Sigh the Petition: Another proof the pedestrians are lowest priority for City

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We all love the beautiful  sights and quiet the snow brings to the city, but walking in the street the day after is no fun at all and often downright dangerous. This last storm amplified what we already knew: cars receive the royal treatment, with  swift snow removal and their snow being piled high along the curb, making the cleaning by homeowners and businesses exceedingly difficult; bike lanes remain untouched for days, and the sidewalks and corners of pedestrian crossings are impracticable as they are left to the goodwill of adjoining merchants.  In some places the walking path is barely 3ft , or zero when in front of a construction sites. Bus stops or shelters are completely impracticable.

Clearly the system needs an overall to take in account the new reality of millions of commuters walking in the streets and a growing number of bicyclists going to work. If the city really wants to get back “on its feet” quickly it needs to take care first and foremost of moving its pedestrians and cyclists.

STREETSpac has initiated a petition to get a hearing at the City Council Transportation Committee  SIGN THE PETITION HERE

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Find out how dangerous your street or school is

crashmapper

In March, CHEKPEDS launched a new mapping tool www.crashmapper.org that lets onefilter information by time slices, by areas like Council District, Community Board, Borough, Precinct, and by type of crash.

It’s distinctive feature is that it lets the user delineate a custom area to be tracked and returns map and statistics filtered by this area. This allows a non expert activist, like most of us are,  to track a stretch of avenue and see if the safety situation is improving or getting worse, or track an area around a school and see if a slow zone is needed.

The reviews by experts have been very positive with the app called “Best in Class” by Streetsblog  or the “Gold Standard ” by the creator of CrashStats, an early incarnation of this concept.

The app relies on NYC open data and refreshes as soon as it is updated. We thank Councilmember Corey Johnson for helping fund this effort and the CARTO company who gave us free space and tools. Chris Henrick assisted by John Kraus completed the app.

We hope that many activists groups, elected officials and others will find the tool useful to demonstrate to the DOT the need for safety improvements. If we are to achieve Vision Zero, we must all focus on the most dangerous intersections and use numbers in a smart way, without ever forgetting that pain and suffering for people and their families are behind these numbers.

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Community unified on approach to Port Authority replacement

Through a very successful town hall meeting and a survey at the end of 2016,  CB4 gathered  our community members’ opinions which were presented at a well-attended February 9th meeting of the Hell’s Kitchen South Coalition. See some highlights below. We encourage you to look at the whole presentation which has a lot of valuable feedback.

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Based on this input and other intelligence , in March 2017,  CB4 jointly with CB5  sent a letter asking the Port Authority to study the creation of a  PA7, a path like rail line that would be connected seamlessly with the #7  effectively creating an extension to the #7 line.   Such a facility would provide 45% of the increase in capacity the Port Authority needs to satisfy the growth in bus riders. Cb4 is further preparing a letter to the PANYNJ with guidelines for redeveloping the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

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It is timely because the Port Authority Board just approved a $ 70 million project to study the developemnt of the bus terminal and staging facilities . Fortunately the Chair indicated that this will not be the only project and that any other project that helps satisfy future demand for Trans Hudson capacity will be considered. We also understand that a joint meeting with New Jersey maybe in the works.

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We need your input to preserve our community from the Bus Terminal- Meeting and Survey

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On December 6, Manhattan Community Board 4 hosted a community planning session at Metro Baptist Church related to proposals for a new Port Authority Bus Terminal (PABT).  At that meeting it was announced that a community coalition would be forming in the wake of PABT discussions and proposals.

The first meeting of the coalition will be Tuesday, February 7 at 6:30 pm at Metro Baptist Church.  The purpose of this initial meeting of the (tentatively named) Hell’s Kitchen South Coalition will be to discuss:

  • Goals of the coalition and organization of the coalition
  • Update on Port Authority activity since Dec. 6 meeting
  • Summary of community feedback from Dec. 6 meeting

The aim is to create a neighborhood plan that reflects local needs and preferences using 26a4d97c-bdcc-4bb2-88ff-887a4e08f791the feedback we are getting at community meetings.  With that in mind, we are interested in getting feedback from you and community members.

