Today’s Headlines

  • Deputy Mayor Asks Port Authority to “Reconsider” Bus Terminal Redesign Process (Crain’sWNYCNY1)
  • Komanoff to NYPD: A Bike Bell Wouldn’t Have Saved Matthew von Ohlen (News)
  • Dan Biederman: Penn Station Overhaul Needs to Include Better Streets for Pedestrians (Crain’s)
  • Tour Bus Driver Veers Onto Fifth Ave Sidewalk By Central Park, Smashing Into Tree (News, DNA, Post)
  • The Islanders Might Leave Barclays Center and Build an Arena By Citi Field (Post)
  • Nydia Velazquez Comes Out Against F Express (DNA)
  • Brooklyn DA Has Until January 17 to Indict the Drunk Driving Cop Who Killed Andrew Esquivel (Post)
  • Developer Envisions Cramming 12,000 Airport Parking Stalls Into Neighborhoods Near LGA (QChron)
  • Shocker: Watering Down Woodhaven SBS Hasn’t Placated the NIMBYs (QChron)
  • Jake Dobkin’s Sensible Bike-on-Subway Etiquette Tips (Gothamist)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Kevin Love

    The Gothamist link is not working for me.

  • Mike

    Please let the Islanders move to Queens. As a Barclays Center neighbor, I must say it is nowhere near pleasant having thousands of drunk hockey fans boisterously wandering around the neighborhood

  • fixed it

  • Kevin Love

    Once again, Jake Dobson has a very sensible article, this time about taking bicycles onto the subway. The most sensible part is right at the end, where he places the blame for crowded subways squarely where it belongs: Upon Albany politicians whose priority is funding pet projects such as underutilized roads upstate.

    One thing he does not mention is the insane lack of parking at subway stations. I will not post the usual jealousy-inspiring link of a Dutch station with 5,000 secure parking spots carefully designed to take up very little space while putting the bikes conveniently right where people are getting off the train. Instead, I’ll link to Toronto, which is adding secure parking to its subway stations. So why the $%&#@!! can’t NYC? Oh yes, the usual reasons. Sigh…

    See:

    http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=c645970aa08c1410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD

  • kevd

    Lots of stations could have parking past the fare gate.
    Okay – some.
    Like Church on the F/G.

    There is TONS of space on that mezzanine.
    Just add racks, occasional police presence and security cameras and I think it would be alright.

    And just about every elevated line has room for bike racks under the stairs. But it would require cameras and weekly tagging and removal and the MTA probably can’t figure out something as complex as that.

  • knisa

    Regarding the new bus terminal, the Port Authority seems to be on the wrong track. They want to move the terminal a block to the west, *away* from the 8th Ave subway and farther away from the Midtown destinations where most bus terminal passengers are headed. If that’s the alternative, you might as well place the terminal in New Jersey and transfer the passengers onto some sort of train transport—be it an extension of the 7 train, an extension of PATH, or NJTransit trains running through the Gateway project tunnels. It’s inconvenient to force people to transfer, but it’s just as inconvenient to make them shlep across the Far West Side to get to work or to a subway connection. It would be expensive to build a new tunnel, but it’s just as expensive to buy an entire block of Midtown West in order to build the new terminal.

  • HamTech87

    I wish the Islanders gave Barclay’s more time; it takes time to develop and grow a fan base. Of course it was a huge planning error to permit Barclay’s to be built without hockey accommodations, like virtually every other arena in the northern hemisphere.

    If those hockey fans are drunk, it is much better to have them departing Barclay’s on the LIRR or subway than departing Nassau Coliseum behind the wheel. Mike: Sorry about the boisterous drunks, although like policing desnudas and elmos in Times Square, this sounds like an enforcement issue and not a reason for a change-of-use.

    Transit advocates should come out strongly against a move to Flushing or Belmont. Flushing is difficult coming from most of Long Island b/c it doesn’t connect from Jamaica, the transfer point for 8 LIRR lines. (As a kid without a drivers license, I stopped going to Flushing for US Open Tennis when it moved from Forest Hills to Flushing and I never took the LIRR from Long Island to a Mets game.)
    Belmont is just a part-time spur station that I’m guessing is a pain to use, although I could be wrong.

