Today’s Headlines

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Larry Littlefield

    The City Council also wants to add funds for police, despite the fact that we already have 2.8 times more officers per 100,000 residents as the national average, and far more than other cities. The attitude here: either we pay more, or we’ll just have to accept less.

    The links I put up on 2012 Census of Governments data didn’t quite have the desired effect. Lots of people looked at the post. Very few downloaded the spreadsheets. Hopefully those that did will do something with the data, like provide even more detailed information on transportation specifically.
    Meanwhile, my first post using this data, on the relative state and local tax burden, is here.

    https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/taxes-2012-census-of-governments-finance-data/

  • marks

    The MTA’s survey: they ripped this survey off from another agency — see question 9 on the bus survey:

    >>Overall, how satisfied are you with Metro’s bus service?

    If they had put the smallest bit of thought into this survey, they wouldn’t ask questions like “Do buses reduce air pollution?” (not sure of exact wording). And in NY they wouldn’t be asking whether I would recommend using the bus or subway to someone else. The bus and subway are not some cute mode that people try out and see if they like. Buses and subway here are *the* mode of transportation for most New Yorkers.

  • qrt145

    My thoughts exactly. Transit is an essential service that people depend on and many/most users have no viable alternatives. It’s almost like a survey asking “would you recommend the FDNY to your friends?” Leave that type of question for surveys about restaurants.

  • Reader

    Mark Treyger is such a joke. While Brad Lander is trying to bring world-class BRT to millions of New Yorkers to bring us up to speed with other international cities, Treyger wants to send texting cyclists to some sort of NYPD/DOT-run education camp.

  • joe shabadoo

    I can see an argument against having a free-form entry on the MTA survey. They’d likely end up with thousands of unique entries that would make the data hard to parse without going through each one and categorizing it. That said, the survey seems pointless.

  • Bolwerk

    Less is good. Less policing means less police brutality. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a situation get better because the police showed up.

    We have about 4x what LA does per sq. mile, despite being geographically smaller city with twice the population.

  • AnoNYC

    NO MORE COPS!

  • Larry Littlefield

    Frankly, I’m tired of seeing the serfs blackmailed.

    1) More cops or we’ll let you get robbed or raped, despite high staffing levels.

    2) More school funding or you’ll get larger class sizes and spending cuts, despite the nation’s highest spending levels.

    3) More Medicaid spending or we’ll let your babies die.

    4) Borrow even more money so Generation Greed doesn’t have to pay or we’ll let your transit system collapse.

    5) Give us tax breaks or we’ll move jobs to some other state.

    6) Bail out Wall Street and cut interest rates to inflate stock prices and executive bonuses or we’ll have another Great Depression.

    Etc. etc.

    Ah well, they can’t stop you from riding a bike. Except by running you over.

  • AnoNYC

    Unbelievable waste of resources.

    How about hiring more social workers to work in schools, long before the system pipelines these kids to prison?

    In regards to traffic safety, we need more automation, not a bunch more cops sitting on their a$$.

    There’s so many cops in our impoverished communities it has become detrimental to the population.

  • N_Gorski

    W/R/T the GWB paths–is there anything that we can do to support widening them now?

  • Joe R.

    Yes one thousand times over, especially on your last suggestion. This city has a ridiculous number of totally stupid laws. And get rid of the silly electric bike ban. NYC is a huge city. Bike commuting here could be quite viable, even over 10 miles or more, if electric bikes were legal. Yes, the purists will say it’s not 100% human power, but who cares? Electric bikes are orders of magnitude better for the city than cars, even electric cars.

  • ohnonononono

    I guess I can see the value in comparing things per line as it asked which subway line we take most often. Who perceives there to be the most crowding? The 4/5/6? The L? The A? Are they all off the charts?

