Today’s Headlines

  • Cuomo and Flanagan Point Fingers as Speed Camera Extinction Looms (Gothamist)
  • Marty Golden’s Reckless Driving and Speed Cam Obstruction Might Cost Him His Seat (C&S)
  • Politico Digs Into Cuomo’s Pay-to-Play Infrastructure and Development Shenanigans
  • Did MTA and DOT Water Down B82 SBS Enough to Appease Transit-Hating Electeds? (KCP)
  • Voice: CBTC Would Have Been a Better Investment Than the Second Avenue Subway
  • State Labor Board Rules That Uber Drivers Were Employees, Which Is a Big Deal (Politico)
  • Ofo, Picked by DOT for Dockless Bike-Share Pilot, Is Retreating From North American Cities (Quartz)
  • On Mark Gjonaj’s Cozy Relationship With the Carting Industry, Bronx Times Pulls No Punches
  • Looks Like City Hall Did Nothing to Increase Play Street Locations Since Last Year (Bx Times)
  • Drunk Driver Critically Injures Man Walking on Northern Boulevard (QChron)
  • Get Ready for What Will No Doubt Be a Rational Discussion on Electric Scooters in NYC (NYT)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Larry Littlefield

    RE: the Second Avenue Subway vs. CBTC. The article says the SAS is OVER projections. Note the hunger games scenario. Why can’t we have both?

    “We know now that the Second Avenue Subway could not possibly have been the most cost-effective way to relieve crowding on the Lexington Avenue line. That would be upgrading the signals to Communications-Based Train Control, or CBTC. One of the first lines Byford wants to tackle is, in fact, the 4/5/6 from 149th Street–Grand Concourse in the Bronx to Nevins Street in Brooklyn.”

    Not given how much we have been charged for CBTC by the one vendor. It’s the same issue.

    The real question is this: given a cost of $4.5 billion, how come the SAS hasn’t already been extended to 125th Street and Park/Lexington — BEFORE the only subway on the East Side starts getting shut down to have its signals replaced?

    Especially since parts of that line were already dug out in the early 1970s?

    Could that $12 billion fund shortage in NY’s multi-employer construction union pension funds, and the desire to sacrifice the transit system on their way to Florida to cover 100 percent of the bill, while private construction goes non-union to avoid it, have something to do with it?

    He journalists, why will no one ask Governor Cuomo that question? It’s under Omerta, aside from the building industry press.

  • bolwerk

    I’m not sure what a rational position on electric scooters would be. Unlike bikes, they are kind of daft to have on the sidewalk with pedestrians. Bikes could be kind of acceptable under some circumstances, though not all. About the only thing that maybe I’d wonder about is if they could be reasonable to have in dedicated bike lanes. Using them in NYC traffic seems like a death wish, though no less safe than bikes.

    Also note…

    “They are not legal, but it’s not enforced,” said Sarah Kaufman,
    an assistant director at the N.Y.U. Rudin Center for Transportation,
    whose research there has focused on scooter share markets across American cities and around the world. “Anecdotally, everyone has seen a motorized scooter on a sidewalk.”

    …that Sarah Kaufman’s rosy view of enforcement will be forced to change quickly once black people start trying to do it a lot.

  • qrt145

    “Ofo is backpedaling—fast.”, says

    What is it about bikes that makes it irresistible for so many journalists to begin their articles with puns about pedals or brakes?

    To their credit, at least they got the difference between “pedal” and “peddle” right, something which only happens about half the time…

  • bolwerk

    So-called “relief” is always bad framing, and probably a deliberate strawman set up to make transit (especially rail) lose out. The SAS is probably one of the most obvious unbuilt rapid transit corridors in the world.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The bottom line is, all the capital dollars are going to the early retired of older generations.

    I though that unlike the Department of Early Retirement (Education), NYCT dodged a bullet when the TWU strike for a 20/50 pension (instead of 25/55) failed, leaving only the massive hole created by the 2000 retroactive pension increase to be dealt with.

    Instead, the in addition to debts the MTA has been pillaged to pay private sector pensions so private construction won’t have to. Adding to swallowing the underfunded pensions of the private sector bus companies when they were absorbed.

