Call for Action: Rally for a speed safety camera for every school

Do you know that New York is allowed only 40 Speed enforcement cameras, around schools and only when the school is in session?  So when kids are out of school at their most vulnerable, there is no enforcement. This is absurd but that is what Albany passed last year. Say you’ll be at the June 9th Rally for #EverySchool.

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On May 10, 2016, 150 New Yorkers went to Albany , to push the Every School Speed Safety Camera Bill forward. They had 38 meetings with legislators and convinced 17 to sign on in support of the campaign. Another 19 legislators gave an enthusiastic maybe.

Families for Safe Streets and Transportation Alternatives are planning a huge rally for June 9th. On the steps of City Hall, with hundreds of families, CHEKPEDS will join them to  call for the passage of this bill.

Rally for the Every School Speed Safety Camera Bill
Thursday, June 9, 10:30 a.m.
City Hall

Like everything worthwhile in this world, making our streets safe starts with New Yorkers like you. Say you’ll be there on June 9th. Please invite school principals, teachers and  PTA presidents. Bring your children.

 

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10 Years of fights and successes for safer streets

CHEKPEDS was founded in September 2005. With a bit of delay,  we are taking time to reflect  on the last 10 years, the joys, the frustrations and overall the great progress YOU have accomplished with us and the help of untold number of partners . We are incredibly grateful for your advocacy and activism.

There is much left to be done, but we have come a long way!

If you’d like to skip the History and go to Results, go to the mark 10:29

CHEKPEDS 10th Anniversary Celebration from christine berthet on Vimeo.

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6 WALKIE Awards given for Commitment to Pedestrian Safety

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Against a backdrop calling for Safety, about 80 people gathered this month at the Laurie Beechman Theater  to honor the recipients of the first WALKIE awards.

IMG_0152 Jordan Baker-Caldwell a New York City native and Hell’s Kitchen resident sculpted the awards. Jordan’s work has been exhibited at venues including the National Metal Museum and the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD). His 15ft sculpture “Golem,” is currently on view at Marcus Garvey Park at 121st and Madison Ave. Jordan is currently working on a major sculpture to be installed on the Canoe Plaza.

DSC_3360The first award was given to Margaret Forgione, DOT:  Margaret led d a four year effort to build the Canoe plaza where a 400 ft. lane of parking was reclaimed for pedestrians and planted with trees; plus 124 pedestrian refuges along bike lanes , 2 new traffic lights, and the relocation of long distance and jitney buses. Many DOT staffs were on hand to honor Margaret

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and Gregory Haas, DOT who received the second one : As part of the Hell’s kitchen Transportation Study Greg came up with the wise solution of directing 120 buses per hour to a new contra lane on Dyer Avenue to open the bottleneck at 42nd Street and 9th Avenue. He is finalizing the changes to make 11th avenue one way above 44th Street. And he helped us get 24 Lead Pedestrian Intervals and 10 fully protected pedestrian crossings.

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Mark Schaff of the New york and New jersey Port Authority bus terminal permits the community to use Port Authority patches of land, including the Dog Run, Theresa’s Park, Alice’s Garden, the Triangle and the Canoe. Mark was instrumental in many of the changes proposed by the DOT, including the new contra lane at Dyer Avenue. He gives a human face to the Port Authority, and makes tunnels ramps and bridges more tolerable. Dana Ehler, Cedrick Fulton, and Jerry Lindenmeier were on hand to congratulate Mark.

DSC_3288Deputy Inspector Pilecki worked closely with CHEKPEDS and our Community Board to enforce intercity bus laws on 42nd Street, bringing into the fold a number of jitney companies which were operating illegally. By working with us, evaluating what does or does not work, and treating us like partners, that problem was solved. Deputy Inspector Pilecki is an example of what works at NYPD:  treating the community like partners, being open-minded and accessible, doing smart enforcement and getting results. Chief Chan honored us with a speech.

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And finally both CHEKPEDS founders Martin Treat and Christine Berthet received an award from the board members.