  • Bobberooni

    The GWB article is misleading in so many ways. And I’m saying this as a former NJ resident who biked across it every day to work. Let me start:

    1. Peak GWB bike traffic is recreational (New Yorkers getting out to NJ for the day), not commuter (NJ residents heading to Manhattan to work). Don’t confuse the two types of uses, because they are VERY different. Yes, the GWB is overcrowded on weekends. But there is still PLENTY of capacity to accommodate a many-fold increase in commuter biking.

    2. Weekend traffic will increase to the degree that New York bike enthusiasts want to spin on the NJ side of the river. I expect there will be less grown in this area than commuter biking in general. There will also be other options for recreational cyclists in the near future, i.e. the Tappan Zee Bridge; some bikers currently taking the GWB to Nyack will probably switch to the TZ when it is completed. Recreational bikers have far more leeway on routing because they have nowhere in particular they are trying to get to. We should focus on completing the TZ bike facilities and building high-quality bike routes on the East side of the Hudson between the two bridges.

    3. Until/unless e-bikes become widespread, commuter biking is limited by the geography on the NJ side (i.e. the Palisades). Only the few, the spandex and the electrified are brave enough to bike up it every day. For “normal” folks, commuter biking is limited to those who live in the Palisades towns. Yes, we can and probably will see more biking from those places (especially Ft. Lee, which is in the middle of a big downtown build-out). But will it even approach the levels currently seen on the weekend? Not for a long time — and if it does, auto traffic will have decreased to such an extent that there will be other options (see below).

    4. The GWB plan in place DOUBLES the current capacity, because now BOTH sidewalks will be fully ADA-compliant. This will be a BIG improvement. The cheapest/simplest way to accommodate more bikes is to simply open both paths on weekends. We should be campaigning for that.

    5. Because peak bike traffic corresponds with low automobile traffic, the PA in the future could choose to a close an auto lane on weekends. We should be looking for designs that would allow them to do this easily, if and when the need arises in the future.

    6. Yes, the blind corners are a PITA. But even with them, bikes are still the fastest vehicle on the bridge (during weekday rush hours). Remember that people regularly wait 40+ minutes (in a car) to cross that bridge. Complaining that bikes MIGHT encounter a bit of traffic on weekends is unlikely to garner much sympathy.

    Conclusion: our political capital and money are better spent elsewhere. Better priorities would be:
    a) Press PA to ensure bike access on ALL PA bridges.
    b) Allow the Jitney buses direct access from the GWB bus station, rather than having to do the ridiculous drive-around-the-block maneuver at the start of their ride.
    c) Better yet, have NJ Transit run a REAL bus route instead of the jitneys. Improve safety and convenience of the bus stops on NJ Route 4.
    d) Route more Bergen County buses into the GWB Terminal, rather than PABT.
    e) Put bike racks on ALL buses crossing the GWB (public and private).
    f) 24-hour bike access to the GWB
    g) Better design or maintenance that would prevent the frequent closings experienced every winter. (Eg, put a roof over the sidewalk).

  • ahwr

    In terms of bike access to/from TZB, has anyone sketched out what could be done on route 119 from the bridge east to Elmsford to connect to the south county trail? (I’m not asking for a video from the Netherlands.) Going further to White plains would be nice too. I’ve biked each stretch a couple times. Not fun right now.

    Any news on paving the trail in Van Cortland?

  • Bobberooni

    There is a plan in place, in principle, to provide bike infrastructure all the way from the TZ Bridge to Long Island Sound, approx. along Route 119. See here:

    http://planning.westchestergov.com/initiatives/westchester-trails/road-corridor-routes

    About the trail in Van Cortland Park… it looks it’s mired in controversy over whether it should be paved with asphalt or crushed rock. Either way, that will probably improve it for biking.

    Are you familiar with the routes between White Plains and Manhattan? I’ll be moving there soon (white Plains, not Manhattan), and have been trying to map them out.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “There will also be other options for recreational cyclists in the near future, i.e. the Tappan Zee Bridge; some bikers currently taking the GWB to Nyack will probably switch to the TZ when it is completed.”

    A loop is probably a lot more fun than a back and forth, though that would be a very long loop.

