Archive for the tag 'driving'

Source: NYCIBO

Source: NYCIBO

While the news that New York City will expand speed camera enforcement across the five boroughs was met with conspiratorial sneering from local drivers, revenue data suggests that the overall amount of funds collected for traffic fines has declined every year for the past four years despite the expansion of camera-enforcement programs.

That’s not to say there’s not money being made: the city pulled in more than $55 million in fiscal year 2014 (which ended on June 30), and 75 percent of that was from camera-based enforcement. The city budget for 2015 already presumes a jump to $62 million in revenue, with an even larger percentage coming from camera enforcement.

The New York City Independent Budget Office released a new infographic yesterday that charts the amount of revenue collected from traffic fines from 1999 to the present, and also shows the share of those collections that came via police-issued violations, red-light cameras, bus-lane cameras and the newest enforcement tool: speed cameras.

Some of the takeaways?

  • The proportion of revenue generated by cameras has grown from just 38 percent in 1999 to 75 percent in 2014.
  • The amount of revenue in 2014 is nearly double that collected in 1999. (Adjusted for inflation, the jump is less stark; the increase is just under $13 million.)
  • Since 2004, actual revenue from police-issued traffic violations has been on a steady decline, marginally offsetting some of the increases from camera enforcement.
  • Red-light camera revenues are the lowest they’ve been since 2007, the year before a massive expansion of the program, suggesting that camera enforcement won’t drive revenues forever.

There are two big spikes in the graph, one in 2008 and another in 2011.

The first coincided with an increase in the number of red light cameras installed around the city. After the increase, there’s a drop again. That’s probably because once drivers figure out where the cameras are, they make sure to abide by the law.

The 2011 spike came as a result of a ruling that unpaid red light summonses can count towards the threshold needed for the city to tow your car for unpaid tickets. Delinquent motorists who saw their cars impounded had to pay back those fines that year to reclaim their vehicles.

The two newest forms of camera revenue are also seeing pretty rapid growth as drivers have yet to adjust to them. Bus-lane cameras were introduced in 2011 as part of the Select Bus Service program. As that program has steadily expanded across the five boroughs, so has the number of cameras, and thus the number of violations.

Speed cameras were introduced in early 2014, with just 20 in school zones around the city. That led to $2.1 million in fines collected. But the program has been approved for massive expansion, with 120 new cameras on the way.

The city is projecting it will put $7.6 million in city coffers, but if the historical spikes from the expansion of red light cameras are any indication, it’ll probably rake in more than that before falling off over a few years.

So is it about money? It’s anybody’s guess. There’s definitely a historical increase in revenues collected but it’s not as staggering as one would think, given the massive expansion of these programs. And the data here suggests the gains appear short-lived as drivers learn to follow the rules of the road.

Here’s the above chart in an interactive format. Hover over each of the bars to see how much actual revenue was received for each method:

Screenshot of the interactive Vision Zero map.

Screenshot of the interactive Vision Zero map.

When we told you last month about the interactive Vision Zero map the Department of Transportation launched, there were just a few user-created bubbles identifying local traffic safety issues in our area. There’s a bunch more now, which we’ll take full credit for, but our neighborhood still pales in comparison to the contributions of northern Brooklyn neighborhoods and Bay Ridge.

C’mon, guys. Are we really going to let Bay Ridge and Fort Greene hog all that DOT attention? No way!

Fortunately, there’s still some time to share our complaints. Neighbors have until July 31 to add intersection-specific concerns.

Overall, the map has received more than 7,500 tips from around the five boroughs. The information will be used for traffic planning to ease congestion and make streets safer for everybody – drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, alike. From a DOT statement:

Input is vital, especially from those familiar with local traffic conditions and people’s behavior. The comments will be used to shape robust borough-specific traffic safety plans that will guide future work as part of Mayor de Blasio’s goal to eliminate traffic fatalities.

To add a complaint to the map, click this link, zoom in to the area, and click on an intersection as identified by white bubbles.  The map will then split to a street view, and in the bottom left there’s a button that says “Share an issue.” Click that, and fill out the form that pops up.

That’s it! The tool lets you share concerns about a host of issues, from speeding and red-light running, to bad biker behavior, and intersections where it just takes too darn long to cross the street.

Remember, as in all things city government-related, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. And we like grease. So squeak away.

ezpass

The MTA is warning E-ZPass users of a new e-mail phishing scam that has surfaced, in which digital con artists attempt to get at your private data by warning of phony unpaid tolls.

Phishing scams attempt to dupe users to send the scammer sensitive information, including usernames, passwords or banking information by masquerading as a trustworthy entity.

