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View Diary: Who is running for Mayor of New York? Answers (22 comments)

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  •  Bloomie' and the Bozos (0+ / 0-)

    Mike Bloomberg's single best accomplishment has been to name -- and back up -- his Commissioner of Transportation for the past 5 1/2 years, Janette Sadik-Kahn.

    She has been reclaiming space for pedestrians and bicyclists and most of all for bus riders, making big enemies among the wealthy and influential minority of NYC households who have cars. Actually, Sadik-Kahn's worst enemies are certain newscasters and columnists who drive from their suburban homes to the City -- not really New Yorkers at all, tho they can and do influence public debate.

    The drivers are angry that many square feet formerly devoted to traffic and even entire blocks of lanes have been given over to undeserving people riding bikes and walking. Many drivers quickly admit that they hate bicycle riders. They don't admit that they hate pedestrians, but obviously they don't much mind if they die when they get in the way.

    Because of Sadi-Kahn's efforts, and despite much opposition from drivers,
    * since 2009 we have Select Bus Service on Fordham Road-Pelham Parkway E-W in the Bronx -- with travel time cut almost 20% and ridership up by 5,000 a day and still growing,
    * since 2010 we have SBS on First and Second Avenues N-S in Manhattan,
    * since 2011 we have SBS on 34th St E-W in Manhattan, and
    * since 2012 we have SBS on Hylan Blvd in Staten Island.

    Work is well underway for more Bus Rapid Transit lines
    * starting next spring on Nostrand Ave N-S in Brooklyn  
    * starting next fall on Webster Ave N-S in the Bronx, and
    * on three routes to LaGuardia Airport in Queens.

    For bike riders, the city has added almost 300 miles of bike lanes, including long stretches of protected lanes in Manhattan, as well as some in the outer boros. The protected bike lanes in fact greatly benefit pedestrians. They allow them to safely advance to a refuge behind parked cars that gives them a two-lane head start on crossing the avenues.

    Pedestrians have enjoyed the "Broadway Boulevard", created by taking two lanes from traffic south of Times Square. This 'calmed' the traffic where Broadway duplicates nearby Seventh Ave. The freed-up space was converted to narrow plazas with tables, chairs, and decorative planters. "Who will sit in the street?" the scoffers asked. Now it's hard to find an unoccupied seat.

    Broadway slices thru the street grid and makes a number of triangular open spaces called "squares". Here Sadik-Kahn has pedestrianized additional lanes. Now the enlarged public spaces at Lincoln Square, Times Square, Herald Square, Madison Square, Union Square, and others, provide places for people to relax, grab a lunch or a Coke, and people-watch. Meanwhile, narrowing the traffic sewer that was Broadway made it easier for pedestrians to cross safely to the other side. Less noticed pedestrian plazas have also popped up in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens.

    At thousands of intersections, the lights were re-timed to give pedestrians a 10-second head start before the light turns green for drivers. At hundreds of intersections, the crosswalks now have neck-downs making the distance shorter and safer. Many others have refuge islands where pedestrians can safely pause if they haven't made it all the way across the street.

    As a result of these measures, the numbers of pedestrians killed by vehicles in NYC has been dropping. Total traffic fatalities -- which means overwhelmingly pedestrians, 10 to 1 compared to drivers and riders in vehicles -- are down about a third under Bloomberg. The number of cyclists killed by motorists has remained steady, despite the fact that the number of cyclists has been rapidly growing (at least doubling, perhaps tripling, or more under Bloomie, tho ridership statistics are problematic).

    Sadly, it looks like most of the Democratic candidates intend to appeal to the motorists' vote. This bunch of bozos have strongly hinted that they'll stop, or even roll back, the policies favoring pedestrians and cyclists. So these pols will ignore the needs and desires of the large majority of New Yorkers who do not have cars. (Yes, polling shows the public supports the plazas and bike lanes)

    Every one of these bozos has indicated that they'll dump Sadik-Kahn. That could mean building or widening more streets and roads like in the old days. I dunno. Maybe they think they can just pave over future hurricanes.

    Well, I've donated too damn much money to too many damn politicians in recent years. This current crop of bozos will get along without my pitiful little money, and right now, I'm not even motivated to vote for any one of them.

