Today’s Headlines

  • NYC Pedestrian Fatalities Fell to All-Time Low in 2011; Traffic Still Caused 237 Deaths (NY1, WNYC)
  • Drivers Killed 21 Cyclists Last Year (DNA)
  • Hours Into the New Year, Hit-and-Run Driver Kills Pedestrian in East Flatbush (ABC)
  • And Yet, James Vacca’s 2012 Agenda Is All About Bike Enforcement (Post)
  • Transit Starver Andrew Cuomo Will Tout Job Creation + “Roads and Bridges” in 2012 Address (News)
  • Arbitrators Rule That MTA Can’t Afford Raises for LI Bus Workers (News)
  • The Pieces Are Falling Into Place for a Continuous East Side Greenway (NYT)
  • Will a New Fence Protect Cyclists From Brick-Throwers on Navy Street? (Bklyn Paper)
  • Imagine If Death-By-Truck Sparked as Much Outrage as 19th Century Death-By-Freight-Rail (NYT)
  • Eastern Queens Sidewalks in Crappy Condition; Tony Avella Blames Bike Lanes (News)
  • Greg Mocker and Jimmy Van Bramer Need to Read Some Donald Shoup (PIX via @capntransit)
  • Steve Cuozzo Ends 2011 on a Crazy Note (Post, Gothamist)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • carma

    i heard the james vacca bit on 1010 wins last week, and that clip sounded as though cyclists are renegades against all users of the road.  it was quite amusing how he sounded.

  • Mark

    Councilman Vacca’s idea that commercial cyclists should have some sort of education course is not that crazy.   Many delivery cyclists come from countries with very different traffic norms than the US.   I would believe that many delivery cyclists don’t know what the US traffic laws are or that they are expected to obey them.  

    An education course seems like a good idea.   If a program like this could help get delivery cyclists to ride more lawfully, that would be good for NY and good for the larger biking community which gets tarnished by the behavior of lawless delivery cyclists.  

    A road education program could also apply to all commercial drivers, taxis, delivery trucks which are a far larger menace than the delivery bikes.   The overall standard of driving and biking education is too low in NY, so perhaps it would be possible to work constructively with Councilman Vacca on this issue. 

    The implementation details would be tricky.   This would involve a massive education campaign for tens or hundreds of thousands of people.   Putting this together would cost time, money and effort.  At at time of very tight budgets, it is not clear where the funding would come from.  In addition, there is a very high chance that a meaningless, low impact, busywork curriculum would be put together that did nothing but create a useless bureaucracy.   To do this correctly, it would require far more dedication and thoughtfulness from Councilman Vacca than he has demonstrated thus far.

  • fj

    nycdoddgesstormmegaDisaster via Dr. Jeff Masters WunderBlog

  • Bronx voter

    Let’s be clear: Vacca’s media blitz shows that he belives that a person who is “almost” hit by a cyclist is a bigger tragedy than a person who is killed by an automobile.

    He’s welcome to offer a correction to that impression, but I see no reason to think otherwise at this point.

  • Larry Littlefield

    If anybody wants to know what most drivers are like in this city, just try to teach a relatively new driver to drive a stick shift in Brooklyn on a weekday, as we did over the past week and a half.

    Her inexperience caused a split second hesitation when the light changed, and inevitably that brought a honk from the horn. When I say split second I mean split second.  She was engaging the clutch immediately after the light changed, but it just took her slightly longer than I would take.

    Often, when they honked she stalled, which was karma.  I’ve ordered a bumper sticker, the first one I have ever had, which says “Rookie Driver Learing Stick Shift” for use in teaching daughter number II.  If those behind don’t get it and the honking continues, I’ll add another one “If You A-Holes Honk She Stalls and You Wait.”

  • carma

    ah, larry, the days of learning stick shift are long gone.  i’ll miss it.

    i remember learning stick shift in a parking lot first.  get the hang of it.  then move on to the streets.  wasnt too hard.   best way to practice is force yourself to start on a small slope.  this way you pick up how to use the clutch faster.

    its funny, cause i feel the more ppl operate a stick shift, the better driver you become as you are FORCED to use your body to not be as distracted driving.

