Tuesday’s Headlines: A Full Day at Bronx Supreme Edition

We saw this sign in the Bronx Supreme Courthouse and thought, "Hmm, who said that?"
We saw this sign in the Bronx Supreme Courthouse and thought, "Hmm, who said that?"

All rise!

A few hours after we posted on Monday morning that yet another Bronx judge had recused herself from the specious legal challenge to DOT’s plan to make Morris Park Avenue less of a death zone, a jurist finally stepped up to handle the case. We’ll soon have an update on Monday’s late afternoon hearing from the very lively courtroom of Lucindo Suarez, but here’s a spoiler alert: Suarez issued no ruling, but left in place a temporary restraining order barring the city from making street safety improvements. (Think about that for a second: The city is barred from fulfilling its obligation to keep the roadways safe.)

Not to get on a soapbox, but we can’t quite figure out why other outlets — looking at you, Times Metro section — aren’t covering a case that would be the demise of Vision Zero if Suarez rules in favor of the handful of Morris Park Avenue business owners that’s suing the city.

It was a long day in the Bronx for our editor. So here’s a news roundup from Monday that both he and you, dear reader, need:

  • More details emerged about the delivery worker who was killed by a drunk driver (with her 4-year-old in the backseat) in Canarsie. The victim, Mohammed Abdullah, was here from Bangladesh on political asylum. (NYDN)
  • On the same day that a roid-ragin’ FDNY officer was arrested for endangering a cyclist with his car (NY Post, Streetsblog, Gothamist), we got word that someone on Staten Island did something even more horrifying with his car — mowing down five baby geese. (Advance)
  • The long-awaited 14th Street busway will start on July 1. (NYDN, amNY)
  • Here’s a thoughtful piece from Bloomberg that points out that inequality and traffic go hand in hand. “Cities that want to reduce congestion have to find a way to put affordable housing and jobs in closer proximity,” the website reported.
  • In case you missed it, Gov. Cuomo plans to put his budget director Robert Mujica on the MTA board (NYDN), even though it would violate the board’s residency requirement, as Reinvent Albany pointed out promptly.
  • NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill honored crossing guards on Monday (NY Post), but no one pointed out that the real goal of city officials should be to make roads so safe that crossing guards are obsolete. The Post at least pointed out, “Being struck by a car is the leading cause of injury-related deaths for children under 14 years old in the city.”
  • The homeless population underground is rising — and the MTA can’t handle it. (NY1)
  • You know how politics works: When you want to get something done, you convene a blue-ribbon commission. So that’s what Mayor de Blasio is doing for bus speeds. (amNY) Snark aside, it’ll work if members of the panel actually listen to fellow commission member Jaqi Cohen of the Straphangers Campaign, who told Vin Barone, “To win better bus service, we’re not dealing with the infrastructure problems [like] the subway. We’re dealing with the political will to redesign our streets to better accommodate buses.”
  • Gothamist followed up on our criticism of NYPD fare-evasion tactics.
  • Something’s fishy about this perfectly graffitied Q train spotted at 96th Street (NY Post, after Jose Martinez tweet). Sorry, but that paint job would take way too long to not be noticed.
  • Sassojr

    “We’re dealing with the political will to redesign our streets to better accommodate buses.”

    While that may be true in Manhattan, in the outer boroughs, bus speed doesn’t matter when there are 10-15 minute rush hour headways. (I forgot, The Bronx doesn’t exist unless we’re fighting off a bike lane).

    “If you can’t afford to live there, try not to come at all. Or use often inconvenient, overcrowded and underfunded public transportation, further lowering your living standards.”

    Can’t wait to see the daily meltdowns on the 4/5/6 if ridership increases even 5% after the “Congestion” Tax. PM rush hour when the Yankees are home?! The 4 train is already so packed it’s comical. Rebalancing modes of commuting is a key part of the puzzle.

  • cjstephens

    What’s fishy about the vandalized Q train is that the painting took place overnight on the tracks just beyond the platform, where there is apparently zero security or monitoring taking place. And according to the article, it’s not the first time this has happened.

  • AMH

    Those new stations and tunnels are covered with cameras and security guards (even old tunnels are full of cameras by now), so somebody is not paying attention.

  • AMH

    One of the recommendations for improving bus speeds should be removing traffic signals from minor intersections. This would also make it easier to bicycle, keeping both buses and bikes from getting stuck every few feet along the avenues. Retiming the green wave to a lower speed could help too.

  • NYCyclist

    The tagging of the train at 96th St and (apparent) lack of attention made me wonder if the 2nd Ave stations still have workers monitoring safety systems. I haven’t read any updates since Fall 2017:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/20/nyregion/second-avenue-subway-safety.html

    “On a recent evening, a worker in a neon “safety” vest and a hard hat patrolled the 72nd Street station, but declined to discuss his job. Another man in similar clothes paced the mezzanine level at the 86th Street station. At the 96th Street station, two M.T.A. workers said crews in neon vests were there regularly to check for safety problems.”

