Monday’s Headlines: Museum of the City of New York Edition

Reclaiming NYC tiny

mcnyYou’ll notice promos on Streetsblog posts this week for this Thursday’s panel discussion at the Museum of the City of New York, “Whose Streets? Reclaiming NYC for Cyclists,” which will be moderated by our editor, Gersh Kuntzman, and feature bike activists Helen Ho and Judi Desire, Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez and Adam Mansky of Transportation Alternatives. It’ll be a spirited discussion, with audience questions, so get your tickets now by clicking here. Use the promo code BIKE1 to save $2.

Now, here’s the news:

  • The MTA is still pushing the fare-evasion narrative. (NYDN)
  • The city is getting a bit closed out of the MTA reorganization, Politico’s Dana Rubinstein reports. But you knew that would happen.
  • Citi Bike — the perfect getaway vehicle (except that it’s not). (NYDN)
  • Carnage in Long Island. (NY Post)
  • Here’s a bold editorial by the Staten Island Advance about the need to crack down on hit-and-run drivers. Ya think?
  • Queens criminal justice reformers — and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez! And Brad Lander! — came out in force for StreetsPAC-endorsed DA candidate Tiffany Caban. (NY Times)
  • Not so fast: The Wall Street Journal pushes back on the widely reported news that Hoboken’s e-scooter test has been a complete success.
  • Reminder: Electric cars are still cars — they congest our roadways, still contribute to global warming, and undermine transit. But because they don’t directly emit pollution, everyone (including the DOT) is fooled into thinking they’re great. (Bklyn)
  • The Times graphically illustrated how the MTA is running faster subway trains.
  • Larry Littlefield

    I hear subway service is the best in five years. Which is fine, except the system was already collapsing five years ago.

    The standard is the peak performance of, say, the early 2000s, when the subway had mostly recovered from the 1970s (finally) and the fact that capital plan funding had been cut off in the early 1990s and pensions had been retroactively increased in 2000 had yet to take a toll.

    The subway is far from that standard, even with some additions such as wi-fi countdown clocks.

    Those who produce public services and have promised social benefits are working relentlessly to socially engineer us into accepting less in exchange for more, to make up for all the money Generation Greed — and its most selfish members — have taken off the top.

    That can’t be reversed, but I want acknowledgement. I want them to walk around with their eyes toward the pavement, not feel entitled to demand even more. It’s still happening at every level of government.

  • sbauman

    Legalizing e-bikes and e-scooters may not be a done deal.

    Times Union
    NY Post

  • sbauman

    The standard is the peak performance of, say, the early 2000s, when the subway had mostly recovered from the 1970s

    I’d go back much further to the late 1940’s, when the subway was regarded as a necessity for just about everyone. I’d also suggest going back to the mid 1930’s, when the system was more extensive than it is today.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Might as well use transit system’s elsewhere in the world if we’re having a fantasy.

    I’m suggesting something I actually saw in my lifetime — the level of performance at which they decided things were unfairly good for the serfs.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Cuomo suggested he has his veto pen ready by raising a host of questions. “When does a bike with an engine become a bike that should be registered as a motor vehicle and licensed? Remember mopeds? At one point it’s a motor vehicle…what point is that?”

    Basically, at 20 mph, a motorized “limited use motorcycle” is already legal without being registered with the DMW. The point is they are legal already for anyone with a driver’s license.

  • sbauman

    I’m suggesting something I actually saw in my lifetime

    To paraphrase Santyana: “those who don’t study history are doomed NOT to repeat it.”

    The problem with your limited time span is that it establishes a very low bar for judging performance goals. That bar might be slightly higher than the May 2018 date the MTA is using.

    It would have been far more honest to establish quantitative goals before embarking on the improvement program. The advantage of establishing such performance goals in advance means there’s a rational basis for determining whether such programs are worth the investment and the same performance goals provide a basis for measuring the program’s progress towards meeting those goals.

  • sbauman

    My motivation for posting these links was to call attention to a developing story that’s been ignored by Streetsblog.

  • Reminder: electric cars cause emissions at the electrical generation source, where we are still burning fossil fuels to generate electricity (which then has transmission losses as it travels into the city, which doesn’t generate enough power from stations within city limits to meet its own needs)

    It also requires a ton of industrial nastiness to actually MAKE the components for an electrical car, and disposing of them will either be expensive or environmentally ruinous.

    That said, the efficiency of electrical cars – their ability to use the energy provided, even with the transmission losses – is better than older gas guzzlers. And electrical cars get part of their energy from renewable or clean sources, since the electrical grid is now pulling those in as well. It’s a point in favor of electric automobiles, but it’s not enough for us to pin our hopes on a future where we solve all of our transportation/economic woes with self-piloted electric autos for every person. (To the extent it is progress of any sort, scaled user of automobiles like large municipal governments & parcel delivery companies should be required to stock electric automobiles that are outfitted for urban safety.)