 

CLICK here to view all the photos of the ceremony

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CHEKPEDS activists earn praises from Elected Officials

At the Walkie Award Ceremony, our elected officials were generous of their time and praises for our work to improve pedestrian safety in the neighborhood ;

Council Member Corey Johnson, Borough President Gale Brewer and Manhattan Community Board 4 Chair, Delores Rubin  joined us , while Senator Hoylman, Assembly Member Gottfried and Rosenthal sent emissaries since they were retained in Albany as the legislature – such as it is –  was still in session. Comptroller Scott Stringer and Congressman Jerry Nadler were also represented.

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Dan Tepfer played the piano. A remarkable musician” in the words of the Washington Post and one “who refuses to set himself limits”- a mantra we certainly embrace, as he showed in his “Goldberg Variations /Variations”  an album which received broad praise from the New York Times. He has won several Awards at the Montreux Jazz Festival and others; his recent soundtrack for the independent feature “Movement and Location” was voted Best Original Score at the 2014 Brooklyn Film Festival. Dan uses a bicycle as transportation.

CLICK HERE to view all the photos from the celebration (be patient it takes a while to load , or refresh your browser a few times )

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Join us: Port Authority Plans for a New Bus Terminal Threatens our Community

The Hell’s Kitchen South Community will hold a critical Town Hall meeting to learn more about the recently announced expansion and redevelopment of the Port Authority Bus Terminal

Port Authority Bus Terminal Design - Town Hall
Monday, April 18, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
410 West 40th Street (9/10)

All of the current proposals will have a major impact on the fabric of the Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen Community.  The Port Authority proposes to demolish 3 block-fronts on 9th Avenue, in the heart of the neighborhood, wiping out hundreds of apartments, small businesses, community organizations and houses of worship. The plans also propose to move the bus terminal to the residential portion of our neighborhood, between 9th and 10th Avenues, in order to maximize their real estate assets on the commercial corridor of 8th Avenue, thus hurting both commuters and residents.

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Join your neighbors to demand that Port Authority preserve our neighborhood and respect our community!  It has been 6 months since the Port Authority Board announced a design competition and capacity study, guaranteeing a strong community involvement! It is time for the community to speak up and for the Port Authority staff to listen and take notice.

For an in-depth look at the competition , click Here.

Whether you attend the meeting or not, it is critical you fill out the survey, which asks about “property acquisition”, the process by which the buildings would be destroyed.

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Another Death in Hell’s Kitchen – Pedestrian Crossings still not safe

Last week another woman was killed in Hell’s Kitchen , in the pedestrian crossing, with the walk sign, by a turning truck. The week before, a person was hit at the corner of 38th and 9th in the same circumstances , in the crossing, with the walk sign, by a turning vehicle. This is tragic. This is also infuriating because this is avoidable.

37and 11This is not new – this is the 8th person to be killed  in the last 10 years in Hell’s Kitchen , while in a pedestrian crossings , with the walk sign and the second by a dump truck –  and it  reminds us that in spite of years of advocacy and success,  our job is far from done:

The people interviewed said “she had a hood over her head, she did not see the truck” .. implying that  the pedestrian was somehow at fault, that it was her duty to look over her shoulder when she has the walk sign.  NO! it is NOT. If the government tells them to WALK, It is reasonable for the pedestrians to expect the authorities have done everything possible for them to be safe. They also expect the driver will yield to pedestrians as required by the law.

And then officials said ” the driver did not see her” as if this was sufficient to exonerate the driver! WRONG AGAIN !As a driver your main job is to watch and to yield at pedestrian crossings.

Why would signals be deliberately designed to put cars and pedestrians in conflict? As early as 1922, people had figured that it was not safe to let cars conflict with other cars at intersection, so the green and red signals were invented.  100 years later because of our culture of unjustifiable tolerance towards drivers and their needs, DOT is still reluctant to admit that it is not safe to let cars conflict with pedestrians.

Now that speeding has ben tackled , turning vehicles are the next pervasive menace to pedestrians: 27% of pedestrian deaths and injuries occur in the crosswalk with the walk sign . DOT needs to focus its energy and resources on eliminating conflicts with turning vehicles and making pedestrian crossings 100% safe. Without that, Vision Zero will never be achieved.

