Monday’s Headlines: Enough is Enough Edition

Flatbush Hatzolah workers were first on the scene of the crash on Coney Island Avenue. The crushed bike is against the building wall. Photo: Yeshiva World News
Flatbush Hatzolah workers were first on the scene of the crash on Coney Island Avenue. The crushed bike is against the building wall. Photo: Yeshiva World News

We said it after the first cyclist was killed this year and we’ll say it again today as we mourn Jose Alzorriz, the Park Slope resident who yesterday became the 19th dead cyclist this year: Enough is enough.

We don’t think car drivers are any more reckless than the rest of us — but they are piloting 3,000-pound steel boxes at speeds so fast that just a split-second mistake becomes a catastrophe that destroys lives and communities.

And it’s not some random occurrence. Last year in New York City, car drivers caused more than 225,000 crashes, resulting in injuries to more than 60,000 people — and the deaths of 10 cyclists, 120 pedestrians and 96 motorists. Yes, cars are convenient for their users, but when a mode of transportation causes roughly 616 crashes per day (and those are just the reported ones) in just one American city, we need to have a far more serious conversation about reducing — and eventually, eliminating — their space on our public roadways.

For now, let’s fix Coney Island. Unfortunately, the mayor’s Green Wave plan [PDF] doesn’t even mention the horrific crash zone, which means there are dozens of other murderstrips that aren’t mentioned either.

The Daily News coverage had the most telling quote from a witness to Sunday’s crash: ““Why is the guy flying on Coney Island Avenue through a red light? It’s not a highway.” The problem is: It’s designed like a highway.

Until then, here’s the news from the weekend:

  • This doesn’t sound fare: 86 percent of people arrested for fare evasion are people of color. Does anyone truly believe that 86 percent of fare evaders are black or Hispanic? Come on. (amNY)
  • Motor carnage kills a beloved basketball coach in the Bronx (NYDN) and two in Manhattan (NYDN).
  • The Post had a fun feature about a barber who cuts hair while his clients sit on a Citi Bike — except the story left out one detail: Who picks up the hair? Gross! (NY Post)
  • Commuters in New Jersey say this is their worst Summer of Hell in three years. (NJ.com)
  • Prices are going up for bike share as Uber and Lyft need to turn a profit. (Time)

And a few from the “in case you missed it” file:

  • The Times published a whole long story about how dangerous Revel scooters probably might apparently be — yet didn’t print a single word about the 200-plus people killed, and the 60,000 people injured last year by drivers of a far-more dangerous and far-more common vehicle: cars.
  • That said, we did like the Paper of Record’s overview of how randy subway ads are getting.
  • Here’s the latest example from CBS2 news that no problem that’s entirely unrelated to bikes won’t still be blamed on bikes. Sorry, Maurice DuBois, but you need to check yourself before you (and cars) wreck yourself: “Bikes are now being allowed to use the path”? Get us rewrite! That sentence could easily have been rewritten, “Cars are taking up too much room in a city that will literally be under water in 50 years if we don’t do something now, so yes, please build more bike infrastructure.”
  • We don’t really appreciate Council Member Bob Holder’s positions on street safety — but we also like the look of mayoral appointees driving their cars around haphazardly into his staffers. (NYDN)
  • The world’s four most fab pedestrians are still causing a traffic jam in London 50 years later. (City Lab)
  • Even the bond rating agency Moody’s says growing income inequality will make future transit fare hikes in New York City — and presumably elsewhere — untenable, and suggests spending more tax dollars on transit instead. (Crain’s)
  • Andrew

    This doesn’t sound fare: 86 percent of people arrested for fare evasion are people of color. Does anyone truly believe that 86 percent of fare evaders are black or Hispanic? Come on.

    I realize this observation isn’t going to make me many friends around here, but a significant majority of fare evasion that I happen to notice is committed by blacks and Hispanics. I have no idea whether my anecdotal experience is in line with overall trends, and in the absence of an exact count I can’t say whether 86% is the right number, but I’m not prepared to rule it out.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “We don’t think car drivers are any more reckless than the rest of us — but they are piloting 3,000-pound steel boxes at speeds so fast that just a split-second mistake becomes a catastrophe that destroys lives and communities.”

