Today’s Headlines

  • De Blasio’s East Harlem Housing Plan Would Eliminate Parking Minimums, Integrate Transit (Politico)
  • Trottenberg Will Ride New Sixth Avenue Bikeway Today to Mark Women’s Bike Month (AMNY)
  • CB 6 Mad Because DOT Won’t Send Staff to Get Pummeled by Bike-Hating Cranks (Bklyn Paper)
  • Cyclist Run Over by Trucker at Jay and Tillary Survived, and His Family Needs Help
  • Gothamist Looks at Subway Improvements Planned for Grand Central Terminal
  • The MTA Is Failing New Yorkers Who Use Wheelchairs (TransitCenter)
  • Bike Messengers Are Organizing With Support From Taxi Workers Alliance (Crain’sNY1)
  • Former FTA Employee Says Cuomo’s AirTrain Would Be a Boondoggle (TL)
  • Motorist Strikes Man Walking in Harlem, Victim Hospitalized (DNA)
  • FEMA Updates Flood Map That Will Guide NYC Development (WNYC)
  • What Will Happen to New Jersey When It’s No Longer Known for Cheap Gas? (NYT)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Yesterday: NYPD writing red light tickets for running a T-intersection (Flushing Ave and Clermont in Brooklyn) with no pedestrians present that will soon be turned into a yield anyway. Unfortunately as always they’ve failed to notice what’s got people cycling so stressed in the first place.

  • JudenChino

    Trottenberg Will Ride New Sixth Avenue Bikeway Today to Mark Women’s Bike Month (AMNY)

    If this were more than just a photo op, she’d ride from Park Slope to 6th avenue. I’d honestly ride with her too!

  • Vooch

    “…Motorist Strikes Man Walking in Harlem, Victim Hospitalized (DNA)…”

    how does a car get hospitalized ?

  • qrt145

    Regarding the Harlem crash, I was at that very intersection at 5:40 pm, about an hour after the time cited by DNA info. But the scene I saw seemed the aftermath of a crash involving a dirt bike and a black car (which remained at the scene, not sure about the driver), and was really on St. Nicholas, not on 119th St. By the time I was there, there were no ambulances around, only police, and the dirt bike was surrounded with sand, presumably to cover/absorb some fluid (blood? gas? no idea).

    I wonder if it’s two different crashes happening within one hour almost at the same location, or DNA just being very confused…

  • bolwerk

    Hmm, did de Blasio propose something right? Most weeks he’s Bloomberg- or even Giuliani-level daft. What’s the catch here?

    Re the TL piece, $450M is high for what we’re getting. $100M/mile ought to be more reasonable, maybe with some premium. That said, the AirTrain project is much more tolerable if future planners are capable integrating into the existing JFK AirTrain or into the subway. Are they consciously precluding that, or just ignoring future contingencies? Or could it actually integrate into one of those systems?

  • ohnonononono

    I don’t understand why there’s no enforcement of cars blocking the box on Tillary Street as they cross Jay Street. I’ve told drivers with their windows down as I’ve tried to bike through there and they’ve just looked at me like I’m crazy. I think a ton of drivers don’t understand that you shouldn’t pull into an intersection until it’s clear. NYPD could sit there and ticket drivers with every signal change, but given that they don’t seem to want to hassle drivers, simply putting up “Don’t Block the Box” signs there would likely help a bit.

    Striping narrow little unprotected, unenforced bike lanes onto the poorly-functioning traffic sewers of the urban renewal era in Downtown Brooklyn is not really working. Tillary is still designed to be a street-level highway, so drivers bristle at interaction with bikes and peds. The whole circulation network leading to the bridges, BQE, and surface streets needs to be reworked for all users. The current situation doesn’t work well for anyone.

  • JudenChino

    It’s really set up like a highway. Cars see that big opening ahead and just want to fly.

  • Flakker

    In fairness to de Blasio it does seem as if he’s come to understand that affordability of rents is directly related to parking spots and that poor people, at least, don’t need and shouldn’t have them. Compare his proposals to build project housing on existing project house parking lots.

    Just a guess based on media reports but I bet he realized that while he can’t control NIMBY sentiment he can reduce anti-gentrification concerns by allotting more numerous and deeply-discounted below-market-rate units. I have no idea if 50% of units is feasible like MMV wants but it’s definitely impossible with mandatory parking.

    Also I’ll say this: though he often comes off like a pompous buffoon in media he is a very good speaker and seems intelligent in person. I think the bad reactions his meetings have had in the past, having been to one, says more about the kind of people who attend these than it does him.