    •  btw To be clear, (1+ / 0-)
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      I am NOT a supporter of Bloomberg. The racist 'Stop and Frisk' policy -- entrapment leading to arrests for marijuana possession -- introduced by Bloomie's Police Chief Ray Kelly is the absolute worst thing to happen to NYC since I have lived here, since 1966. Yeah, worse than when the city went bankrupt and the state stepped in to run things for a while, and worse than Superstorm Sandy, by far.

      At this point I guess I'm for the Meh Mr Thompson. He looks like a guy who'd stop 'Stop and Frisk'. And the others haven't said that they would, have they?

      But I don't think Thompson would keep Sadik-Kahn's policies that favor bus riders, pedestrians, and bicyclists -- my second most important issue.

      •  Great Report (1+ / 0-)
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        Used to live/work in NYC back when. Since job transfer to the Empty Quarter (aka the Intermountain West, centered on Salt Lke City), I miss it a little each day over the last several decades (Yikes, THAT long!) Please keep us little  apples up to date on the progress back in the Big Apple. Thanks

        What would Jefferson think of ExxonMobil?

        by Blue inU on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:57:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Since you asked (0+ / 0-)

          One other great thing that Bloomie has done, to give the Devil his due:

          As part of his concern about Global Warming and Climate Change, Hizzoner decided that trees are good and more trees are better. Hard to argue with that. But usually it's hard to get government to do anything about that.

          In 2007 Bloomie declared a goal of planting a million trees by 2017, and he got a photo op planting the 500,000th one about a year ago.

          Bette Midler founded a non-government organization that's a partner in the effort, planting trees in public housing projects and non-profits, while the City handles street trees and parks.

          And there's the beauty of the plan. Try to persuade the manager of a public housing project to spend money on new trees, like, instead of repairs to the elevators or the roofs? Or tell the park manager she should plant trees and postpone fixing the broken playground equipment?

          No, have a line item in the city budget for planting 200,000 trees per year. Then tell the park or project manager that the Mayor wants trees, they are free, and they can be planted next week if that's OK. Get a different answer that way. Get trees planted that way.

          Riding my bike around the city I enjoy seeing all the new trees. (You can tell because they're staked and wired in place until they take root.) Areas that used to look downright ugly -- projects, parking lots, warehouse districts, garages, and more -- now look good with their streets lined with trees.

          A nice story here

          But 'stop and frisk' is still unforgivable.

      •  I cannot wait for Bloomberg to be gone (1+ / 0-)
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        but I agree with everything that you've written about the greening, traffic rationalization, automobile de-emphais, and better links to the outer boroughs by bus (handy when I was helping a friend on Staten Island post-Sandy!).  

        There is a sentimental whiskey-and-cigarettes memorializer in me that misses a grittier (and more interesting!) late-night  city of old, but this is not the fault of these great traffic initiatives or the cute street-greening and there would be no point artificially working to faux-keep the grit, anyway.  Where are the neighborhood bar-bands of yesteryear... (gone the way of affordable apartments, of course).  

        By the way, I did the same thing you did with my post farther up: when I read it, I realized I had not talked about stop-and-frisk and knew I had to add that for any opinion to be relevant.  

        If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. Thomas Paine

        by WestCider on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:29:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The cleaned-up 42nd Street (0+ / 0-)

          The wholesale touristification and plasticizing of Times Square is not the fault of Ms Sadik-Kahn, nor even of Bloomie.

          No, it was Rudy 9iu11ani who sent the police, the zoning board, and the developers to transform Times Square. She just calmed the traffic, widened the sidewalks, and provided seating for tired office workers and tourists alike. As a matter of fact, the "Broadway Blvd" also provides a space for break dancers and sketch artists to do their thing and satisfy a public.

          Most of the naughty fun moved to the internet in any case. Nobody's fault.

          The new 42nd Street is an economic powerhouse. It's now a neighborhood where everyone feels safe to attend the theater, go to restaurants, and shop in retail stores. Many New Yorkers need the jobs created by those industries.

          But yes, there's something lost. Once I was in a 42nd Street porno store (no, I didn't take a wrong turn) and watched two well-dressed Japanese tourists peel off eight crisp $100 bills to pay for the XXX DVDs they'd selected. Very special souvenirs I guess you could say. I had a smile.

          My other adventures from that special time and place, like some at McAnn's Bar -- "the place smelled like jail" according to New York Magazine -- I won't share here in mixed company. :-)

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