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.

simul-green wave

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.

 

8thav

 

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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Air Quality: Help your neighbors and yourselves:

Request a street tree or multiple ones. Council Member Corey Johnson has allocated funds for street trees and will get priority from the Parks Department . It can be a brand new tree pit or a new tree in an existing tree pit . There are also $$ for tree guards . Do not  miss this great opportunity to green the avenues and the streets . Here is the form 

Report on illegal idling and get a reward. A new law allows the government to reward citizens for reporting idling . Considering the number of buses in our neighborhood, we should all be become rich! Follow the enclosed procedure; follow the procedure

 

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In case you missed it

It was summer, it was hot and you had better things to do than reading about transportation. Still you missed some major moves. Here are the ones we watched:

Pedestrians

  • Corey Johnson sent a letter to DOT asking for better pedestrian protection on the proposed 10th Avenue bike lane . DOT has agreed to change the traffic signals on 10th Avenue to comply with the 25mph during the day and night.

Transit 

  • It’s official: the M42 is the slowest in the city – Yes, we know ! read on 
  • MTA published their action plan in may and has already implanted route changes in Staten Island.

Long Distance Buses 

  • Fuji jitneys has lost its permit for the bus stops located at 327 West 42nd Street and 301 WEst 40th street. DOT followed CB4 recommendations that their permit be terminated. A very good news for the community.

Bicycles 

  • Dock-less Citibike  debuted in the Bronx – Their biggest proponent? Mayor De Blasio who does not want to sacrifice even One parking space!
  • Pedal -assist bikes were legalized . Citibike and ride share system are happy but delivery bicyclists are not : they all use throttle bikes which are still illegal. New York Times 
  • A tourist was killed on the Central Park West bike lane . Tragic but not surprising: the ” bike lane ” is only a line painted on the ground.  A waste of paint if you ask me . At least it will prompt DOT in doing the right thing and put a protected bike lane around the park.
  • 26th and 29th street protected crosstown bike lanes are near completion .
  • New York State DOT is working on a traffic study for the Greenway and the West Side Highway initiated by a CHEKPEDS’ letter to Senator Brad Hoylman last year. A meeting was organized by the Senator’s office with NYS DOT to review the progress to date with the affected community boards. Nothing tangible yet.
  • Citibike will add more stations within the existing network . You can request stations near you  here 

Congestion

  • City council passed two legislations to limit the number fo Uber, Lyft etc cars ( unless they offer service for the disabled riders) and to increase the minimum wage of drivers to match the rest of the city . New York times
  • Bruce Schaller, a former NYC deputy commissioner, publish a report showing the massive congestion caused by Uber and Lyft, etc. Read the article in Citylab and read the report 

Parking 

  • New York city announced new parking rates to encourage more turn over. As a result the cost of placards to the rest of the citizens will reach $ 1.5 billion a year. Who will have the balls to tackle this baby?

It was a very busy summer indeed.

 

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West 37th Street Renaissance

Over 10 years ago CHEKPEDS initiated a 9th Avenue Renaissance project which incorporated over 1,000 input from the community. The resulting suggested various  designs for streets.

Fast forward to 2017 , when the recently formed Hudson Yards/Hell’s Kitchen Alliance (HYHK Business Improvement District) initiated a Streetscape Study of its district.

in 2018, HYHK started to implement the plan and the results are spectacular. we encourage you to visit 37th street ( 9/10) and enjoy al fresco in the public seating provided.

Horticulture: Designwild
Music: Allegria Callada, Chano Dominguez

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Victory for Disabled – L train’s 6th Avenue station to become ADA compliant

Disabled person discuss with Andy Byford at L Train  Open House. Photo by Lesley Susan

Disabled person discuss with Andy Byford at L Train Open House. Photo by Lesley Susan

As the result of a lawsuit filed by the 14th Street Coalition and disabled groups, the MTA committed to install elevators at the 14th Street and 6th Avenue Station, while the repairs to the Canarsie Tunnel are underway.

It is a terrific win on an item that was high on Community Board  4 ‘s list of demands for this project . On the other hand, it is a disgrace that a lawsuit was necessary in order to obtain satisfaction for such a logical request .  MTA funds would be better spent on accelerating projects in compliance with federal law , rather than litigating them.

Read the full story.

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