Feds clear the way for congestion pricing

On March 30, the Federal Government gave the go ahead to the MTA to perform the environmental assessment which will look at how charging a toll on vehicles driving into Manhattan would affect traffic volumes and emissions. A more streamlined process for reviewing the plan’s environmental impacts will help move the project along faster than if a more formal environmental review was required. “The FHWA looks forward to assisting New York so we can arrive at a prompt and informed” environmental review, acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack said in a statement Tuesday.

With the vehicular traffic nearly as high as pre-pandemic and the New Jersey drivers blocking intersections again, we cannot wait.

In case you need a refresher course on the plan. Here it is

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From a 5.50-acre parking lot to a park

Pier 76, the abominable tow pound the City committed to dismantle 20 years ago is finally gone! This is a triple win for our neighborhood.

First safety: the pound attracted tow trucks and cars who were constantly in a rush and showed little regard for the users of the greenway. There were 116 injuries and one fatality on that stretch of the greenway intelsat 9 years .

Second traffic: eliminating a repair shop for NYPD cars and hundreds of cars parked on pier 76 will eliminate traffic that travelled on our neighborhood streets to reach the pound.

And finally we do not have to wait for another 20 years to get a huge park .Pier 76 is being dismantled as we speak ! The interim design is quite exciting . See for yourself.

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Join Cityrise team to educate candidates on transportation

The next City Council will be called upon to deliver progress and equity. A focus on Transportation would deliver meaningful and visible benefits of equity, safety, health and mobility to all. Cityrise is launching an initiative to harness local advocates in educating candidates. We need District Captains and Co-Captains to take CHARGE of these outreach efforts. Captains will assemble a small team of dedicated advocates in their neighborhood and coordinate with them to contact and connect with all City Council candidates in their district. Captains will organize these conversations and keep the outreach effort moving forward. This isn’t a huge time commitment, and the rewards of a better candidate (and neighborhood) make this a worthy investment!

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Candidates transportation platforms

If you want a quick read on who is a best match for your political views go to The City newspaper who has developed a fantastic tool to find you dream candidate. You answer questions and they show you who matches . This is really cool and useful !

If you want a deeper dive, the major transportation non profits banded together to organize a Mayoral candidate forum focused on Transportation . Dana Rubinstein of the New York Times is the moderator.

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Council Transportation Committee To Vote On Legislation Establishing Crash Investigation & Analysis Unit Within DOT

 A welcome step toward making post-crash analysis more victim friendly and linking it with proactive street redesign

Intro 2224-A. seeks to establish a crash investigation and analysis unit within the Department of Transportation (DOT). 
The legislation would mandate the DOT to “establish a crash investigation and analysis unit, which shall have the duty to analyze and report on serious vehicular crashes. In coordination with the police department, such unit shall have all powers necessary to investigate serious vehicular crashes or any other crash, including but not limited to, inspecting crash sites, documenting vehicle and party positions, measuring and collecting data, interviewing witnesses, and conducting collision reconstructions. The unit shall also have the primary responsibility for all public statements, press releases or any other public communications regarding serious vehicular crashes and related investigations.” In addition the unit created by this bill would be required to make recommendations to improve safety, street designs, and infrastructure. The unit shall also post reports regarding its crash reviews on the department of transportation website.

See a detailed analysis on Streetsblog

Posted in Pedestrian safety, Traffic Justice | Tagged | 1 Comment

NYPD Precinct listens to the community: reorganizes 50% of parking space

In recent months , NYPD’s Precinct Manhattan North heard a lot about residents frustration with barricades and “combat parking” . Since last summer, such a set up gave the impression that the block was an “occupied zone” . The residents complained to Manhattan Community Board 4 who wrote a letter in October. As a result of their complaints, CB4 consulted with Chair of the precinct community council and met with NYPD staff to discuss options. The commanding officer removed cars parked in a turning lane , and converted to parallel parking in front of the Community Court where the sidewalk congestion was extreme. The barricades were re-deployed along the curb to prevent perpendicular parking, converting them from a menacing nuisance to a useful tool to protect pedestrians. We expect that additional features will be installed once the weather improves to corral the balance of the cars.

