THE COMMUTE: Last week, Sheepshead Bites reported on legislation being considered by the City Council to lower the speed limit on city residential streets narrower than 60 feet wide from 30 mph to 25 mph. It is a compromise to legislation proposed by City Councilmember David Greenfield to lower the citywide speed limit from 30 mph to 20 mph. The City Council is currently revising the language of the law, which they hope to enact before Mayor Bloomberg leaves office.
Archive for the tag 'traffic'
The New York City Council is considering legislation that would cut the speed limit citywide from 30 mph to 25 mph, and the legislative body’s leadership is hoping to see it passed before the end of the year.
The new bill took shape last week, evolving from legislation originally proposed by Councilman David Greenfield that called for 20 mph limits “on all streets fewer than 60 feet wide in areas zoned for residential purposes.” It would only affect single lane, one-way streets.
A state law, though, interfered with the lower limit. Streetsblog writes:
DOT told the council in October that state law permits the city to set speeds at 15 to 24 miles per hour only if other physical traffic-calming treatments are also implemented, or if a street is within a quarter-mile of a school.
To set speed limits at 20 mph citywide, DOT suggested lobbying Albany to change the state law before passing a local law.
(WNYC created a map showing that most streets are close enough to a school. Still legislators sought to up the limit.)
In addition to slashing the speed limit, the bill will require the Department of Transportation to introduce at least seven new “slow zones” every year, each covering five blocks. Slow zones are areas of reduced speed limits to 20 mph on roadways selected for a history of accidents, proximity to schools and community concerns.
According to the New York Times, Council Speaker Christine Quinn is hoping to see the bill passed before the end of the year, when much of the Council’s members will be ousted by term limits. The paper also reports that Mayor Michael Bloomberg is supportive of the effort and waiting for the final bill. Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is likely also in favor, given that he has called for an expansion of slow zones, but a spokeswoman said it is still being considered.
Some in the taxi industry are apparently opposed to the bill, reports the Daily News. One representative testified to the Council, saying that changing the speed limit would cause confusion for drivers and give the city an opportunity to dole out more revenue-generating tickets. (Updated)
UPDATE (December 4, 2013): A representative for the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade e-mailed to say that not all in the taxi industry are opposed to the proposal. The MTBT is the largest taxi trade group in the city, and issued the following statement of support:
For over 60 years, MTBOT has made safety a priority for the thousands of drivers it represents and the millions of passengers they serve. That is why we strongly support Int. 535, a life-saving measure that would reduce the speed limit from 30 mph to 20 mph exclusively on residential side streets, making the City safer for our drivers, passengers and neighbors.
This important bill should not be used as an excuse to target drivers for tickets, but rather it should bring all New Yorkers together for a common goal, to make our streets safer, especially for our children and elderly residents. Research shows that 20 mph residential speed limits work—including in London and Tokyo, where reduced speed limits have cut the number of fatal crashes on residential streets by as much as half.
It’s time New York joined other major cities in passing this sensible, life-saving legislation. MTBOT calls upon the Department of Transportation to support Int. 535 and make our streets safer for all New Yorkers.
Who would have ever imaged that the Department of Transportation’s ambitious Seven Bridges project would be ahead of schedule? Way back when the project began in 2009, our readers and community leaders expressed concern that the seven-year plan would stretch into the long haul.
But, gift of gifts, the reconstruction project is one year ahead of schedule, according to DOT authorities.
In an e-mail update on the project, their outreach team wrote:
Miscellaneous punch list work remains, but no restrictions of traffic are anticipated outside of the daily, permitted lane closures through the completion of the project in October 2014. NYCDOT would like to thank the public and motorist for their patience and we are glad to report that the project is a year ahead of schedule.
The agency expects to hit the latest milestone on Wednesday, August 21, when they will announce all major work is officially complete on the first three bridges: Paerdegat Basin, Rockaway Parkway and Fresh Creek Basin, covering the bridges between exits 11 and 14.
