Renews Call for Car-Free Prospect Park (Sun
  • Cops Seen Spinning Cruiser Through Bay Ridge Park (News
  • Traffic Agent Donnette Sanz Eulogized by Bloomberg and Kelly (News, Sun)
  • 10-Year-Old Queens Cyclist Hit After Being Pinned in Median (News, Post)
  • Grandfather of 12 Killed by Speeding Driver in Park Slope (News
  • Struck While Cycling in July, Assemblywoman Ellen Young Resumes Campaign (City Room)
  • Study Says Americans Driving More Safely; 41,000 Dead Last Year (Post)
  • Traffic Shift Pits Neighbor Against Neighbor in Pelham Bay (NYT)

  • Moser

    I imagine some here will also be dumbfounded regarding Broadway, given how negative many of the resident geniuses have been.

  • In Shanxi, China, traffic authorities built a giant speed bump. It’s more like a wavy set of walls. Not only does it slow down cars, it provides ironclad protection to pedestrians and bikes (as long as they’re not in the same lane):

    http://gizmodo.com/5041619/the-ultimate-speed-bump-there-is-no-escape

  • Ian Turner

    The Times article on Times Square feels like they tried as hard as they could to find someone who had a negative opinion of the change, but essentially failed. Why did the reporter take such a negative perspective?

  • Re: Broadway Boulevard-

    DOT:

    Consider getting that green bike lane out of the pedestrian area. It’s actually worse than what I’ve complained before: it’s not “between two pedestrian areas;” it’s *in* the pedestrian area.

    The throngs of overflowing pedestrians in that area are not looking for places to sit down; they’re GOING PLACES. I.e., trying to CROSS Broadway. Sure, they’ll use tables and chairs on their lunch hours, and that’s undeniably a good thing, but the bigger problem of pedestrian overflow has not sufficiently been touched by this project.

    If you had given one, solid, uncompromised swath to pedestrians–i.e., the sidewalk plus the gravel area, with no bike lane partitioning them, that would have had this nice, “livable” tables-and-chairs effect, but also, it would have better alleviated the overcrowding at intersections of people trying to cross the street. And it would not have created a bike-pedestrian conflict crucible, which is exactly what the placement of the green bike lane does. In the Boulevard’s present state, it does make Broadway safer and more pleasant for pedestrians, but not as much as it could have; and it doesn’t address the overflow issue as safely as it could. Move that bike lane elsewhere and it will do both, better.

    Again, I’m sorry to be negative about this visionary project; I just want to keep voicing this idea about not putting a bike lane in the middle of a ped-only area, in the hope that it doesn’t happen again.

  • jh

    I witnessed the grandfather of 12 who got hit on 4th avenue yesterday morning. It was the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen. Some kind of traffic calming measures have to be done on 4th avenue. I’ve almost been hit there several times even with the walk signal. Be careful out there!

  • Max Rockatansky

    4th Ave is crazy, it’s like an open highway. Anyone know the cross street?

  • Agreed with Ian Turner – the NYT does seem to be going out of their way to take a negative tone despite the fact that the people they interviewed were exceedingly positive. My guess: they think it’s inevitable that some crazy cabbie or truck driver or drunk will plow through the planters and run some folks over, and they want to be able to say “we told you so.”

    I don’t know why they don’t realize that the solution to that risk isn’t “well, let’s scrap this project and get it back to four lanes of traffic so that more cars can get by faster” but rather “let’s discourage auto traffic and calm traffic so that fewer cars go by slower.”

    Love the quote at the end, though:

    “A co-worker, Rachel Lovinger, 37, suggested a way to eliminate the risk: turn all of Broadway from Times Square to Herald Square into a pedestrian park, with no cars or trucks at all.

    “If the entire thing were a pedestrian walkway it would be great,” she said.”

  • Marty Barfowitz

    The Times article on Times Square feels like they tried as hard as they could to find someone who had a negative opinion of the change, but essentially failed. Why did the reporter take such a negative perspective?

    Allow me to explain, Ian:

    First off, the Times Metro desk is constitutionally incapable of covering stories like this with any level of seriousness. Though their local coverage is now weaker than both the Sun and the News, the Times Metro boys think this kind of benches-on-Broadway story is beneath them. They do crime, politics and the MTA EZ-Pass scandal: That’s news! A serious, traditional and very smart newsman like William Neuman, I’m sure, believes that this sort of story belongs in the Sunday City section along with the other cutsey neighborhood stuff. But, Janette and DOT are pitching this Broadway business as big and transformative. So, crap, he has to go out and cover it. Well, Neuman fundamentally sees his job as challenging government and being skeptical of City Hall. That’s how Woody and Bernstein did it, right? Granted, this skepticism doesn’t necessarily include challenging the cultural or political status quo. He’s not going to walk down Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn the day after an 86-yo man is mowed down and ask pedestrians standing on the sidewalk if they feel safe. But if he’s forced to cover this apparently trivial Broadway crap, he’s going to do it with a skeptical eye towards what Bloomy, Janette, DOT and these Streetsbloggy advocacy types are saying. Since a daily reporter isn’t tasked with providing any broader context, tying this project in to what’s going on in the rest of the city — and since the DOT’s press office isn’t helping him to see the project in this way — he’s not going to give you that tidbit or two about Copenhagen, Paris or London. He’s just going to walk down the street and ask people if they think it’s dangerous to eat lunch there. This is, after all, the last week of August. Who wants to do any real work?