Scam artists are sending out official looking e-mails carrying the E-ZPass logo, often from an e-mail account that appears to be connected to the service. A screenshot of the e-mail is shown above, stating that the user has not paid for driving on a toll road and that previous invoices have not been responded to. It provides a link to download the invoice.

In reality, the E-ZPass Service Center does not send out e-mail invoices for payments. All bills are sent through the United States Postal Service. The e-mails are not authorized by E-ZPass, MTA Bridges and Tunnels or any other toll agency associated with the service.

The agency is advising customers not to open or respond such e-mail, and instead send them straight to the trash bin. If you think you may have a legitimate e-mail from E-ZPass and want confirmation before opening it, you can call the E-ZPass New York Customer Service Center at (800) 333-8655.

Source: formulanone/Flickr

Mayor Bill de Blasio won a victory in Albany early this morning when both houses of the state legislature gave the green light to lowering the New York City speed limit from 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour.

After concerns earlier this week that Senate Republicans could prevent the bill from coming to a vote, it passed overwhelmingly in both houses and has been sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his signature.

The measure is a key item of de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, which seeks to make streets safer and eliminate traffic deaths citywide. Several of the initiative’s proposals require approval from state lawmakers, including speed limits and the installation of speed cameras.

The idea was first floated by the mayor earlier this year, but received a tepid response from lawmakers. It became increasingly politicized, with Senate Republicans threatening to block it from coming to a vote as retribution for de Blasio’s calls for returning that legislative body to Democratic control. Senator Andrew Lanza, a Republican representing Staten Island, suggested as recently as yesterday afternoon that he would oppose the measure if it did not fold in his proposal to require stop signs be installed around all city schools.

Ultimately, de Blasio and traffic safety advocates won out in a down-to-the-wire vote during the season’s final legislative session in the capital. The bill was passed 106-13 by the Assembly in a late night session, while the Senate took it up early in the morning, passing it 58-2.

An earlier version of the bill called for the speed limit to be reduced to 20 miles per hour, but was quickly squashed by legislative leaders.

Oh, look. A dot. One, lonely dot. Won't you give it some company?

Oh, look. A dot. One, lonely dot. Won’t you give it some company?

Back in April, the city launched an interactive Vision Zero map for neighbors to get involved with making street conditions safer. The map allows you to pinpoint problematic roads and intersections, reporting a range of conditions including double parking, frequent speeding, irresponsible cycling or even crosswalk timers that take too darn long.

Reader Daniil S. put it back on our radar this week, causing us to note that, well, no one in Southern Brooklyn appears to be paying attention. Dots cover the map in Manhattan and northern Brooklyn, but scrawl down to below Avenue H and there’s hardly a single report.

That’s cause for concern, because its the frequent cry of both drivers and pedestrians in Southern Brooklyn that the Department of Transportation goes ahead and implements plans from the top down, implementing ideas that may work well for midtown Manhattan but not so much for quiet, residential and car-dependent neighborhoods. And, yet, when given the opportunity to map out where the real problems are… nothing?

Daniil writes, “If you can encourage everyone on the blog to tag our intersections and we outnumber the other neighborhoods in the city in complaint count, it might just make our streets a bit safer.” 

Indeed. Let’s give that a try. Find the map here.

bridge

The Belt Parkway is about to get a little more congested, as the highway is slated to lose one lane at Bay Ridge Avenue beginning tomorrow night.

The lane closures will begin at 11:00 p.m., on Friday, May 30. The eastbound and westbound lanes of the Belt Parkway at Bay Ridge Avenue Bridge (Exit 1) will be shifted. The eastbound roadway, currently three lanes, will be reduced to two travel lanes. Meanwhile, the two travel lanes of the westbound roadway will be narrowed and shifted to the left-center of the bridge.

These changes are being done to allow for the establishment of a work zone at the existing right and center of the Bay Ridge Avenue Bridge in order to begin the first stage of the bridge rehabilitation.

The bridge’s overhaul is part of the city’s Seven Bridges project, a large-scale renovation of seven spans on the Belt Parkway that began in 2009. Several of the bridges are already near completion, and the beginning of the Bay Ridge Avenue work marks the final phase of the project.

The existing bridge at Bay Ridge Avenue will be reconstructed using pre-cast concrete deck sections. The clearance will be increased to 14-feet 6-inches, which removes the need for clearance signs currently posted for a substandard condition. Also the new deck will eliminate the need for under deck wood shielding, according to a DOT fact sheet on the project.