  • Komanoff
  • Andrew

    Safety and security are not synonymous.

  • Sassojr

    Great… Even according to your independent model, that’s about 20 more people into each train car (R142 on the 4). Sounds like a blast.

    Does not negate my statement of needing to rebalance modes of commuting. Anyhow, you’re in the pocket of the taxi lobby, so anything that would take away from their fares is a non-starter with you.

  • Komanoff

    A 1 percent increase on the 120-140 people per subway car is 1.2 to 1.4 additional people, not 20.

    Suggestion: less time conjuring up unfounded ad hominem attacks, more time sharpening your computational skills.

  • Sassojr

    Heh, you’re right on the math, it’s been a long day, and I’m not afraid to admit when I’m wrong. Promise I wasn’t trying to mislead with numbers. Point withdrawn.

    Still not sure I buy the 1% argument from a model that hasn’t been published in a peer-reviewed journal, and seems to go against common sense multiple times (drivers won’t park outside of the congestion zone, 15% fewer car trips, yet only 1% increase on subways).

    What I do know is studies have shown that a mode-shift to motorcycles and scooters actually reduces congestion. A motorcycle and scooter exemption is the ONLY exemption that can reduce congestion. Yet somehow the only outlines available grant exemptions to people who aren’t even constituents (via Holland and Lincoln discounts).

    http://ridetowork.org/files/docs/MCs_reduce_congestion_Travel_Times_-_Conference_Leuven_study.pdf

  • Komanoff

    I appreciate your retraction. But I don’t fully buy your promise that you weren’t trying to mislead. Fact is, you were — and apparently still are — operating from a false and puerile belief that I’m “in the pocket of the taxi lobby.” With that premise, you convinced yourself that I’m biased or dishonest or both. That’s unfair. It’s also wrong.

    I’m pro-taxi and anti-UberLyft *within the frame of the for-hire vehicle sector as a whole.* If you bothered to examine my work, you would see that I want taxis’ market share to expand at the expense of UberLyft’s. I do not want to grow the FHV sector as a whole.

    As for your peer-review straw man. I’ll say what I believe I’ve said before: I’m not an academic. I don’t seek or want peer-review of my work. I put it into public domain, transparently, for all to examine and make use of. If you or anyone find anything false, or incomplete, or suspect, speak up.

    So please cut the ad hominem crap. Thank you.

  • Sassojr

    It was a cheap shot, I apologize for making it personal. I do stand by the overall point, when you’re a consultant for a group of stakeholders, your position is always compromised.

    I actually agree with the overall premise of fixing the great FHV mistake. With regards to re-establishing value/market share to medallions (where the number was always subject to an EIS), thoughts on how to make it palatable? My thought is something along the lines of allowing medallions to use Uber/Lyft with pickups in the exclusive zone limited to medallions. Obviously the devil is in the details.

  • Komanoff

    Apology happily accepted, thanks.

    Re reviving yellow cabs’ market share, I’ve written a bit on that but expect to tackle it comprehensively soon, so watch this space.

    In your spirit of comity, I want to own up that I should long ago have proposed that the congestion charge for motorcycles be set at the TBTA rate, or around 55-60 percent less than for automobiles. That should have been an article of faith for me, as I (and Move NY) have always urged that *trucks* be congestion-tolled (vis-a-vis cars) at the TBTA’s graduated per-axle truck rates. We should use TBTA benchmark for m/c’s as well.

    While I’ve no idea if that position satisfies you and other m/c advocates, that is what I want, and I apologize to you guys for not coming to it publicly until now.

  • Cheryl

    I’m grateful that you support a discount for two wheeled vehicles. It’s important that person of your stature in this community has evolved on this issue. Thank you! Your position of matching the TBTA discount for two wheeled vehicles is in line with that of Sam Schwartz, and is certainly an improvement over the current plan which would toll us at the same rate as SUVs. However, our committed position is that we should be incentivized with zero tolls as a congestion reduction strategy. That’s how it’s done in every European city where congestion pricing has been successfully introduced, especially and including in London which is the model for NYC’s congestion pricing plan.

    Our vehicles demonstrably reduce traffic congestion as modeled in Sam Schwartz’s 2007 report.

    https://web.archive.org/web/20070704213544/http://www.vespanomics.com:80/TrafficModel.cfm

    Full report available upon request. This study shows that a mode shift away from cars towards two-wheeled vehicles would result in a substantial decrease in delays, fuel consumption and pollution.

