Friday’s Headlines: Pat Kiernan Gets It Edition

We spent most of the week writing about cops who drive recklessly in their personal cars when they’re off-duty. We found that roughly 40 percent of cops have multiple speeding or red light tickets. And we found one recidivist assigned to the 23rd Precinct in Manhattan with 41 of those serious moving violations. And later today, we’ll break an even bigger story of another cop’s willful disregard for human life.

Well, the good news is the mainstream media is starting to pay attention. On Monday, our editor will be on NY1’s “Mornings on 1” show with legendary Canadian Pat Kiernan, who, if he wasn’t so polite, would be really angry about how many bad cops we’re uncovering.

Hey, New York Times — you should get on this story, too!

And now the news:

  • Robert Spencer, 53, became the sixth cyclist to be killed so far this year. The Daily News victim-blamed the dead man, of course, while modest Motobecane rider Vin Barone at amNY focused on the truth:  our streets are too dangerous. There will be a memorial vigil for Spencer on Saturday at noon near the crash site at Borden Avenue and Second Street in Long Island City.
  • Gothamist is soliciting stories about your commute. (Guys, is that a good idea?)
  • Some antediluvian members of Community Board 7 in Flushing trotted out pretty much every debunked myth about bike lanes to show their opposition to a very solid DOT plan. (QNS)
  • The Daily News editorial board came out in favor of scooters — with two reasonable conditions, but one not-so-reasonable one (drivers are the ones who should be required to wear helmets, given how many of them die inside their cars every year).
  • The great transportation mode expert Bruce Schaller penned an op-ed in the Daily News debunking two major myths about congestion pricing. Speaker Heastie, who sat down with our own David Meyer yesterday, had better be listening.
  • And, finally, some completely not personal news.
  • Larry Littlefield

    Too bad the real estate industry isn’t making campaign contributions to DeBlasio in exchange for money for the MTA Capital Plan — including the money he (and Cuomo) promised for the unfunded 2015 to 2020 plan.

    Why spend $10 billion to protect real estate that’s going to be worthless when the city transportation infrastructure collapses?

    It seems that current attitudes can be divided into two categories.

    1) “Mine” matters, “ours” doesn’t, except as something to drain to get mine.

    2) What I want for me now matters, and the future — even my own, let alone other people’s — does not.

  • sbauman

    First: that congestion pricing would be uniquely unfair to constituents who live in so-called transit deserts far from a subway station. There is a valid point here: It’s a long bus-to-subway trip to Manhattan from eastern Queens and southern Brooklyn and an even longer express bus ride from Staten Island.

    But what they overlook is that for every person who drives to work in Manhattan from outlying city neighborhoods, there are at least two commuters taking the subway, bus, express bus or Long Island Rail Road — often laboriously using some combination of these.

    Mr. Schaller’s Daily News Oped failed to state what specific benefits would accrue to the transit desert public transit riders from Eastern Queens. If there are none or the promised benefits are an illusion an illusion, then there is no incentive for these residents to support congestion pricing regardless of their commutation preference.

    The congestion pricing bill is short on such specifics, with the exception that subway extensions into Eastern Queens are not part of the plan now nor in the foreseeable future. What is promised (maybe) is better bus service to the subway.

    Such plans, involving offboard payment, bus lanes, preferred traffic signal timing, etc. overlook a very important problem. The streets around the subway terminals cannot handle the bus traffic they already have. According to the 2017 Hub Bound Report, 274 buses cross the 60th St cordon between 7 and 8 am. This total includes both directions, all MTA buses, and express buses from Westchester.

    By contrast, the single intersection of Archer Ave and Parsons Blv (the Jamaica Center E train terminal) has 265 scheduled bus trips crossing this intersection during the same hour. This total includes only MTA scheduled bus trips; it does not include Nassau County buses nor unscheduled trips to/from depots.

    This total is not an outlier. Most of the intersections around Jamaica Center and Flushing Main St (the subway access for Eastern Queens residents) come in with 200+ scheduled bus trips per hour at some time during the day.

    There are 28 instances with more than 200 scheduled bus trip crossings in NYC. All but 4 are around the Eastern Queens subway terminals. The 4 non-Queens examples are: 5th & 57th with 218 from 7-8am; Madison & 57th with 217 from 7-8am; 5th & 34th with 208 from 7-8am; and Madison & 57th with 206 from 5-6pm.

    The MTA’s routing guidelines are supposed to be a maximum of 66 bus trips per hour crossing an intersection. Back before automobiles were introduced into the urban landscape, the figure was 120 per hour for trolley cars.
    The number of scheduled trips crossing these intersections was deemed untenable before automobiles, so it’s unlikely that bus lanes and traffic signal preference would make such volumes viable.