    The motor vehicle manufacturing companies now have the technology to prevent this most of the time. Even if it is not yet good enough to allow vehicles to drive themselves, it could certainly prevent drivers from exceeding the speed limit, blowing through lights, turning at faster than 5 mph, and running into pedestrians and cyclists at that speed, since the vehicles can stop on a dime at 15 mph or less.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Lagging income growth among the lowest-earning residents of its service area will weaken the MTA’s ability to raise fares and balance its operating budgets,” Moody’s Baye Larsen said in a press release. “However, the essential role of mass transit in the New York economy provides a strong incentive to tap the region’s high and growing overall wealth to subsidize transit operations.”

    Not necessarily so. The increase in the minimum wage to $15 more than covers any conceivable fare increases. I see two problems with it.

    1) It doesn’t include the self-employed, who are a growing share of the workforce, legitimately and/or illegitimately.

    2) While NY’s higher minimum wage was intelligently higher Downstate than Upstate, it should also have been higher in Manhattan S. or 110th Street than the rest of NYC. That’s the place less well off workers can’t afford to live anywhere near, and thus must use mass transit to work there.

  • That piece on Revel is dishonest.

    First, those vehicles’ top speed of 30 miles per hour is not actually “in excess” of the City speed limit of 25; it is in fact within the recognised buffer zone for that speed limit. (And, practically speaking, that is not as fast as cars go on such streets. I have had the experience of doing 30 on a Revel in a 25 zone, and still being the slowest motor vehicle on the road.)

    Also, the throttle is not “sensitive”; it is in fact downright gentle. It has enough pick-up to be practical; but it won’t take of like a rocket, in the manner of a motorcycle. This is why no motorcycle licence is required.

    The truth is that everyone who rides a bicycle already has all the skills necessary to safely operate a Revel scooter (or, if you insist on the term used in the law rather than the traditional term for this type of vehicle, a Revel moped).

    If you see someone using a Revel illegally — in a bike lane, on a sidewalk, going the wrong way, etc. — then take note of the plate number (always in the form of ##BF##) and call the company at 855-690-9180. They want to know about this, and they have stated their willingness to revoke the memberships of users who break the law or who violate the user agreement. (If only there were a similar level of accountability for people who illegally operate automobiles.)

  • Andrew

    First, those vehicles’ top speed of 30 miles per hour is not actually “in excess” of the City speed limit of 25; it is in fact within the recognised buffer zone for that speed limit.

    No, it is “in excess” of the speed limit.

    Speed cameras, specifically, cannot legally issue tickets for speeds less than 10 mph in excess of the speed limit. But it’s still illegal to drive even a tiny bit faster than the speed limit, and if a police officer were, hypothetically, to issue a summons to a driver driving at 26 mph in a 25 mph zone, that summons would hold up in court.

    (But cars have a top speed several times the city’s speed limit, so I don’t see this as a compelling argument against scooters.)

  • I would be 100% in favour of strict enforcement of the speed limit. And I look forward to the day when automatic speed governors will not allow cars (either automated or human-driven) to exceed the posted limit.

    But, until either of these advances comes about, a small buffer zone above the posted limit is effectively legal.

    And so, in order for a Revel scooter/moped to be practical and safe for use in a 25-mile-per-hour zone, it must be able to do 30.

  • crazytrainmatt

    The CBS piece is on the East River Greenway south of 34th street which DOT originally showed to CB6 nearly 3 years ago. The project is a big net improvement to what has been a pretty lousy situation, but as usual DOT didn’t work the details to hard. The waterside residents have to walk this piece every day to get out to the north, so I’m not surprised they have complaints.

    The real issue is that the available ROW is consumed by 12 car lanes plus a heliport, and pedestrians and bikes are squeezed into the narrow strip protecting the FDR pylons. Despite the traffic and noise, the path gets heavy use since there is no access to the river between 23rd/25th and 34th. Big misses:
    * Painting the narrow strip by the heliport green is just going to confuse everyone. It is indeed quite narrow, and was supposed to be a shared path. In practice, people also walk and bike in the access road by the heliport.
    * There’s a big cargo container that blocks visibility at a turn in the path. The dumpster’s purpose in life appears to be covering a sinkhole, and maybe retaining someone’s claim on that tiny strip.
    * To facilitate FDR ramp traffic, there is still no crosswalk on the S side of 34th street, and no crossing at all at 36th street to the ferry terminal and greenway
    * The hospital parking operation on the E side of the intersection at 34th continues to stage cars in the newly painted crosswalk/bike path
    * DOT was very parsimonious with the jersey barriers, leaving gaps and huge turn radii where traffic crosses the bike lane

  • Pedestrian advocates attempting to politicize the Beatles’ “Abbey Road” cover? Fine, I’ll allow it!