  • bolwerk

    Moving it west is kind of dumb. Refusing to at least consider supplementing the buses with a trans-Hudson rail service is also kind of dumb.

    Basically, they’re putting no thought at all into the fact that they’re screwing the future. For generations.

  • vnm

    Well put, I think that’s exactly right. It’s also excessive to have one-sport stadiums all over the place when a multi-use facility can do the job. I’d rather not kill any trees to build a new stadium in Flushing.

  • HamTech87

    Flushing Meadow Park is not some underused open space needing a new arena, but an overflowing, well-used asset for the surrounding and growing Latino neighborhoods. Most of these people arrive on foot pushing strollers, and on bicycle. They’re even in the park in the evenings, outnumbering the US Open crowds walking from remote parking lots.

    Looking at the map, so much of the park is gone. If anything, the City should be turning some of the park roads and lots back into fields. https://goo.gl/maps/2eGFMXezFA22

  • Mike

    Thousands of drunks at my subway stop has also been less than ideal. But for the hour or two they spend milling around the arena, they are in the bike lanes, waking people with their yelling, peeing publicly, and so on. There are some cops around, but the scale of what’s going on is just overwhelming. Barclays has been a terrible neighbor in a lot of ways, but adding the Islanders last year made things even worse.

  • AMH

    It’s terrible how cut-off the park is from surrounding neighborhoods. It feels like the space is mostly roads.

  • AMH

    Great op-eds from Komanoff and Biederman. Another good one: http://queenstribune.com/need-21st-century-transportation-system/

  • murphstahoe

    Close to 200 people already gathered at Healdsburg Plaza for #DrewEsquivel vigil. pic.twitter.com/6Ehv0yqBrt— Christi Warren (@SeaWarren) July 23, 2016

  • sbauman

    I’m continually amazed at the items to which cyclists take exception. A bell for a bike that is ridden in traffic on roadways is not a great expense, a heavy weight nor the source of any significant wind resistance. What’s the performance objection to the rider?

    When New York was a pure contributory negligence state, a bike without a bell posed a great financial risk to the rider. Anyone considering riding in Alabama, DC, Maryland, North Carolina or Virginia would be advised to make sure there’s a working bell on the bike.

  • ahwr

    It’s not about the bell. Broken windows policing should be applied to drivers. Ticketing harmless infractions committed by safe drivers to get the rare dangerous driver is fine. No matter what the ratio of ticketed safe to dangerous drivers is, it’s fine. Why? They’re an other on this board. To some, driving is just plain wrong. The reasons vary. Try applying the same approach to cyclists? Broken windows is a lot more objectionable when you’re at risk of getting caught up in the sweeps.

  • Joe R.

    The problem here is enforcing a law which literally hasn’t been updated in decades, possibly longer. Bells? In 2016? At best the law should be reworded so “bell” is replaced with “noise-emitting device”. A traditional bicycle bell is next to useless in a place like NYC. We constantly complain around here about drivers laying on their horns, adding to noise pollution.

    Think about this from a practical perspective. Only pedestrians can here bicycle bells. However, it makes no sense ringing a bell if someone is in direct conflict with you when you should either be hitting the brake or going around them. A cyclist ringing a bell is basically saying get the f out of my way or I’m running you down. Same as a driver laying on a horn when a person is crossing front of them.

    Now let’s look at the usefulness of bells to cyclists when dealing with motorists. Basically, there is none because most of the time the motorist can’t even here the bell. If they can, they more likely to react negatively to it, perhaps even intentionally run the cyclist off the road.

    For similar reasons, I’ve long felt horns on motor vehicles are just about useless. There’s only one purpose I can see to them, which is to warn people in front when a stationary vehicle is about to start moving in a situation where they might be stopping at places other than intersections. Such a warning device needn’t take the form of a loud, annoying horn. Something like the bells on locomotives when they’re leaving stations would do fine.

    In short, the problem is requiring bicycles to have a device which is basically pointless. Not also not all bikes have room for a bell on the handlebars due to brake/shift levers, headlights, bike computers, mirrors, etc.

