LinkNYC – A work in progress

LinkNYC Implementation 102816

LinkNYC is the Wi-FI and phone charging system that replaces the phone booths. It is currently installed at 364 locations in Manhattan, mostly on 8th Avenue in our district . The service has been very successful with 700,000 subscribers and 37 million internet sessions in its first year. It provides internet speed about 500 times faster than your internet at home .

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However the experience on the ground has been  less than satisfactory. The kiosks became a magnet for gatherings that impeded pedestrian traffic on crowded sidewalks, for example near the Port Authority Bus Terminal and lead to illegal activities.

At Council Member Johnson’s  request, the franchisee  reduced the sound volume in some places and turned off most internet browsing capabilities at most of our installations. This brought significant improvements to the sidewalk. Indeed had the  DoiTT accepted our request to remove troublesome locations, they would have avoided all of the uproar on 8th Avenue.

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Still the design of the appliance remains deficient since it forces people using the device to stand in the pedestrian right of way. A better design would put the controls on the sides of the appliance.

We are delighted that Councilman Johnson intervened and that thanks to Manhattan Borough President Brewer, 40 installations will be removed on our very narrow and overcrowded sidewalks.

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Regulation of Sightseeing Bus – Better but needs work

On September 23, 2016 the City Council held an oversight hearing of the Hop-on, Hop-off bus industry a welcome initiative.

Intro 529 -A increased safety requirements for drivers, a proposal we support whole heartedly. However CB4 asked that the drivers be subject to the same safety test as the MTA drivers. Nothing less.

Intro 713 -A proposed to subject sightseeing bus stops to Community board review and approval.

Intro 950 established  a quota system to limit the number of buses to 225 , approximately the existing number of permits. While this sounds like a good idea there is a serious downside to this idea and  CB4 proposed instead to limit the locations of stops  and  subject the companies to stringent method of operations including reducing the advertising they carry on their buses.

You can read the full testimony of Manhattan Community Board 4  HERE 

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Proposal to “double the number of street vendors” runs into fierce opposition

With less than two weeks to comment and no community consultation , the proposed legislation started on the wrong foot .

Community board 4 testified that it was opposed to the legislation unless the siting criteria for vendor carts was consistent with other street furniture most notably Newsstands, and food carts be allowed to use parking spaces rather than blocking pedestrian flow.

We understaand the legislation has been withdrawn.

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How Would YOU Spend $ 1 Million of City funds?

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This is a real democratic process for spending real money. Two years ago , CHEKPEDS received enough votes to win $ 250,000 to build Raised Pedestrian Crossings .

Join Council Member Johnson  and share your ideas.

CLICK HERE to  respond to the invitation

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We demand Safe Passage – Sign the Petition and Join us


Enough-Slider17 people killed biking; 74 people killed walking; 29 people killed by cowardly hit-and-run drivers so far in 2016. More cyclists have been killed in the first 8 months of 2016 than in all of last year. Hit and run drivers have killed more people so far this year than in all of 2015. The number of cyclists killed this year by automobiles has increased dramatically, even when the cyclists have the right of way. It is important to speak up and increase our pressure on the Mayor so that the city really invests in safety.

You can help by Demanding Safe Passage to Mayor Di Blasio , we ask for more funding and more support from NYPD:   SIGN THE PETITION  

Or better yet, join us:

Rally/Ride – Demand Safe Passage
Wednesday, September 15, 2016 @ 6:00 p. m.
59th Street @ 5th Avenue
 

The rally at 59th street will unite pedestrians and bicyclists , then the cyclists will ride down 5th Avenue ending at Washington Square where pedestrians can join again.

This is important. Do not miss it .

 

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DOT should not Cut Corners when Safety is Concerned

NYCDOT just published the results of a study of 1,000 intersections showing that vehicular left turns are three times deadlier than rights turns , especially for pedestrians and seniors. This is consistent with our neighborhood’s experience where ten out of 13 pedestrian fatalities in the last 15 years occurred in the left crossing with the walk sign.

With this report DOT is complying with Local Transportation Law 11 that requires to study left turns. DOT’s failure to study proven solutions for these situations raises critical questions as to the report’s credibility. We do need transparent, objective and accurate information when it comes to saving lives and avoiding life altering injuries.

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Recent DOT sponsored studies and our experience in the field with bike lanes have shown Split Phases to be extremely effective to improve safety in those situations. Our Council Member Corey Johnson wrote and Oped in Chelsea Now asking the DOT to roll out more split phases across our district.

Public Advocate Laetitia James introduced a bill asking to roll out the current proven remedies like Split phases or split LPIs at 100 intersections. Instead, DOT will roll out 100 “Hardened Centerline”  a paint-&-plastic experimental treatment that has never been tested. Experimenting is good but can we afford the three-year wait time to find out if this works ? Especially  for the hundreds of persons that will be killed or injured while the proper treatment is withheld.

Monday is obviously an issue:  Mayor Di Blasio rejected the City Council demand to include $ 50 millions in the budget to improve street safety. The city is spending millions $ annually to repair potholes; they send teams within one week of report to fix them. And still no one ever heard that a driver was killed because of a pothole.  What about taking some $ out of that pot to save many pedestrians’ or bicyclists’ lives? Don’t we deserve it ? Or are we second class citizens and our lives are expandable for the comfort of drivers? Our administration should not cut corners when it comes to ensuring the safety of our seniors, families and neighbors.

