Today’s Headlines

  • TSTC Report: Broadway Pedestrian Deaths Concentrated in Upper Manhattan (TransNat, News, Post)
  • NYC’s Handful of Red Light Cameras Are Getting the Job Done (Post)
  • Four Serious Cab Crashes in Manhattan in One Day: The Post Spots a Trend
  • Quinn Separates Herself From the Pack on Solid Waste Management Plan (CapNYPost)
  • Lhota Endorses Mayoral Control of Bridges and Tunnels, Lower Tolls, and Deer Hunting (Advance)
  • Crain’s Profiles the Sal Albanese Toll Proposal
  • MLS Disavows Leaked Stadium Renderings (Crain’s, CapNY)
  • East Side Access: It’s Happening (Atlantic)
  • Driver Convicted of Manslaughter for Fatal 2010 Midwood Collision (Post)
  • Stay Classy, Dov Hikind (NYT)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • jrab

    Every year TSTC comes out with the same report that neglects to correct for length of roadway.

  • Larry Littlefield

    So you have candidates who beat the drums of the ignored outer boroughs vs. Manhattan (where the jobs and money come from) now trolling for votes (and campaign contributions) by implying they will have Manhattan’s garbage sorted in some minority neighborhood elsehwere.  Because they are the progressives.  As currently defined by what those who use the term do, not according to the way it was used when coined.

    They keep it up, they’ll become qualified to be state legislators.

    Thus you see why, were I a Democrat, I might be inclined to vote for Quinn, and it isn’t because I’d be happy about it or because I’m a “right winger.”  And why the political/union class disgusts me as much as the financial/executive class.  In two days, you’ve seen the overlap when it comes to the serfs.

  • Anonymous

    @f9b2cb395abd5a101456b3b0a40912e1:disqus Quinn seems to have this virtue: she remembers what she’s voted for. Beyond that, I see nothing suggesting she has any political courage. Her craven decision to jump on the Brooklyn College-bashing bandwagon (along with, alas, Brad Lander, Tish James, and all the other leading Democratic candidates, except for Albanese) illustrates that beautifully.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Her craven decision to jump on the Brooklyn College-bashing bandwagon (along with, alas, Brad Lander, Tish James, and all the other leading Democratic candidates, except for Albanese) illustrates that beautifully.”

    I’m not sure what that controversy was, but when they’re all on the same side they are usually against the rest of us.  We’ll see who jumps on the two sets of books bandwagon.  Lhota has taken the lead by proposing ending transit subsidies from tolls.

  • After all the great advice I received on biking in Manhattan last week, I thought I’d report back on our Manhattan biking experience. First off, the bike shop that rented bikes near our hotel turned out not to rent bike locks as well. Helmets, yes, but locks, no, which would’ve given us no ability to stop and do anything. We longingly thought of New York’s as-yet unlaunched bikeshare system. (Would’ve been perfect!) Since we weren’t going to pop $70 to buy two locks for one day’s use, we trudged (and took the subway) to the Met. (Fabulous, fabulous, godlike museum.)

    After seeing enough phenomenal art to make my eyeballs spin, I turned to yelp and saw that there were two places in Central Park that offered bike rentals. Oh, no, you say, they don’t offer rentals in the winter! So we found out. It wasn’t a total loss, however, because the walk through Central Park was extremely pleasant. (Fabulous, fabulous godlike park.) Eventually we walked all the way to Liberty Bikes on 9th Ave at 55th. They rented bikes, helmets and locks for very good value. However, with so much walking, now we only had a little over an hour left for a bike ride or we would miss visiting MOMA, which I’d already bought tickets for and was determined not to miss. So we biked 55th st to the Hudson River Greenway and decided to ride as far south as we could in half an hour, then turn back. 

    What a wonderful example of fine bicycle infrastructure. (The only city bikeway I’ve ridden on I like better is the Burke-Gilman trail in Seattle.) Fabulous views of the Hudson River and lower Manhattan. Even the Statue of Liberty in the distance. If the recommendations for the greenway had not been so strong last week, I might not have been so dogged in renting bikes and we would’ve definitely missed out on a highlight experience. So I am very grateful and can’t understand why there weren’t hordes of tourists biking along with us.

