T.A. StreetBeat
T.A. StreetBeat February 16, 2012   
Yesterday, these women -- the victims and surviving families of those killed and injured by drivers -- told the NYPD how they've failed, and what they can do to save lives. Take action now to join their fight.
Images courtesy Daniel S. Burnstein, Dmitry Gudkov and Harry Peronius

Guardian Reporter @MattSeaton tweeted: Love getting these emails from @transalt inviting me to community board meetings about where to site bike share stations #bikedemocracy. Follow T.A. on Facebook and Twitter to vote in the bicycleocracy.

T.A. in the News

"We want to get the cars to slow down," said Estarlin Nunez, 12, a seventh-grader who lives in the neighborhood. "We need to keep fighting for that."

The middle and high school students began campaigning for pedestrian safety in 2009 following a handful of accidents near Townsend Ave. and E. 172nd St. They have kept the heat on the Department of Transportation for more than two years, with support from Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group.

-- New York Daily News, 2/12.

City Council Questions NYPD Enforcement

At yesterday's hearing, Council Members Vacca and Vallone didn't let the NYPD make any excuses
for not policing traffic.
Image courtesy Harry Peronius

There is breaking news from the City Council -- and it's chilling. The City Council has uncovered vast systemic flaws and widespread inadequacy in the NYPD's efforts to prevent crashes; and when crashes do occur, extensive mishandling of investigations.

Yesterday, Council Members Peter Vallone Jr. and James Vacca led an "Oversight Hearing on Crash Prevention Enforcement and Crash Investigations." In the packed room, survivors of crashes told stories of bungled traffic investigations and crashes that better enforcement could clearly have prevented.

Heather Vandenberghe's 3-year-old daughter was struck when a driver backed his car through a crosswalk to get a parking spot. Her testimony told of a driver who'd left her child with traumatic brain injury and only received a traffic ticket. Michelle Matson, who was struck by a speeding driver in Brooklyn, submitted testimony, too. While Michelle was hospitalized for a month to recover from a shattered leg and severe injury to her neck, skull and spine, the local precinct refused to charge the hit-and-run driver who left her for dead. Erika Lefevre came all the way from Canada to speak up for her son Mathieu. After Mathieu was killed by a truck driver in Brooklyn, the NYPD botched her son's crash reports, withheld information from her and her family, and spread misinformation in the press.

Yesterday was the City Council's first-ever analysis of enforcement and crash investigation procedures, and it was New Yorkers like you who made it happen. In December, T.A. collected nearly 3,000 outraged letters to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly about the slipshod investigation of the crash that killed Mathieu Lefevre. The NYPD never responded, but two leaders in the City Council listened up. The Chairs of the City Council's Public Safety and Traffic committees -- Peter Vallone and James Vacca -- teamed up to shine a light on the NYPD's dirty secret.

The NYPD's traffic inadequacy is not a policy problem -- these practices and procedures are rooted in NYPD tradition. That's why T.A. is calling for a dramatic overhaul. We've proposed a task force of the city's experts on the issue: the NYPD, the District Attorney's offices, the Corporation Council (who represents the City in civil cases) and the families of traffic crash victims, to design a better system.

It's thanks to two leaders in the City Council that the NYPD's dirty traffic secret is in the spotlight. Let's tell Council Members Vallone and Vacca that T.A.'s proposed task force is the first step towards a cleaner slate.


Tell Council Members Vallone and Vacca you want a task force to help the NYPD take on traffic safety. Send a letter, so these intrepid council members know how many New Yorkers support their traffic safety crusade.

Bike Share Sighting!

Bike share celebrity sighting:
Talking Head David Bryne with
other Community Board 2 residents,
mapping out their bike share desires.

Last week, hundreds of New Yorkers weighed in on how bike share would look on their local streets. With an oversized neighborhood map on the wall and a whole pack of place markers, the Department of Transportation's Bike Share Open Houses began with Manhattan Community Boards 4 and 2.

It was T.A.'s bright idea to bring bike share to New York City's bike-friendly streets, but the DOT took the idea and rolled with it. After finding a company to build the bikes, Portland-based Alta Bike Share, the DOT looked to the public to draw the map of how bike share will work. The DOT's Open House events allow neighborhood residents to request where bike share will be in their neighborhood. Here are some stories of how public bike share has been a public affair.
  • At Community Board 4 (that's Hell's Kitchen, Clinton and Chelsea in Manhattan), residents had an innovative request for the DOT: Park those bicycles in the street! Sidewalks already bustle with people in the popular neighborhood, and streets there are double wide. Residents want more room to breathe, so they requested the bike share stations be installed instead in their expansive street space.
  • True story! At Community Board 2, in Greenwich Village, Tribeca and SoHo, none other than Talking Heads front man and Bicycle Diaries author David Bryne appeared to cast his vote where his neighborhood's bike share would land. With his neighbors, a slew of station locations hit the map.
This summer, New York City Bike Share will provide public bikes for New Yorkers -- 10,000 bikes, housed at 600 stations spread across neighborhoods in Manhattan and Brooklyn (and soon after the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island, we hope). Until then, T.A. will be on hand at every Bike Share Open House, to answer your questions and help the DOT hear neighborhood requests. If your neighborhood is getting bike share, the next few weeks are when to show up and have your say.

Neighborhood News: Wins for Walking

Now we're one signal closer
to a safer Queens Boulevard.
Image courtesy Wally Gobetz

A traffic signal -- and the pedestrian signal that comes with -- isn't much in terms of hardware and real estate. But for any one New York City neighborhood, it's the difference between walking and running for your life.

