BIGGEST TRAFFIC CHANGE in years makes a superb debut in the quiet of the summer

On July 13th , in the middle of the day, Port Authority and DOT started to operate a contra lane on Dyer Avenue, between 42nd and 41st Streets for buses to reach the Lincoln Tunnel in a safer way. This resulted in 90 less left turns by buses at 42nd Street and 9th Avenue a dangerous intersection used by thousands of pedestrians. Our DOT Commissioner does big things quietly !

Slide1Every day between 4 and 6 p.m.  about 90 commuter buses travel west on 42nd street,  turn south at 9th Avenue, and then turn west at 41st Street and 9th Avenue to reach the Lincoln Tunnel. A large proportion of buses there are MTA buses going to Staten Island. Both of those intersections are very dangerous according to Vision Zero.

We all know that left turning movements on a two-way street cause many crashes.   In addition, the buses contribute to traffic which causes heavy congestion on the northern part of 9th Avenue .

IMG_3788Now, from  4 to 6 p.m. every week day, while the other three lanes continue to go north, one lane of Dyer Avenue goes south, with cones and changeable signs. Instead of turning south at 9th Avenue, then west at 41st  Street and south at Dyer Avenue, the buses continue west to the Dyer Avenue intersection with 42nd Street and make a southbound turn in the contra lane, which brings them directly in the tunnel . Two traffic agents are located there to direct the operation.

IMG_3791As a result the 42nd Street intersection with 9th avenue sees very few buses turning at that time of the day, and the congestion to the north of 9th Avenue is reduced.  (there is currently construction of a hotel on the west side of 9th Avenue that makes matters worse for the time being). Further, MTA has rerouted all its buses at the other times the day to use 11th Avenue to reach the tunnel. This is a major success.

Removing 90 left turn movements by buses everyday is a major achievement, that will without a doubt, reduce crashes and injuries at this crowded and dangerous intersection . In total , the number of turns is reduced by 180 per day. The community had worked closely with DOT on these changes. We are extremely grateful to the DOT and the Port Authority staff who came up with this brilliant idea and implemented it as part of the Hells Kitchen Traffic Study.

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NYPD and their Cars

Commissioner Bratton this week repeatedly voiced his support for removing the Times Square Plazas that have become an enormous success with all users including the real estate interests in the area. This is in response to incidents with a few topless women, draped in USA flag paint and the ever-present petty crooks now disguised as Walt Disney mascots.


While the NYC official statistics show that the plaza has reduced crashes by 40%, the Commissioner continues to quote Fox News numbers to the contrary. That may explain why CrashStats is useless in changing NYPD behavior: they keep their own set of books.


We believe that in fact, Commissioner Bratton is playing to his troops: the horrifying truth about policing Times Square is that you cannot do it with your butt glued to the seat of a White and Blue Crown Vic, using a megaphone. You actually have to WALK. 

That officers would prefer cruising in their vehicles instead of stopping and frisking topless women is yet another reminder of NYPD’s irrational love story with cars.

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION here to keep pedestrians first in Times Square

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New Bills introduced to prevent Left Turn collisions

ON August 13, Public Advocate Letitia James introduced two traffic safety bills in the New York City Council aimed at reducing pedestrian deaths across the City. The first bill would require the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) to establish protected left turn signals at 100 additional intersections with four or more traffic lanes. The second bill would require the DOT to provide reports on all pedestrian right-of-way violations to identify intersections requiring better safety measures.

“By increasing the number of protected left turn signals at large intersections and taking a closer look at locations with chronic right-of-way violations, we can make Vision Zero a reality.”

At last year’s Vision Zero conference CHEKPEDS advocated for such a measure. We have  been a vocal supporter of Left turn signals to improve pedestrian safety. On the Chelsea portion of the bike lanes where left turn signals are installed, crashes were reduced by 50% versus 30% where they were not . As part the Hell’s Kitchen Traffic Study , Chekpeds has requested the installation of over 10 such signals in our neighborhood, and  two new ones were  just installed at 41st street and 9th avneue where two people were killed and at 43rd Street and 9th Avenue. 

IMG_3200According to a report commissioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, New York State has the most pedestrian fatalities caused by left-turning vehicles of any state in the country. And according to the New York City DOT, left-turn pedestrian collisions outnumber right-turn collisions 3-1.

“T.A. supports Public Advocate James’ two pieces of new Vision Zero legislation,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “The proposal for dedicated left-turn signals is an opportunity for the NYC DOT to continue leading this effort … We applaud Public Advocate James for pursuing public accountability, enforcement and transparency as part of Vision Zero implementation.”

