Archive for the tag 'surveys'

Photo by Erica Sherman

I’d wager a bet that I already know the answer many of our readers will give to the question posed in our headline. But Gotham Gazette is the one asking the question, and we thought we’d get in on the action.

The news outlet dispatched more than a dozen reporters to Manhattan’s Lower East Side and Brooklyn’s Red Hook earlier this month asking that question. It’s part of a larger report that includes a more comprehensive survey that will be released in a few weeks. They live-blogged the initial responses, and the answers were fairly diverse.

Some said they were still going through it. Others expressed concern that there’s little to do to reverse rising sea levels, though others still pointed out that they were somewhat comforted by the measures they’ve taken to be better prepared and minimize damage. Several expressed confidence in the government’s mitigation projects, while others didn’t seem to know a lick about them.

That’s the Lower East Side and Red Hook. What about Southern Brooklyn? Do you feel like we’re better positioned to withstand severe weather now than we were two years ago?

Let us know in the comments, and take Gotham Gazette’s survey.

Photo By Uliana Bazar via

“Dangerous” elderly people roaming the streets of Brighton Beach. (Photo By Uliana Bazar via

A survey conducted by MIT and published by the New York Post has declared that Brighton Beach is the third most dangerous looking neighborhood in the city, outraging City Council candidate Igor Oberman. In a press release, Oberman slammed the study as “preposterous.”

The Post described how the results of the survey, gathered by non-New Yorkers from Google Street View images, were compiled:

Researchers at MIT’s Media Lab program asked thousands of people online to compare dozens of street images around the city then note which ones look most wealthy, safe and dangerous.

They then crunched numbers to compile “class rank” and “safety rank” of neighborhoods in New York City, Boston and Salzburg, Austria.

Their goal was to compare “perception of safety” vs. actual safety based on visual cues and crime stats.

It found that people are generally right about their snap judgments about rich and poor areas.

Brighton Beach was ranked the third most “dangerous looking” neighborhood in the city, coming in behind Greenpoint and East New York. Prospect Heights won high marks as being the “richest” and “safest” looking neighborhood in the city. Canarsie made the list as third most “poorest looking” neighborhood, coming in behind Greenpoint and East New York.

Oberman expressed outrage at the report and thought the New York Post was doing the neighborhood a disservice by publishing it:

“The classification of Brighton Beach as the most dangerous looking neighborhood in New York City is absolutely preposterous,” Oberman said in the release, “The survey only takes into account street images gathered throughout the City. It fails to capture the vibrant local businesses and charming residents of the Brighton Beach community. Brighton Beach is a thriving center of economic development that attracts the greatest people our city has to offer. Quite frankly, it is irresponsible for the New York Post to propagate such an untruthful notion about a community that has been through so much after Hurricane Sandy.”

I do think Oberman has a point. The study was based on brief superficial glances made by non-New Yorkers. On the one hand, the opinions of those participants are likely to be unbiased because they probably have little idea of the reality of those neighborhoods. Still, because of that fact, such judgments should be taken with a grain of salt.

Do you think the neighborhood looks dangerous? When you bring friends from out of town to Brighton Beach, do they feel like they are in a dangerous neighborhood? Let us know.

Update (6:26 p.m.): Apparently Oberman’s primary opponent Theresa Scavo, beat him to the punch by several days. On August 17, she tweeted, “It is an insult that the NY Post calls Brighton Beach dangerous looking, I feel safe there.”

Photos by and courtesy of Allan Rosen

THE COMMUTE: In early 2012, we reported on confusing Department of Transportation (DOT) parking and traffic regulations and on confusing and outdated signage mentioning the taxi stand on Brighton Beach Avenue. That stand is not even listed in DOT’s database of taxi stands so apparently they are unaware of its existence.

In January 2013, DOT — realizing the problems with existing signage that were causing unnecessary confusion — unveiled a new format for parking regulatory signs, which shortly thereafter began to make their appearance in Manhattan. A consultant was hired who devised what you see here.

Click here to see the photo and continue reading.

311 CampaignThe Department of Homeless Services (DHS) is conducting the Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE) on January 28, when they will survey to find a point-in-time estimate of the number of unsheltered homeless individuals in New York City. Here’s their call for volunteers:

With one week left until the count, we need your help!

DHS still needs volunteers to make HOPE 2013 a success and the participation of our past volunteers is very important.  As a past volunteer, we are asking for your help again. Volunteers commit to assist us overnight on Monday, January 28, 2013 from 10:30 pm until 4:00 am. If you haven’t signed up for HOPE 2013, please consider helping us on this very important night.

HOPE is critical to helping DHS evaluate the effectiveness of our strategies to overcome street homelessness as well as developing appropriate housing resources for the most vulnerable New Yorkers currently living without shelter. HOPE’s methodology has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as the gold standard and I am proud to say that this is in large part due to your help.

Registration for HOPE, and the results from last year, can be found on the DHS homepage at or directly by clicking here. Questions regarding this event can also be sent to the HOPE Team at or by calling 212-607-5366.