  • Joe R.

    Not all of us feel that way. I think the obsession here with speed cameras is one example of wanting to apply a heavy-handed approach to motorists for an infraction which is typically less dangerous than things which are rarely enforced, like failure to yield or lane jockeying.

    There’s also the fact motorists kill and injure at least two orders of magnitude more people than cyclists. From a purely public safety approach, they should receive two orders of magnitude more enforcement.

    It doesn’t matter who you ticket, or for what, under the broken windows theory. It’s wrong regardless. Penalizing citizens for mostly harmless infractions doesn’t make things safer. All it does is foster resentment of the police. I’ll bet the vast majority of cyclists had a neutral or even positive view of the police prior to getting BS tickets. Once they get such a ticket, their opinion of police goes right down the toilet.

  • HamTech87

    Car noise elimination directly contravenes bike bell laws. When manufacturers brag about their cars ability to eliminate outside noise, how effective will my bike bell be? Here’s just a few bragging results from a Google search:


    https://abancommercials.com/indexVideoDetail.php?id=1623&tipo=det

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YQ1XTARVms

    And if the manufacturers noise elimination isn’t good enough, there are How-To videos to increase noise cancellation:

  • HamTech87

    I ring my bell to warn pedestrians in front of me in the protected bike lanes. They just ignore me and use the lanes as sidewalk. Not that I blame them as the sidewalks are often overcrowded.

  • sbauman

    I fail to see how not attaching a bell to a bike is a reasonable response to opposing broken windows police tactics. I’m sure the police would make up laws, if every bicycle totally complied with every equipment requirement.

  • Joe R.

    Exactly my point. I used to have an electronic horn on one of my bikes. It mostly just took up space on the handlebars while serving no useful purpose.

    On the other hand, if it were feasible to put something like this on my bike, I would seriously consider it:

  • Joe R.

    Of course they would but a mandatory bell law gives them yet another reason to ticket cyclists legally. It’s not like the NYPD don’t already have enough “gotcha” laws they can already use against cyclists. We should be reforming all these laws, with an eye towards modifying the ones the police typically use, such as red light laws, sidewalk cycling laws, and especially bell laws. The law should only be as restrictive as absolutely needed for safety and no more. We can probably safely make red lights yields for bikes in most locations, stop and proceed at the rest, without compromising safety. We can definitely make sidewalk cycling legal in large swaths of the outer boroughs, again without compromising either cyclist or pedestrian safety. Finally, we can eliminate mandatory bell laws altogether with zero effect on safety.

    Note that nobody here comes out against sensible bicycle equipment requirements like brakes, or lights if you ride at night.

  • ahwr

    Bells? In 2016? How quaint. At best the law should be reworded so “bell” is replaced with “noise-emitting device”.

    That’s already what the law says…

    http://www.safeny.ny.gov/bike-vt.htm

    (b) No person shall operate a bicycle unless it is equipped with a bell or other device capable of giving a signal audible for a distance of at least one hundred feet, except that a bicycle shall not be equipped with nor shall any person use upon a bicycle any siren or whistle.

  • Miles Bader

    NYC should clearly be investing in more in the subway, but don’t think that it will make a huge difference in crowding. More and better service will tend to make it even more popular.

    One of the main advantages of rail transport, one which justifies its cost, is its ability to handle high volumes well, and an empty subway is one which is not being efficiently used.

    In other words, I don’t think “crowding” is really the issue.

    Basically bringing your bike on the subway is something you can do occasionally, if you plan to hit the less-crowded periods, and have a backup plan in case you guess wrong, but it isn’t a good practice to encourage, as it simply doesn’t scale well.

    Bike parking is a much better solution, and has proven itself in many places.

  • stairbob

    “a bell or other device capable of giving a signal audible for a distance of at least one hundred feet”

    Like my voice?