  • Mark, that’s no speed bump, it’s a chicane on steroids!

    In regard to the Pelham Bay article:

    Kenneth Kearns, the district manager of Community Board 10 in the Bronx, said that everyone had to wait until the city and the state complete a traffic study of the area before any decisions about St. Paul Avenue could be made. The issue needs to be looked at comprehensively, Mr. Kearns said, “instead of addressing it, street by street.”

    He’s right. We’ve had similar situations in my neighborhood, where one proposed safety improvement was opposed by people on parallel streets who were concerned that all the drivers would move over to their street. Instead of looking for a way to calm the whole area and make everyone happy, they opposed the change.

    It’s tempting to blame the opponents for short-sightedness, but the political process encourages this. Rather than giving everyone in the area an opportunity to think positively about safety, it’s all about Those Meddlers from 40 Worth Who Don’t Understand the Community making changes, often stealthily to avoid confrontation, and the opponents getting enraged that They Weren’t Consulted.

  • Tim

    i second ddartley’s comment – eliminate the green bike lane or move it to the other side of the island. i have no problem riding with traffic but i’m sure it’s a matter of time until i’m ticketed for not using the bike lane.

  • jh

    the cross street was 15th street

  • I used to work with Rachel. She rocks!

  • da

    I don’t see what the problem is with the green bike lane down Broadway. I’ve biked it a couple of times recently and it’s been wonderful. You just have to take it a bit slow and easy.

  • Angus, thanks! I should have known better. I also could have called it a traffic calmer.

  • Max Rockatansky

    Thanks JH – I’m usually further up on 4th, around Union and was curious. Tragic story. The only good news is with more expensive gas, traffic fatalities are going down (Post article). That should be a cover story for every major news organization. Thousands of lives saved from reducing car usage and lowering speed.

  • What has this world come to when New York’s Finest do doughnuts around playing fields in the park and shove people off their bikes? Can someone please, please rein the NYPD in? Remember when the police were supposed to be our friends?

  • Does anyone find irony in the title “Study Says Americans Driving More Safely; 41,000 Dead Last Year”?

  • momos

    Agree that the Times article about Broadway is obsessively fixated on safety (as if pedestrians in the rest of the Times Sq area are safer). This makes them totally miss the traffic calming element of the boulevard. The best quote, however, comes from the office worker at the end proposing to completely pedestrianize Broadway between Times Sq and Herald Sq. This is a brilliant proposal. It would also facilitate the closing of much of Times Sq to cars, an urgently needed measure to relieve the pedestrian congestion there.

  • momos

    Regarding the green bike lane down Broadway blvd, I agree it’s unfortunate that pedestrians use it as an extension of the sidewalk and that this indicates there just isn’t sufficient pedestrian sidewalk space.

    A solution would be to eliminate one parking lane and shift the boulevard out accordingly, so that the bike lane can remain but the sidewalk is widened by one traffic lane.

    Also, if the pedestrian plaza had a raised curb equivalent to the sidewalk it would better demarcate pedestrian space as well as increase the feeling of safety. I assume DOT didn’t do this because it would have required lots of time, engineering & money. The goal here was to get the ball rolling quickly on manageable streets projects. They’ve done it, and successfully, and should be commended for it.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    I am less shocked by the shoddy, unfocused and biased reporting on livable streets issues generally and Broadway particularly than I am by our readers shock at how poor it is. Why do you think their coverage of other transportation issues, MTA governance and financing, or land use issues, any better? And the Times is still pretty good. How about the News or the Post? Its really Claude Rains syndrome, “I’m shocked to find there is gambling going on here”. “Your winning monsieur.”

  • I find it impossible to take a benign or apathetic view of the Times’ idiotic coverage, especially since it’s being picked up by the TV stations. Example, last night’s CW11 report, which started out: “When you think of Broadway, you think of bright lights and fast cars, right?”

    WRONG!

    Actually, reporter Allison Kaden delivered a decent bit of detailed reporting — but the Times story obviously loomed large and influenced her report. And that stinks.