Please take 5 minutes to fill out this survey formulated from priorities expressed at the Dec. 6 planning session.  And please share with others.We hope to see you on February 7.  Come to get involved or simply to learn more.  Any and ALL are welcome!

Tiffany Triplett Henkel
Hell’s Kitchen Resident & Metro Baptist Church Pastor

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Landmark Ruling: City liable for crash because lack of traffic calming

The New York high court just ruled that the City can be held liable for failing to study and implement traffic calming measures, which the jury determined were a major factor contributing to the crash. In a 2004 incident, the driver was traveling at 54 mph on Gerritsen Avenue, which had a speed limit of 30 mph. Prior to the incident, the City had been advised by local residents, elected officials, and the Department of Transportation that speeding was common on the street, but that no sufficient speed study or traffic calming review was performed. The Court found the City liable for failing to adequately study and mitigate the road conditions that contributed to the speeding, stating that “an unjustifiable delay in implementing a remedial plan constitutes a breach of the municipality’s duty to the public.” Read the full Press Release

Just like lawsuits were the only way to get the DOT to implement the Federal ADA guidelines, this lawsuit may be the surest way to put a price on inaction that will directly hurt the city coffers and force the city to move faster in the implementation of Vision Zero .

 

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Traffic fatalities are skyrocketing: what will the DOT do?


ped-struckIn December 2016, our neighborhood experienced two more fatalities, bringing the 2016 toll to  6 , or three times as many as in 2013.  A tourist was killed crossing W39th Street at 10th Avenue  and a bicyclist was killed while crossing 55th Street at 12th Avenue

We send a strong letter to our elected officials asking for their support and help to address the situation. We also urged Community Board 4 to write  a strong letter asking DOT for immediate action.

Read the Chelsea Now article

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Hudson River Park greenway: Near Death Experiences

16659074501_9d921bf177_bin 2006 Carl Nacht was killed  by a vehicle in the Hudson River Park, on the greenway. On 2016 another person was killed on the greenway at Chambers street.

CHEKPEDS sent a letter to the Department of Transportation and the Hudson River Park Trust late last year to alert them of the exceedingly dangerous situation at six intersections – all in our district- where the vehicles have a green light to turn into the park, while the bicyclists and pedestrian have a green light to proceed . While this is the same situation at crosswalk all over the city – and this has proven deadly in many instances- here  bicyclists and walkers have a heighten expectation of safety because after all THIS IS A PARK and people should be able to enjoy the park without dangerous interferences from vehicles.

The press picked it up and we received number of testimonies from park users who have had near deaths experiences at those intersections.

The Department of Transporation responded promptly and gave us assurances that the solution being studied for Chamber Street will be deployed at all the other dangerous intersections. No word from the Hudson River Park Trust.

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Good Bye 2016… Welcome 2017

 

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2016 ended up as a tough year!

Congestion – Clean Air

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The Project to replace the Port Authority Bus Terminal dominated our  activity , with townhalls, press conferences, testimonies , killer missives and arm wrestling between our elected officials and the Port. We thought it was ending up on a positive note when the Port Authority Board agreed to scraping its competition and forming a task force with New york, New Jersey and the Port Authority . Alas, the war on words picked up again in the nastiest way, around the capital plan where clearly Governor Cuomo wants to use the Port Authority as its personal piggy bank. Fortunately, the Community Board continued its deliberate and constructive process of creating a comprehensive plan for this area, to guide the future decisions to relocate or not the terminal . CHEKPEDS is joining the coalition that will activate the community.

Sidewalk and Greening

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We  made good progress on greening and sidewalks :  we won the installation of 31 micro-gardens on the 6th Avenue bike lanes which were adopted by volunteers. The Canoe Plaza in south Hell’s Kitchen received tables, chairs, umbrellas, planters and a sculpture by artist Jordan Baker- Caldwell, and street seats were added to 37th Street. Four new tree guards were installed.