Twitter sphere was alight with happy messages (over 150 ) on this progress. This is a good illustration of how to use Community board and Community precinct to engage in constructive exchanges. It shows that there are NYPD officers who get it. We are lucky to have a CO who shows understanding and knows the value of respect.

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Mayoral Candidates focus on Transportation – March 25 @ 6:30

Safe, Equitable, and Accessible Streets: A Mayoral Forum on the Future of Transportation in NYC

Tomorrow evening – March 25th at 6:30 p.m. – the leading candidates for Mayor will respond to tough transportation questions.

Moderated by New York Times Metro reporter Dana Rubinstein, and jointly hosted by Families for Safe Streets, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, New York League of Conservation Voters, Regional Plan Association, Riders Alliance, StreetsPAC, Transportation Alternatives, TransitCenter, and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, you’ll get to hear straight from the top mayoral contenders about how they plan to reduce traffic violence, boost bicycling, prioritize public transit, give more space to pedestrians and improve equity and accessibility for all New Yorkers.

Advance registration is required; you can RSVP here.

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Black History Month in Transportation

Gertrude Hadley Jeannette was the first female taxi driver to receive a license in New york City in 1935. Driving the cab provided her enough income to enroll in a speech class at the American Negro Theater alongside Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, and Ossie Davis. She was an award-winning actor, stage director, and playwright. Read More

Garett Morgan invented the traffic light : after witnessing a car and buggy crash, Morgan was inspired to create a traffic light that had three signals: “stop,” “go,” and “stop in all directions,” to allow pedestrians to safely cross the street. It also had a warning light – now today’s yellow light – to warn drivers they would soon have to stop. His traffic light was patented in 1923 and sold to General electric. Read More – Why are we calling this a Barnes’ dance if it was invented by Garrett Morgan?

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Snow removal for whom?

If you ever needed confirmation, recent snowstorms showed once again that there is no equity between pedestrians/commuters/cyclists and drivers in New York City. All lanes of vehicular traffic were cleared of snow in 12 hours, while bus stops, bike lanes, corners and sidewalks were impassable. We should not be surprised: the NYC Sanitation Department (DSNY) calls its mission “restoring the blacktop“.  So – one week later – entire sidewalks and bike lanes are still submerged under snow and no one is bothering to even inspect the situation: 311 refuses to accept complaints about snow, a sure way to eliminate problems!  With so many stores closed, the situation is dire for public transit riders, first responders, seniors and people with disabilities and the vast majority of the population that does not drive.  

Today the taxpayers pay for DSNY to clear the roadways. Although bike lanes are part of the roadway, they require smaller trucks which are few and far between in the DSNY fleet.  Clearing the sidewalks is entirely the responsibility of businesses and residents, who are unlikely to clear a consistent pedestrian path, corners, pedestrian crossings and bus stops  or to receive a fine if they do not comply. Areas adjacent to Parks or MTA are the responsibility of these agencies, subject to negotiation. 

There are so many good reasons to change the way the streets are cleared of snow in New York City. 