  • Simon Phearson

    What nonsense. The point of speed cameras isn’t to “catch” a “rare dangerous driver”; it’s to reduce speeds generally, with the goal of protecting pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers who get into crashes. The point of red light cameras is similarly not to “catch” the “rare” case of a dangerous running of a red light, but to make traffic safer and more predictable. And given that our speed limit and red light laws are designed to promote car traffic flow in the first place, there is no contrary justification for violating speed limits and running red lights

  • Simon Phearson

    I don’t think there’s a legitimate performance objection, but any city rider understands that bike bells are almost entirely useless, so concerted enforcement of this law can really be nothing other than harassment.

    Consider:

    – It is virtually impossible to mount a mechanically-actuated noisemaking device on a pair of handlebars that would not require taking a hand off of one of the brakes/handles to use. But since you’re most likely to need to use a bell in circumstances where you need total control over your braking and steering, you’re almost never going to use the device. I have a conventional “bell” on one of my bikes; it only “rings” when I hit rough pavement and the bell itself shakes.

    – Most conventional “bells” are too quiet or unremarkable to be heard or heeded in the city’s general din. Try riding up a PBL on any Manhattan Avenue with a conventional “bell,” and see how many pedestrians acknowledge your presence.

    – Handlebars have a surprisingly limited amount of space in which to mount things. Keep in mind that we’re already making space on our handlebars for a light and reflector; add in cabling for brakes and shifters and the handle themselves, and there’s not much room for anything else. One of my bikes (a road bike) has a horn and a light. I’d love to be able to fit a GoPro on there, as well, but I simply can’t – the shape of the handlebars, with the cabling and griptape, makes it impossible. The geometry of my hybrid’s handlebars similarly makes mounting useless devices a potential challenge.

    Personally, I use an electronic device on my commuters which is activated through a remote trigger that I can attach close enough to my thumb that I can use it while riding, without taking my hand off the brakes. It’s a solution, but a $50 dollar one that requires batteries, and the trigger wire itself is extremely fragile and periodically requires replacing. It’s also incredibly obnoxious. So I can appreciate why so many people find the bike bell law to be a pure nuisance.

  • Simon Phearson

    Right! It’s amazing to me how some people here comment on cycling without having any apparent familiarity with what’s actually happening on our streets. The unlit cyclists I see on the Queensboro bridge are a hazard to any cyclists coming in the opposite direction, particularly on the segments where the lights are out. Or the ones one-handing it while texting/messing with their music. Salmoning up protected bike lanes is another one of those things I think most cyclists would be fine with enforcing against.

    Bike bell laws and stoplight stings for cyclists at T-intersections just don’t serve any safety-promoting purpose. Speed limit enforcement does.

  • Miles Bader

    any city rider understands that bike bells are almost entirely useless

    Bells are not at all “almost entirely useless” in urban use.

    Different noise devices have different uses and different scenarios in which they’re useful.

    In busy road-traffic, mixing it up at high speed with cars and trucks, a bell may well be completely useless.

    In low-speed traffic mixing with pedestrians, a bell is extremely useful, and has the big advantage of being “gentle” enough that it won’t startle anybody unnecessarily, and won’t piss off them off. It does a better job of saying “Just a friendly notice that I’m behind you” than more … assertive … devices.

  • Kevin Love

    Yes, the phenomenon of Induced Demand also applies to subways. However, a subway is capable of carrying such a huge volume of people that responsible expansion of the system can eliminate most of the current overcrowding and provide spare capacity for maintenance, passenger medical emergencies and other events that cause the current system to crash.

    And yes, bike parking is the solution that is commonly used in The Netherlands and other places with mainstream bicycle transportation use. Which is why Toronto is installing secure parking at subway stations.

    And here is one of those jealousy-inspiring Dutch videos. This one is of Rotterdam Central Station. It has 5,190 parking spots.

    https://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/bicycle-parking-at-rotterdam-central-station/

  • Kevin Love

    When I joined the Army, my grandfather gave me his old military whistle. Highly effective upon texting car drivers.

    Because when it comes to a choice between my own safety and following some law, I know which choice I am going to make.

  • kevd

    The point is that it is a completely useless piece of equipment in NYC.
    (on shared used paths, it is good – on the streets…. useless)

  • kevd
  • kevd

    Putting a lot of words into a lot of people’s mouths there, huh?
    Then refuting the words you put there.