 

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Why is Vision Zero progress so slow in NYC?

The third edition of the NYC DOT’s Street Design Manual was recently released and  I could not wait to read it. Why? This book reveals the DNA of the Department of Transportation, the hard-wired code the engineers follow and gives a glimpse into its evolution.

Up to page 31, warm words, good marketing pitch, clear process description etc.. at page 32,  it all goes awry:

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BIG LETTERS tell us what we suspected all along: avoiding a 1 minute delay for a driver  is a priority while LOS of pedestrians or bicyclists are not even referenced in the analysis required to modify a street.

Words have power: This reveals a fundamental dissonance  between the speeches that  Mayor De Blasio and Commissioner Trottenberg make on Vision Zero and the actions of the engineers in charge of implementing : their focus continues to be on vehicular flow and use of 1970 car centric measurements to make decisions on the design of our streets.

A sentence that actually reflect the Mayor’s policy would have been: “After safety, Levels of Service for all street users are a major consideration in developing a project. DOT therefore will use city-appropriate measurements to ensure such goals”.

The National  Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO)’s  Urban Street Design Guide says” LOS measures impacts, but inadequately captures a project’s potential benefits. As a metric, it is mono-modal, measuring streets not by their economic and social vibrancy, but by their ability to process motor vehicles” .The guide is “A blueprint for designing 21st century streets… .”

Even the Federal Government is working on replacing LOS after California has replaced it in its environment reviews. ”Barbara McCann of the Policy office of the Secretary at U.S. DOT told Streetsblog that her agency has been charged with reviewing internal policies that are an obstacle to better biking and walking. “LOS is something that has come up with that,” she said. Despite what you may have been told, “there is no federal mandate for Level of Service,” she said. The federal government has never compelled state and local governments to emphasize LOS above all. But Level of Service is a deeply ingrained engineering convention. Transportation planners might not be attuned to the value judgments inherent to LOS, or to its flaws.”Angie Schmidt. Streetsblog

New York city DOT is using 1970 car centric measurements to preserve flow and reduce car delays while other cities are rushing ahead using 21st Century models to improve safety and livability. New York is falling behind.

In 2013, speaking at a NACTO conference on the relation between community and DOT during major projects. I suggested to the attendees (Senior personnel in DOTS of various cities) to retrain their engineers, which I thought were the major obstacle to increased safety and livability.  It is disheartening that New York is still in this category in 2016.

This is a bad omen for Vision Zero which depends heavily on street re-engineering, to achieve its goals. It looks like New York  revolution is only superficial.  Not good enough for the 1800 additional persons that will be killed if the pace does not accelerate.

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Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen win Safer Bike Lanes

Under significant pressure from the community and its elected representatives, DOT agreed to add 33 real pedestrian refuges to the proposed 6th Avenue bike lane between 8th and 33rd Street. Community Board 4 will vote to approve the revised proposal in February.

cylist signalYou know this picture of 9th Avenue bike lanes that DOT uses in many  presentations? Wide median, turn lanes, cute little bike signals, red arrow signals, flexible bollards?  Just like a presidential campaign, very little of it remains true. If you get a bike lane today, it is not going to look like this at all.  Unlike the bike lanes on 8th and 9th Avenues in south Chelsea, the DOT has now stripped its bike lanes proposals from all pedestrian safety features: gone are the true pedestrian refuges that allow shorter avenue crossing and gone are the split phase left turns that  provide exclusive time for pedestrian to cross the side streets and for bicyclists to cross the intersections.

DOT analysis in 2014 demonstrated that such features yield 80% more safety than other types bike lanes. Still DOT engineers steeped in years of car focus deny the obvious and advocate for as little safety as possible. To proof, the DOT presenter still talked about “accidents” instead of crashes and denied the validity of their own studies.

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It has been difficult to endure the wrath of our bicyclists friends during these past two months. But we did the right thing and we won big for all. The refuges will be built with plantings inside.