According to the fact sheet, work on this bridge was slated to begin in June 2013 and wrap up in February of 2015, but a DOT representative told this outlet that it will now be closer to the beginning of 2016. All construction related to the seven bridges project is expected to be completed by mid-2017, with landscaping wrapping up in 2019.

An illustration of the extent of the lane shifts. (Source: DOT)

An illustration of the extent of the lane shifts. (Source: DOT)

bedford

As our tipster Andrey G. wrote to us with the photo above, “Finally, a left turn signal on Bedford & Emmons – It’s finally here!”

A new left turn signal is the first of a few traffic safety improvements coming to Emmons Avenue and Bedford Avenue after years of complaints from residents that low visibility at the intersection frequently causes accidents.

The signal was installed some time in the last week. It was approved months ago, according to Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo.

The agency agreed to a traffic study at the intersection in 2012. Previous requests to get additional safety measures had been denied by the agency, but they finally reversed course after a spate of accidents that year – including one that left several people injured just a week after receiving the request from the Community Board.

Now that the signal is installed, the Department of Transportation will implement daylighting at the median. Daylighting involves eliminating one or two parking spaces from the edge of the intersection so that turning cars can better see oncoming traffic.

Scavo said the agency is likely just waiting for the weather to improve a bit before laying down the stripes and “no parking” signs.

Source: fawlty128 via flickr.com

The following is a press release from the MTA Press Office:

The Staten Island-bound lower level of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge will be closed from 12:01 a.m. until 6 p.m. Sunday, May 4 for the annual TD Bank Five Boro Bike Tour. The upper level of the bridge will remain open in both directions throughout the event.

Motorists should expect delays and allow extra travel time. To hear information about all the Verrazano-Narrow Bridge bike tour closures, call (212) 360-3000.

Other closings at the Verrazano-Narrows will include:

  • Brooklyn-bound lower level of the bridge from 12:01 a.m. until 8 a.m. After 8 a.m. two of three lanes will be open.
  • The Bay Street exit from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • BQE approach (I-278 West) to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • The 92nd Street entrance ramp to the westbound lower level of the bridge from approximately 12:01 a.m. to 6 p.m.

In addition, traffic exiting the Hugh L. Carey (formerly Brooklyn-Battery) Tunnel in Brooklyn will be diverted to Hamilton Avenue between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. and the ramp to the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge from the FDR Drive will be closed between 8 a.m. and Noon. All Manhattan-bound traffic must exit at 125th Street.

Photo by Alex S.

Photo by Alex S.

It’s been a bad day on Avenue U. Shortly after police reopened the roadway following an accident on Ocean Avenue near Avenue U, another car lost control and slammed into the building at 1907 Avenue U, just narrowly missing the busy storefront of Trio Ristorante Pizza and Grill.

The incident happened at approximately 4:45 p.m.

The section of sidewalk has been closed off with police tape.

It’s still unclear if anyone was injured, as is how the driver lost control.

Just two hours earlier, another driver lost control one block away, slamming into a parked car being loaded up with groceries, injuring that car’s owner.

The accident at Trio’s brought back memories of the 2006 incident, in which a woman lost control of her SUV and plowed into the same storefront. That accident severely wounded a deliveryman, who was pinned to the counter and saw his right leg crushed. A 71-year-old pedestrian was also injured in that accident.

Photo by Laura S.

Photo by Laura S.

Photo by Laura S.

Photo by Laura S.

Photo by Randy C.

Photo by Randy C.

Photo by Randy C.

Photo by Randy C.

Photo by Randy C.

Photo by Randy C.

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UPDATE (6:59 p.m.): Reporter Shimon Gifter was on the scene, and tweeted out some additional details, including the driver saying it was caused by brake failure:

Apparently it was a pretty grisly scene:

UPDATE (4:04 p.m.): The streets have been reopened to traffic.

UPDATE (3:21 p.m.): We’re now receiving word that a driver lost control of a vehicle, slamming into a car in which the owner was loading the trunk. The person loading the car has been hospitalized.

Original story:

A car accident involving at least two vehicles has caused street closures at and around Ocean Avenue and Avenue U.

The accident occurred at approximately 2:30 p.m. Details were not available at the time of this writing, but tipster Randy C. is at the scene, and tells us that one car is totaled, and another has ended up on the sidewalk. He said ambulances were seen transporting at least one victim, possibly a pedestrian, for medical attention.

Police have closed down Ocean Avenue from Avenue U to Gravesend Neck Road, including Avenue V.

We’ll have photos and more information soon.

This is a breaking news story and may contain inaccuracies. We will update it as more information becomes available. If anyone has more information or additional photos, please send them to tips (at) sheepsheadbites (dot) com.

Photos by Randy C.

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