  • Vooch

    Regarding Electric Cars –

    The Germans have been monitoring fine particle pollution for some years now. What they have discovered is only 1/3 of this pollution comes from ICE exhaust. A shocking 2/3s of fine particle pollution comes from brake dust, tire dust, and asphalt dust.

    So – Electric Cars would still be emitting 2/3s of fine particle pollutions compared to ICE cars.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Got a link? I find that hard to believe, but very interesting if true.

  • HamTech87

    Isn’t it a bad idea to be setting up EV chargers along the curb? That curb space is contested terrain, and could one day be a protected or curb-raised bike lane. Adding an EV charger there sort-of locks in its use to just cars.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    Electric cars emit a lot less brake dust. You won’t be able to find anyone who has ever changed the brake pads on a Nissan Leaf because they outlast the lease terms. Next time you walk past a row of parked cars note the difference in filth on the front wheels of an ICE-powered car and an electric or hybrid.

    Also FYI brake dust particles are typically 100nm in diameter while engine exhaust is about 20nm. These are both very fine particles but it’s a big difference.

  • AMH

    Interesting–why would that be?

  • AMH

    Can you shed some light on the Hudson Greenway situation? The waterfront from the 70s-80s is still barricaded, and I’m not aware that the detour has been completed yet.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    They brake with their electric motors instead of the friction brakes most of the time. This slows the car and recharges the battery. Only at very slow speeds and exceptional braking rates do the friction brakes get used.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Stockholm Syndrome.

    There is a goal. Early retirement. They aren’t going to discuss in publicly.

  • Joe R.

    My take on electric vehicles is that we must have some motor vehicles in order for society to function. We absolutely should do our best to radically reduce single-occupancy private automobiles, especially in cities, but whatever vehicles must remain should all be electrified ASAP.

    If we want to do efficiency comparisons, and assume we use only fossil fuels to generate electricity (not true by a mile but let’s play devil’s advocate) we end up with something like this:

    Electric cars:

    power plant generating efficiency (fraction of thermal energy in coal which ends up as electricity): 37%

    transmission efficiency: 95% (yes, on average on 5% is lost in transmission)

    charging efficiency of battery (includes conversion losses in charger): 90%

    efficiency of electric motor: 90%

    overall efficiency: 0.37 * 0.95 * 0.9 * 0.9 = 28.5%

    Note that most of the losses are in the generating plant. 37% is typical coal plant efficiency but more modern coal plants can achieve over 45%. Natural gas plants with the most modern equipment can approach 60%.

    Note there are further efficiency gains relatively to ICE vehicles when some kinetic energy which otherwise would be wasted as heat in brake pads is fed back into the battery via regen braking. This typically amounts to a few percent gain but I’m not including that here.

    Internal combustion engine cars:

    conversion of energy in gasoline to mechanical energy: typically 20%

    You also need to include all the energy required to distribute the gasoline but I have no idea what that number is.

    I’ve also read that it takes a considerable amount of electricity to refine crude oil, but again I don’t have that number handy.

    This isn’t even getting into the fact it’s far easier to scrub emissions at a large, stationary power plant than it is in a small car. Also, the emissions from power plants don’t end up concentrated in population centers like those from car do. All these things favor electric vehicles over ICE ones. Then you also have noise pollution, which is a considerable problem with ICE vehicles, especially trucks and buses.

  • Joe R.

    And the need for a driver’s license was the very reason these low-speed vehicles never caught on. In my opinion any vehicle which goes 30 mph or less, and weighs less than about 75 pounds without the rider, shouldn’t require licensing, insurance, or registration.

  • woodyguthrie

    EVs = no transmissions so no transmission oil, no engine oil, no radiator, no antifreeze. No gas so no spilled gas. No fuel or oil filters. No noisy exhaust systems. Braking systems last many times longer. Far fewer moving parts. Electric grid is getting cleaner every year. The list goes on and on.

  • woodyguthrie

    It is true. Brake pads/rotors on my Volt are like new after 3.5 years. Unless braking very hard, the brakes never come into play.

  • Joe R.

    Actually, if we reserve those spots only for EVs, and gradually expand them, it’s not a completely horrible thing. The fewer spots for ICE vehicles, the less of them we’ll see. Ideally, I would like to get that number in NYC to zero within the next 10 to 15 years. While we can debate whether we should lock in curb-side space only for cars, ICE vehicles don’t belong in large cities at all. Also, no reason if we wish to build a protected bike lane on a street with curbside chargers that those charges can’t be moved to the buffer zone between the bike lane and parking lane. Yes, it costs money, but it’s not a show stopper.

  • Vooch

    The German data –


    1/3 Exhaust gases
    1/3 brake dust
    1/3 tire dust
    1/12 asphalt dust

    Look, BEVs are certainly a incremental improvment over ICEs as far as pollution is concerned, but we shouldn’t argue that BEvs are pollution free.

    The real solution is to reduce VMT. 40% of all trips in the US are 3 miles or less. If one wants to reduce pollution, the easiest solution is reduce VMT by reallocating roadway space to active transportation.

    Reduce VMT by 30% and now you are talking 🙂