Cuomo puts Congestion pricing in his 2019 priorities

The conversation about congestion pricing has evolved positively especially since the invasion of Manhattan by 100,000 Uber and Lyft cars in the last two years. Examine the Pros and Cons tomorrow night .

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Best wishes for 2019!

Dear members ,

At this time of year we’d like to reflect on our progress and stake out a few goals for 2019. There is much to like about 2018..

Focusing on Crash Data

8thavIn 2018 we launched Crashmapper.org, a web tool that received many accolades from the press, the agencies and the advocates. The tool maps and analyzes traffic crashes using variety of filters. As one advocate said: ” we used crashmapper to demonstrate that an intersection is dangerous and getting worse. The numbers helped us win the support of the community board in Brooklyn” . We have demonstrated it to many parties including the Borough President who will include it in the training of new board members in the future.  We  will continue to promote its use across the board.

Re-engineering the Intersections for safety

The DOT completed a study of safety at bike lanes intersections we advocated. While the full split phase Cyclingatcrossroadssignals installed on the lower part of 8th and 9th avenues are the safest , the interruptions in cycling flow is a major inconvenience to bicyclists that may encourage them to run through red lights. DOT has proposed two new pilot treatments : (1)  a large island that continues until half of the cross street: it forces drivers to slow down significantly before turning (2)  A delayed Turn ( a.k.a. a split LBI or LPI) which gives pedestrian and cyclists a certain amount of time of fully protected crossing ( with a red arrow for cars ) followed by a semi protected phase, with a blinking yellow arrow for cars. While this still needs some tweaking , we are delighted the Split LPI has been selected, as it has proven beneficial to pedestrians in our district.

simul trip timeMoving on to the next challenge: to convince DOT to provide walking and cycling the same level of service that is afforded to driving. CHEKPEDS partnered with Joe Realmutto an engineer, to develop a simulator of traffic lights. The goal is to find duration of traffic lights that will deliver the longest green wave to pedestrians and bicyclist, while maintaining a 25 mph maximum speed for cars. Why should DOT only study cars and not other street users?

DOT committed to install split phase signals at 57th Street and 8th and 10th Avenues as part of  bike lanes installation on the upper section of 8th/ Columbus circle, and 10th . They will also install some split LPis on those segments . Our elected officials Assembly member Linda Rosenthal and Council Speaker Corey Johnson were instrumental in getting us these favorable outcomes ! Thank you Erica Overton and Erik Botcher.

Following deadly crashes and our letter, Senator Hoylman obtained that the State DOT initiate a study of safety at the intersections along the Hudson River greenway. 

Making Space for Pedestrians

This year HYHK ( Hudson Yards/Hell’s Kitchen) BID redesigned West 37th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues for IMG_7818safety and for an improved pedestrian experience. Bulb outs , planters, street seats , murals and a mid block pedestrian crossing all make it one of the best streets for pedestrians in the city.

TreesSimilarly , CHEKPEDS worked with HYHK, the Port Authority, and Quadrum to complete  the Canoe plaza with a second row of eleven trees and plantings on the north side of the promenade.

CHEKPEDS board members continue to work very hard tostorm enclosure bsd ensure that pedestrian right of way is maintained on 8th and 9th Avenues: They distributed flyers to more than 200 shops and restaurants to advise them of how to make storm enclosures and sandwich boards compliant with the laws.  See what you can do to address this issue .

Looking ahead to 2019

2019 presents a huge opportunity with congestion pricing:  We are part of a citywide coalition “ Fix Our Transit” working along side of 100 prominent organizations that support the plan. Congestion pricing has proven very good for safety: in London, crashes decreased by 40%  in the two years after the congestion charge was established! a much needed remedy in NY since it 2018 is ending on a sad note: more pedestrians were killed that the previous year.

We will continue our critical work on the replacement of the Port Authority Bus terminal , as part of the HKS (Hell’s Kitchen South) Coalition. 

e-scooters and e-bikes will be discussed at the city council in January – Please read the letter CHEKPEDS sent to our elected officials on the matter.

