Today’s Headlines

  • Ryan Russo Defends DOT’s Refusal to Include Bike Lanes in Street Redesigns (Architect’s Newspaper)
  • Cuomo Continues to Say Hudson Rail Tunnel Isn’t His Problem (News, AP); the Times Disagrees
  • Dan Donovan Doesn’t Comprehend Why This Hudson Rail Tunnel Thing Is Such a Big Deal (Politico)
  • De Blasio: Prepare for a Total Reset of NYC Taxi and For-Hire Regulations (WNYC via News)
  • Hoboken’s Bike-Share System to Launch Next Month (WSJ, NJ.com, WCBS, News 12, PIX)
  • Unlicensed Speeding Driver Indicted for Manslaughter in Crash That Killed Passenger (Advance)
  • City Will No Longer Join Willets Point Developers in Appealing Court Decision (NYT, Crain’s, Politico)
  • Proposed LIC Development Includes Bike-Pedestrian Bridge to Roosevelt Island (Politico)
  • Bronx BP Diaz Is No Fan of NYCHA Infill Development (Observer, Politico)
  • Ghosts of Parking Lots Past: Old Curb Cuts Litter the Far West Side (Chelsea Now)
  • Podcast: DNA Interviews UWS Cycling Photographer and Advocate Liz Patek

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • WalkingNPR

    From the SI Advance story: Indicted driver was “…Speeding toward Bulls Head on Richmond…Smith swerved to avoid a car that was making a left turn onto Richmond Hill Road from the opposite direction with the green turn arrow and slammed into a traffic control post in the middle of the intersection, cops said.”

    Ohhhh….so if the dead people are IN the car then it actually is criminal to lose control of your car and kill them! Silly me….I always get confused on that.

  • Hilda

    Redesigning major avenues without bike lanes or protected bike lanes is like designing a building without ADA ramps or sprinklers. Sometimes, these may not be required by law, but the safety and universal need for these design features makes them necessary regardless of law. A good design does not Go through value engineering before it is presented. A good design speaks for itself and demonstrates the necessity of the included features.
    Politics and culture do not affect the laws of physics, no matter what you eat for breakfast.

  • J

    “Overall, the DOT is bullish on its bike lane record—especially outside of Manhattan. The department highlighted bike networks it has proposed or implemented in Long Island City, Ridgewood, Queens, Brownsville and East New York, and around the Harlem River.”

    What a load of crap. Nearly 100% of the “Bike networks” Russo is talking about consists of sharrows or double parking lanes (see chart, taken from DOT data). Not exactly getting anyone on a bike that wasn’t on a bike before.

    And Russo failed to address why DOT has missed countless opportunities to implement protected bike lanes in parts of the city that are already highly supportive of bike infrastructure. Ugh. I just lost a LOT of respect for Ryan Russo.

  • It is a load of crap, but I wouldn’t have expected someone from DOT to say, “You know what? The critics are right. We could be doing a better job, if only we had stronger leadership.” They’re a political agency playing a political game, only the game they’re playing ended in 2013.

  • soexcited

    I think someone might have been hit by an MTA express bus this morning around 9:45 a.m. The police had the whole block of 57th Street from 8th Avenue to Broadway blocked off, and the only non-emergency vehicle there was a stopped express bus in the middle. Big crowd, too. I saw a stretcher but no person.

  • J

    Yep. No backbone at City Hall = no backbone at DOT.

  • Shemp

    Not necessarily true: backbone at DOT goes a very long way as we saw in 2007-13

  • c2check

    But it seems to be the case now, at least…

    People who know how the system works (or doesn’t work) should be speaking up more, or at least helping the rest of us push our electeds by suggesting way to improve.

  • Bolwerk

    New York Times editorial board: fuck you, NYC transit dependents, our kind need to get home to New Jersey at night. Without having to mingle with filthy inner suburb bus riders.

  • vnm

    In general, BP Diaz is very much in favor of affordable housing. So I’m baffled that he’s against NYCHA infill, which creates affordable housing and provides money for maintenance for the housing authority’s existing affordable apartments.