LinksNYC started to replace the phone booths that everyone loves to hate . After initial hicups the installations are now working well. In addition we learned that our request for installation removals was successful and 40 installations will be removed in the district.

Pedestrian Safety

News were grim this year. We joined with Transportation Alternatives to obtain from Albany legislature that every school be equipped with a speed camera, and again were disappointed that such a common sense measure did not pass.

pedestian trends 2016

There were 6 fatalities in our district, compared to 2 two years ago. Crashes have increased nationwide and in the city by 10% due to the improved economy , but a 300% increase is still stunning and horrifying.

On the positive side, we fought for and won a safer 6th Avenue bike lane with pedestrian refuges . DOT has approved three new split phase signals (not yet installed) and is reviewing another nine. Still the increased pace of improvement that we expected from Vision Zero has not materialized and we are looking for new ways to bring this issue to the fore.

In other News

IMG_0152Chekpeds celebrated its 10 Year anniversary and gave the first ever Walkie Awards to governement officials who demonstrated their commitment to community and pedestrian safety. The people who do the work in government are rarely thanked for their tireless dedication and it was a pleasure to honor them . Co-founders Martin Treat and Christine Berthet were honored as well.

We want to thank our active board members and all of YOU  for your interest and involvement in these issues. As we painfully learned, it is critical we show our strength through numbers. Please share this letter with friends and suggest they subscribe, and let us know if you could contribute your  skills or $ to this important issue.

Happy 2017.. The CHEKPEDS Board of Directors


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Will self driving cars improve pedestrian safety?

The US DOT thinks so , and that is why 2016 is the first year when self driving cars became a reality on multiple levels: the US DOT published rules to create a regulatory framework by  types and related expectations and some sates (Nevada, California, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, North Dakota, Tennessee and Utah—and Washington D.C.)  ( Pittsburgh) have legalized their use on the road. Technology companies, (Google)  car companies (Tesla , Ford and Audi ) and fleet companies (Uber) are actively working in that space. It is anticipated that New York State legislature will be asked to legalize them in 2017.

IMG_5620Earlier this year Manhattan Borough president Gale brewer convened a summit with DOT and car manufacturers  to better understand what the NYCDOT is doing to prepare the city for the advent of driverless cars.

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And in November Sidewalk Labs whose offices are located on Hudson Yards invited CHEKPEDS to participate in a public chat on the matter.

I am no expert but it seems like there is a long way to go for these vehicles to deliver on increased safety in an urban environemnt:  first it is not clear how much of the technology is dedicated to recognizing pedestrians as a priority. Second, most of the technology currently in operation requires that a driver be alert and ready to take over .  This is a concern since currently drivers get distracted even when they are engaged, and the science shows that it is more difficult for the human brain to perform in exception mode once disengaged.

Driverless technology is being developed where the cars will be able to avoid all obstacles, but  it may be dependent on  some features embedded in the surroundings: special traffic signals, cameras, very good markings etc. This could become the highest priority for the DOT instead of installing pedestrian safety features.

As for our local concerns, I raised three :

  • How will driverless cars be coded to stop turning at a green light while there are pedestrians in the adjacent crossing or bicyclists on the bike lane?
  • How will driverless cars be coded to refrain for entering an intersection even with a green light to avoid gridlocking the intersection?
  • How will driverless Uber cars pick up and drop off passengers when there are no curbside available? Will they be coded to stop illegally  or will they be coded to respect the law and continue cruising around the block until a parking space frees up?

More generally, will the software of self driven cars be “localized ” to reflect driving styles when they will have to compete with aggressive New York drivers during the transition? 

A lot to think about , but it is happening so let’s hope the US DOT is right and pedestrian lives will be saved.  In the meantime we will remain vigilant on the matter especially when the legislation comes to a vote in New York.

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Governor Cuomo does not care about the Bus Terminal – We do and We VOTE

While everyone bickers about which project to fund, the community continues its steady work on planning our area to include a replacement terminal. Please join us  and bring your ideas!

We Need Your Input! Community Planning Session Dec 6 Flyer PDF.compressed

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