We  will make sure DOT delivers on its safety commitments, in particular at 41st street and 10th Avenue at a district school; that 11th Avenue is converted to one way north of 42nd street  as the last deliverable of the Hell’s Kitchen DOT study; that the study of 8th avenue ( 37/47) is completed and that the traffic signals are adjusted to 25 mph in the district. We will also track the results of the Hudson Greenway study underway.

We will be working on setting up a borough wide sidewalk obstruction task force and on removing garbage from the sidewalks. We will continue to disseminate information on ADA ramp guidelines and on illegal obstructions.

 

Thank you to all of you who support us and read us . Let us know in the comment section if there are additional items we should focus on .

 

 

 

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Posted in 9th Avenue Renaissance, CHEKPEDS, Complete Streets, Congestion, DOT STUDY, Greening, pedestrian, Sidewalk | Leave a comment

Comings and goings

Chekpeds board is pleased to welcome Allen Oster, of Chelsea on the board. Alan is President of the W400 Block Association ( 20/21st Streets) and the co chair of the Quality of Life committee of Manhattan Community Board 4 . He is also active on the Midtown North Quality of Life  committee. He is a terrific addition to the board.

We are also delighted to welcome back Ernest Modarelli, who had left for a stint at the governor’s office. Ernest moved back to 45th street in Hell’s Kitchen.

This year saw the passing of Alison Tupper, one of the original members of CHEKPEDS. Alison was an example of advocacy done right, with a passion for protecting the Hudson river. She extended her energetic efforts into fighting the stadium, saving the 45th Street playground’s mural as well as keeping the 46th block association alive and well. She was an inspiration to all of us. R.I.P. Alison.

04032009 192Long term member Eric Muise, is moving to Boston. He leaves behind  powerful memories and accomplishments. We  wish him the best of luck. Kathleen Treat has graciously taken over the functions of Secretary.

Howard Carlin, of Chelsea ( 23rd street) stepped down from the board to pursue other interests including moving to Florida for part of the year. Warm wishes to Howard.

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From Parking to Plaza: the Canoe is completed!

We are very pleased to announce that the Canoe plaza (at West 36th street and 9th Avenue) is now complete. This project started in 2009 , during the Western Rail Yards negotiations took a long time to materialize, but it was worth the relentless effort it took to make it happen!
After four year of fruitless legal wrangling between agencies  DOT and Parks decided in 2013, to build  the southern half of the Plaza, by taking over a full lane of parking.

HYHK bid started to manage the plaza in 2015. They added table, chairs and umbrellas  as we ll as a beautiful sculpture by a local artist. They also stationed security personnel.

Finally in 2018, the developer Quadrum was interested in greening the neighborhood and in partnership with the Port Authority and the HYHK BID , completed the north side of the plaza.

We are thrilled with the outcome and extremely grateful to all the individuals and organizations who helped us along the way.

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Will bicyclists and pedestrians ever be on the same wavelength?

Following the September 2018 publication of the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT)‘s study “Cycling at a Crossroad”, a cyclist and a pedestrian joined forces in developing a simulator to identify the best possible signal timing, one that would provide the maximum safety to both pedestrians and cyclists while guaranteeing the longest green wave for cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles.

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Based on 6 simulations with over 10 variables each, the best scenario would deliver a 13-block green wave for cyclists and a 19-block green wave for pedestrians without delay for car traffic, which would be proceeding at 25 mph. In this scenario, out of 70 seconds of green light on the avenue, Split Lead Bicyclist Intervals (Split LBIs) would provide 30 seconds of full protection for cyclists and pedestrians, and then 40 seconds of semi protection with a yellow blinking arrow. This duration could be adjusted case by case based on the volume of turning cars.

Simul assumptionssimul trip time

The DOT study was in response to bicyclists’ complaints that the mixing zones are difficult to negotiate and feel unsafe. Pedestrians had long complained as well that those intersections were dangerous. In 2013, DOT published statistics showing that about 25 % of pedestrian fatalities or injuries occurred at intersections with a left turn movement.

The study concludes that the “Delayed Turn” (aka Split LBI) – one of the two pilot designs that show promises – provided for the lowest rate of conflict between turning vehicles and bicycles. The signal provides a conflict free head start for bicyclists before turning drivers are given a blinking yellow arrow to proceed with caution. Similar treatments called Split Lead Pedestrian Intervals (Split LPI) are already installed at various pedestrian crossings in the City.