  • Neile Weissman

    1. “Peak GWB bike traffic is recreational”

    Yes (for now), but that’s why you design the church for Sunday mornings.
    Still, per PA’s 2010 report, recreational use growing at 5% per year — or doubling every 14 years. Which means twice as many trips in 2028 as 2014. Weekday use is much lower, but per the report, it’s doubling every FIVE years.

    2. “… Tappan Zee Bridge”

    The point of the article is that the GWB is the sole link between NYC and North Jersey. TZ links Tarrytown to Nyack and is 27 miles congested miles from midtown.

    3. “Until/unless e-bikes become widespread, commuter biking is limited by the geography on the NJ side”

    Could be sooner than you think.

    http://completegeorge.org/benefits/1504-bridge-for-the-cables/

    4. “The GWB plan in place DOUBLES the current capacity”.

    Doesn’t work that way. PA’s plan purports to allocate one side to peds-runners and the other side to cyclists. But peds-runners comprise only 15-30% of current peak use. And it is expected that most runners will not choose to run on come over to the cyclists’ side.

    The GWB needs double capacity TODAY. Not ten years from now, let alone the 90 years the recabling will extend GWB use. Here’s the link to the spreadsheet that grades what’s there now; what PA proposes; and a Williamsburg-class facility over 10-25-40 years.

    http://tinyurl.com/ley9q34

    Also the link to FWHA guidelines that engineers use to plan for expected demand.

    http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/safety/pedbike/05138/

    5. “Because peak bike traffic corresponds with low automobile traffic”

    Got data? [Ever come across the GWB on a Saturday-Sunday evening?] Moreover, alternate procedures for re-allocation of lanes are more cumbersome-expensive than the passive solution of simply building out the paths.

    6. “Complaining that bikes MIGHT encounter a bit of traffic on weekends is unlikely to garner much sympathy.”

    It’s not sympathy cyclists seek but equity. For decades, revenue
    from gas taxes and tolls have been shrinking and now cover just half the cost of building an maintaining roads — the rest is funded out of general
    revenues and New York City leads the nation in the number of households without cars at 56%. 80% in Manhattan.

    Cyclists do benefit, when there are adequate facilities. But if the
    GWB is allowed to degrade to walk-only, that access is critically impaired.

    http://completegeorge.org/needs/1114-half-the-road/

  • Bobberooni

    > Still, per PA’s 2010 report, recreational use growing at 5%

    > per year — or doubling every 14 years. Which means twice as many

    > trips in 2028 as 2014.

    Nothing grows exponentially forever. Increased recreational use will come from increased number of people living in NYC, or increased interest in athletic bicycling. I don’t see either one of those on a high-growth path in the forseeable future.

    > Weekday use is much lower, but per the report,

    > it’s doubling every FIVE years.

    That could grow faster than recreational use. But as you point out, it is starting from a much lower base, and is far from crowded. There’s also a limited number of people who might be willing to bike across the GWB, due to the geography of the Palisades.

    > The point of the article is that the GWB is the sole link between NYC

    > and North Jersey. TZ links Tarrytown to Nyack and is 27 miles

    > congested miles from midtown.

    A large fraction of recreational bikers heading across the GWB turn up Route 9W and head to Nyack. I think they’ll find the TZ to be quite a fine facility.

    > Could be sooner than you think.

    Maybe. I ride an e-bike myself, and it’s amazing. But beyond the restaurant delivery business, I haven’t seen much momentum in that direction in the last five years. And even with an e-bike, the Palisades are a formidable challenge. I’m not sure I’d want to try to take an ELF or something up it.

    Add to that the dysfunctional government on the NJ side that results in almost no coordination on building bike facilities. There will need to be a major cultural change before NJ gets any decent bike lanes leading to the GWB. (Or put another way: there is NO safe and legal way to get from Teaneck to the GWB).

    > 4. “The GWB plan in place DOUBLES the current capacity”.

