Today’s Headlines

  • Hit-and-Run Driver Kills 16-Year-Old Girl in Rosedale (AMNY, News)
  • L Train: Pols Meet With MTA, Lentol Says Repairs Would Start No Earlier Than 2018 (News, 2AS)
  • Freemark: Streetcar Won’t Work If Motorists Have Lane Access (NYT); And They Would (PIX)
  • Sam Schwartz Talks Up BQX (NewsBklyn Paper)
  • Curbed Profiles Another Big Waterfront Development That Will Be Built Without the Streetcar
  • Van Bramer Holds Rally for 7 Train Riders, Who Have to Crowdsource Service Updates Online (News)
  • Brooklyn Eagle Covers Menchaca’s Cyclist LPI Bill
  • Bronx CB 8 Parks Committee Endorses Paving Putnam Trail (R’dale Press)
  • Another Reminder of What Free Curbside Parking Does to People (DNA)
  • Damn Bike Lanes (Post, Post)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Jesse

    According to that DNA article on the Facebook parking group, parking spaces are so difficult to find that people have to resort to these weird cartels to determine who gets them. So If you’re not in one of those cartels then you are at a disadvantage in finding a parking spot and you could conceivably spend a lot of time looking for a spot. This strikes me as a terribly inefficient way of apportioning a scarce resource.

    The problem, as I see it, is that there is so much “demand” for these spaces that the “supply” of available spaces is insufficient to satisfy it. So these parking cartels are an entirely rational, if inefficient, response to this seemingly intractable problem. But surely there must be some better way.

    Can anyone think of some mechanism / social construct to moderate the demand if the supply is particularly low? In the idea I’m considering, in its simplest form, there would be some kind of “barrier” to parking in a spot that would discourage some people from parking which could slightly bring down the demand to meet the supply. However, the barrier wouldn’t be completely insurmountable. Instead, it would just make it a little harder for people — maybe require some kind of sacrifice on their part — so that people who valued the spot the most would be willing to overcome that barrier whereas people who valued it less would reconsider. Maybe those people would park farther from their destination or they would not drive at all and instead take the train or the bus or walk or ride a bike or take a cab or an uber or a hoverboard or whatever admittedly quite limited options might be available to them.

    The barrier could be calibrated according to the “demand” and “supply” of parking spaces so that eventually it would reach an equilibrium. Ideally that equilibrium would be such that there were always a few open spaces so that people who really wanted them could find them without driving around forever.

    The question that I submit to you is: what form should this barrier take? This is where I get stuck. My big idea, to try to manage the “demand” for these spaces to bring it in line with the “supply”, is to have a kind of civic officer, authorized by the city, whose job is to regulate the excess parking spaces: The Parking Regulator In Charge of Excess (“PRICE”). The PRICE could patrol the curbside spaces and ask drivers if they “really really” want/need that space. If the driver’s answer is “no” then the PRICE could turn that person away. And if too many people answer that question “yes” (e.g., if the “demand” is too high) then that official could ask drivers if they “really really really” want/need the space and so on until we reach an acceptable equilibrium. In that way then, if the “demand” is too high then some people will be turned away by the PRICE which will ensure that the “supply” is more efficiently apportioned and there is always some excess.

    What’s great about this PRICE system is that you can apply it to other domains where you are trying to apportion scarce resources: for example, goods and services. So if we can figure out the details I think we might be on our way to solving all kinds of shortages and inefficient distributions of resources.

    Thank you if you’ve read this far. I now submit it to the thoughtful readers of this site: can you think of a better system, other than a PRICE, to limit “demand” of parking spaces when the “supply” is too low? I must admit that the system is not perfect and I am a bit stumped.

  • bolwerk

    What’s with the evidence allergy about mixed traffic streetcars? That there will be lane access to dedicated lanes, or occasional mixed traffic segments, is just a weak criticism when LRVs without dedicated lanes often work very well. Freemark:

    Caught in the same congestion as the city’s drivers, [Atlanta’s] streetcar suffers from miserable speeds (less than 10 miles an hour on average) and terrible reliability

    He does realize 10 mph is already significantly faster than probably most inner city New York City buses, right?

    That, of course, doesn’t mean this particular implementation can’t be bungled somehow, or that it’s the right project.

  • c2check

    A stupendous novel idea! How can it be that we have not thought of such a thing before??

    Although, come to think of it, I think I remember hearing of something similar in some other cities—maybe it was in San Francisco and Philadelphia and Chicago and Washington and Toronto and Denver and Seattle and Portland and Pittsburgh and Boston?
    But of course such a scheme would never work in New York, for we are special, unique flowers.

  • c2check

    Mixed traffic LRT is far, far, far from preferred (especially in a city with drivers and parkers as horrendous as those in New York) and we should not go through all the process and money if we’re not going to do it right.
    Plus, we have an opportunity to make something that actually works well for once, instead of whittling it down to accommodate some fools who want to keep a few parking spots. Given all the convoluted turns in the proposed route, and the overall length of the route, it’s likely to be slow enough as it stands.
    If it’s going to run well, it needs to have fully dedicated lanes. That may mean prohibiting cars from the streetcar street all together.
    Go big or go home.