However the conflicts remains – albeit at a much-reduced rate. Cyclists had been resistant to pedestrian advocates’ call to install Fully Split Phases that provide 100% protection from turning cars. This treatment causes cyclists to stop at every other traffic light making their trip cumbersome, or at worst giving them an incentive to run red lights. As part of its reports’ recommendations DOT plans to develop strategies to improve signal coordination that reduces bicyclist stopping and delay along corridors with several Fully Split Phase intersections.

How does it work? The simulation we developed is novel for several reasons. The goal was to identify what light cycle length would allow drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians to arrive at the intersection during the green phase as often as possible. As far as we know, no traffic engineering has taken advantage of the alternate timed speeds, which are possible when traffic signals are timed. Conceptually, think of this as hitting one block near the start of the green cycle, the next near the end of the green cycle, and so forth.

To  illustrate this concept, consider how traffic signals are timed in the first place. In general, traffic engineers stagger the light cycles so if you travel at a predetermined speed, you will always reach each intersection at the same point in the light cycle. For our simulation, where we assumed 20 blocks to a mile, and a timed speed of 25 mph, the signals had to be staggered by 7.2 seconds, as this is how long it takes to travel one block at 25 mph. Now consider that a person who takes 7.2 seconds plus one light cycle will also arrive at each block at the same point in the light cycle. Interestingly, this isn’t the only possibility mathematically. You can take 7.2 seconds, plus any number of light cycles, and find yourself in a green wave. And if the green cycle is longer than half the total cycle time, then 7.2 seconds plus ½ the total cycle time to go a block can work. So can taking 1.5 times the total cycle time to travel one block, and so forth.

simul-delayThe only downside here is for closely spaced signals alternate green waves only exist for pedestrian speeds, not cyclist speeds. However, this doesn’t preclude finding light timings which are much more advantageous for cyclists than current light timings. This represents a zero-cost method of speeding up cycling on streets where it’s possible to time traffic signals in the first place. The one-way Manhattan Avenues represent one of the best opportunities for this novel approach.

simul - mx dealyThe simulation is also notable for the fact that we accounted for cyclist acceleration. This makes the simulation much more realistic, as we all know that it takes some time to get going again after a stop. Fortunately, others have done research of typical cyclist acceleration rates so that we didn’t have to just guess. For the purposes of this simulation we assumed an acceleration rate of 1 mph/sec up to 15 mph, and 0.5 mph/sec thereafter. We also assumed a cruising speed of 15 mph. This might be a little on the high side, but the percentage delay is similar for lower speeds at the most optimal timing. Also worth noting is that percentage delay will decrease at speeds over 15 mph. Therefore, faster cyclists aren’t negatively impacted by optimizations which benefit a range of slower cyclist speeds.While of course removing as many traffic signals as possible is the best way to optimize things for pedestrians and cyclists, unfortunately this approach will not be feasible in places like Manhattan without first dramatically reducing motor traffic. Therefore, optimizing signal timing as well as it can possibly be optimized for all street users, not just motorists, represents the best way forward at present.

Finally we can all get along…

About the  authors: 

Joseph Realmuto is a graduate of Princeton University (major electrical engineering) and Bronx High School of Science. He took a course in transportation engineering and planning while at Princeton, and has pursued an interest in all facets of transportation. In the last ten years he has developed a keen interest in the livable streets movement. Christine Berthet graduated from HEC France with an MBA in Operational Research and worked for IBM as a systems engineer. In 2005, she co-founded Chekpeds, a pedestrian advocacy group that developed Crashmapper.org, a web-based application to analyze traffic fatalities and injuries.

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There is hope for 8th Avenue!

In  a letter responding to a request from Manhattan Community Board 4,  Polly Trottenberg, Commissioner of NYC Department of Transportation indicated this week that gregg_ambulance-2a study is underway for the 8th Avenue corridor , from 35th to 47th Street. DOT, jointly with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, will attempt to resolve the dangerous  conditions for both pedestrians and bicyclists on that stretch. The study should be completed in 2019. We are delighted.

 

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There were 317 injuries and 1 fatality on that stretch over the last 5 years, with 6 to 8
injuries per month being the norm. One of our neighbors was injured in a conflict with a pedestrian on the same stretch.