Unfortunately we were not successful in our bid to win more split phase signals; the DOT plan for only 2 of them will leave 9 intersections  unprotected where 65% of injuries took place in the past. A real shame. What is the point of redoing corridors in Vision Zero if DOT does not intend to make the whole corridor safe? This becomes a bike lane installation instead of a complete street or a Vision zero project. More marketing.

IMG_3199For Vision Zero to succeed, we need more safety – not as little as possible. If the life of your children, family or friends depended on it, would n’t you ask the doctors to do “everything possible ” to save them? This is certainly the standard car drivers and government ask of car manufacturers. There is no reason why we should not ask the same from street designers.

Chekpeds will continue to make the point that Vision Zero is more than press conferences and power points presentations: it needs to permeate deep into the agencies and their projects and bring as much safety as possible to the pedestrians and cyclists.

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A Fun Thing To Do During The Blizzard

The Hudson Yards / Hell’s Kitchen Alliance (a Business Improvement District) is naming your new park and they want your help!

See the pictures and suggest a name by clicking HERE!

Block1smallThis will be the first time in New York city that a park name is crowdsourced! Spread the word .

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2015 was a good year for Street Safety!

Thanks to the DOT administration and the advocates of various groups ( most notably Transportation Alternatives ) we made great strides in 2015:

Safety: CHEKPEDS’s push on fully protected phases for pedestrian crossings was embraced by the DOT in their Vision Zero report by Borough. And sure enough, the DOT installed a number of them on 8th and 9th Avenues, bringing to 48 the number of intersections protected by either fully protected phases or Lead Pedestrian Intervals. This is a huge progress that makes us proud!  In addition Public Advocate Letitia James introduced legislation that would require the DOT to install 100 of such devices every year at the most dangerous intersections.

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Thanks to your advocacy, we were also awarded a $ 250,000 grant by Council Member Corey Johnson , as part of the participatory budget democratic process, to install Raised Pedestrian Crossings at various intersections, to slow down cars and improve the crossing conditions for Disabled Residents and Seniors. Full Story 

Congestion: In its 8th Year the Hells Kitchen Traffic Study yielded a huge breakthrough. 120 buses daily were redirected away from turning at the intersection of 9th Avenue and 42nd Street where the congestion was backing the north section of 9th avenue   to turn at Dyer Avenue and 42nd street where they enter directly in the Lincoln tunnel. It also avoids turning movements at 41st Street and 9th Avenue, a deadly intersection. Full Story

Through our work with Manhattan Community Board 4, DOT  and Inspector Pilecki of the NYPD, we enjoined jitney buses that were illegally stopping on 42nd Street to apply for a permit. As a result, half of the buses were relocated to 40th street at 8th Avenue to drop off passengers and the pickup were regrouped in three stops on the North side of the 42nd street. While this is not ideal, a 50% reduction in jitney traffic is significant.

Option3The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey continued to discuss how to modernize the Bus Terminal. Through our advocacy, we obtained that a robust Community Consultation process be formally included in the Port Authority resolution that approved two studies in order to make a final decision in September 2016. Full Story

 

In our continuing quest for more pedestrian space, we officially submitted to DOiTT the list of 75 phone booths we want to be relocated as part of the LINKNYC roll out.

Traffic JusticecrasnoaccidentAll along the year, we continued to advocate for safety along Families For Safe Streets and Transportation Alternatives: we rallied to change the language “Crash No Accident”,  ( Click on image to take the pledge); we went to a vigil for the massive number of victims of vehicuar violence,  we marched at the World March for traffic victims – a first in New York city – where DiBlasio reaffirmed his commitment to Vision zero, we protested the call for MTA bus drivers to be exempt from responsibility in 8 deals crashes, we advocated for more $ in the budget to be spent on street design interventions.

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Greening: We installed and replaced a few tree guards for new trees on 9th Avenue. Thanks to our friends of the Hudson Yards/Hell’s Kitchen Alliance the Canoe, the Triangle as well as the tree beds on the 9th Avenue were planted with beautiful and diverse plants . A welcome improvement.

 

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