    Let me cast you back to last Thursday, a cold, bright day with 20mph wind from the north. Going south we flew! Returning we had tougher going. Still, all in all we made it to Vesey street and back, a 9.7 mile round trip ride (or so my husband calculated.) Saw the cut off to Warren Street and the Brooklyn Bridge. Thought about it longingly and vowed NEXT TRIP to NYC we would do it! (Let’s hope NYC bikeshare is rolling by then?)

    The blocks to and from the Hudson River Greenway (on 55th there and 56th coming back) were not entirely terrifying but I would not call them pleasant. The trucks, the noise, the exhaust pollution, the aggressive drivers, various constructions works, and double-parked everything made riding not for the faint at heart. (Why, why do cars and trucks roar down these blocks at 30+ mph just to stop and wait at the next red? On 56th st I was biking *uphill* on a rickety rental and I still caught up to them at each red light. Of course, this is not peculiar to New York. Drivers in San Francisco do the exact same stupid thing.)

    During our 36 hours in Manhattan we walked a little over 9 miles and biked almost 10. I spent a lot of time observing and noting what I saw. I have visited Manhattan roughly every other year for the past 30 years, and while I admire it immensely, I acknowledge there is much I don’t understand about it and perhaps never will. Still, I hope you will excuse my temerity and allow me, as an outsider, to proffer these questions and observations:

    1) Where are all the bicyclists in Manhattan? Yes, it was winter when I visited, but it was a fine sunny day, there was no snow or ice on the ground, and I, a wimpy San Franciscan unused to winter, found it not unreasonable biking weather. I just didn’t see nearly the number I expected given the population, even on the protected bicycle lanes. At least half of the bicyclists I saw were food delivery guys.

    2) Where are all the women bicyclists? In 36 hours (and I was looking) I saw one on the streets, two in Central Park and two on the Hudson River Greenway. I can’t see Manhattan ever getting its female numbers up until it tames its car traffic, puts in oodles more protected bicycle infrastructure, and makes bike riding an altogether less stressful and more pleasant experience.

    3) Did my eyes deceive me or does Manhattan actually allow free street parking? In one of the densest, most expensive places on the planet where everyone is battling for every square foot of space (including air space) they can commandeer? It boggles the mind.

    4) Did my eyes deceive me or are car drivers still using Manhattan (one of the densest, most congested places on the planet) to cut through on their way to somewhere else? Manhattan isn’t that big–can’t they go around?

    5) 75% of the population of Manhattan does not own cars. And yet what lowers the quality of life in Manhattan more than anything are the cars and trucks coursing through the city, damaging its residents via pollution (Manhattan has the worst air quality of any borough, and I have to say I found the exhaust fumes nasty), via noise (98% of Manhattan’s public spaces have noise exceeding health levels), and via traffic injuries and fatalities (which are commendably documented each week here on Streetsblog.) So why do the 75% of the people let their health and happiness be degraded to accommodate the convenience of a minority, or the convenience of people who don’t even live there? Why are noxious, noisy heavy trucks allowed? Why can’t goods coming to Manhattan be transferred to small and medium-sized electric trucks that don’t pollute and inflict much less vibrations and noise?

    6) There’s so much money rolling around Manhattan I don’t think cabs will ever go away, but they, too, could be much smaller and electric (more like little pod cars) with a top speed inside the city of 25mph, making them quieter, non-polluting and less likely to kill pedestrians and bicyclists in crashes.

    7) I saw signs for fines for unnecessary honking. Has anyone ever actually received such a fine? If I had a dime for every horn honk I heard, I could’ve paid for our hotel and all our meals entirely from the proceeds.

    I know none of this is new to you all, that on this site you discuss these things daily, and I can imagine there are more reasons why things are the way they are than I can ever hope to understand. The items above just stuck out to me so plainly. Of course San Francisco is largely in the same boat, just on a smaller, less intense scale. However, 70% of SF residents still own cars, and we can only dream of having  the underground transportation system that New York does. (You are so lucky your forebears tunneled so extensively!) Wrestling Americans away from their car addiction is a difficult, difficult business, but I would say Manhattan is quite possibly the most perverse place in the country to allow cars and trucks to dominate public space the way they do.

    Again, a hearty thanks for the recommendations, and I look forward to biking even more miles to more places in future visits to New York.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Karen,

    I’m glad you had a good experience overall, and I think your observations are accurate.