  • joe shabadoo

    The Queens boulevard safety stats used in the architect’s newspaper’s article seem dubious and are problematic in that they conflate pedestrian v car, and car v car, and combine injuries and fatalities. “42 killed or severely injured” sounds more dramatic than ’12 killed and 30 severely injured”.

  • J

    Even with electeds, CBs, and all sorts of other people pushing for better, DOT still drags its feet. Look at 7th Ave and Amsterdam Avenues. How much political cover do you need to put in protected bike lanes?

  • com63

    I wonder if race plays a role in the police’s decision whether to charge drivers with crimes in situations like this. It would not surprise me if it did.

  • But this backbone on the part of DOT was possible only on account of unwavering support from City Hall in the face of often vitriolic criticism of the agency (even by then-Public Advocate de Blasio).

  • Bolwerk

    Seems he sees the “green spaces” in NYCHA projects as vital to the community. Not a position I agree with, but at least debatable.

    Then again, that could just be a red herring for an objection to parking lot elimination, which is unambiguously good for everyone.

  • From the Politico article:

    New Jersey residents make up 12 percent of Manhattan’s workforce and contribute more to New York State’s personal income tax levy than Staten Islanders do (nearly $3 billion to Staten Island’s roughly $500 million, according to the Empire Center for Public Policy).

    Staten Island contributes nothing to New York City, and provides obstruction for positive change. But, as long as it’s part of the City, then goons such as Donovan have a valid point: to demand that transportation infrastructure within the City take the highest precedence is not unreasonable. If only we could be rid of Staten Island and undercut that reasoning.

    It is so unfortunate that New York City opposed Staten Island’s moves for secession in the 1980 and 1990s, and refused to allow the 1993 referendum, in which secession was overwhelmingly approved by the borough’s residents, to be binding. We as a City would definitely be better off without that embarassing borough: we never would have been saddled with Giuliani; and we’d be saving some money by continuing to send our garbage to Fresh Kills (which would surely be kept open as a means of bringing in revenue to Staten Island as an independent city).

    A hypothetical question: could getting rid of Staten Island happen if the State Legislature approved and New York City consented? Are there any other constitutional hurdles that would prevent that?

  • J_12

    we should trade it for Jersey City and Hoboken

  • J_12

    I think that’s a bad comparison to make.
    ADA features are included because they are required by law, not necessarily because they improve the building.

    Features like bike lanes should be include if and when they improve the street and the overall transportation network. Lots of times they do, but a blanket requirement that roads must have bike lanes leads to sub-optimal outcomes for everyone.

  • BBnet3000

    Russo is perhaps purposely ignoring the fact that these street redesigns can make cycling less comfortable.

    Also the focus on individual projects is such a small-grain endeavor that it is really leaving cycling behind.

    If we were committed to cycling we would be creating local streets that actually function as local streets, not for through traffic. This would benefit pedestrians and neighborhood life but this city hasn’t the slightest idea that it is even possible to do.

  • I am 100% in favour of that!

  • Bolwerk

    It could probably happen without NYC’s consent, at least eventually. NYC has devolved powers, but it doesn’t really have any sovereignty.

  • If that were true, then Staten Island’s secession would already have happened. New York City’s “home rule” powers certainly extend to its ability to keep its borders intact.

    That is why I say that the real question is: is the City’s consent the only thing preventing a secession, or do obstacles exist?

  • c2check

    I don’t even know who has responsibility, who is accountable to me, who to yell at anymore.

    I am afraid that I, too, may one day be the old man yelling at the cloud. It may do as much good as talking to elected officials (for those of us without money)

  • Bolwerk

    NYC, certainly the post-1898 amalgamation, is still a creation of the New York legislature. Most of its powers are in its charter, which the state can alter, or I presume, abolish.

    But a major practical obstacle is Staten Island gets its water from NYC. (Another is I’m not secession is a very popular idea on SI these days.)