The Right of Way Law, enacted by the City last year, increased penalties for drivers by making it a misdemeanor to hit pedestrians or cyclists with the right of way. Public Advocate James believes quarterly reports on violations of this newly established law will help inform where additional safety measures are needed.

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NOT ONE MORE : Vigil for 26,500 New Yorkers injured by Drivers in 2015

The number is staggering: 143 per day! In the second year of Vision Zero how could it be that drivers injured so many people in 2015 alone? People talk about crime in New York city in the 70′s . I doubt that criminals injured or killed so many people per day ever in New York City.  Are we in a war zone? Who are the terrorists?

Since January 20,033 New Yorkers have been injured. Join Families for Safe Streets to say – NOT ONE MORE.. 
Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 7 p.m.
Union Square North 

The City must understand this is not a marginal movement by few victims’ families, but a profound change requested by all voters.   - This is your opportunity to speak up. 850 are already coming but we need more than 1,000 – Power in numbers YOUR  VOICE IS CRUCIAL..


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Free Outdoor Movie – Musical Chairs

Join us for this event full of good news for our neighborhood.  Persons with disabilities are at the vanguard of a crucial fight for ALL pedestrians: Streets and sidewalks compliant with ADA guidelines are the most comfortable and safe to walk on. What it good for ADA is good for seniors, mothers with young children and all the rest of us. 

MUSICAL CHAIRS , Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
Monday, July 13, 2015, 7:30 p.m.
Mathews Palmer Park, 45th Street b/w 9/10 Avenues

Musical Chairs outdoor screening 7.13.2015


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Mark your calendars

Free Outdoor Movie:
MUSICAL CHAIRS , Celebarting the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
Monday, July 13, 2015, 7:30 p.m.
Mathews Palmer Park, 45th Street b/w 9/10 Avenues

Since January 20,033 New Yorkers have been injured. Join Families for Safe Streets to say – NOT ONE MORE.. 
Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 7 p.m.
Union Square North 

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Bus Drivers and Pedestrians are asking for safer intersections

It is time for TWU Local 100 to turn its attention to the real culprit behind bus drivers in handcuffs and dead pedestrians : poorly designed intersections.

In the highly charged discussions of the last few weeks, it seemed that everyone forgot the fundamental rule of Vision Zero: accepting that mistake will be made and design the road to prevent resulting fatalities and injuries.

A review of Manhattan most dangerous intersections below shows that not only many of them are located on bus routes but in certain cases buses must turn at these very intersections. It is time that pedestrians bus drivers and bus riders join forces and ask DOT to make a priority of installing split phases at these dangerous intersections in each borough.


We are delighted that Transporation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets are looking toward such a goal: “ As the momentum builds toward a greater shared understanding of the need to protect the most vulnerable users of our streets, we look forward {…} to a time when  we  can begin working with unions on the points where we have common ground – including the need for more dedicated turn signal phases for buses, and alert systems to help make pedestrians and bus operators aware of each other’s presence in crosswalks. -

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TWU Local 100 and New York State Senate nearly gutted the Right-of-Way law

It came very close but in the end it failed.

As part of Vision Zero, we gained the “right of way” law which assigns criminal penalties to drivers that fail to yield to pedestrians and bicyclists and injures or kill them, a major progress that makes it possible for NYPD to investigate even if they have not personally observed the violation. . Read a full explanation by Steve Vaccaro Here. 

In 2014 8 MTA bus drivers were arrested under this law, although many fewer were eventually condemned. TWU Local 100 who represents MTA bus drivers decided that their  drivers did not deserve the same treatment as the general population even if they killed pedestrians. Their campaign caused NYC Council members to introduce a bill to exempt bus drivers from criminal penalties when they kill or injure pedestrians with the right of way , and the NYS senate to introduce a bill to exempt bus drivers from an arrest , although they would still be accountable.

To our stupefaction, 25 Council members have signed on the NYC bill, and the Senate passed the NYS bill in Albany. Fortunately , thanks to the efforts of Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe streets it does not appear that either bill will go any further.  Ydanis Rodriguez ( Chair of NYC Transportation Committee) , Attorney General Cy Vance,  Mr Gantt, chair of the NYS Assembly Transportation Committee expressed their opposition in no uncertain terms .  ”The right of way law is here to stay” .

In fact the law seems to work well: to date in 2015, there were no fatalities caused by MTA bus drivers . See here CHEKPEDS letter to elected officials in opposition to the weakening the Right of Way law.


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Trans Hudson Summit: Blueprint or Patchwork?