Meanwhile, work will soon begin on the dismantling of the next batch of bridges, eventually seeing the replacement of the Nostrand Avenue Bridge, Gerritsen Inlet Bridge, Mill Basin Bridge, and Bay Ridge Avenue Bridge.
As we wrote in 2010:
The plans show the DOT is emphasizing increased safety, traffic flow, design aesthetics, and environmental protection as they go forward with the project.
Though the three bridges currently being worked on are the largest projects, commuters and boaters will likely experience the largest impact at the Mill Basin Bridge. Built circa 1940, the drawbridge has a 35-foot clearance. The new bridge will be a fixed structure with a 60-foot clearance. Lanes will be expanded by half a foot, and safety shoulders will be added in both directions. A new fender system will be installed to protect the bridge substructure from marine traffic.
Sheepshead Bay residents will also see benefits from the Nostrand Avenue overpass renovations. Currently the support columns of the three span structure blocks the view of car traffic underneath. The proposal aims to turn it into a single span, removing the supports to improve sight lines. Nostrand Avenue will be widened and realigned. Meanwhile, on the Belt itself, the road will be widened to provide safety shoulders, parapets will be installed, and the corrugated metal guide rails will be replaced with a reinforced concrete median.
The DOT has also made some alterations in response to community concerns. In Bergen Beach, residents complained that the new roadway configuration made visible to residents the rapid succession of headlights from the vehicles. The DOT has installed 392 feet of 6-foot-tall “glare fencing” to respond to the concern:
What do you think of the new bridges, and how the DOT has managed the project?
Parking is one of the more horrible pastimes that New Yorkers have dealt with in the past century. There are a million rules, fines and, what is worse, so few precious spots to cram your car into. Sheepshead Bites reader Rafi Greenstein sent us this message along with the two photographs:
Reason number #50058 to hate NYC. I spend up to 20 minutes on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday looking for a parking space on the correct side of the street sometimes I get lucky but sometimes I have no choice but to park on the side where I will have to move at 12 p.m. At 12 p.m. I have no choice like many other drivers to double park I leave a big note with my phone number in case somebody needs to move. Now alternate side ends at 1:30 p.m. If I do not move at exactly that moment or sit in my car for 5 minutes before I get $150 ticket. If I had decided to stay on the wrong side of the street I would have gotten a $65 ticket and 5 minutes leeway both before and after alternate side.
Now, this is something I’m on the fence about. While the standard is obviously screwed up – Rafi should not have been penalized more than if had more blatantly broken rules by refusing to move for street cleaning – I’m also continually irked by those that think it’s okay to double park on street cleaning days. What do you think?
The shark-painted walkway stretching over Surf Avenue at the corner of West 8th Street was torn down over the weekend, just like the city promised.
Last May, we reported that the rusted bridge was being dismantled for safety reasons. Originally, the bridge was put up 50 years ago to transfer people coming off of the Culver and Brighton lines into the then newly built aquarium.
Critics, including City Council candidate Todd Dobrin, charged that the removal of the overpass would make the intersection less safe, as pedestrians would have to contend with traffic. Allan Shweky, who runs Friends of Ocean Parkway, a blog focused on pedestrian safety, provided us with the images of the now removed overpass and lent his thoughts.
“As you know a traffic light will replace the bridge. There will be a new entrance to the Boardwalk on West 10 Street but the walk from the subway will force subway riders to cross a crowded Surf Avenue to get to the beach. Will be as safe as the Stillwell Avenue intersection which is not saying much,” Shweky told us.
Sheepshead Bites reader and Friends of Ocean Parkway blogger Allan Shweky sent us this photo of Avenue Z between East 7 Street and Coney Island Avenue with the following message:
Here’s a pic that I shot using my new telephoto lens. Sign congestion. There are over 30 signs of every type, shape and size on both sides of Avenue Z between E. 7 St and Coney Island Avenue. Feel safer crossing CIA?
Good question Allan.