  • Daphna

    Re: Time article about higher bikeshare prices. I did not see any plan to immediately raise citibike rates; does someone know of an impending increase?

    My research shows some of the current options:
    Annual membership $169/year, or paid monthly for $14.95 for $179.40/year.
    Pay with a Citibank credit card and get 10% off.
    Blink Fitness members get $25 off.

    Annual membership for NYCHA and food stamps/SNAP/EBT recipients: $60/year ($5/month)
    The $60/year rate used to just be for NYCHA residents but has been significantly expanded to anyone who receives SNAP (supplemental nutrition assistance program)

  • kevd

    Just wait till the MTA sees that revels are using the Gill Hodges Marine Parkway bike path.
    When one of these douches causes a crash they’ll probably start enforcing the “cyclists must dismount and walk” signs….

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6dabe4d098fcd70876bacd0bfaccc5ea9e158963fbeaf1d51e1f3cf46e075576.jpg

  • Joe R.

    There are a lot of practical problems enforcing a speed limit strictly. Note that even on railways, where speed limits are much more literally enforced, there is typically a buffer of a few mph. Here are the problems with strict speed enforcement:

    1) Speed measuring equipment on the vehicle always has an error associated with it. This is true even if the equipment is calibrated periodically. Tire size changes with temperature and inflation pressure. This can cause variations of a few percent in either direction.

    2) Devices to measure the speed of traffic also suffer from errors. Usually we might be talking a few percent plus or minus 2 or 3 mph. In other words, best case a radar gun can give speed readings accurate to within 2 or 3 mph but often the readings are much worse. Even if there was no appreciable error you’re still left with #1 as a hard limit on how strictly speed limits can be enforced.

    3) Modern cars are grossly overpowered. This makes it difficult to maintain low speeds within a tight margin. For example, you might be aiming for 25 mph, but variations in engine power due to slight variations in throttle position, along with changes in gradient, could cause you to overshoot the desired speed by at least several mph.

    4) Glancing at your speedometer instead of the road to maintain any given speed more accurately may make things less safe than just judging your speed. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for most people to judge their speed by a tighter band than +- 5 mph.

    Note that railways suffer less from #1 because steel wheels don’t vary in size much with temperature, and speedometers are frequently recalibrated as the wheels wear out. They also suffer a lot less from #3. Trains change speeds relatively slowly. It’s easier to feather down the power as you’re approaching the speed limit, then make the slight adjustments needed to sit right on the limit.

    Factor in all these things, and I’d say the best you can do is to enforce the limit with a 5 mph cushion.

  • Joe R.

    Even when/if the things you mentioned exist, speed can only be regulated as accurately as it can be measured. In the end even if the vehicle thinks it’s doing 25 mph, it might really be going 24 or 27. Of course, that’s better than the 10 to 15 mph buffer we typically allow now with regards to speed limits.

  • Joe R.

    They could do all these things but they won’t. The auto industry uses the promise of speed to sell vehicles. How could they continue to sell grossly overpowered vehicles if they can’t exceed the speed limit? Nobody would buy these vehicles. They would just keep their old ones and do whatever they must to keep them on the road.

    In a world where most car buyers saw a car as purely a transportation appliance and nothing more, the auto industry would sell a lot fewer cars. After all, why would you want to buy a new car when it won’t be any faster than your old one? The only reason would be when the old one was too worn out to safely drive.

    Self-driving cars of course can and will likely do everything you mentioned. Unfortunately, it will be a hard sell taking the next logical step after self-driving cars prove themselves, which would be to ban human driving on public roads. Again, the auto industry will fight it. How will you convince people to buy a new car they can’t even drive themselves? People are brainwashed into thinking driving is something they should be enjoying. If they’re not, it’s only because they’re not driving the right vehicle. This is how the auto industry sells cars. I really think making safer cars is going to be a long, uphill battle.

  • Mike

    No matter who is right, the original assertion was irresponsible. I would believe whatever number Streetsblog had data to support.

    But I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if 86% were the correct number.

  • MatthewEH

    Yikes. If I saw that I think I’d turn my bike perpendicular to the path and not let a (southbound) Reveler through, make them go back to Brooklyn.

  • muffinstumps

    and I thought one of them passing me on the Pulaski Bridge (bike lane) was bad!!

  • Wilfried84

    Does Citi Bike pricing require DOT approval? I seem to remember reading it does. I would think that it’s governed by their contract with the city. This doesn’t mean prices won’t go up, but at least they can’t just summarily do it.