    The congestion pricing’s “add more buses” Eastern Queens cure for Eastern Queens is an illusion. The Eastern Queens residents and elected officials know this. Even banning cars won’t help, based on the trolley guidelines from the 1910’s. Subway extensions to relieve congestion at terminals and provide provide walk to subway access to some is what’s required. That’s a lesson derived from the 1870’s, when Manhattan’s elevated lines were built. Until such extensions are guaranteed in legislation, Eastern Queens residents will derive no benefit from monies expended by the MTA.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Mr. Schaller’s Daily News Oped failed to state what specific benefits would accrue to the transit desert public transit riders from Eastern Queens.”

    While the subway has been left to rot, $billions have been spent on not completing East Side Access. So there is that.

    What actual subway expansions have been completed during the MTA era? The Archer Avenue line. The 63rd Street tunnel, and its EVENTUAL connection to the Queens Boulevard line and maybe someday connection to Grand Central.

    Folks who have already gotten theirs are against avoiding subway collapse elsewhere, because that would only benefit the people who paid for it. It’s like seniors on Medicare against Obamacare, let alone Medicare for all.

    And don’t forget Juanita Watkins, who fought a subway extension to SE Queens because it would bring in the “wrong element.” They wanted better LIRR service instead. The terminal of the Archer Avenue line is mis-designed (the interlocking is in the wrong location) because it wasn’t intended to be the terminal.

    Geraldine Ferraro launched her political career by fighting the conversion of the Montauk Branch to a subway connected to the 63rd Street tunnel.
    And you have the Queensway folks doing all they can to prevent the reuse of the LIRR line to Whitepot junction.

  • sbauman

    And don’t forget Juanita Watkins, who fought a subway extension to SE Queens because it would bring in the “wrong element.”

    If we wish to visit the sins of the parents on their children, we should start with the SAS. Their fathers did not block a new subway, they merely tore down two working lines.

    And you have the Queensway folks doing all they can to prevent the reuse of the LIRR line to Whitepot junction.

    Not all proposed subway extensions are created equal. The proposed Rockaway Beach Line (RBL) duplicates existing service. According to the census, there are 127,511 people living within 1/2 mile of an RBL stop. However, 111,627 of them already live within 1/2 mile of an existing subway stop. Most of the establishment’s proposed extensions benefit far more people not living in transit deserts than those living in them.

  • Joe R.

    “Let them ride buses” is the modern version of “let them eat cake”.

    To add to what you wrote, putting aside issues with intersection capacity, even best case “better bus service” is still a lot slower than the subway. If NYC were to build a Jewel Avenue extension, for example, I’d say it would take roughly 8 minutes to get from 164th Street to Forest Hills, where I could change for the express. The Jewel Avenue bus takes 15 minutes to do the run on a good day, but 30 minutes during rush hours isn’t unusual. Most of the delay isn’t waiting at traffic signals. It’s congestion caused by SOVs.

    Bottom line is eastern Queens residents don’t want better bus service. They want to have the same subway access most of the rest of the city has had for decades. Lines going out here were supposed to have been built in the 1930s and 1940s. We’re still waiting.

  • Ian Turner

    Well, sort of. They’d like the subway service but not the density to enable it.

  • sbauman

    Build it and they will come.

  • Joe R.

    Well, we actually have the density. Even just a mix of single and two family homes on 1/10th acre lots can give you upwards of 20K/square mile. That’s sufficient to support subway service. We actually have more development than that in most areas.

    Also consider in the denser parts of the city the subway came BEFORE the density. Indeed, the subway lines in the Bronx terminated at virtual green fields when they were first built. The planners then were forward thinking, figuring you build the subways and they’ll come. Now we want the density first before building the subway, even though this creates untenable traffic problems.

  • Joe R.

    Wow. Exactly what I was saying. I didn’t know that area was a greenfield when the subway first came to it.

  • sbauman

    if you want follow Hillside Avenue east. Plenty of density even all the way to city limits to support a subway extension.

    It was supposed to extend to Springfield Blv.

  • Larry Littlefield

    If they don’t replace the signals, however, the new line will eventually have to terminate at 179th Street and only run east from there.

  • sbauman

    If that does happen (a very big if), then the residents west of 179th St will enjoy the same transit desert of those living east of 179th St. It’s been 87 years of broken promises to build the subway out to Springfield Blv. It’s about to say screw em and let the rest of NYC eat a piece of Mr. Joe R’s cake.