City Council candidate Ari Kagan is reviving a several-year-old demand made by other local leaders, including one of his opponents, to improve traffic and safety conditions at the congested intersection of Coney Island Avenue, Guider Avenue and Banner Avenue on the Sheepshead Bay – Brighton Beach border.
The candidate issued a press release on Friday saying that cars making a left turn on the Belt Parkway on-ramp at Guider Avenue, from northbound Coney Island Avenue, are causing congestion and dangerous conditions.
“For drivers using Coney Island Avenue or the Belt Parkway, the intersection of Coney Island Avenue, Guider Avenue and Banner Avenue is a dangerous mess, and we are fortunate that no one has yet been badly injured in an accident at this location,” said Kagan. “Cars seeking to make a left turn must wait for cars going southbound on Coney Island Avenue to clear the intersection. Cars coming southbound that want to make a left turn onto Guider Avenue are often completely blocked off by cars waiting to turn onto the Belt Parkway. And all this happens while pedestrians are looking to cross!”
Kagan is calling on the Department of Transportation to install a left turn signal on the northbound side of Coney Island Avenue, and a clearly marked left turn lane.
“This will give northbound traffic a safe opportunity to turn left, and the marked lanes should help traffic clear the intersection quickly and safely,” he said in the press release.
The proposal puts him on common ground with one of his opponents in the race to replace term-limited Councilman Michael Nelson: Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo.
I get it. New York City is a massive place with millions of people and drivers, so accidents are bound to happen. Still, it is upsetting to continually read about weekend car accidents that keep sending people to the hospital, sometimes killing them, especially when three accidents occur within a span of 90 minutes, sending four to hospitals across the city.
The New York Daily News reported on an accident that took place here in Sheepshead Bay this past Saturday night:
In the first incident, in Sheepshead Bay, a 43-year-old man was hit while crossing the intersection of Nostrand Ave. and Ave. W shortly after 10 p.m., authorities said. The man was unconscious when he was rushed by ambulance to Coney Island Hospital.
I write about these crashes all the time so perhaps my view on accidents, reckless driving and drunk driving is a bit jaded. I know that many accidents are just that and no one is really at fault. Still, is it possible for all motorists to take three seconds before they turn the keys of their automobiles and realize they are about to go hurtling through our city streets in 4,000-pound machines? Is it possible to just spend a moment contemplating your responsibility as a motorist to drive safely before you ruin your life and the lives of others when taking to the road?
I understand that there are a lot of pedestrians who jaywalk, especially on that stretch of Nostrand Avenue, and bicyclists who dart dangerously in front of traffic. But, still, those people aren’t behind the wheels of machines that could break every bone in your body and liquefy your internal organs. Maybe if we all took some time to realize the reality of operating a fast moving vehicle before we jet off to our jobs, next party, or mundane task, there might just be a few less accidents and a few more lives saved.
(UPDATE 1:20 p.m.): The Daily News is reporting that the 43-year-old victim’s name was Jose Santiago and that he has died of his injuries at Coney Island Hospital. According to a poster on our Facebook page, the person who hit Santiago was allegedly talking on their phone at the time of the incident. Our condolences go out to the friends and family of Santiago.
Damaged schools, health facilities, libraries, abandoned storefronts and treacherous sinkholes. These are some of the major problems still afflicting Coney Island since Superstorm Sandy thrashed the area over eight months ago. Gotham Gazette is reporting that all the damage hasn’t come close to being repaired and that local residents are at their wits’ end in trying to live with them.
On our sister site Bensonhurst Bean, we have covered some of the frustration plaguing Coney Island locals. City Council candidate Mark Treyger was furious over the conditions at Carey Gardens (2955 West 24th Street), a New York City housing complex suffering from leaking roofs, the loss of its community center, a broken playground and the sinkhole problems on Neptune Avenue that could attract West Nile mosquitoes.