    1) There aren’t as many cyclists as we’d like. I do see other commuter cyclists on the road, but not that many, and that’s just at certain times of day. If you are touring the streets all day long you won’t see commuter cyclists most of the time because we are working or at home! 🙂

    2) That’s right, I don’t see many women either (except perhaps in parks and greenways during the weekend, but that’s recreational cycling.) They say you can tell that riding on the streets is subjectively safe when you have a good ratio of women to men. Therefore, our streets are not subjectively safe yet.

    3) Yes, we do, and it’s crazy. It varies depending on the neighborhood, though.

    4) Yes, they do it to save money on tolls, and all attempts at a more rational toll structure have failed so far.

    5) I live next to a supermarket in Manhattan which, astonishingly, gets its deliveries in huge 18-wheel trucks. They have a hard time maneuvering into the loading dock, which is on a narrow street. To manage the turn, they often hop the curb across the street, which besides being risky has already destroyed it. That’s one of the many crazy things that shouldn’t happen in more civilized places.

    6) I too am surprised by the huge, overpowered and fuel-hungry cabs that we have in NYC. There are plans to upgrade the taxi fleet with a “taxi of tomorrow”, but it’s still pretty far from what you have in mind in terms of size and efficiency.

    7) The city is actually removing those signs now because it figured that they weren’t really enforceable/enforced/useful.

  • moocow

    We don’t have the numbers of cyclists that SF does, but New Yorkers are adding to the count all the time. I think you would see many more cyclists at rush hour, women too.
    I was taking a rare cab ride and noticed the speedometer on that new boxy cab (not the cab of tomorrow?) the number that is straight up is 60. I couldn’t see but it seems the speedometer goes to 120mph? Even if not, why is 60 mph not near the high end of suggested speed?
    Anyway Karen, I’m glad you liked your visit, come back when it’s known to be slightly warmer, there wil be many more people out.

  • Anonymous

    @KarenLynnAllen:disqus Come to Brooklyn. We have plenty of women cyclists. Still probably one out of every three (maybe one out of four in the winter . . .), but there are more every year. And I bet we have more bikes on the road than Manhattan.

    Unfortunately, the drivers are exactly the same.

  • Joe R.

    @KarenLynnAllen:disqus With the 20 mph winds, you actually had an authentic NYC biking experience! Even though Chicago is called the windy city, I feel the moniker would be more accurate for New York. Our annual average wind speeds are higher. In fact, from usually November through March, the windy days seem to outnumber the non-windy days. Even the rest of the year has its fair share of windy days. If one is not used to the wind, you can alternately think you’re Superman when the wind is at your back (I’ve hit 45+ mph on level roads with tailwinds), or a total weakling when you’re fighting it (there have been times I’m giving it my all just to make ~10 mph against a really stiff headwind). I suspect it was the wind accounting for the low cyclist count. Most people familiar with the city’s weather patterns don’t ride as much on the windiest days.

    As for your observations, I’ve often wondered about many of the same things. To me banning private cars in Manhattan would be sane, rational policy. Same thing with making the so-called  “Taxi of Tomorrow” electric. While we’re at it, the buses and delivery trucks should be electric as well. We also definitely need a sane toll structure to stop Manhattan thru traffic. Manhattan traffic levels remain too high to encourage a significant mode share of cycling. Right now I did and do feel the city would actually get a higher percentage out of cars and on to bikes if it focused on the outer boroughs.

    And we definitely need more bike infrastructure like the Hudson River Greenway. That’s actually my personal issue-getting more bike highways free of motor traffic, and also free of stop signs and traffic lights. As I’m sure you’re noticed, the city has a ridiculous number of signalized intersections. This alone is a major impediment to more cycling unless we choose to build bike routes over (or even under) them.

  • Joe R.

    @twowheel:disqus I rarely see a car speedometer which doesn’t go to at least 120 mph. Quite of few of them go to 160 mph which I think is ludicrous. The speedometer range should reflect the actual top speed of the car, plus maybe 10 mph in case you might exceed that slightly on downgrades. Or perhaps a better way might be to limit the dials to 80 mph, but allow an auxiliary digital readout to supplement this in the rare case of going over 80 mph. This might have the effect of slowing drivers down because most look at the needle position on the dial before they might look at any digital readout. As things stand now, the 30 mph limit is barely 1/5 to 1/4 of the range on many speedometers. Small wonder so many drivers speed since their instruments are effectively telling them their cars aren’t even working up a sweat yet.