    Longer term, what does Lyft ownership do to Citi Bike? What happens if they decide it’s not profitable enough, or if they run into a financial crisis?

  • I am here at Riis Park right now, having taken the Marine Parkway Bridge with my bike, while hoping not to encounter any cops. I didn’t see any Revel scooters on the bridge; but I did see one on the Belt Parkway bike path. I immediately called the company, and they thanked me and told me they would find the guy.

  • kevd

    i’ve ridden across it about 100 times.
    never once seen a cop, but I did hear that once they were making people dismount.
    Its a crappy path – should be 2 feet wider – and it can get windy.

  • Joe R.

    Do you have rough numbers on how long the Revel takes to go from 0 to 20 mph and 0 to 30 mph? I believe your assertion that anyone who rides a bike can probably handle a Revel but I’m curious exactly how quickly it accelerates.

    In my prime I could accelerate to 20 mph in under 5 seconds, and to 30 mph in about 11 or 12. If the Revel matches these numbers, it’s certainly no different than anything I’ve experienced riding a regular bike.

  • I will try to work out the acceleration times the next time I rent one.

  • Joe R.

    OK, thanks!

  • sbauman

    The economics differ between ebikes and pedal bikes. Ebikes require battery charging and frequent swaps. That’s basically daily maintenance vs. occasional maintenance. That’s a lot human labor with very little prospect of economies to scale.

  • Iris Reyes

    If you go to a predominantly white neighborhood then fare beaters will be white. Coney Island. Dyker Heights. Howard Beach, etc. Simple as that. Go to a black neighborhood…etc.

  • Larry Littlefield

    When they rebuilt that bridge they should have added a second path for bikes on the other side!

    The Rockaways have staged a comeback among the young. I guess they didn’t see it coming.

    BTW, from where I live in Windsor Terrace, the best way to get to Riis is now a car service/app ride to the Junction at Flatbush and Nostrand, and then the Q35 to Riis.

    On the way back one can try two buses (B103 to B68), although that can take forever on a Sunday, if the first is coming soon when you arrive back at the Junction, but otherwise it’s a car ride back.

    I’ve done it several times hauling gear for the family this year. They say it’s a better ride than having me drive when we had a car.

  • kevd

    actually, I’d have added a ped route on the other side, and built a bike path on the west side for Flatbush from the Belt, straight to the bridge – so cyclist don’t have to cross that traffic sewer twice to get to the “bike” lane on the bridge.

    That said, I often take the right most lane when heading south on flatbush. Cars are don’t use it (it isn’t actually a lane) aside from 1 turn lane that is very short.

  • William Lawson

    We need to ramp up the fight against cars and their drivers tenfold. I have seriously had enough of this shit, I’m just fuming inside all the time. The amount of traffic violence and recklessness in this city and surrounding area over the last few days has been fucking insane. Just a selection:
    * the cyclist in Coney Island
    * a scumbag FDNY “hero” clocked at 100mph driving drunk in Queens
    * A drunk POS in the Bronx drove his minivan into a bus stop, 2 hit, 1 “clinging to life”
    * A woman pinned under a car next to Tompkins Sq. Park by a driver driving on the goddamned sidewalk FFS
    * I took video of a Sanitation worker driving a garbage truck while watching a movie on his phone, later saw him speeding down Houston, still watching a movie on his phone (I’m gonna try and get him fired). Saw him an hour later parked in the bike lane on Houston, still watching the movie.
    * A drunk driving teen on LI critically injured an 80yo woman

    And then of course there will be the usual hundreds of collisions and maimings we don’t even hear about. FUCK THESE DRIVERS. They’re the lowest of the low, just pure inhuman garbage. People cannot be trusted to drive cars safely. They just can’t. They never will. We need a HUGE revamp of the licensing process – it is insanely easy to get a driver’s license. You don’t need any skill and there is NOTHING to filter out people who have a basic disregard for human life. I honestly believe that something like 75% of drivers in this country should be disqualified from driving. We need to start making that happen.

  • Driver

    There are quite a few roadways that have a 30 mph or even 35 mph speed limit.

  • Joe R.

    I put the number of those incapable of safely driving regardless of training at closer to 90% but otherwise agree with everything else. For the first time ever I’m starting to actually feel afraid to ride, and I’m not thrilled about walking, either. When death can just strike randomly because some incompetent asshole is behind the wheel it’s time to do something.

    Self-driving cars and a complete ban on human driving can’t come soon enough.

