Today’s Headlines

  • Shocker: No One Knows How the MTA Will Pay for Cuomo’s Penn Station Overhaul (WNYCNY1, WSJ)
  • De Blasio Signs Bills to Expand Pedestrians’ Right of Way and Allow More Bikes in Buildings (@ydanis)
  • Just in Time for Fall, Prendergast Acknowledges Recurring Hot Car Problem on the 1 Train (NY1)
  • MTA Might Close Columbus Circle Subway Entrances at Night, Because of Shops (WSR)
  • DOT Official Says Federal Driverless Car Guidelines Not a Fit for Walkable NYC (AMNY)
  • Wheelchair User Advocate: Uber No Substitute for Access-A-Ride (Crain’s)
  • DOT Replaces Gowanus Bond Street Sharrows With Painted Bike Lane (DNA)
  • Complaints Prompt Parks Department to Rework Wheelchair Ramp for UES Waterfront Bridge (DNA)
  • Richard Brodsky Chimes In on Cuomo Scandals and Empire State Development Corp. (News)
  • Meadowlands Mall Clears Suit and Taxpayers Might End Up Subsidizing Construction (WNYC)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Joe R.

    Might want to add to today’s headlines:

    It looks like the train overran the station at the last stop. No word of exactly how many injured but it looks like nobody died.

  • Vooch

    latest is 3 perished. Horrible

    it boils my blood to see this and wonder how many upgrades could have made with $4 billion

  • Jesse

    That AMNY article was almost incomprehensible but it had this quote: “[O]ften autonomous vehicles are programmed to not go within, say, three feet of a pedestrian. Here in New York, within three feet of a pedestrian is pretty much anywhere in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn and Queens.”

    Is this really a problem? Most streets have on-street parking which creates a buffer of at least 3 feet between cars and people. And pretty much all streets are wide enough that a car can avoid being that close to a pedestrian. And when a driver passes a cyclist they should give at least three feet of space. If there isn’t enough room they shouldn’t pass.

    The only time that I’m within three feet of cars is in crosswalks when people are not yielding or stopped on the crosswalk. It seems like they’re saying that the guidelines are inappropriate for NYC because they would compel the cars to follow the laws that we already have in place for drivers. And that might actually be a real problem for car access in NYC. It’s widely accepted among drivers that the only way you can get anywhere in a car in the city is to break some laws. So really, I think they’re just confirming what we already know: it’s cars themselves that are incompatible with dense walkable environments.

  • qrt145

    AMNY also had a nice article titled “How to improve NYC transportation: Ideas from around the world”. While there’s not much there that will be news to regular Streetsblog readers, I think it’s good that these ideas get communicated to a wider audience.

  • Joe R.

    Yep. I just found out about the three dead myself. These kinds of things are happening way too often.

    Good source of evolving info on the incident:

  • qrt145

    Any car that obeys Asimov’s laws of robotics will be utterly unable to move in the crowded parts of the city, unless two things happen: 1) intersections are redesigned to separate cars from pedestrians, if not in space at least in time (i.e., no more turning cars having the green light at the same time as pedestrians); 2) draconian enforcement and/or radical culture change brings jaywalking down to near zero.

  • Miles Bader

    Neither of those is going to happen.

    It’s far more likely that the automated control algorithms will be designed so that the allowable distance is made dependent on car speed, so that cars could get past nearby pedestrians by simply slowing a crawl at that point. At extremely slow speeds, the brakes can stop the car essentially instantly, so there would be little chance of any accident.

  • 1ifbyrain2ifbytrain

    In the WNYC on air piece about the driverless UBER cars in Pittsburgh the biggest complaint was about the cars going too slow and the human having to take over in order to drive around “obstacles” at a higher rate of speed.

  • JudenChino

    Crash, not accident.

  • AnoNYC

    The UES Waterfront Bridge is being redesigned again? I thought the city redesigned it after waterfront residents south of E 81st St complained that it would block their views? The previous redesign simply moved the ramp north of E 81st St. It wouldn’t block any windows at that location.

  • Mike

    While I see Access-A-Ride as potentially valuable, their drivers are just the worst. I don’t know if they have poor hiring practices, poor training, or schedules that involve the driver going like a maniac to make them, but they are deeply scary to share a road with. While Uber may not be a substitute, there is tons of room for improvement.

  • Joe R.

    Somehow I don’t think keeping to any kind of schedules are the reason why they drive like maniacs:

    Besides all the other issues you mentioned, the vehicles have just about the worst exhaust smell of any vehicle I’ve ever encountered. NYC needs to mandate that these vehicles go electric yesterday. If their driving doesn’t kill us the fumes will.

  • AMH

    Interesting, they are already too “safe” for their impatient passengers.

  • Joe R.

    I wrote a post on this a few weeks ago. I had no luck trying to find it. In a nutshell, what I think would happen is the self-driving cars would reroute on the fly whenever they encountered major choke points with so many people crossing the street that they couldn’t get through. It’s not like every intersection in Manhattan is going to be impassable. The system would likely detect which ones are, send out the info to other cars to avoid those intersections, and have cars approaching them back away to use a different route.

    Given that autonomous vehicles will be programmed to yield to cyclists/pedestrians, and can avoid colliding with each other, I’m not seeing any purpose in continuing to have traffic signals or other traffic controls at intersections. During peak times, some intersections will just end up defaulting to cyclist/pedestrian only because cars won’t be able to get through.

    When you study autonomous vehicles, you realize you can pretty much throw all conventional approaches to traffic control out the window. Even traffic directions on a street need no longer be fixed. For example, you can make a street one way during the AM peak, two way off-peak, one way in the other direction during the PM peak. With these tools, we’ll always be able to find a reasonably quick route, even in places like Manhattan with lots of pedestrian traffic. You’ll also increase capacity, which means you can reserve some streets entirely for cyclists/pedestrians while serving the same motor traffic volumes.

    It’s probably also a given that we’ll make the distance from pedestrians speed dependent as Miles Bader mentions. The only reason we have “congestion” in Manhattan now is because drivers do what is in their best interest. This slows everyone down. When vehicles cooperate, everyone will get around faster, especially pedestrians and cyclists who will no longer be burdened waiting for cars to cross an intersection.

  • Miles Bader

    Sure, “crash” works too, but I’m not sure the distinction is meaningful in this context.

    For conventional manually driven automobiles, the intent of saying “crash” is to point out that many of the crashes are the driver’s fault, and would have been avoided if the driver were driving responsibly.

    Driverless cars, on the other hand, will probably scrupulously follow traffic laws and best practices, and will almost always err on the side of safer behavior. So that if someone does get hit by one, it will indeed likely be “an accident.”

  • stairbob

    At least until they get all Philip K. Dick on us and try to take over the world (even more).

  • Vooch

    Judge Judy Today – Driver Hits Little Girl crossing suburban Street.

  • Miles Bader

    So what was his argument…?

    [“She was so short, how on earth could any normal driver have seen her while texting and taking that blind corner at 70mph?! I’m an important man, I had places to be! I’m a driver!”?]

  • Vooch

    Driver had suspended liscense no Insurance. Argument was Child darted Out into Street Chasing After her friend WHO had crossed Street.

  • AMH
  • JamesR

    They’re all the batshittery and aggressiveness of a livery cab in something the size of a small bus. My understanding based on too many night meetings is that they are often forced to criss-cross entire boroughs multiple times in a single day to make pickups, hence the unsafe driving. I’m not excusing the behavior by a long shot, but that was the reason given.