Today’s Headlines

  • Upstate Electeds Are Holding MTA Funding Hostage (AMNY)
  • Hit-and-Run Driver Kills Senior on Metropolitan Ave.; Cops Blame Victim (Post)
  • Cement Truck Driver Hits Woman and Two Kids in Elmhurst Crosswalk (DNA, News)
  • Advocate for Seniors on de Blasio Housing Plan: “There’s No Waiting List for Parking” (Politico)
  • Julissa Ferreras, Jose Peralta Want DOT to Make Fixes at Northern and Junction Boulevards (TL)
  • Brooklyn CB 2 Backtracks on Routing Manhattan Bridge Traffic Onto Neighborhood Street (DNA)
  • Tom Wrobleski, Defender of Unfettered Motordom, Complains About Slow Buses (Advance)
  • Joe Addabbo Says Rockaway Beach Rail Bridge Is a Public Health Hazard (DNA)
  • NYPD Officer Critically Injured by Drunk Driver in 1998 Dies (Post)
  • Investigators Focus on Driver Behavior in Valhalla MNR Crash (NYT); MTA Examines Crossings (Politico)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • I know it’s been said before and as a reporter myself I know time sometimes prevents exhaustive inquiries, but people really should think more critically about lines like the one the police gave on the poor woman killed on Metropolitan Avenue. How could an attentive driver not have spotted that a pedestrian had fallen in front of his vehicle while he was stopped? At the very least, it sounds as if the driver must, like many New York drivers, have grown absorbed while waiting in checking Facebook, Twitter or whatever and then started without fully taking in his surroundings. With the state of New York streets, 76-year-olds are going to trip and fall. It’s obscene to pretend that drivers can’t help driving over those who do.

  • crazytrainmatt

    The primary cause of the Valhalla crash can only be driver error. Regardless of visibility or traffic, one can only enter a railroad crossing once there is already a clear path to exit the crossing.

    The failure of the third rail, and indeed the use of third rail power without total grade separation, are secondary causes. Nevertheless, the driver’s husband (and 34 others, according to wikipedia) have sued MNR…

    At some point, the feds started requiring that passenger buses stop and open the door before crossing a railroad. If we can’t afford to grade separate our railroads, surely it is time to require the same precaution for passenger cars.

  • Reader

    I see this all the time. A driver is stopped at a light and checks his phone. He only looks up to see if the light has turned green. When he does, he goes without looking to see if anyone is around. It’s not just texting while driving that’s dangerous. It’s texting while waiting!

  • UWS guy

    RE: Upstate holds MTA hostage. “Some MTA officials were frustrated that the capital plan was being stalled by the funding battle. ‘The New York City region contributes the lion’s share of tax dollars to the state,’ said Transit Rider Council chair Andrew Albert, who sits on the board.”

    Funny to see Andrew Albert, UWS defender of motorists’ interests, frustrated by motorists from upstate. I look forward to a quote from him in the future like ‘non-drivers contribute the lion share to NYC’s tax base’.

    And fwiw, I’d be happy to direct more money upstate if it went to creating urban complete streets and new buses and trolleys. Instead, it will be used for more financially unsustainable sprawl.

  • Joe R.

    I can see some value in creating “streetcar suburbs” which are wholly contained within easy biking distance of commuter rail stations (say 2-3 miles) I can also see value in a viable upstate farming industry so we can have much of our food locally grown. Other than those two things, I can’t find any rationale for NYC subsidizing upstate or suburban development. Sure, I don’t doubt some significant percentage of the population prefers that type of living arrangement. The problem is most are unwilling or unable to pay the true cost of it. Even worse, places like NYC invariably end up with a spillover of cars from suburbia driven by people who are averse to taking mass transit, even when it’s relatively convenient.

  • Simon Phearson

    According to the Daily News editorial from the other day, we should subsidize sprawl because people want to live in sprawled communities. That’s the only justification required.

  • HamTech87

    The upstate road network is wildly overbuilt. This great blog post about Buffalo’s population vs. footprint explains it well:

    We don’t need to create new “streetcar suburbs” since they are already there, typically within the boundaries of the city. The original footprints of upstate cities and towns are ripe for infill development, supported by robust transit (mostly bus).

  • Alexander Vucelic

    latest citibike 4Q graph – weekday rides hover around 45,000 Oct&Nov then drop to low 30s in early Dec. Suggests cycling continues steady growth. Also suggests latent demand for cycling is enormous. Based on these Q4 numbers, Citibike can expect routine 60,000 weekday trips beginning in April with peak days exceeding 90,000.

    Citibikes and private bikes have a rough 4:1 ratio. This suggests that even in December there are more than 120,000 daily bike trips in the core areas covered by Citibike.

    Cycle counts this summer on 5th/6th avenue discovered that cyclists are 10%+ of roadway traffic in CBD. We are at the point where cyclists often match the number of private cars in the CBD. This is extraordinary.