  • kevd

    they were in front of me – and got slowed down because (at least) they weren’t attempting to pass slower cyclists

  • kevd

    London, sensibly – has much lower bus fares – 1.50 GBP (or about 1.80 USD).
    Not free, but much lower than the Tube – london also has far more bus riders than tube riders.
    I got on the bus last week without swiping.
    I’d just left the subway, it was a downpour, and 1/3rd of the people boarding weren’t swiping (thankfully as the bus was already late)
    You want me to stand in line to swipe in a downpour? NY hardly ever provides bus shelters for its horrible bus service let alone all door boarding – the very least we can do is not pay.

  • Linda
  • SSkate

    “If”? From what I read in the business news, or it’s more like “when”.

  • sbauman

    Also, for the bus system (as opposed to the subway system) how much is really being collected in fares right now, given

    I’ve taken the trouble to calculate the subsidy per unlinked passenger trip from data in the 2017 NTD. The NTD profiles provide: fares collected; operating cost; and number of unlinked passenger trips.

    NYCEDC Ferries: $8.14
    LIRR: $6.07
    MN: $5.59
    MTA Bus: $4.87
    NYCT Subway: $0.48
    NYCT SBS Bus: $2.07
    NYCT Local Bus: $2.40
    NYCT Commuter Bus: $11.79

  • Not here in the City. The only roads with such speed limits would be limited-access highways and bridges/tunnels, where Revels are prohibited by company rules.

  • Geck

    The Parks Department should create a real bike path along Avenue U through the southern part of Marine Park and along the golf course, all the way the Belt Parkway (And until that happens, DOT should repave the Flatbush sidewalk as a proper shared use path).

  • Joe R.

    In principal it probably didn’t matter that you and a lot of other riders didn’t swipe because it was a linked trip. The MTA lost no fare revenue as a result.

    Considering that some very large portion of bus trips are linked, plus bus service is horrible as you say, it’s making more and more sense for the MTA to just make bus service free. It will lose some fare revenue, but it will also save on collection costs. In the end that might be a wash. It will also speed up bus service, which to me is the main reason to do it. I’m also sure it will encourage ridership. People might tolerate taking a crappy bus, instead of driving, if the bus is free.

  • Joe R.

    Any data on average trip length in miles for each mode so we can see the subsidy per passenger mile? That’s actually a better metric here. LIRR trips might average 20 or 30 miles, while a subway trip only averages 5 or so. There’s little doubt ferries will still be the worst by far but per mile data should make the other rail modes look a lot better.

  • sbauman

    The relevant figure regarding London is its fare recover ratio. It’s 107%. This means that the fare alone covers the cost of the ride (and then some). The comparable figure for MTA/NYCT is 47%. This means the deficit must be made up by local governments through various taxes.

    Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farebox_recovery_ratio

  • That would be justified.

  • sbauman

    mode,subsidy per unlinked: trip/subsidy per unlinked pass mile/avg unlinked trip distance
    NYCEDC Ferries: $8.14/$2.02/4.0
    LIRR: $6.07/$0.21/28.9
    MN: $5.59/$0.21/26.3
    MTA Bus: $4.87/$1.72/2.8
    NYCT Subway: $0.48/$0.12/4.0
    NYCT SBS Bus: $2.07/$1.12/1.8
    NYCT Local Bus: $2.40/$1.14/2.1
    NYCT Commuter Bus: $11.79/$0.94/12.6

  • The large majority of people who walk in through the new (and totally unnecessary) exit doors at the Woodhaven Boulevard and Forest Parkway stations in Woodhaven are white.

  • Joe R.

    Thanks! The subway is still the clear winner, as expected., but MN and the LIRR aren’t doing all that badly. The low numbers in all three cases show the inherent advantage of rail moving people and goods.

    NYCT Commuter Bus isn’t doing as badly as I expected. I’d have thought even when corrected per mile it would be much worse than local buses.

  • The bike lane on the eastern sidewalk of Flatbush Avenue (connecting to the Belt Parkway path to/from the east) is two-way. And the traffic signal down by the bridge is controlled by a button that really works — you press it, and the light allowing you to cross over to the western side (so as to access the bridge) turns green right away.

  • kevd

    Very true.
    And install some form of traffic control or grade separation at the Belt entrances and exits.
    There is PLENTY of room along the golf course – its parks land after all.
    This would link to the portion I mentioned.

  • qrt145

    London fares, converted to USD, seem cheap now thanks to the recession, Brexit and all that shit. But it didn’t feel like that when I visited and 1 GBP was worth over 2 USD! 🙂

  • qrt145

    Which ones are “MTA buses”?

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