IMG_3678On May 7th, 2015, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PA) convened a Summit for Trans Hudson Transportation attended by the crowned heads of the Region Transporation sector: most top executives of the Transportation Agencies that provide services in that space were at the table as well as a representative of the US Department of Transportation.  This kind of royal attendance is usually seen only for weddings or funerals. The future will tell us what it was.

As a proper venue for such lofty goals, the meeting was held on the 63rd Floor of One  World Trade Center from which New Jersey looked so close … and yet billions of $ away for the 75% additional commuters that will be coming to NYC in 30 years.

Irreverence aside, this was both a hopeful and distressing meeting, showing how far PA Trasns hudson ridershipwill have to go to deliver 21st century cross Hudson transportation to the fast growing hundreds of thousands of commuters – more and more of them millennials – who come to work in Manhattan everyday .

The meeting marked the kick off of the Strategic Planning effort,  described in the remarkable  report “Keep the Region Moving” prepared by the Special Panel on the Future of the Port Authority  and endorsed by both governors in December 2014.  The board of the PA endorsed this blue print which calls for “initiat[ing] a long-term planning process for the expansion of Trans-Hudson transit capacity, including river-crossing and terminal facilities; “

Trasns hudson ridership 2The hopeful part is that the New Chair, Vice Chair and commissioners have already demonstrated that the report was not just words:  They are coming from the industry, real estate and finance and have implemented drastic changes at the board level: open discussions, transparency, business minded focus and public dialogue which augurs well for a reasonable and thoughtful outcome. However the obstacles are immense.

Most of our existing mass transit systems (except roads) were built by individual entrepreneurs (August Belmont Jr. owned and built the  Inter-borough Rapid Transit- IRT  in 1904) or by bureaucratic tyrants (Robert Moses and most recently Dan Doctoroff) who were inclined to bulldoze their ways to achieve their vision with single mindedness. The current crop of Transportation leaders are operators NOT builders. Just look at MTA’s recent efforts (East Side Access, Second Avenue Subway) to see that the organization lacks what it takes to pull off such large projects.

Because the agencies have specific footprints and technologies, there is an natural preference for Trasns hudson ridership 3 1operating within these boundaries creating massive bottlenecks and inefficiencies at interface points: Port Authority Bus terminal, Penn Station, Grand Central  etc.. , while transportation – just like the internet- is about “interconnectivity” “speed” and “customer delight”.

As a commuter you have to ask: Why should I need different modes of payments for different segments? cars do not have that problem with Easy Pass! Will my commute be shorter?

Trasns hudson ridership 4 1Why is the subway not going west of the Hudson ? Can you imagine the subway system if it stopped in Manhattan and we had to take the bus or the train to go to Williamsburg or Queens?   Would commuters rather hop on a train or a subway? Are 7,000 buses back to back the right technology to move 320,000 people a day all through one lane of the Lincoln Tunnel ?

What about the costs ? Indeed as a budget constrained operator, it is difficult to conceive that when meeting with the US Government you should really  behave like an entrepreneur meeting with a venture capitalist:  the more you ask, the more credible you are. Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld knew that well : if the US Government spent $ 3 Trillion on the war in Iraq, there should be no problem finding $ 30 Billion to build a new Cross Hudson infrastructure for the next 100 years.

What was obvious at the meeting, is that each agency has dreamed up its own solution in its geography and with its own set of technologies, building on what they know how to do and not on what the customer wants, because in the current configuration they are not empowered to do anything else. This is the worst possible use of capital, and guarantees extravagant maintenance costs for a system that pleases no one. Trasns hudson ridership 4

We will see if the PA cobbles together a collection of marginal solutions that continue to build up bigger and bigger hubs or steps up to the plate and lays down a blueprint and key components of a 21st century distributed network, while giving each agency a mission  to connect and converge to the new network over time.

Doing the right thing will take guts of steel, but If anyone can do it , this board is our best bet.

See video and presentations Here 


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YOU WON! The City will build Raised Pedestrian Crossings!

As part of the Participatory Budgeting organized for the first time by Council Member Corey Johnson,  you joined 535 other residents of Chelsea and Hell”s Kitchen in voting for Pedestrian Safety.  This project will get $ 250,000 in funding and we hope it will be installed in a few locations.

The first location is West 45th Street and 9th Avenue at the west crossing of 45th Street where two of our neighbors were killed over the years. The second is the west crossing of 25th Street and 8th Avenue were residents gathered 1,000 signatures to gain improved safety. Hopefully more will be added once the exact cost is known.

THANK YOU for coming out in large numbers. Special thanks to Jordan Caldwell Baker who used his enormous talent to create this stunning animation and to Kathleen Treat and Lorena Camacho who worked tirelessly to get out the votes!


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