  • Bravo

  • BBnet3000

    10mph in Atlanta does not equate to 10mph in NYC. There’s been no look at which segments will be mixed yet (its probably in that study they haven’t yet shared), but US streetcar planning, like US bike planning, inverts the normal threshold between shared and mixed, and mixes where traffic is highest rather than lowest.

  • HamTech87

    LOL!!! Streetsblog: please consider republishing this comment as an article, perhaps on April 1st.

  • bolwerk

    There does seem to be a certain hostility to center-running in American implementations, which of course is the preferred way to mix traffic on a dedicated ROW. I saw that quote, but couldn’t find a refereed verification for it. Either way, he seemed to be tying Atlanta’s speed around BQX’s neck. In reality no two routes are the same and without knowing why Atlanta might be slower it’s impossible to comment.

    It’s easy enough to bungle a streetcar implementation. But it’s also not outlandishly difficult to make one useful, even in mixed traffic and even if it’s sub-optimal. If you want my best stab at it, I think west Brooklyn reality is traffic and stop density probably mean top average speeds closer to 8-9 mph, which is similar to the M15 SBS and comparable to the mixed traffic and angly parts of HBLR. Not a speed demon, but also not a useless service.

  • bolwerk

    Eh, I don’t think it’s the right project based on need alone, but (1) from what I gather it mostly does have dedicated lanes anyway. They do say there will be some mixed traffic segments, but AIUI haven’t said where or under what conditions. Reacting without knowing that is a little silly. And then pretending NYC is impotent to do anything about interference is just rhetorically throwing your head in the sand. (2) I’m not sure I like perfect-is-the-enemy-of-the-good arguments either. I may not agree with what they’re trying to do, but I get what they’re trying to do and I get why the mode they picked is most capable of doing what they’re trying to do, even with implementation warts.

    And “do it right” always raises the question, for whom? It’s always a balancing act between competing interests. Mixed traffic anything is less-than-preferred, but the reality is some conditions, because of decisions made perhaps centuries ago, will mean less-than-ideal outcomes. Depending on traffic conditions, mixed traffic might have negligible or even zero effect on operations. Will that change whether it is or is not a giveaway to the real estate industry?

  • Peter

    Look at Muni in San Francisco – at some point, all of those lines go above-ground and mix with traffic. Stupid things happen all the time – traffic accidents are a regular source of delays, and occasionally trains get backed up due to double-parked cars. It backs up the entire line.

  • The Silver Line in Boston is similar. Underground, dedicated ROW for much of the bus route, but it comes above ground and mixes with traffic for a short stretch. You can either move along nicely if there’s no traffic or get completely stuck. It’s particularly frustrating since the Silver Line is used by a lot of people to get to Logan, so if you’re traveling at rush hour you need to give yourself extra time, more or less defeating any other advantages it has.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    give this idea the Nobel prize. PRICE for street parking, original and brilliant;

  • bolwerk

    The key to preventing mixed traffic rail problems seems much the same as it is for useful mixed traffic bus service: traffic calming and, if necessary, enforcement.

    Actually, traffic calming is an all-round good idea whether there is transit around or not.

  • Andres Dee

    Your fallacy is assuming that just because a streetcar in Atlanta (a city that prioritizes movement of vehicles) achieves 10MPH average, it’ll perform that “well” in NYC. It won’t.

  • djx

    Post of the Month!

    Post of the Year!

  • bolwerk

    Did you ever hear of that fallacy you commit when you argue against something someone didn’t say?

  • HamTech87

    Girard Avenue trolley in Philadelphia is often useless due to no dedicated ROW, even in spots where street is really wide. Faster to walk.

  • HamTech87

    The teenager killed in Rosedale, Queens, is another heartbreaking cost of auto-dependency. Sunrise/Conduit is like the south shore’s Queens Blvd: fast drivers going 40mph+, super-wide and dangerous for pedestrians to cross, forget about cycling along it, and a giant Stroad. Its paralleling the LIRR Main Line makes it especially dangerous, as pedestrians are constantly using those stations.

    The South Shore could and should be a cycling nirvana. Should because of its huge vulnerability to Climate Change related storm surge like Sandy, powered by all those SOV drivers. Could because it is super-flat with a web of LIRR stations at historic, pre-auto village centers. In Queens and some parts of Nassau, there is still a good grid for bus service and efficient walking and cycling.

    But these residents are firmly stuck in the auto-dependent mindset, leaving us with the current dangerous situation. Those 3 lanes she was trying to cross look pretty wide, too. Perhaps she was heading to the LIRR station, or downtown Rosedale? It looks like a refuge island was installed at the crossing of Francis Lewis, so clearly DOT has looked at this.

  • bolwerk

    Now that is one I actually use!

    It’s actually the parts with wide streets that seem the worst to me. These areas have the highest induced demand for car traffic, I assume.

  • HamTech87

    That streetscape seems so easy to fix design-wise. I imagine the politics of a dedicated ROW is much harder. Precisely the concern with the BQX.