    Those who dream of a city with no vehicles at all are conveniently ignoring the fact that a vehicle is an imperative for those of us, such as myself, who live in transportation deserts and/or who work odd and unpredictable hours, and those of us who must carry tools to work. As a sculptor/scenic artist I fit into all of the above categories. I strap my tools on the back of my bike. My co-workers load up their pick-up trucks. Which vehicle would you prefer to have on our streets?

    In case the relatively tiny size of my vehicle isn’t impressive enough, how about fuel efficiency? At an average of 44mpg, the US Dept of Energy rates our vehicles as the most fuel efficient, by an enormous margin:

    https://afdc.energy.gov/data/10310

    In fact, according to that Dept of Energy report, our per-passenger fuel economy actually exceeds commuter rail and comes in just slightly below other forms of mass transit.

    Another benefit of incentivizing our vehicles is reduced wear and tear on our infrastructure. My motorcycle weighs 476 lbs. That’s about 1/6th the weight of an economy car. Many motorcycles weigh far less. And then there’s parking. Six two wheeled vehicles can easily fit in the space taken by one SUV.

    If NYC were to set tolls based on size and weight, which is accepted best practice, our discount would be 1/6th the toll of an auto. The TBTA discount is somewhat arbitrarily set at about 55%. But the stated goal of congestion pricing is to reduce congestion. Unlike constituencies requesting exemptions because they feel they deserve a break, we’re advocating for a 100% exemption from congestion based tolls because our vehicles demonstrably reduce congestion!

    Appreciating evolution,
    Cheryl Stewart
    Riders Against Congestion
    New York Motorcycle and Scooter Task Force
    Sirens Women’s Motorcycle Club

  • Sassojr

    Wow, never thought I’d hear that from you. Much appreciated.

    I understand (but disagree with) the position suggesting that we only deserve the TBTA discount. I don’t expect to change your mind, but I have to try.

    I’m going to come at it from a different angle than I normally do, and that isn’t too negate my other angle (“Every city that has implemented Congestion Tolling has exempted motorcycles because we reduce congestion and pollution”).

    A simple discount will not convince people to change their mode of transportation. If there’s one word people notice more than any other, it’s the word “free”. Some people will continue to drive because $12 is still cheaper than commuter rail, but seeing on signs that motorcycles are FREE, that will produce a mode shift that benefits everyone.

  • Cheryl Stewart

    I’m grateful that you support a discount for two wheeled vehicles. It’s important that a person of your stature in this community has evolved on this issue. Thank you! Your position of matching the TBTA discount for two wheeled vehicles is in line with that of Sam Schwartz, and is certainly an improvement over the current plan which would toll us at the same rate as SUVs. However, our committed position is that we should be incentivized with zero tolls as a congestion reduction strategy. That’s how it’s done in every European city where congestion pricing has been successfully introduced, especially and including in London which is the model for NYC’s congestion pricing plan.

    Our vehicles demonstrably reduce traffic congestion as modeled in Sam Schwartz’s 2007 report, available upon request. This study shows that a mode shift away from cars towards two-wheeled vehicles would result in a substantial decrease in delays, fuel consumption and pollution.

    Those who dream of a city with no vehicles at all are conveniently ignoring the fact that a vehicle is an imperative for those of us, such as myself, who live in transportation deserts and/or who work odd and unpredictable hours, and those of us who must carry tools to work. As a sculptor/scenic artist I fit into all of the above categories. I strap my tools on the back of my bike. My co-workers load up their pick-up trucks. Which vehicle would you prefer to have on our streets?

    In case the relatively tiny size of my vehicle isn’t impressive enough, how about fuel efficiency? At an average of 44mpg, the US Dept of Energy rates our vehicles as the most fuel efficient, by an enormous margin. In fact, according to the same Dept of Energy report, our per-passenger fuel economy actually exceeds commuter rail and comes in just slightly below other forms of mass transit.

    Another benefit of incentivizing our vehicles is reduced wear and tear on our infrastructure. My motorcycle weighs 476 lbs. That’s about 1/6th the weight of an economy car. Many motorcycles weigh far less. And then there’s parking. Six two wheeled vehicles can easily fit in the space taken by one SUV.

    If NYC were to set tolls based on size and weight, which is accepted best practice, our discount would come to 1/6th the toll of an auto. The TBTA discount is somewhat arbitrarily set at about 55%. But the stated goal of congestion pricing is to reduce congestion. Unlike constituencies requesting exemptions because they feel they deserve a break, we’re advocating for a 100% exemption from congestion based tolling because our vehicles demonstrably reduce congestion! We’re part of the solution.

    Appreciating evolution,

    Cheryl Stewart
    Riders Against Congestion
    New York Motorcycle and Scooter Task Force
    Sirens Women’s Motorcycle Club

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