  • Bolwerk

    I’m not ^sure

  • c2check

    I’m also fairly convinced a huge amount of political corruption (and a generally broken/overly-complex political system) are really compounding these problems.

    Getting more transparent, effective government needs to go hand-in-hand with other efforts, like Vision Zero. Right now, apparently nobody is actually accountable.

  • ahwr

    But a major practical obstacle is Staten Island gets its water from NYC

    Why would that be a problem? Westchester gets their water from NYC too.

  • Hilda

    It is a fine analogy.
    ADA features in urban design, such as curb cuts, can be integrated into a design so that they make the overall experience better for all. Granted, designers were forced to put these in early on because of law, but the usefulness of universal design, when done correctly, makes for a better experience by all.
    ADA compliance is not always required by law. Renovating, upgrading, physical constraints limit the regulations. Having it in the back of your mind while designing, however, is now the norm. Just like sustainability and fire safety (and I wish- resiliency). Bike lanes are the same. Make it so typical, and universal, that these can be integrated into design simply and easily.

  • J_12

    ADA makes the overall experience better for all disabled people, who are a tiny minority of the total population.
    It takes away space and resources that could be used for features which would benefit non-disabled people.

    As a society we have decided that our priority is to provide access to all people, and therefore we will require designs that are accessible to the very disabled at the expense of everyone else. Whether that is the right choice is a question of moral philosophy, but there is no doubt that it is a zero sum game. Requiring wheelchair ramps and ADA compliant bathrooms means giving up something else.

  • qrt145

    It is not a zero sum game, because many accessibility improvements are also useful to non-disabled people.

  • J_12

    I think that is not true. the value of ADA features to non-disabled people is less than the value of other things that get crowded out of projects by ADA requirements.

    If ADA features were desired by non-disabled people, they would be included in projects even without compulsory ADA compliance, and we wouldn’t need legislation to get ADA compliance.

    We do not live in a world of infinite resources. The reality is that ADA compliance is an onerous burden for architects and business owners. Every square foot dedicated to ADA compliance is one less square foot available for anything else.

  • Maggie

    Both these stories got overshadowed this week, but the city’s reset on Willets Point and the NYCHA infill controversy are really interesting. I think the city made the right call on Willets Point, to make sure the affordable housing actually gets built.

    From the Times: “Under the terms of the current agreement, the developers would first clean up environmental damage at Willets Point and build the mall next to the stadium with 200 stores, a theater and a small hotel, in 2018. The developers had agreed to also build 2,500 apartments, including 875 apartments for low- and moderate-income families, starting in 2025, although they had the option of paying the city $35 million to get out of that obligation.”

    And Capital: “By the end of the talks, neither side could agree on a timetable for creating affordable housing units on the site. The city wanted construction on 850 to 900 low-income apartments to begin in 2017; the developer did not want to start construction until it began earning money from the mall.”

    Are there hard numbers on NYCHA’s heavily subsidized surface parking vs park space?

  • Hilda

    That is an unfortunate absolutist attitude. When ADA compliance is an afterthought, and previously designed features have to ‘be removed’ in order ‘to fit’ a ramp, a doorway, a railing, etc. these items often appear out of place. Just like bad signage, or security cameras, or fire stairs. Without making these elements a part of the initial design, these will always be an afterthought and will therefore will look it.

    Full design of a street is no different. if this is designed correctly in the first place. Your argument supports mine better than your own: “We do not live in a works of infinite resources.”
    We really ought to get it right from the beginning, and nothing should be designed for solely one purpose. That is the most backward and wasteful way to design, and will not move us forward in this world of finite resources.

  • Bolwerk

    They’re directly benefiting from projects like Water Tunnel #3. Somehow I suspect NYC would be loathe to give up SI’s tax revenue after making that kind of contribution to its well-being. I also don’t think an independent SI would like to chip in for it.

    If that’s not enough, there are probably lots of other little things too (*cough* roads *hack* commuter tax). NYC’s relationship to SI may sometimes be a little near-sighted, but they hardly deserve that “forgotten borough” moniker.

  • Bolwerk

    s/loathe/loath