Daily Bike Forecast — by Bike Snob NYC

March 19th, 2019: Falling Behind

Another cool yet tantalizingly sunny day as we teeter on the brink of spring:

Tuesday Weather

Tuesday Sunny, with a high near 48. Wind chill values between 30 and 40 early. North wind around 9 mph.

Tuesday Night Mostly clear, with a low around 34. West wind around 6 mph becoming calm after midnight.

Sunrise: 7:01am

Sunset: 7:07pm

If you're in or around Williamsburg this evening (or you want an excuse to be) stop by the L Project Town Hall and fill out a comment card:

If you're wondering what a "comment card" is, it's like tweeting, only you use a pen.

Meanwhile, obviously we need to repair the L train, but do we really need to bother fixing the BQE too?

Since the city first unveiled its plans for a rehabilitation of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway last fall, a question has resurfaced among officials and advocates: Why not re-conceive the loathed highway, rather than simply rebuild it?

Ideas include a covered truck route and linear park:

Under Stringer’s idea, that span of the BQE would become a truck-only route. Trucks would get access to one lane in each direction on the lowest level of the BQE's triple cantilever, with a linear park running on the second level that sits below the Heights promenade. 

As well as losing the BQE altogether:

“The Lexington Avenue subway line carries more passengers than that in a morning rush hour,” Johnson said. “We need to take a fresh look at the BQE problem . . . We shouldn’t assume that the best way forward is the old, car-centric way. We can’t change the past, but we can make choices that will lead us to a better future.”

Though the city seems more inclined to cling to the past:

Trottenberg said at the time it wasn’t possible to simply tear down the BQE, as the city relies so heavily on truck traffic. Among the daily BQE vehicles, about 25,000, or 16.3 percent, are trucks.

“For better or for worse, these Moses-built highways . . . now the city has grown around them and it’s not an option to just say we can’t deal with that traffic,” she said.

Another way to look at it is that 83.7 percent of BQE vehicles are just creating unnecessary traffic.  

Replacing the BQE is like getting your VCR repaired.  When it comes to obsolete equipment, if it's broke, don't fix it.

Speaking of Corey Johnson, New York Magazine takes a look at his vision for transit in New York City:

Johnson wants to do it all, urgently: overhaul the subway, fix intersections, stitch the city together with protected bike paths, give buses their own inviolable lanes and priority at street lights, redesign streets, turn over large chunks of the city to pedestrians, halve car ownership, rethink deliveries, and maybe even tear down part of the BQE. If all that seems wildly out of step with reality, consider how quickly and thoroughly New York transformed itself over a century ago to accommodate the horseless wagon. The first crash on city streets took place in 1896. In a little over a decade, the father of traffic laws, William Phelps Eno, had invented the rotary circle, the stop sign, and the one-way street. In the ensuing decades, workers ripped up sidewalks to make way for additional traffic lanes, and belted the boroughs in highways. Starting in 1950, drivers could park their cars on city streets overnight, and sanitation crews cleaned around them. No city in the world could afford to defy the automobile without turning itself into a backwater, and New York was a leader in the automotive revolution.

Now it’s past time to undo that obsolete form of progress, and this time, New York is falling behind...

Yep, we're still watching movies on that old VCR, and instead of joining the 21st century we're just fiddling with the tracking.

At the very least we need 21st century enforcement:

A city that prioritizes the lives of a majority of its people over the demands and convenience of automobile drivers would not hesitate to saturate every city street, avenue and highway throughout the five boroughs with speed cameras that operate 24 hours a day. Motor vehicle crashes killed 200 people in New York City in 2018.  Of those, 114 were pedestrians and 10 were cyclists.  More than 60,000 people were injured, many of them in ways that will forever haunt their lives. During a period from July 2012 to January 2019, 887 pedestrians were killed by automobiles on New York City streets and it’s likely speed was a factor in many of these incidents.

Because this artisanal hand-ticketing thing just isn't enough:

Weirdly enough,  the NYPD’s union, NYC Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association hasvoiced opposition to expanding the speed camera program, saying  only police officers can take a drunk, unlicensed or uninsured driver off the road or spot other criminal activity.  NYCPBA has also called the program a “money grab” even though camera citations are limited to $50 while a ticket from a police officer can be as high as $600.
While NYCPBA is right about cameras not catching drunks and other criminal behavior, it would be almost impossible for police officers to replicate the sheer volume of fines and potential deterrence offered by speed cameras.   In 2015, speed cameras caught more than one million speeders.  NYPD officers caught just 135,000.

Finally, this weekend saw yet another tragic loss for New York City cycling:

A resident of Long Island, Schlichting is remembered as an avid cyclist and traffic safety proponent who played an instrumental role in the launch of several New York City cycling institutions.

"He was a very generous guy, and he was an extremely conscientious and safety-minded cyclist," recalled Steve Vaccaro, a friend of the victim who is an attorney and safe streets advocate. "He believed in doing it by the book, and the importance of safety education for cyclists."

That's the problem; we're only as safe as the nearest driver.