Image credit: Jeff Hopkins
New Yorkers enjoy many new forms of transportation such as electric scooters, electric bicycles, hoverboards, skateboards, in-line skates, electric wheelchairs, and more. The laws governing these forms of transportation are confusing and mostly unenforced, if they are even enforceable. State laws and regulations on vehicle and roadway usage typically trump conflicting local laws, except in New York City, where the New York City Council has been given much authority to promulgate laws and regulations on the use of the City’s public roadways. (read more…)
Laws will formalize hearing requirements for changes to bike lanes and consultation and reporting require ments for major transportation projects. The City Council approved three local laws concerning bike lanes and other major projects proposed by the Department of Transportation. Intro 412-A formalizes DOT outreach efforts to communities affected by proposed bike lanes. Intro 626-A and 671-A create formal consultation and reporting requirements for major transportation projects. Council amended the proposals after the Council’s Transportation Committee held a hearing on the legislation in September 2011. At the hearing, DOT representatives generally supported Intros 412 and 626, stating that the laws would essentially codify the agency’s current practices. DOT, however, asked the Committee to amend Intro 671’s data collection requirements. 8 CityLand 140 (Oct. 15, 2011).
Intro 412-A requires DOT to notify by email each affected council member and community board at least 90 days before constructing or removing a bike lane. DOT must offer to make a presentation about the bike lane at a public hearing held by the community board. On November 3, 2011, the Council unanimously approved Intro 412- A. The law will take effect 90 days after enactment. (read more…)
Intros would create formal outreach and reporting requirements for proposed bike lanes and any major transportation project. On September 26, 2011, the City Council’s Transportation Committee held a public hearing to consider three proposed local laws concerning the Department of Transportation’s outreach efforts for proposed bike lanes, and addressing consultation and reporting requirements for major transportation projects.
Intro 412, introduced by Council Member Lewis Fidler in November 2010, would require DOT to notify and request to hold a public hearing in affected community boards at least three months prior to constructing a bike lane.
Intros 626 and 671, introduced by Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca in June and September 2011, respectively, would apply to any major transportation project, defined as an alteration of four or more consecutive blocks or 1,000 consecutive feet of street, and involving the removal of vehicle or parking lanes or the addition of vehicle lanes.
Intro 626 would require DOT to formally consult with the Police and Fire Departments, the Department of Small Business Services, and the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities before undertaking a major transportation project. DOT would be required to produce a written report documenting the consultation, which would be forwarded to local council members and community boards. (read more…)
Two community groups filed challenge eight months after DOT constructed bike lane. Beginning in April 2009, the Department of Transportation held a series of meetings with Brooklyn Community Board 6 regarding the proposed construction of a bike lane along a portion of Prospect Park West in Park Slope, Brooklyn. DOT planned to reduce the traffic lanes along Prospect Park West from three to two in order to install the two-way bike lane. CB 6 conditionally approved the bike lane proposal in July 2009. DOT constructed the bike lane during June and July of 2010.
After its installation, DOT made minor modifications to the bike lane and announced that it would monitor the bike lane and review traffic and safety issues over a six-month study period. In January 2011, DOT released the results of its traffic and safety study and found the bike lane to be a “resounding success.”
In March 2011, a group including Seniors for Safety and the Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes, filed an article 78 petition challenging DOT’s construction and implementation of the bike lane. The group claimed that DOT characterized the bike lane as a trial project and only intended to make it permanent after the completion of the traffic and safety study. In support, the group submitted an affidavit from Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz claiming that during a meeting with DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, the commissioner stated that the bike lane would be installed on a trial basis and finalized based on data collected during a trial phase. The group also claimed that DOT’s study actually demonstrated that the bike lane was a failure because it created dangerous conditions for pedestrians and vehicles. In addition, the group claimed that DOT did not provide a complete response to a request for documents under the City’s freedom of information law. (read more…)
Bike riding in New York City is increasing, but the number of biker deaths and serious injuries remain the same. The City, as noted last month, asserts that bike riding has become relatively safer. There is, however, no data available on less serious injuries or on pedestrian confrontations both physical and those that produce frighteningly close calls. The attractiveness of bike riding makes certain the continued growth in riding. The City, while encouraging this growth, could do even more for safety. Think of the recent initiatives that have produced aggressive laws and rigid enforcement for auto safety: new child car seats, seat belts laws, noisy back up signals, unblinking red light cameras, universal air bags, required driver training, and crash worthy car designs. Bike safety on city streets needs similar innovations. (read more…)
Has bicycle riding become safer in New York City? On July 28, 2011 the New York City Department of Transportation answered “Yes” by presenting statistics that showed that bike riding was 72 percent safer in 2010 than it was 2001. How good are DOT’s statistics?
Despite significant efforts, the absolute number of bicyclist fatalities and severe injuries has hardly moved. In 2000 there were 18 fatalities and 351 severe injuries. In 2010 there was no change: 19 fatalities and 361 severe injuries. During the year 2010 New York City experienced the decade’s second highest total of fatalities and severe injuries. And there was a worse statistic for bike advocates; while there were only 12 fatalities in 2009, fatalities jumped to 19 in 2010. (read more…)