  • Larry Littlefield

    In general, cops only enforce traffic laws when they are ordered to. Which is why you get these crackdowns, with cyclists ticketed for running yellow and green lights, but nothing in between.

    But some people are stopped because you never know, they might have an outstanding warrant.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    They’re fine on bike infra, as they’re of a similar speed and mass. Everything medium speed and low mass belong on the same infrastructure. This includes skating, not that the current protected bike lanes are in any condition to skate on.

  • Andy S

    Don’t forget “breaks.”

  • JK

    For you, not for me. How about we keep human power space for human power and motor power can go with motor power? What happened to “active transportation?” There seems to be a huge push for inactive transportation in what was supposed to be human powered space, as long as it is with light weight electric motors.

  • Maggie

    Yeah, not to rein on anyone’s parade but these have to be reigned in.

  • Joe R.

    Unfortunately, if we want cycling to appeal to the masses, we’re going to have to accept e-bikes and e-scooters. They wouldn’t be a problem on bike infrastructure, either, if it were designed properly(i.e. plenty of room for passing, design speeds of 25 mph or better). However, I can see how they would be a problem on most of NYC’s bike infrastructure. That said, I’m personally OK with it if it gets lots more people out of cars. The more people who see bike infrastructure as something they can use, even if it means they use something with a motor, the more voice we’ll have to get things done. Eventually, we could end up with proper bike infrastructure where e-bikes and regular bikes can mix.

    Also note this problem isn’t solely restricted to e-bikes. If velomobiles eventually get popular, they’ll face similar issues operating on bike infrastructure. The solution in all cases is better infrastructure so everyone can get along.

  • Joe R.

    Sadly, that seems to be the usual way brakes are spelled on the Internet. Another of my favorites is “petals” instead of “pedals”. Not on topic, but I also sometimes hear (here?) people complaining about “bares” when they go hiking or camping. The Internet is a huge bastion of illiteracy. It’s hilarious when people in other countries post in better English than native-born Americans.

  • qrt145

    Well, there was this story in the Times recently where someone actually complained about bare people in a campsite…

    At one point, a nude woman claiming to have seen a U.F.O. ran through their campsite. “We thought, We have to get out of here.”

  • Joe R.

    LOL. I personally wouldn’t mind those kinds of “bares”, so long as they were female and either skinny or normal weight.

  • running_bond

    Added because of the massive impact this has on Uptown weekend traffic and street safety:

    Restaurant owned by de Blasio donor faces closure over liquor law violations

  • sbauman

    I don’t know who does proposed SBS route number crunching. Here’s what the B82 currently offers.

    There are 350,420 people living within 1/2 mile of an existing B82 bus stop, according to the 2010 census.

    There are 122,463 private sector workers living within 1/2 mile of an existing B82 bus stop, according to the 2015 LEHD census. This percentage of workers to population is roughly the same as the citywide total.

    There are 62,160 private sector jobs within 1/2 mile of an existing B82 bus stop, according to the 2015 LEHD census.

    There are 12,313 workers living within 1/2 mile of an existing B82 bus stop, who work at one of these 62,160 private sector jobs.

    Of these 12,313 potential B82 commuters, 6,454 live within 1 mile of where they work. They will most likely walk to work. Good for the sole, better for the cobbler.

    Of these 12,313 potential B82 commuters, 5,049 live between 1 and 4 miles from where they work. Their best mode would be by bike or e-bike.

    This leaves only 810 of the 12,313 potential B82 commuters, who live more than 4 miles from where they work.

  • sbauman

    The SAS is probably one of the most obvious unbuilt rapid transit corridors in the world.

    Approximately 25% of NYC residents live beyond 1/2 mile of a subway station. None of these people live along the SAS corridor. The SAS has taken on a life of its own, out of all proportion to its benefits. If one bothers to look at the original IND Second System’s 1929 proposals, most of the mileage was exanding service in the outer boroughs.

    That part has been forgotten.

    A Second Avenue trunk line isn’t required to redress this oversight.

  • AnoNYC

    I strongly agree with the push for active transport, but it isn’t always an option for everyone in today’s society.

    Not everyone can come to work sweaty for example. Electric personal mobility devices solve that problem. That is a big deal, especially for women who are de facto expected to maintain certain standards of appearance incompatible with active transport.