In another report, we tracked other frustrations facing Coney residents, namely the surging popularity of the pristinely restored beach area that has caused an uptick in traffic and congestion in the area. The restoration of the beach, Luna Park and other fun spots has been a sore spot for locals not buying the reports that Coney Island has fully rebounded:
“They say Coney Island is open for business. Sure, the entertainment district is, but no one talks about the parts of Coney Island where people actually live. They don’t talk about the neighborhoods,” said Ed Cosme, a resident who formed The People’s Coalition of Coney Island to raise awareness about the problems in the parts of the neighborhood that don’t normally draw tourists and bathers.
The Gotham Gazette described the state of a massive sinkhole present on Neptune Avenue:
On Neptune Avenue in Coney Island, state Sen. Diane Savino and a group of community activists walked a cracked and broken sidewalk on a recent day this summer — taking a tour of damage that remains nearly a year after Hurricane Sandy pummeled some of the city’s notable coastal neighborhoods.
At one point, the group stopped to look past a contorted chain-link fence at a massive sinkhole filled with bags of trash, milk cartons and diapers. The crevasse yawned with fault lines that zigged and zagged onto the sidewalk and towards the street. It looked to be growing.
“That thing goes down a ways,” said Ken Jones, a longtime community activist, referring to the sinkhole. “It’s probably right under the sidewalk.” The fact that it has apparently been used on more than one occasion as a dump only added to the activists’ concern that no one — not the state, not the city — is paying enough attention to their neighborhood…
Councilman Domenic Recchia, whose district includes Coney Island, said he has been in contact with multiple city agencies that are working together to study the sinkhole problem in particular.
“They are trying to find out why we are having this problem,” Recchia said. “It isn’t clear if the earth is moving or the sand got pushed out from under the pavement by the flood. But I know it is a problem for a lot of people. They are getting them in their driveway or backyards. I get calls about it all the time.”
While the problems afflicting Coney residents are extensive, a small measure of relief is coming in the form of a $6 million grant provided by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program. The plan is unique in that it allows local community leaders and officials to decide the best way to spend the federal money allotted to them, removing the sometimes disconnected overreach of authorities with no sense of what’s going on the ground.
The report goes on to describe other problems facing the area, including abandoned storefronts, broken docks and lost community outreach programs:
But it isn’t just the sinkholes that have residents concerned that their part of Coney Island is being ignored. Looking past the massive sinkhole on Neptune Avenue, the tortured skeleton of a wooden dock uprooted and smashed by Hurricane Sandy could be seen. A number of boats remained lifted out of the water, stranded on rocks, water-damaged and rotting. “No one has claimed them yet?” Savino asked rhetorically.
The owners are likely long gone. Just like the proprietors of the closed Chinese food restaurant and bodega across the street. “They were just hanging on before Sandy,” Savino said. “They were already in debt. After that storm, another loan wasn’t going to save them.”
Aida Leon is the executive director of the Amethyst Women’s Project, a group that helps women struggling with substance abuse, domestic violence and HIV/AIDS.
As the tour of Coney Island progressed, she said she was concerned that established charitable organizations had been ignored by the larger groups that came in with funding to address problems caused by Sandy.
“They haven’t been on the ground like we have,” she said. “We lost a lot of people after Sandy. They didn’t come back to the programs and I don’t think they are coming back because the people with funding don’t know how to reach them.”
Councilman Domenic Recchia tried to find bright spots in the otherwise bleak picture, claiming that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) was out fixing the sinkholes and that not all of the community programs were gone.
“We have summer programs like the Cornerstone program and others out of Kaiser Park. They may not all be open but there are programs,” Recchia told the Gotham Gazette.”Compared to other parts of the city, I think we’re doing pretty good. Take a look at the NYCHA facilities — they are working on them. It’s not like the work isn’t happening.”
THE COMMUTE: As the MTA contemplates today and on Wednesday how many more service reductions from 2010 they will restore, let’s focus today on a local matter.
During the past two weeks, NYCDOT repainted the much maligned and nearly totally worn out zebra stripes and bicycle lanes on Oriental Boulevard. This was the first restriping in about nine years since four traffic lanes were reduced to two.