    > Doesn’t work that way. PA’s plan purports to allocate one side to

    > peds-runners and the other side to cyclists. But peds-runners comprise

    > only 15-30% of current peak use. And it is expected that most runners

    > will not choose to run on come over to the cyclists’ side.

    And they can re-allocate for free in the future, if needed. For example, they could make the sidewalks one-way for runners + bikers. Or they could open both sidewalks to both directions and modes. These decisions can be made if and when both sidewalks become saturated.

    > Here’s the link to the spreadsheet that grades what’s there now; what PA proposes;

    > and a Williamsburg-class facility over 10-25-40 years.

    These kinds of guidelines are routinely bent for practical reasons, especially on high-cost facilities like bridges and tunnels. I dare you to look up the Interestate highway guidelines and then compare them to what automobiles endure on the GWB, or Lincoln Tunnel, etc. And then there’s the Pulaski Skyway. The fact is, the NY region is FILLED with substandard roadways of all types.

    You’re also not giving the GWB enough credit for its width. Yes, it is only 6.5′ at its narrowest. But inbetween the cables, there is more space to pass. If you slow down and pay attention, it’s not so hard to confine passing to the 90% of the bridge length that is NOT narrowed with cables. In other words, the actual path is far more useful than a path that’s 6.5′ the entire way.

    The picture showing the 6.5′ plowed path is also disingeneous. Bike traffic is MUCH lower in the winter, and the path is wider in the summer.

    I biked over the Williamsburg this morning. It has FAR more bike traffic than the GWB; no surprise, because Williamsburg has FAR more residents than bike-accessible points on the NJ side will ever have. The steep slopes also lead to high speeds, which require more space to navigate (safely). Plus, it’s longer, making higher speeds more desirable. I still have no complaints about the GWB commuter experience, especially after they fix the North Sidewalk and eliminate the hairpin turn. It is short and sweet, still about my favorite bridge in the region.

    What the GWB DOES need is a 10mph speed limit on weekends. I’ve seen peletons scream over the bridge at about 20mph, in total disregard for the amount of traffic on the bridge at that time. I’ve also seen plenty of idiots who are intent to pass at all costs. Put it all together, and one day you will get a 40mph head-on collission. The frikkin’ bridge is only 1 mile long, slowing down a bit won’t kill anybody.

    > Also the link to FWHA guidelines that engineers use to plan for expected demand.

    > http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/public

    And we know how reliable THOSE estimates have been recently.

    > Moreover, alternate procedures for re-allocation of lanes are more

    > cumbersome-expensive than the passive solution of simply building out

    > the paths.

    No, re-engineering the bridge for an outrigger path (which could destabilize the structure) is far more expensive.

    > It’s not sympathy cyclists seek but equity.

    If equality is what you are after, then you will be forced to wait 40 minutes before entering the bridge. Or you will find yellow cones blocking the bike ramps onto the bridge because of some weird NJ political vendetta. Funny thing, I always thought I was doing pretty well, just rolling on to the bridge every day.

  • Neile Weissman

    The Cyclists’ Proposal calls for a facility that conforms to national guidelines for high use (AASHTO); can support increased demand by all users well into the century (FHWA); and fulfills USDOT expectations that transportation agencies upgrade bicycle-pedestrian facilities on bridges during major renovations.

    Not even Port Authority disputes the need, benefits or feasibility. They know what has to be done, they just decline to spend the money.

  • Joe R.

    Maybe the NYC e-bike ban has something to do with the lack of momentum on the e-bike front. Most people don’t want to ride an e-bike if there’s a chance the NYPD will impound it.

    And how exactly would your proposed 10 mph weekday speed limit work, starting the fact bikes aren’t required to have speedometers, and hence have no reliable way for the rider to determine speed? Besides that, freewheeling speed on the downslope of any bridge is well above 10 mph. How exactly then do you keep to 10 mph going down? Riding the brakes is asking for trouble like blown tires. It’s also a stupid waste of free potential energy. The real solution on any bike infrastructure where riders on the downslope are likely to be going at high speeds is physical separation of both directions. Not just on bridges, but really on any fairly steep hill. In many cases, albeit not in the case of the GWB, cyclists build up speed on the downslope to help carry them up the next hill. Any unnecessary speed reduction means more time and energy to get up that next hill.