  • AnoNYC

    Bike lanes are never going to solve the problems. The painted ones are almost irrelevant and protected lanes are still rare citywide. You won’t see a robust protected bike lane network citywide the way things are going.

    There are two things that can make a huge difference in a comparably short time:

    -Road pricing to limit the number of automobiles.


    -Advanced collision avoidance technologies.

    When these things are standard, you will be able to take to the streets without fear for your life. We won’t need bike lanes because the cars won’t be able to run us over. This technology is more likely to become advanced to the point it is extremely reliable and pretty much standard before a citywide bike lane buildout.

  • AnoNYC

    Would like a Bronx extension before 125th on the SAS:

    The biggest factor is the city’s workforce. Neighborhood by neighborhood, areas where people were once estranged from the workforce for years, even a lifetime, are now home to tens of thousands of new workers.

    Consider the South Bronx. Melrose, Mott Haven, Hunts Point and Longwood are New York’s poorest neighborhoods. But their population has grown by 38 percent since 1990. And people are more likely to work. In 1990, fewer than half the adults in the area worked, with a labor-participation rate of 44 percent. Today, the labor-force share is 50 percent — still the city’s lowest, but a tremendous improvement.

    These workers rely on subways. In 1990, 65 percent of the area workforce commuted via public transit; by 2016, the figure was nearly 70 percent. The number of people commuting on public transit to work from these South Bronx neighborhoods has more than doubled since 1990, from 17,500 to 35,600.

    This may seem obvious: Don’t all New Yorkers take the subway to work? Nope. Wealthy Lower Manhattan is similar in size and population growth to the South Bronx. It grew by 30 percent since 1990.

    In 1990, 50 percent of its commuters took public transportation; by 2016, 53 percent did. Yet that hasn’t translated into soaring subway-ridership numbers. The number of people taking transit to work has increased 30 percent, compared with the South Bronx’s more than 100 percent growth.

    Behind the difference is residents’ participation in the workforce, which has not grown in lower Manhattan as it has in the South Bronx. Back then as now, 75 percent of adults worked.

    Because the percentage of people working has not grown and because such a high percentage of residents walk to work — 27 percent, versus 10 percent in the South Bronx — the number of people taking public transportation hasn’t grown as much.

    The difference is reflected in ridership at stations in each area. In the South Bronx, between 1998 (the first year for which the MTA made station-level data available) and 2016, ridership grew by 71 percent, far faster than the city as a whole during that period. In lower Manhattan, ridership grew at 40 percent, slightly below the city’s overall rate.

    It’s not tourists who are crowding our subways; it’s poorer and middle-class New Yorkers who work.

    The Bronx is also the fastest growing borough, will be the fastest growing at least through 2030, and has the most potential for growth along the old Third Ave El corridor (existing zoning allows for upper Manhattan density levels already).

  • bolwerk

    Of course NYC needs a massive expansion of its rail network (heavy and light). But the SAS stands on its own merits as a prima facie sound transportation corridor.

    But I agree, most investment probably should be in the outer boroughs, though I might not use 70+-year-old Second System maps as a template.

  • sbauman

    The numbers don’t support the article’s hypothesis. These three South Bronx neighborhoods are extremely well served by subway service. More than 99% of the residents live within 0.5 miles of a subway station. All live within 0.55 miles of a subway station.

  • sbauman

    But the SAS stands on its own merits as a prima facie sound transportation corridor.

    The SAS is a diversion of funding away from providing expanding subway access to those who lack it. It’s a bigger sink hole than the Fulton Transit Hub, the South Ferry Station and Cuomo’s Enhanced Station Rehabilitation program. It’s a sink hole because it does not provide subway access to those who currently lack it.

  • bolwerk

    That’s also bad framing. It’s not “diverting” anything. If it weren’t being built, the money wouldn’t be used for other transportation (except maybe roads). Hundreds of thousands of riders a day finding use in a new transportation corridor doesn’t exactly seem like something to scoff at. Most of them might have access to a subway, but it’s not necessarily the best subway for them. Just because you live near a subway station, doesn’t mean it’s the one you need.