DOT staff indicated that they could not study split phase signals since the number of installations was too small. However we counted at least 49 split phases in the city , including 9 outside Manhattan. This is a larger sample that the  34 Left turn only signals and 51 left turn restrictions that were included in the report.

The report confirms the findings of an earlier report published by the Bloomberg administration in 2010. It found that overall 19% of fatalities and severe injuries occurred as a result of a left turn in the pedestrian crossing where the pedestrian has the walk sign .   DOT has been aware of this information for six years: not including the split phases treatment in the study and not rolling out the best treatment possible to reduce deaths and injuries is unconscionable. This brings to mind car companies failure to fix problems that they knew about and caused numerous deaths just to save money. This is pure negligence.

DOT concludes that the status quo is appropriate.  But Streetsblog in an excellent article, questions why DOT is rolling out so many LPIs which are probably less effective than split phases (we would know if this had been studied!). And let’s not forget that all bike lanes are not created equal: those with Split Phases are much safer per an earlier DOT analysis.

In spite of the lofty goals of Vision Zero this administration continues to ration safety treatments for pedestrians, children and senior citizens and  keep all of us in harm’s way. Smooth riding in an SUV is more important than saving lives.

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How to Improve Bus Service In New York

transitcenterThe Transit Center has studied the many reasons why buses are getting slower 30% slower than in 2000, in New York City , and published an interesting report on a collection of proven remedies to apply to the network.  you can read the report called ” how to improve Bus Service in New York here.

On September 19, the Transportation Committee will hold hearings on such solutions. We encourage you to participate and testify.

NYC Council Transportation Committee Hearings 
Monday, September 19, 2016 at 10:00 a.m.
Council Chambers, City Hall

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Elected to Port Authority: Go back to Square one

No one said it was going to be pretty!  In a whirlwind of meetings with the City, press conferences and letters back and forth, the City and our elected officials made it clear to the Port Authority that the current process was backward and should be started over from the beginning.

On July 20, the Community board engaged in a constructive discussion of the parameters that should be respected to allay the community concerns. This became the basis for a letter to the Port Authority voted at the July 27th full board.

largerAfter meeting with the city,  in late July, Elected officials sent a letter to the Port Authority  and doubled down with a press conference and testimonies at the Port Authority Board , highlighting the numerous reasons why the proposals were unacceptable to the community and asking to sop the competition.
(Politico  NorthJerseycom  NYCgov  NY Post Crains Crains)

With the Port Authority vowing to stay the course and continue its competition , the New York elected officials  led by Congressman Jerry Nadler declined to attend a meeting arranged by the Port Authority  for the competitors of the Design and deliverability competition to hear community input. In a letter to the Port Authority dated August 2016, our elected officials objected to a process where some of the options have been arbitrarily taken off the table without analysis (specifically a New Jersey location),  where eminent domain and increased air pollution will probably derail the project, and where there has been no regional planning. They instead requested a new meeting with the Port Authority management. (Politico  Politico)

The Port Authority declined to stop the Design competition but is now calling it a first step. The New Jersey elected officials sent a letter to the Port Authority to reiterate their position of one seat ride and urgency .

Meetings are being set with the Port Authority to initiate the dialogue.

 

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New Jersey Riders to Port Authority: Give us a Quicker Commute

Len Resto , President of the New Jersey Association of Railroad Riders says it best:

lenresto“State legislators not wanting any new bus terminal in Secaucus because, according to them, New Jersey residents want a one-seat ride to New York City.  Such thinking springs from those who do not have a daily ride there. Most daily riders who go to the current bus terminal already have a two- or three-seat ride to their ultimate job destinations. The change of seats happens to occur in Manhattan.”

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In a detailed and articulate editorial, Mr Resto argues that riders want a faster commute more than a single seat ride.

“When you ask riders if they would rather have a one-seat ride or a quicker commute, the answer in more than 90 percent of cases is for the quickest route”

“A bus terminal in Secaucus could have worked if New York and New Jersey, with the help of the MTA, came together to extend the 7 subway line from its current Hudson Yards terminus to Secaucus. Instead of switching to subways in New York City, passengers would switch in Secaucus and for many the three-seat ride would have become a two-seat ride because the “7” can get them to both Times Square and Grand Central — the East Side of Manhattan, where most work”.

“New Jersey political leaders [...]should have polled and spoken with die-hard daily commuters before claiming to represent the “wishes of their constituents.”

When basic  goals are still not understood for  a project, New York Elected officials are right to want to restart the process for a new bus terminal from square one. It would benefit commuters by letting them speak up on their wants and needs. Listening to the community and the customers could really hold the answer that has been so elusive to the Port Authority since 2013.

Len Resto is a former Council Member of the Borough of Chatham in New Jersey.

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Street Seats and More arrive in South Hell’s Kitchen

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The Hudson Yards / Hell’s Kitchen Alliance continues its steady stream of improvements in the District. Street Seats were installed on 37th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues. Such public seating is located in the parking lane and thus does not take any pedestrian space. It is funded by DOT but the business provides maintenance. With the beautiful background the Glass House building, the seats became immediately popular. A really terrific addition to the district

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On W 37th Street,between 9 and 10th Avenues,  a number of volunteers painted the Port Authority bridges on August 2nd. Members of the Planning committee led by David Solnick selected background and Accent colors. Tishmann Volunteers did the heavy lifting .

Finally , Ascension, a 9-foot steel sculpture by local artist Jordan Baker-Caldwell, was installed on August 10th in the Canoe plaza at West 36th Street and Ninth Avenue.  This is a great representation of the Hell’s Kitchen spirit.

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