Crossing the street is a 100-times-a-day sort of activity for New Yorkers. For a population that walks more (and faster) than the rest of the nation, those crossings directly affect quality of life. A new traffic light or countdown signal could seem like nothing more than blinking lights -- until those blinking lights are between you and your bogeda, favorite restaurant or subway stop.

In recent weeks, T.A. has seen some long-sought traffic and pedestrian countdown signals installed:
  • The dangerous intersection of the FDR Drive and East 96th Street made it impossible to cross into the local East River Esplanade. After T.A. advocates rallied residents in East Harlem and the Upper East Side, the DOT agreed to install a pedestrian signal. Now crossing the street to the East River Esplanade will be a walk in the park.
  • After decades of T.A. advocacy, Queens Boulevard's most dangerous intersections are now less so, with the DOT's installation of pedestrian coundown signals on Queens Boulevard from 32nd Place to 56th Avenue.
  • At the intersection of Atlantic and Washington avenues, in Brooklyn, where 23-year-old bicyclist Jasmine Herron was killed last year, pedestrian countdown signals now make crossing safer.
  • In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, T.A. advocacy resulted in the installation of three new traffic signals, on busy Kent Avenue, at the intersections of North 5th, 6th and 7th Streets.
In the scope of the city, these new signals are one in 12,460 -- but for residents in these neighborhoods, everyday crossings feel a whole lot better.


In the newest issue of Reclaim magazine -- arriving now in T.A. members' mailboxes -- we examine the NYPD's crash investigation procedures. "The police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders," Reclaim breaks down every step from the crash to the courtroom. Ex-cop and professor of police science Peter Moskos dishes on how to get cops out of squad cars. Chief of Vehicular Crimes Maureen McCormick explains what the NYPD needs to investigate better. Plus DIY traffic calming, bicycling hand signals for every occasion and ex-Port Authority head Chris Ward on unemployment and the coming Rider Rebellion.

T.A. members get a full-year subscription to Reclaim magazine. Not a T.A. member, but want to read all about it? Get your subscription here.

Prospect Park Drive, Redesigned!

In 2008, these Brooklyn kids took over the
Brooklyn Bridge for a car-free Prospect Park.
Image courtesy Andrew Hinderaker

For Brooklynites, Prospect Park is a communal resource. It isn't just the borough's backyard; it's the best place to bike, jog, walk your dog and set your kids free -- except for one factor. Cars are permitted to speed through its 3.35 mile loop drive. With that mix, Brooklyn's backyard is downright chaotic.

The Prospect Park Road Sharing Task Force was established to calm the chaos, and they've come up with a succinct solution. The current configuration leaves bicyclists and pedestrians to share scraps of the road. The Task Force's new proposal will put people first.

On February 28th, the Task Force will present their recommendations to park users. At the meeting, T.A. will be standing up for a Prospect Park that prioritizes safe bicycling and walking (jogging, too). We need all Brooklynites who love the loop drive to join us.

Prospect Park Drive, Redesigned!
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
6 pm
Prospect Park Picnic House

Bronx Transit Town Hall

At a Transit Town Hall in Queens last year,
Assembly Members James Brennan and Grace Meng showed up to respond to transit riders' gripes.

In the eastern Bronx, the Bx4, Bx8, Bx5 and Bx36 buses have all had service reduced, rerouted or eliminated in the past year. For Bronx commuters that means longer wait times, and crowded trains and buses. Now, T.A.'s hosting an event to give Bronx transit riders a say.

T.A. works to empower New York City's public transit riders, but 8 million isn't an easy audience to wrangle. To ensure we're on top of what's most important to transit riders in any community, we host Transit Town Halls. There, we bring together elected officials and transit riders. T.A.'s Transit Town Halls are where T.A. connects elected officials to the grievances, wants and needs of transit riders -- straight from the source.

Bronx Transit Town Hall
Thursday, February 16, 2012
6:30 pm
Bronx River Community Center
1619 East 174th Street

New Amsterdam Bike Show
New Amsterdam Bike Show is better than ever before, and this year, a whole lot bigger. A whopping 21,000 square feet of bikes, bikes, bikes -- and proceeds from New York City's only bike show benefit Transportation Alternatives.

The two-day event will feature bicycle-makers, every kind of gear and events that connect your ride to New York City's growing bicycle community. Tickets are now on sale.

New Amsterdam Bicycle Show
April 28-29, 2012
Skylight Soho
275 Hudson Street
Where Do You Want Your Bike Share?

With bike share bikes from around the globe,
demonstrations are an "It's a Small World"
rendition of bike share. And just as catchy.
Image courtesy Andrew Hinderaker

The New York City DOT is now hosting open houses in every district with a planned bike share site. If you want to have a say in where your neighborhood's bike share stations will be, this is your moment. Manhattan's Community Boards 3 and 6, and Brooklyn Community Board 2 are up next. Each planned Bike Share Open House is online.

These are open houses, so feel free to drop in and drop out. Each will feature neighborhood maps and stickers to place-mark your desired bike share location. From your whole community's choice spots, the DOT will tally input and feasibility, and then present the chosen locations for each neighborhood.

Manhattan Community Board 6 Bike Share Open House
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
6 - 8 pm
Hunter College -- Brookdale Campus
425 East 25th Street

Brooklyn Community Board 2 Bike Share Open House
Thursday, February 23, 2012
6 - 8 pm
St. Francis College -- Callahan Center
180 Remsen Street

Manhattan Community Board 3 Bike Share Open House
Monday, February 27, 2012
6:30 - 8:30 pm
Chinatown YMCA Cafeteria
100 Hester Street