    What are the “harmless infractions” that are committed by safe drivers that are being ticketed in blitzes?

  • kevd

    i’m fine with salmoning when they aren’t idiots about it. like, moving over and getting out of the way.

  • kevd

    It might also be wise to have more than one long distance bus terminal. Like at the GWB bus terminal for buses north. Or in the Bronx by an express train for buses to New England.
    Although most of the PABT is NJT, not greyhoud, etc.

  • Vooch

    PABT solution is spend $2 billion renovating existing terminal, $4 billion expanding PATH lines 16 miles in NJ, $3 billion expanding NJ rail 30 miles, and $1 billion creating 1,000 miles of PBLs in NJ for last mile solution to & from Path & NJ rail stations in Suburban NJ.

    Challenge solved and NJ commuters are better distributed throughout Manhattan than being concentrated at PABT

  • Vooch

    agreed – there isn’t a síngle bike rack around Grand Central. none.

  • kevd

    $4 Billion for 16 miles of PATH lines?
    I’ll have what you’re smoking.

  • Vooch

    Expansion of PATH would be $2 Billion for 4 Miles Underground along Kennedy Blvd or Bergan Line North towards GWB

    and

    $2 Billion for Expansion on Existing Surface Rail corridors Westward 12 Miles. As you Know PATH already Runs Partly on Penn RR Tracks so this Is very doable.

  • kevd

    the 3 miles between Newark Penn and EWR was going to be 1.5 Billion.
    Along an existing right of way.
    Above ground.

    if its $500 million / mile for above ground along an existing right of way, ain’t no chance its the same for a new tunnel under kennedy blvd or bergenline.

  • Vooch

    okay – then expand EXISTING Northboumd light rail By throwing $1 Billion at it.

    And use $3 Billion to expand PATH eastwards from Newark (Surface Running)

    or

    use the $4billipn instead to fund 40% of the 7 the 5 Miles to Secacus.

    I so believe my point Is valid – rather than spending $10 Billion on a Brand new PABT. Spend $2billion on Renovationg existing PABT and $8 Billion on expanding Rail Service in NJ feeding non-PABT destinations within Manhattan.

    the Solution to excess Demand at PABT isn’t to Build a bigger PABT. The Solution Is to offer better alternatives (ie rail) than the Bus. This will also spread Out commuters in Manhattan rather than concentration at PABT

  • qrt145

    Devil’s advocate here: nowhere in the law does it say that the bell must be on the handlebars. If you don’t use it, you could “equip” your bike with a bell by installing the bell on the seat post or some other similarly silly place.

    I wonder what the judge would say…

  • A bell is pointless. I have one of those horns with a black ball that you squeeze. I use it frequently, and find it indispensable.

    This horn is heard not only by pedestrians but also by drivers. And I can peep it lightly or honk it loudly, as the situation warrants.

  • Simon Phearson

    I think that a judge would say that a bell isn’t really “equipped,” within the meaning of the ordinance, unless it is mounted in such a way as to be readily usable in the normal operation of the bike. If the drafters had intended to allow mere “attachment,” they could have used language to that effect.

  • Simon Phearson

    Sure. I hate using my loud device with pedestrians (or other cyclists), when we’re in a quiet situation where a real “bell” would be audible. Though, to be honest, I can’t say I find myself in a lot of those situations, riding around the city. Manhattan PBLs? Bike/ped paths over the bridges? The Hudson River Greenway? There’s usually at least a lot of traffic noise to cut through.

  • Miles Bader

    Sure, maybe the places you ride, and your riding style, etc, mean that a bell isn’t useful for you.

    But “bells aren’t useful for everybody” is very different than saying “any city rider understands that bike bells are almost entirely useless.”

    As a pedestrian, I am “belled” quite often, and rather like them. It makes me aware of the bicyclist, so I know to be careful, but it’s not obnoxious (OK, you can use a bell obnoxiously, like anything… but it’s easy not to be).

  • Simon Phearson

    Well, ride a few hundred miles in the city with a conventional bell, and then get back to me.

  • BBnet3000

    What about the headline “a bicycle bell wouldn’t have saved Matthew von Ohlen” wasn’t clear?