  • qrt145

    “a ton of drivers don’t understand that you shouldn’t pull into an intersection until it’s clear”

    Blocking the box is “contagious”. Let’s say A is the first one to block the box, perhaps even unintentionally (it looked like traffic was going to keep moving, and A misjudged the space…). This prevents X from getting through when X has the green. Eventually, A gets out of the way, but now X, perhaps angry but also quite rationally figures that the only way to get anywhere is to block the box himself at the first opportunity. Now B, having been blocked by X, follows the same strategy and the cycle repeats itself.

    This can be modeled in game theoretical terms as a prisoner’s dilemma. If everyone cooperates, everyone wins, but as soon as someone defects, it is only rational to defect too. Unfortunately, when everyone defects, everyone loses. Some players may choose to defect preemptively anticipating a similar move by the other player.

  • Simon Phearson

    I’m not particularly knowledgeable of game theory, but this would suggest that the policy solution would need to be to reduce the expected value of the “defect” option, correct? So, basically, simply directing people not to “block the box” will never be enough – the incentives run contrary to the instruction – so what we need is real, material enforcement.

    But also – wouldn’t it be relevant, in game-theoretical terms, that this is a kind of iterated game? Or would the non-identity between players of successive iterations mean that we couldn’t analyze the game as an iterated game? Or would we allow that at least some learning can take place as between games?

  • Julio

    The catch is that the parking minimums are only being eliminated in a tiny swath of the rezoned area. The community -driven vision plan actually called for eliminating parking minimums in the entire rezoned area.

  • qrt145

    I’m no expert either, but I’d say the iterated prisoner’s dilemma does not apply here because each time you are playing against a different player; you can’t retaliate against the person who blocked you (within the idealized game I have in mind, at least). However, and this is not game theory but pop psychology, perhaps it “feels” as though you can retaliate by blocking the next unsuspecting stranger. An “anti-pay it forward” kind of deal, made easier by being isolated in vehicles.

    Agreed that the game changes completely in the presence of enforcement. I remember reading somewhere that the NYPD gave up on enforcement because stopping someone for blocking the box ends up creating more congestion. I believe this could be addressed by photo enforcement.

  • bolwerk

    That de Blasio-is-stupid meme is largely just a self-fulfilled prophecy. It’s a foil for the “mainstream” media narrative that big cities need a “competent Republcan,” truly a mythological creature if there ever was one, to come in and clean up the messy-messes made by irresponsible librul bleeding heart administration. That it’s almost entirely the other way around? Well, nobody will notice!

    Blas kind of lives in a bubble, but he’s not stupid. Of the main candidates running in ’13, I’m not sure there was anyone better than de Blasio. Liu was maybe better, but really no more concrete than de Blasio, and probably more corrupt. Quinn maybe really was stupid. And, well, besides this sentence, I won’t mention Weiner. Albanese was objectively better on transit issues perhaps, but he was getting like 1% in the polls.

  • JudenChino

    I liked Albanese for a while until he came out in support of mandatory bike helmets.

  • AnoNYC

    City Bans Left Turn at UES Corner After Installing It Per One Man’s Request

  • bolwerk

    I’m not so sure he was that strong on street issues, though I’m not sure anyone else was much better. :-

  • bolwerk

    I don’t think game theory applies here at all. There is no discernible advantage to ever blocking the box. At most, you gain nothing, and at worst you snarl traffic so you can’t move when you have the right of way again. Perhaps you even preclude your own ability to change your course (by making a right or left turn) in the event you didn’t notice a problem when you moved into the box.

    There is a simpler, much less polite description of this phenomenon: people who deliberately block the box don’t know how to drive.

  • Kevin Love

    Loved the NYT article about New Jersey.

    One hint for Steve Edwards, who said:

    “Whether it’s Bruce Springsteen or Thomas Edison or Albert Einstein, we have the richest talent”

    When two out of three of your “richest talent” has been dead for over 50 years, you may have a problem.

  • qrt145

    I used to think that until I found myself in a situation in which there was literally no way to move forward without blocking the box. If you wait another cycle, when your turn comes, the box is blocked again. And again. You could say that the box is being blocked because of all those other people who don’t know how to drive, and I agree, but what else can you do? Maybe there’s no incentive to be the first one to block the box, but once the cycle of blocking begins, there is no other way unless all parties cooperate. Hence the prisoner’s dilemma applies.