  • bolwerk

    I don’t get your obsession with 0.5 miles and mere proximity to any arbitrary subway line. You gotta be more granular than that. Nobody along the Pelham Bay line has a good subway trip to the west side of Manhattan, which includes a massive employment center. Near enough 0% of the entire borough of The Bronx has decent east-west service across their borough, and a one-seat ride to Queens isn’t possible.

  • Not everyone can come to work sweaty

    Everyone can change their clothes upon arrival at work. This solves that problem.

  • AnoNYC

    It’s not true for everyone. From a time perspective is one thing, or having [safe/sanitary/accessible] facilities to change in. And for women especially, doing hair and makeup often takes a substantial amount of time.

  • To change your clothes you can close the door of your office if you have one; or, if you are a cubicle worker as I am, then you can use the rest room. Regarding hair and make-up, there are plenty of styles that are compatible with both an active lifestyle and business norms.

    I completely agree that there is nothing wrong with electric personal vehicles — just so long as they stay out of bike lanes and other infrastructure intended for actual bicycles. E-bikes should be legal; and they should be required to ride with the other motorised vehicles. The limitations that apply to them should be the same that apply to a 50cc gas-powered scooter: they can use any road, but must stick to the right lane.

  • J. Geoff Rove

    Little mention from the Mercer Puppets of the Pataki-Damato LIRR EAST SIDE ACCESS money pit….”As of November 2017, the MTA had spent $7.397 billion”. The station will be 140 FEET underground if ever completed.

    “In 1998, New York senator Al D’Amato announced that he had secured
    federal dollars to help bring the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central
    Terminal—at a cost of $3 billion—by 2010. It’s now 2015. The
    expansion—called “East Side Access”—will cost at least $10.2 billion,
    with New York State paying most of the bill. It won’t be done before
    late 2022. …
    How did East Side Access morph from something that was supposed to be
    relatively easy, if you listened to D’Amato and Governor George Pataki
    17 years ago, into the most expensive transit project in America? Cost
    overruns and delays on big projects are common. But New York State’s
    Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which builds and operates the
    subways and rails in and around New York City, hasn’t just run over its allotted budget and projected timeline; it has obliterated them.
    The unexpected billions that New York now has to pay are harming the
    state’s ability to build even more important transit infrastructure to
    serve the city’s growing population.”

  • sbauman

    I don’t get your obsession with 0.5 miles and mere proximity to any arbitrary subway line.

    One needs a measure for what constitutes subway access. The 0.5 mile distance implies a 10 minute or less walk. It’s used by many other authors as the criterion for transit access. It’s also the distance that the NYC Dept. of Education deems that 9 year olds are capable of walking to school without need for either school buses or reduced public transit fares.

    Nobody along the Pelham Bay line has a good subway trip to the west side of Manhattan, which includes a massive employment center…

    You forgot to mention the person in Co-op City who works in Tottenville :=) One needs to determine what percentage of workers, fit these oddball home-work travel paths. The data is available, I calculated the number of such workers for the B82 bus. It’s usually extremely small, compared to the number who make the trip to Manhattan.

    A transfer from the Lex to either the BMT @ 59th St or to the E at 51st St (for West Side access) isn’t a detour to Siberia. Public transit does not guarantee a door-to-door single seat ride for all. What’s required is that origin and destination have access (0.5 mile walking disance) and a quick way to get between the two.

  • Larry Littlefield

    East Side Access is a disaster, not because it was a bad idea, but because it isn’t already there. Long Island needs it. And the price is absurd — the most expensive part of it, the tunnel, was already there.

    Millennials who came to NYC and now want more space continue to move to NJ (which is facing its own issue if investments aren’t made) rather than Long Island. In the long run that’s bad for Long Island. They needed this in 2010, and it should have only cost $3 billion.

    Moreover, it was supposed to come with a station in LIC. Haven’t even heard that talked about for a decade.

  • J. Geoff Rove

    Maybe just regular station stops in LIC and around Park & 34th could have been done for $2 Billion. Extend PATH a mile or two and the NJ hoards can have less of a walk.

  • bolwerk

    0.5 miles seems like a good metric for a morning commuter crowd. I guess anyway. But it’s pretty terrible for the crowd that might be willing to make multiple trips a day.

    I don’t know about guaranteeing access, but continually adding to the pool of potential 1-seat and easy-ish 2-seat trips is a critical part of a a good transit policy.