    If we want to grow biking, then we seriously have to consider energy use and travel time. The fact that car traffic may take 40 minutes to cross the bridge doesn’t make cyclist’s complaints about weekday traffic moot. Bikes are already slow compared to cars in most situations. That’s exactly why we shouldn’t do anything to slow them down even more. We could use the same logic as you saying the bridge is only a mile for other parts of the trip. One the next leg of the journey maybe those who planned that infrastructure will say it’s only 1.5 miles. and so forth. Soon you’re looking at a serious amount of time lost. Even over a mile 10 mph instead of 15 mph equals 2 minutes each way, 4 minutes round trip. In commuting terms that’s a serious amount of time. Look at all the people who rightfully bitch when NJ Transit adds 2 minutes to a train schedule. Travel time suddenly doesn’t cease to matter when you switch from a train or car to a bike. In fact, it probably matters more. Unlike a train or car, a bike can’t just speed up and make up time delays when the road clears. Cyclists have a hard limit on their maximum sustained speed. If you lose 3 or 4 minutes crossing the bridge, that time is typically gone.

  • ahwr

    The GWB is pretty flat. Off the bridge you might have hills where you want a wide path. But you don’t have cables there holding up the bridge, so you can widen them for less than a hundred million a mile it costs on the bridge.

    Enforcement? Put up some signs. Some will follow the spirit of the rule, with not that much room to pass, slows others down. Have some cameras, plus take complaints from users. If some people are misbehaving on a regular basis then have a couple PA cops give out warnings to the guys who are being reckless. Forget about the speed limit, you can call it something else. If that isn’t enough, then give out tickets. Crowded shared paths sometimes have a small share of cyclists who ride like asses. Targeting them for enforcement is analogous to a 95 percentile speed limit.

    The congested times impact recreational riders. Time is less of an issue.

    If you are going from NYC to Nyack, a popular weekend ride and the example mentioned, how does using the TZB add 50 miles?

    Making the bridge wider would cost a lot of money. If there is so much money available to improve cycling facilities it’s most likely better spent elsewhere.

  • Andrew

    Asking people how they feel is a particularly bad way of determining loading.

    Here are “the charts”: http://newyorkyimby.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/amcrowding.jpg

  • ahwr

    Are you familiar with the routes between White Plains and Manhattan?

    Not really. I’ve only done the ride a handful of times. The dirt trail in Van Cortland to the paved South County trail to route 119, take that to the county center. The reverse is a little annoying 40 miles into a ride, 119 has a better elevation profile heading east on that segment – it’s steep for a couple blocks, could always walk on the sidewalk if I’m tired, then mild downhill the rest of the way. Either for an expo or up to Kensico dam. Tried the Bronx river trail once. At least part of it heading south from the convention center wasn’t paved, it was discontinuous, and a bit of a pain to use. Gave up and hopped on the train at some point.

  • Joe R.

    Obviously if it’s very crowded speed limits tend to be self-enforcing. A general rule like “speed safe for conditions” makes more sense than a blanket 10 mph speed limit. Most cyclists, even fast ones like myself, have no problems slowing down when things get crowded. Heck, I do this even on regular city streets in places where jaywalking is common.

    Isn’t the TZB about 25 miles from the GW? So the round trip to the TZB and back adds about 50 miles to the trip. Of course, if you’re already heading up that way anyhow, you’re not adding any mileage to the trip.

    As for making the bridge wider, if it needs to be done for some reason other than just to make a cycling path, then it’s not taking money from other cycling facilities. For example, we could probably use some sort of railway on that bridge, if for no other reason than to provide redundancy in case the Amtrak tunnels going to NYP get flooded or otherwise put out of service. If that’s done, there’s probably only a minor impact on costs adding a lightweight deck somewhere for cyclists.