  • Joe R.

    That article honestly sounds like something I may have written. I agree with its basic premise. What is happening in Buffalo is a microcosm to the situation nationally. It doesn’t help that a lot of the measures for economic activity are based solely on new development. For example, I often here the term “housing starts” used when pundits talk about whether or not the economy is picking up steam. There should be metrics to measure the economic value of renovating existing homes or infrastructure. Americans in general are enamoured with novelty. We would rather build once, let it decay, then build somewhere else instead of creating viable communities which people live in for generations. Hopefully someone like Andrew Albert at least talking about this stuff we help change our priorities.

  • ohnonononono

    Demand for cycling is almost wholly constrained by unsafe conditions on the streets for cycling. Make it safer to ride a bike on the streets of New York and you reveal the sheer number of people who wanted to do it all along but were scared (and rightfully so!) of being run over by a car.

  • ohnonononono

    Even if we had that requirement, drivers are always going to make mistakes. A century ago railroads embarked on a flurry of grade separation projects with NYS and NYC money. The Staten Island Railway and the BMT Brighton Line used to be full of grade crossings! After the explosion of post-war suburbia we should have done more in Upper Westchester and Outer Long Island. Although it should be noted that there are no grade crossings below White Plains, where 2x the service runs.

  • Jesse

    A Ford Escape is a big SUV:

    The height of the car may have contributed to his inability to see her. Still that’s not an excuse as far as I’m concerned.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    its amazing how much latent demand exists despite the lack of infrastructure.

    UES Citibike roll out is a great example. In a tiny 20 block stretch of UES from 1.Oct to 21.Oct Citibikes had more than 3,200 rides per day. This level was reaches within days of instaling bike stations on UES.

    We can easily reduce congestion with the Simple build out of protected bike lanes everywhere

  • How are we in the future going to communicate the safety of bicycling in a way that is not true today?

  • nanter

    And this with poor density of stations. In the CBD I wouldn’t think much of the risk of not finding a free dock at my destination when I could go only a few blocks away to find one. On the UES, I find myself electing to walk instead after checking the dock status. A full dock can often make taking the bike the slower choice.

  • Jeff

    Seems like a reasonably-sized vehicle for single/low-occupancy urban passenger transportation.

  • Brian Howald

    This is often exacerbated by the fact that drivers do not stop at the white stop line present at many intersections, sometimes many feet behind the crosswalk. If you have pulled all the way up to the crosswalk, in violation of the stop line, then you might not see someone who has fallen in front of you. Has anyone ever seen a driver cited for failure to stop before the line?

    While in Berlin two months ago, I noticed how easily this problem can be solved. There, traffic lights are placed only before the intersection, so that drivers must stop where they are instructed to do so in order to see the light. This also has the added benefit of removing cross traffic’s signals from the view of drivers, preventing them from inching up in anticipation of the light changing.

  • Jesse

    How else does one even get around? Bus? Subway? Bike? Smaller car? What am I poor? No thank you.

  • HamTech87

    Thanks for mentioning the business media’s fixation on housing starts.

  • r

    By building better streets that look and feel safer to people on the fence about getting on a bike every now and then. It’s not rocket science.

  • I see it very frequently when cycling. If I arrive around a car while waiting for a light, I’m often acutely conscious that the driver, who’s list in some Facebook cat video or something, doesn’t know I’m there and probably won’t take the time when starting to check who’s around.

  • BrandonWC

    I totally agree about the problem of drivers ignoring the stop lines (and, similarly, not respecting bike boxes). I’m not sure this is the reason that there is no enforcement, but one thing that has been bugging me for a while is that if you read the NYC traffic rules carefully, it doesn’t seem be illegal to ignore stop lines at intersections so long as you stop before the crosswalk. They only seem to have any legal force at mid-block signals.

    Here’s the relevant part of the Traffic Rules § 4-03(a) “Traffic Signals”:

    “(3) Steady red alone: (i) Vehicular traffic facing such signal
    shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection and shall remain standing until an indication to proceed is shown.”

    “(5) Signs. Operators shall comply with
    signs that refer to traffic control signals at places other than the intersections at which such signals are located, for example, ‘Stop hereon red.'”

    “(6) Signals not at intersections. In the event an official traffic control signal is erected and maintained at a place other than an intersection, all the provisions of this subdivision (a) shall be applicable, except those provisions which by their nature can have no application. Any stop required shall be made at a sign or marking on the pavement indicating where the stop shall be made, but in the absence of any such sign or marking the stop shall be made at the signal.”

    The only reference I see to stop lines is the language in § 4-03(a)(6) (” Any stop required shall be made at a sign or marking on the pavement indicating where the stop shall be made”), but that only applies at traffic signals which are not at intersections (i.e. mid-block crossings).