I hope that you will join us on this night in our efforts towards ending homelessness in New York City.

Let’s make it count!


The HOPE Team
NYC Department of Homeless Services

Source: Mephell/

According to a report by, a research and consulting organization, 64 percent of Americans are woefully unprepared for a major natural disaster, even after the events of Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, and a series of other major natural disasters smacking us around in recent years.

The report finds that people making disaster-readiness plans has slightly increased from 31 percent to 36 percent since 2011, showing that the majority of Americans have failed to adequately prepare themselves in the event of another major disaster. This is the breakdown of YouGov’s numbers,

Of the 36 percent who said they were equipped for natural disasters, their preparations included the following:

  • Emergency supplies (for example, flashlights or first-aid kits): 89 percent
  • Food stocks: 74 percent
  • Creating an evacuation or an emergency plan: 50 percent
  • Disaster insurance: 22 percent

Of the 89 percent who had emergency supplies, their supplies included the following:

  • Flashlights:  97 percent
  • Water:  92 percent
  • First-aid kits or medicine:  92 percent
  • Sleeping bags or blankets:  83 percent
  • Face masks: 18 percent
  • Iodine pills:  15 percent

While general preparedness is low, concern and fear over another natural disaster has increased, especially across the Northeast, where 31 percent report that they are “very concerned” following Hurricane Sand, doubled from the previous year’s report of 17 percent concern in polling done after Tropical Storm Irene, the highest percentage in the country.

A lot of people have prognosticated in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy that this was finally the storm that got everyone’s attention, and that in the future, people will be more prepared for the advent of another natural catastrophe. I’m not so sure. While Sandy’s devastation was massive and destabilizing, only time will tell how New Yorkers will prepare and respond, both personally, and politically, should another superstorm come to wreck our city.

Constructed in 1991, 130 Livingston Street was supposed to streamline MTA operations. Source: Google Maps

THE COMMUTE: In Part 1, I provided examples of MTA waste. Today I will detail the waste I personally observed while employed by the MTA.

During my nearly 25 years at the MTA, I witnessed many types of MTA waste. When I started, one of my employees had to supervise three months of extra work that had to be performed because approximately 50 temporary workers sabotaged data due to the MTA screwing them before I was hired. They did this by firing the workers on a Friday and rehiring them the following Monday. This was to avoid having to pay them sick and vacation benefits, which were required of temporary employees hired for longer than six months.

Five years later, I shared a floor with a half dozen employees that the MTA forgot to reassign after dismantling a department of 30. They were placed in a corner and given no assignments for three years, although they continued to get paid.

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370 Jay Street. Source: Google Maps

THE COMMUTE: In New York, MTA means Metropolitan Transportation Authority. In the 1970s and 80s, critics claimed it really meant “More Trouble Ahead” with frequent announcements of projects coming in over budget and behind schedule. In the years since, little has changed. More recently, we have been plagued with: fare and toll hikes, service cutbacks, and the state stealing money from the MTA.

In The Commute, I have highlighted where the MTA has not spent its limited funds wisely:

Expensive projects, such as East Side Access and the Fulton Transit Center, have also had its critics wondering if the work scope could be narrowed, thus enabling the work completed to be quicker and at lower costs. Former MTA Chairman Jay Walder was the first to admit that perhaps the MTA is not as efficient as it can be. He took steps to streamline administrative expenses instead of merely looking toward the fare, more borrowing and service cuts to plug the MTA’s budget problems. His motto was “making every dollar count.” He also pledged more accountability. Current MTA Chairman Joe Lhota claims to be continuing where Walder left off when he broke his contract last year, and hastily departed for more lucrative employment in the Far East.

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"Gridlock" Sam Schwartz's Congestion Pricing proposal.

THE COMMUTE: If the MTA has its way, fare and toll hikes in odd numbered years will be as certain as death and taxes. The next ones are scheduled for January 2013, with approval by the MTA Board in December after a series of citywide hearings to be held in the fall. Hearings should be for the purpose of obtaining public opinion, but in the MTA’s case, first the decision is made, then the hearings are held as a formality. Great way to improve the MTA’s credibility and image. That is why most people no longer attend these hearings, especially when they have to wait three or more hours to speak, after all the elected officials — the same elected officials guilty of cutting or not increasing MTA funding.

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THE COMMUTE: You can read yesterday’s “The Role of Buses and How to Make Them More Effective: Part I” here. Today we investigate the causes of bus bunching and discuss examples of the MTA being unresponsive as well as being responsive.

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Source: changeschanging / Flickr

THE COMMUTE: Given the choice, most people would choose to take a train rather than a bus, unless they have a problem with stairs or walking. That is because the train is more reliable and much quicker. However, in most situations, one does not have that choice. If it is a short distance, the choice is usually to take the bus or walk. For longer distances, it is bus or car service. Yes, there are those who bike or skateboard, but they are the exception rather than the rule. I am also referring to those without access to an automobile, since that will probably be your mode of choice, unless parking is limited at your destination or origin.

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