  • First,  it violates the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Maintaining the sidewalks during snowy weather is never optional according to the ADA: “Reasonable snow removal efforts are part of the public agency obligation to maintain its Walkways in an accessible condition, with only isolated or temporary interruptions in accessibility”.[1]  Throughout the City snow pile-ups are not “isolated nor temporary” for Persons with Disabilities, they are a persistent hazard!”
  • Second, it is dangerous: in our era of Vision Zero forcing people to walk in the street, while at other times we penalize pedestrians for walking in the street, is absolutely wrong. And there is ample evidence that citizens are not happy about the current state of affairs:  during the last snow fall, a tweet titled ”Why do we treat cars better than people” garnered 18,400 likes in no time at all. 
  • Third, you cannot fine your way out of the problem: “There are people who simply can’t adhere to shoveling ordinances, like those who are elderly or disabled, and single parents working multiple jobs”[2]. And now with the COVID and retail crises, many storefronts may remain empty for years to come, perpetuating a patchwork of impassable sidewalks.  
  • Municipal snow clearing from sidewalks is not an outlandish concept: many cities and states do it. Stockholm clears all its major arterials prioritizing bike/ped facilities to address equity concerns.[3] In the United States a 2013 survey of 33 state DOTs [4] showed that 49% of those states did clear sidewalks (to some extent, based on various criteria). Such states include Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. “Although most cities don’t treat sidewalks as necessities, some do, and prioritize them to varying degrees. Most sidewalks in Toronto are cleared by the city. In Rochester, New York, the city steps in when snow totals reach more than four inches. Rochester pays for removal through an “embellishment fee” on property-tax bills, which averages $35 [annually] per homestead. Duluth clears 100 miles of priority sidewalk routes, including routes to schools, high-pedestrian traffic locations, and public-transit locations. Bloomington, Minnesota clears all of its 250 miles of sidewalks. These cities’ programs could act as templates for New York to formulate a plan for safe pedestrian paths in the winter.”[5]

To clear the streets/sidewalks equitably a new protocol for snow removal is required. 

The New York City protocol must get Emergency services back on cleared roads ASAP and  restore public transportation in priority. To facilitate the work of DSNY, vehicular traffic would be restricted to emergency vehicles and High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV) for the duration of the storm and for two days after. 

  1. Create a network of safe access for emergency vehicles and bus route by  clearing one lane on each arterial (bus lanes and others)
  • What is the point of clearing a bus lane if passengers cannot get on the bus? As a second priority NYC would clear bus stops, corners and sidewalks.  A simple operational  change will make this much easier: on arterials, plows should push the snow to the left rather than to the right. As a result, there would be minimal accumulation at bus stops and street corners. Snow would be piled instead in a car lane.  
  • Snow must be removed from bike lanes after sidewalks are cleared. This prevents bike lanes being re-buried by the sidewalk snow removal. Snow from bike lanes gets pushed onto parking lanes and not the cleared sidewalks. 
  • Lastly car lanes on arterials would be cleared. 

The majority of vehicles on the road are SUVs, trucks and 4X4  and navigating snow is no longer a challenge for them.  It is common practice elsewhere for cars to have snow tires. Driving is restricted to vehicles equipped with chains, 4-wheel drive transmissions or snow tires. Taxis, uber and limo would be compelled to use those.  

Many additional interventions could make this process more efficient: marking the street in red where buses stop on the road prevents snow pile-ups there ; trucks follow snow plows to pick up accumulation; safe spray sidewalks and bike lanes in advance to reduce accumulation. 

In the end it is a matter of equity and common sense: pedestrians and cyclists are at much greater risk when it snows. And why are millions of citizens who do not drive paying taxes to clear streets for cars,  while certainly not getting the same level of  service. 

(AS originally published in Streetsblog )

[1] 28 CFR – 35.133  (9-12-06) @USDOTFHWA @DOTCivilRights Questions and Answers About ADA/Section 504

[2] Kathi Valeii, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-11/sidewalks-not-just-roads-need-municipal-snow-removal

[3] https://www.fastcompany.com/40515235/how-to-make-snow-bound-cities-less-of-a-frozen-hell-for-people-with-disabilities

[4] https://www.dot.state.mn.us/research/TRS/2013/TRS1306.pdf

[5] Kathi Valeii, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-11/sidewalks-not-just-roads-need-municipal-snow-removal

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The State of the Sidewalk

Complete the Survey

Sidewalks are vital arteries for the millions of New Yorkers who use transit and walk. Manhattan Community Board 4 is seeking your input to better address the current state of the walking infrastructure, including sidewalks, curbs, and crossings in our City – under normal and snowy conditions. Thank you for filling out this survey – it will take 5 to 7 minutes.

Please respond by March 1, 2021 and share with your friends .

Complete the Survey

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