  • djx

    No, it’s not a big SUV. If you mean all SUVs are big and therefore it’s a big vehicle, that’s a reasonable statement. But as far as SUVs go, it’s not big. It’s small for an SUV.

  • Flakker

    SI Advance and Tom Wrobleski: take The Pledge: and starve this guy of page views. He doesn’t believe his own crap half the time, he just writes inflammatory opinions to stir up OUTRAGE! over every conceivable situation. Also, he’s a terrible writer, stylistically. If we work together we can live to see an Advance-free future.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    It’s word of mouth, when people see Grandma’s, mommys, and Young girls Riding; then this Signals more about percieved safety than anything.

    recall the Portland DOT Segments;

    strong and fearless
    enthused and confident
    interested but concerned
    no, not ever

    Its a powerful method of understanding the market

  • New York City should have let those freaks secede in the 1990s when they wanted to, and when they voted in favour of it.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    5,000 lbs Machine to move a 200lbs human is perfectly sensible 🙂

  • Joe R.

    Might actually be a 300 or 400 pound human. We all know that cars encourage a sedentary lifestyle.

  • reasonableexplanation

    A ford escape’s curb weight is about 3500-3600lbs, which is about the same as a nissan maxima (3400-3600lb). So, it’s not all that different from a regular sedan, even though it has the body of an SUV.

    The cheapest new car you can buy; the nissan versa, weighs 2400-2500lbs, since safety requirements add a lot of weight (structural elements, airbags, and other safety systems). The smallest car you can buy; the smart car (only seats 2 people), weighs about 2000lbs.

    Short of switching to motorcycles, you’re not really going to get the weight much lower than that.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    The prosperous in NYC have the flexibility of choosing from a wide range of mobility options. it’s the poor and lower middle class who impoverish themselves by driving everywhere.

  • AnoNYC

    On this, are there any movements pressuring automobile designers/engineers to create more appropriate vehicles?

    With the advent of electric powered vehicles upon us, this is the perfect opportunity to completely redesign these automated wheelchairs.

  • Anna Jones

    I favor this really helpful merchandise for mobility impaired people to create them comfortable of doing things they may support them and need.

  • I disagree with the fad for using the safety frame to discuss getting people in the saddle.

    First, bicycling is super safe as it is, so there’s nothing to apologize for. And safety in numbers actually works, so the more people engaging in the safe activity of bicycling, the safer it is for the marginal person in the saddle.

    Second, bicycling has health and life-extension benefits that people can take advantage of immediately, so not pushing back on people who complain that bicycling is dangerous is actually harmful to health, because it’s depriving people of the opportunity to live healthier lives.

    Third, most people have access to some kind of bicycle, especially with bike share, so they can really start bicycling this afternoon or tomorrow.

    Fourth, New York has many destinations that are convenient to bicycle to, so the opportunity to get in the saddle and replace auto or subway trips with bicycle trips is evident.

    Fifth, bicycle facilities are unevenly distributed around the city, with more of them in rich areas like Manhattan and Brownstone Brooklyn, so counting on the authorities to build “better streets that look and feel safer” as a bicycling promotion program will just perpetuate the idea that bicycling is for rich people who have plenty of other transportation options.

    Sixth, bicycling is a joyful, creative, problem-solving activity that deserves to be actively promoted to everyone, not reserved for some “fearless” subset of the population. I personally don’t understand why so many people consider passively accepting people’s excuses for not getting in the saddle as bicycle advocacy.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    agreed – cycling Is most certainly a safe activity, i always tell people I Feel Much safer Riding at 10 MPH than driving at 70.

    your argument Is compelling that indeed we should communicate the safe and joyous possibilities.

    However, we do need to realize that there has been 70+ years of Car centric Propaganda Which needs to be Overcome. percieved safety Is a very real challenge.

    Us ‘Strong and Fearless’ types do need to realize very Few people are ready to own-the-Middle-of-the-middle Lane Like I did last night during Rush hour on Fifth from UES to Union Square. For me it was a pleasant Albeit slow ride Smack Dab in the middle of Fifth while Rush Hour Chaos was all around. It was safe and slow Since motor traffic was never more than 15 MPH.

    but most noobs would Have clung to the curb dodging cabs, Avoiding left hooks, pedestrians, and being terrified.

  • Dr. Vucelic, thank you for the supportive response.

    I fully agree that a lifetime of motor vehicle propaganda has left its tire tracks on bicycle advocates. But if we frame bicycling advocacy as the struggle for creating safe places to ride, we will always be on the defensive because you can’t argue with people who don’t feel safe.

    Me: Why don’t you ride a bicycle? It’s hedonically superior to all other forms of transportation.

    Her: That sounds really exciting! I love fun things!


    Me: Why don’t you ride a bicycle? It’s now safer than it’s ever been.

    Her: I still don’t know, it seems risky… I don’t have a helmet…