  • Easy way to reduce the number of drivers on the road, outlaw automatic transmissions and power steering.

  • carma


    im partially with you on this.  the more manual transmissions out there, the more focused drivers will be.  they kind of are forced not to have one hand on a phone, while the other on a bagel with cream cheese.

    the power steering thing though, unless a car weighs around 2000 lbs, it really is tough driving unless you do have power steering.

  • Real New Yorker

    Tell Jimmy Vacca that I passed a driver’s license exam in Ohio in 1986 and, since then, no one has ever tested me again. New York State re-ups my driver’s license every five years with nothing more than an eye test — and I believe they even canceled that requirement. I don’t need to prove any competence at all to drive on NYC streets. This would help explain why the quality of drivers in NYC is so poor.

    I agree with Mark below: Requiring higher standards and some type of education for delivery cyclists is not a bad idea at all. But while we’re at it, let’s also require education for motor vehicle drivers too. Currently, there is none.

  • @d8d46f16f380afef59ca318522397233:disqus I think that is another excellent point.  One way to eliminate the trend of ever increasing average car size is to outlaw power steering, seat belts and airbags.  Ok maybe that last bit is going too far but driving is defiantly far too comfortable and seemingly not dangerous to drivers.

  • dporpentine

    I had to drive a bit over the holidays, and I have to say: it’s really blinking hard to obey speed limits with an automatic transmission in a recently built car, especially in that upper-20s, lower-30s range accepted on NYC streets. I had to ride the brakes way more than I like.

    I know those sorts of parameters vary a lot from car to car, but it’s been true of the last few cars I’ve rented or borrowed. Maybe it’s time for a new Unsafe at Any Speed?

  • Anonymous

    @google-c6398336480a4370fd1d7ac9268efb0e:disqus Someone once said that the best way of reducing the number of crashes would be to get rid of seatbelts and replace the airbag in the steering wheel with a spike pointed toward the driver. People would drive *really* carefully! (If they choose to drive at all, that is.)

  • Guest

    There’s a small victory in Vacca’s piece: he pointedly makes a distinction between delivery cyclists and others.  Yes he irrationally focuses in on a danger that pales in comparison to that posed by negligent drivers but I think the fact that he places all the blame on commercial cyclists (“Most New Yorkers would agree that it’s not usually the recreational or commuter cyclists breaking all the rules”) says something about the status of cycling in New York.  Is he actually afraid of offending non-commercial cyclists?

  • JamesR

    Larry, I drive a stick and have the same problem your daughter has. When you’re stopped at a light in a manual transmission car, you’re supposed to put it into neutral so that you don’t wear out the clutch’s throwout bearing by having your foot on the clutch the whole time. When the light turns green, It takes about 1/4 of a second to put the clutch in, put the stick into 1st, and accelerate, but this miniscule delay is more than enough time for aggressive NYC drivers in automatic cars to start blaring their horns. The city’s road culture is sick. 

  • carma

    on most manual 5 speed transmissions, 30mph lands you around 4th gear.
    at around 28-29mph, you want the urge to shift to 4th. again, its car dependent.

    having driven a few 6 speed manuals, 25mph will already land you in 4th and you pretty much stay that gear.

  • fj

    “Silence of the Lambs 2: Media Herd’s Coverage of Climate Change Drops Sharply — Again

  • fj

    Question:  “. . .  what do you think happens decades from now after moving billions of barrels of the most corrosive oil on the planet?”

    Answer:  A lot worse than Superfund site Newtown Creek in Greenpoint, Brooklyn one of the most polluted industrial sites in America containing an estimated 30 million gallons of spilled oil from the Greenpoint Oil Spill that was twice the oil of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

    climateprogress Pipeline Inspector-Turned Whistleblower Calls Keystone XL a Potential “Disaster”