 

Streets films and Mark Gorton illustrated the situation earlier this year. CBS replicated the segment.

This a very encouraging outcome, although injuries should not be a prerequisite to fixing a corridor we have been complaining about for years.

 

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Take Action to stake out our walking space!

storm enclosure bsdFall is upon us and with it illegal storm enclosures will pop up again at every other restaurant door, making pedestrian lives that much harder.

sandwich board bad

After carefully researching the relevant laws , we are launching a CAMPAIGN Against Obstructions  of the pedestrian right of way  and at the same time help business owners avoid summonses.

 

By reminding them of the law, shop owners will avoid repeated fines and help their customers to access their stores.

So download the flyer here, Print it and feel free to distribute to any business who is not following the law. Please emphasize we are helping them avoid summonses .

If they continue to ignore the law , call 311.

 

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DOT commits to pedestrian safety features on 10th Avenue bike lane

We are very grateful that Speaker Corey Johnson office helped DOT and the community reach a compromise for the pedestrian features of the 10th Avenue bike lane from 52nd  to 60th Street  to be installed this fall. At the last Transportation Committee of CB4 , DOT indicated that

  • the signals will  be adjusted to enforce  the 25mph speed limit day or night.
  • 2 to 4 concrete pedestrian refuges will be built in 2019
  • a study of intersections will be completed by this winter to determine where a split phase or split LPI signal will be installed.
  • DOT will get back to us in 2019 with a final date to extend the bike lane all the way to 14th Street.

These are extremely good news for bicyclists and pedestrians alike. 10th avenue is s speedway and the bike lane will be installed amidst three schools and a hospital . the utmost safety features are warranted where a cyclists was killed two years ago.

This is good example of how the community and DOT can work together by engaging in a constructive discussion that takes in account all constraints and wishes.

 

 

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Speed Cameras are back – Hail Mary will save lives

Yesterday Governor Cuomo signed an executive “emergency order” to allow the city of New York to reactivate the 140 existing speed cameras which had been shut down in July, and work with the DMV to implement this change. Tomorrow the City Council will vote on a bill to reinstate the cameras and Mayor di Blasio  will sign  a ” Bill of Necessity” the city equivalent of the emergency order.

Cuomo said, “the cameras have reduced crashes by 60% where installed . By not renewing the program we run the real risk of causing children’s deaths”. He also credited Speaker Johnson for working closely with both the Governor and the mayor to think outside the box and achieve this result.

This is a stunning outcome for a situation that had turned desperate during the summer, with the Republican-led senate refusing to return to Albany to pass the bill . Families for Safe Streets and Transportation Alternatives advocates staged  numerous demonstrations including running a marathon around Senator Marty Golden’s block.

The bill introduced in the council could allow more cameras in the future. This is an outstanding outcome to a very long fight. Both  Families for Safe Streets and Transporation Alternatives deserve an enormous credit as well as Speaker Johnson. Senator Flanagan and Golden who stubbornly blocked the bill for political reasons, do not deserve to represent their districts.

Here are more details  and a discussion of the proposed bill 

Join Us
Rally to Demand an Expansion of Speed Cameras
Tuesday, September 4th, 6 – 7:30 p.m.
City Hall

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Can electronic scooters peacefully co-exist with pedestrians?

CHEKPEDS has learned that Speaker Corey Johnson and Transportation chair Ydanis Rodriguez are working on a legislation to ensure the orderly inclusion of electric scooters in the New York Transportation options.

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These appliances which look like a children ‘s toy have showed up in various cities and caused consternation with pedestrians as described in this article “What ends up on the Sidewalk“.

In  a letter to the speaker, CHEKPEDS recommends a four-part  approach to legalizing scooters and dock-less bikes: 

  • Create parking for these vehicles in the Parking lane . Let the operators fund and maintain these parking spaces.
  • Allow only scooters designed for a maximum speed of 10 mph.
  • Increase enforcement of illegal use of all vehicles including scooters; in particular riding or parking on sidewalk and going the wrong way should get increased penalties.
  • Convene a task force to study sidewalk encroachments and resolve the multi-agency conflicts as well as propose sidewalk enlargement.

We look forward to hearing your comments  below..

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