Today’s Headlines

  • U.S. Transit Ridership Hit 50-Year High in 2008 (NYT)
  • MTA Rescue Bill May Surface in Albany Today (News)
  • Five Senate Dems Oppose Bridge Tolls (Post)
  • News: Malcolm Smith Needs to Take a Stand for Straphangers
  • The Political Rationale Behind Shelly’s Bridge Toll Compromise (News)
  • With Biking on the Rise, How Should Cyclists Use the Road? (NYT)
  • Thompson Faults City for Sidewalk Disrepair (News)
  • NYT Likes Schumer’s Proposal for Moynihan Station
  • Komanoff: Don’t Blame Vehicular Violence on the Victim (Downtown Express)
  • Why Developers Like Cul-de-Sacs (Austin Contrarian via
  • The Robert Sullivan article was more frustrating than constructive. I’m mostly fine with his four cyclists’ rules of the road (staying off sidewalks, never wrong-waying down one-way streets, and stopping for peds at red lights are all essential, as far as I’m concerned). But I think Sullivan (and the Times) blew an opportunity to represent reality on the streets as it is: reading the article, you get the impression that if it weren’t for a fixed-gear-loving rogue bikers, city streets would be safe. There was no mention of pedestrian behavior that puts bicyclists in danger —- for example, how about pedestrians who use bicycle lanes as curb extensions (think of Astor Place), forcing cyclists out in traffic? Or how about mobs of pedestrians crossing on a red light in front of oncoming cyclists (on my commute, this is especially bad at Lexington and 28th and again at 23rd)? In other words, while we’re proposing rules of the road, how about two for pedestrians: when I jaywalk, I’ll look out for bicyclists; I won’t cross at red lights without checking out for cyclists first; and I will not stand or walk in bike lanes.

  • Moser

    I thought the piece totally sucked. You can talk about these issues without a refrain about how NYC hates cycling. If that’s true, why are more and more people trying it? But I guess in you’re a punk stringer, you need your smart-ass little sound bite to make it into the City section.

  • I just re-read my post and I realize that I actually have three proposed rules for pedestrians. But two of them (not jaywalking w/o checkign out for cyclists and not crossing at red lights w/o looking for bikes) are really the same thing.

  • “If it’s 1 cent, I’m against it,” said state Sen. Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn).

    Wait a minute. That guy got reelected? The people of Flatbush must be idiots.

  • “You want to put tolls on the Willis Avenue Bridge, the Madison Avenue Bridge?” Hassle-Thompson asked. “And you have to ask what my position is?”

    Why didn’t she say, “you want to cut bus and train service and raise fares, and you have to ask what my position is?” That’s what Hassle-Thompson’s position is: favoring the driving minority over the transit-riding majority.

  • Re. “NYT Likes Schumer’s Proposal for Moynihan Station”:

    The link to this article is broken; the URL leaves out the “htt” in “http”.

  • Cap’n Transit,

    As lame as he may be, Kevin Parker was actually the least-objectionable candidate in the Democratic primary — his opponents were Council members Kendall Stewart and Simcha Felder.

  • I don’t know anything about Stewart, and Felder is responsible for the boneheaded “grace period” pandering, but he at least voted for congestion pricing. They must both be really lousy to be worse than a guy who beats up unarmed traffic enforcement agents.

  • Larry Littlefield

    On the Austin piece, the discussion and map are very instructive. The typical cul-de-sac subdivision means less ashphalt but also less connectivity — people have to drive far out of their way to exit the development. And it makes through traffic through the subdivisions impossible.

    This gets, however, to something I wrote about on Room 8 a year or so ago. The suburbs could be easily retrofit to biking communities by purchasing and paving small strips of land between houses as bicycle-and-pedestrian-only rights of way.

    The bike routes would combine these “pass throughs” and low-traffic streets interior to subdivisions. Cyclists would use the “pass-throughs” to travel between subdivisions, without having to ride on the busy arterials. Must cross them at their own traffic lights. On the map, Convict Hill Road and Beckett Road are arterials. With pass throughs, cyclist could have routes that bypass them.

    The motor vehicles would squeeze on to those arterials.

  • It’s not a district blessed with wonderful candidates. The Central Brooklyn Independent Democratic club voted “no endorsement” in that race.

  • From the Times, top link, the good news: “More people rode the nation’s public buses, subways and commuter trains last year than in any year since 1956, when the federal government created the Interstate highway system, according to a report by a transit association.” I was born the following year, so all the ridership lost in my lifetime has been regained — hooray! Ridership is also up 38 percent since 1995 and four percent since last year.

    Now the bad news: “…few experts expect the growth to continue this year, in part because transit systems across the country are raising fares and cutting service as the tax revenue they rely on plummets during the recession.”

    However, the Times’ experts do not include the peak-oil-induced energy price hikes and shortages of the future in their calculations. Even if the ridership surge falters, it will surge again in future years. With all that stimulus cash floating around, the time to add capacity is now.

  • Oops, my post above confuses ridership with demand for ridership. We might have more demand and less capacity to meet it. But planning for increased demand is still a good idea.

  • Rhywun

    RE: Why Developers Like Cul-de-Sacs

    Interesting insight. And it helps explain why this kind of development is popular worldwide (is in fact nearly the only kind of development done anymore, anywhere). I had thought it was an American (and English) cultural thing, an expression of the “back to (faux) nature” zeitgeist that’s very strong in both countries.

    However, I think the poster grossly overstated the amount of additional asphalt necessary to turn that superblock into a grid. You don’t need a grid that tightly packed in order to gain the benefits of a grid, and in fact most grids aren’t comprised of such tiny blocks.

  • Re: the Austin Article

    You also need to consider the width of the streets.

    The typical suburban standard requires 12 foot traffic lanes and 10 foot parking lanes (44 foot street width).

    New Urbanists, who design a connected street grid, have generally gone back to the traditional street width, 10 foot traffic lanes and 8 foot parking lanes (36 foot street width).

    In some cases, New Urbanists have gone even further. Andres Duany has designed neighborhood streets as narrow as 19 feet. He calls them “yield streets,” because if two cars are going in opposite directions they cannot pass each other and one must yield by pulling into the parking lane.

    Narrower streets are needed to slow down traffic when you have a connected street system that lets traffic drive through neighborhoods. You can imagine that “yield streets” slow traffic considerably. If this subdivision were built with a connected grid of yield streets, it would require less asphalt than it does with its current cul-de-sacs.

    Developers build those wide streets, because they are generally required by law.

  • Omri

    Larry: if you look at Google Earth’s view of Los Alamos, New Mexico, you’ll find some neighborhoods where this was done, and I can say from having lived there that it works nicely.