  • ohnonononono

    DOT installed a left turn signal at ONE man’s request?

    That seems very odd.

  • Driver

    There’s something else to consider when you see a truck blocking the box. When driving a truck in very heavy traffic on multiple lane roads, you sometimes cannot sit wait until there is a large enough space for a truck on the other side of the intersection, as there simply will not be one. As soon as there is even space for one car, and usually not even that, smaller and quicker vehicles will cut ahead from either side and fill that void. Even if you wait and a large enough spot magically opens up, by the time you accelerate from a stop and get through the intersection, that space is already gone, again from quicker vehicles that have cut you off, and you are stuck blocking the intersection.

  • bolwerk

    It still seems quite unlikely that you should expect an advantage from it. That doesn’t mean it is impossible that it would, after the fact, confer an advantage. In most cases you are still more likely to lose than win, even setting aside any danger you might put yourself in (legal or physical).

  • I, too, have told so many of these people the same thing. If you can’t make it all the way through an intersection, then you don’t enter the intersection. It’s really that simple.

    But New Yorkers have become accustomed to ignoring this obvious and sensible rule; and the blame for this state of affairs belongs with the police, who choose not to enforce the law prohibiting blocking the box.

    Driver misconduct — blocking the box; stopping ahead of the stop line; blowing stop signs; speeding; double parking; etc. — constitutes the illegal activity that has the greatest impact on the lives of people in this City. Therefore combatting this epidemic should be the number one priority of the City’s police force.

    The obscenely over-staffed police department has the manpower to effectuate such an initiative. But what they lack is the will. They prefer spying on ordinary citizens in the name of fighting mostly imaginary “terrorism”, and also behaving in a terroristic manner themselves towards black and Latin New Yorkers.

    The appropriate attention paid to drivers’ misdeeds would reduce collisions, calm traffic, and improve the quality of life for everyone.

  • djx

    “There is no discernible advantage to ever blocking the box.”

    Not true in very heavy traffic. If you don’t do it, and the people on the street you’re crossing do, you’ll never get across.

  • bolwerk

    Only if they pull in front of you, which is itself difficult for them. It’s a game you should expect to lose.

  • AnoNYC

    Yup, probably politically connected.

  • bolwerk

    Okay, let’s say that’s true. It probably doesn’t save you any time at all because you’ll still get across the next time the light cycles. And you have a probably greater than .5 chance of snarling yourself worse than you would have if you waited.

  • qrt145

    How is it “difficult for them”?

  • qrt145

    “you’ll still get across the next time the light cycles”.

    That is assuming that when your turn comes: 1) nobody on the cross street blocks the box; 2) the street you are driving on is not already completely full. The latter happens when too many vehicles turn from the cross street and the light on the next block is not favorably synchronized with the light you are trying to pass.

    How does blocking the box “snarl yourself”? It usually only snarls everyone else. An exception might be if the gridlock goes all around the block, but I think this is less frequent than simple box blocking and most people don’t think about it.

  • bolwerk

    It’s typically an awkward maneuver, and rarely even heuristically logical. You normally go forward, rather than pull in front of the guy parallel to you.

    And even if someone does cut in front of you at the box, so what? Your net probability of gaining is probably still exceeded by how much that limits your mobility options. It’s unlikely to make your trip and shorter to spend your time responding to isolated potential incidences of crosswalk tomfuckery.

  • bolwerk

    At the very least, it snarls you when you limit the mobility of perpendicular traffic, which then itself blocks the box because you did something illogical. Not to mention pedestrians are likely to be in your way for a whole light cycle.

  • qrt145

    Oh, I see, you are talking about someone going in the same direction as you cutting you off. I wasn’t talking about that. I was talking about someone going in the perpendicular direction blocking the box.

    (The only one who brought up a scenario you had in mind was Driver, regarding people going around trucks, but your comment wasn’t a reply to Driver, hence my confusion.)

  • bolwerk

    Ah, well, maybe the phrase (mine) about pulling in front sidetracked me a bit, but I was thinking about both when I replied really. But with perpendicular it still seems like a net lose strategy to me. Heuristically you could “win” if and only if you have a clear “right of way” and even need to compete with people who are traveling perpendicular to you – this means you are in heavy traffic, and the perpendicular artery is clogged.

    Otherwise, most of what I said still applies: you could risk snarling yourself more, and you might limit your ability to alter your course if it turns out the traffic ahead of you is snarled more seriously than you thought. It doesn’t seem optimal to me, even if I don’t care about others. :-