NYC vs. DC: Pedestrian Showdown


Do pedestrians have more time to cross the street in DC than in NYC? It depends. Both cities have rapidly implemented “countdown” pedestrian signals to give pedestrians a better estimate of how much time they have to cross. This is particularly useful for those who may walk a bit slower than the “average” pedestrian, such as the elderly and disabled.

Countdown Pedestrian Signals in DC display the full cycle length

Countdown Pedestrian Signals in DC display the full cycle length. Source: Eric Fischer, Creative Commons / Flickr

At first glance, it may seem like pedestrians have longer to cross in DC, but here’s the secret: in the District, pedestrians are given the countdown of the full cycle length, whereas NYC pedestrians are only given the countdown for time just before the “don’t walk” phase (the blinking red light or the “clearance phase”).

Countdown Pedestrian Signals in NYC follow the MUTCD and only display "clearance times."

Countdown Pedestrian Signals in NYC follow the MUTCD and only display “clearance times.” Source: Eric Fischer, Creative Commons/Flickr

Why does this difference exist? According to the signal bible, the Manual on Uniform Control Devices (MUTCD) published by the Federal Highway Administration, pedestrian signals should look like the ones in NYC. But wouldn’t you want to know how much time you have total? Not just the “clearance time”?

Are government officials in DC a bunch of rule breakers? Actually, DC was a trial city for implementation of full countdown clocks, but the results of this “test” have yet to be released.

In general, the length of signals for pedestrians depends on volumes of people and traffic on the street. DC usually uses 100-second signal cycles (for all intersection movements) during peak hours, and 80-second signal cycles on nights and weekends. NYC varies much more, with cycle lengths between 45 and 120 seconds.

Sources: Sam Zimbabwe and George Branyan, DDOT; NYCDOT website

WalkNYC comes to Crown Heights


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WalkNYC Wayfinding Map at Frank;lin Ave and Park Place

NYCDOT has begun installing pedestrian wayfinding maps throughout the city. These maps feature clear graphics about multimodal information, including nearby destinations. Yesterday, the WalkNYC program came to Crown Heights in partnership with the Heart of Brooklyn and the Brooklyn’s Children Museum. WalkNYC maps can also be seen in Chinatown, Long Island City, Herald Square, the Garment District, and at CitiBike stations.

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Wagner Transportation Association at Park(ing) Day 2013


Today is International Park(ing) Day! Around the world, people are temporarily reclaiming public space from cars. The NYU Wagner Transportation Association (WTA) has a site on 6th Ave and West 3rd Street from 9am – 3pm today.

ParkingDay1 ParkingDay2

Click here to see information about where the sites are around the world.

Tracking Your Car Travel Patterns?


Ever wonder which streets have the slowest car traffic? What your average driving speed is? Where you brake the most? New data may help us find that out. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that The New York City Department of Transportation recently received a grant from the Federal Highway Administration to launch a program that monitors 500 cars with transponders around the city. Data will be available through apps to both car users and the city DOT. Participants in the program will receive a discount on their car insurance, and the city will have more data about car travel. Our own Sarah Kaufman was quoted talking about the potential pros and cons of the program.

Pedicabs in New York City


 

Pedicabs are an increasingly popular mode of tourist travel in New York City. After a series of scams involving the use of the app “Square,” lawmakers have increased regulations on drivers and companies, who are licensed through the City’s Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). The DCA instituted new regulations about pricing and signage, effective on July 12. Instead of arbitrarily negotiated fares and rates, standard rates are determined by timers. Pedicabs must have clear signage indicating the prices. This will have a large impact on the industry, which has 1,461 licensed drivers and 201 licensed companies (NYC Open Data, DCA).

The data allows us to see who is licensed and their zip code, which for this study is assumed to be their place of residence. There appears to be a large concentration of pedicab drivers from Southern Brooklyn, particularly Sheepshead Bay and Brighton Beach. There are also many drivers in Upper Manhattan, the South Bronx, and Western Queens.  The following table shows the neighborhoods with the most pedicab drivers:

ZIP Code Neighborhood Count
11235 Sheepshead Bay / Brighton Beach / Manhattan Beach 126
11230 Midwood 71
11229 Kensington 67
11214 Bensonhurst 57
11204 Bensonhurst 44
11377 Woodside 37
10456 Claremont 36
11219 Borough Park 35
10031 Hamilton Heights 34
11373 Elmhurst 31

 

A/C Will Be There Soon


Source: nymag.com

By Justin Tyndall, Edited by Nolan Levenson

New York City has had a heat wave this week, with temperatures exceeding 90 degrees five days in a row.  Most New Yorkers know that the subway stations get excessively hot and humid. According to the folks at “L-Degrees”, the average temperature yesterday on an L train platform was 108° F, and with high humidity it felt substantially hotter.  For comparison, in Death Valley, California yesterday the temperature was 115° F. Good thing the L train arrives every 3 minutes during rush hours.

Not only does the weather outside heat up the station, but air conditioners used to cool the subway cars create hot exhaust which adds additional heat.  Due to the vast ventilation system of the subway, it is impractical to introduce air conditioning in stations. Additionally, there is a lack of space for the machinery that would be needed.

Other cities have air conditioned platforms, including Washington DC’s Metro, but New York’s more antiquated system may make such a retrofit difficult.  Other systems including Dubai Metro, Singapore MRT, and the JFK AirTrain accomplish climate control with the help of platform screen doors which help keep the cooled platform air from escaping down the tunnels.

Hot temperatures on subway platforms may provide a reason for the MTA to consider exploring the possibility of installing platform screen doors, and perhaps, air conditioning in the long term.  For the moment the best advice is to keep cool any way you can and keep in mind that the next air conditioned car will be there soon.

The Rudin Center notes with sorrow the passing of Susan Kupferman, the center’s first Co-Director


The Rudin Center for Transportation at NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service notes with sorrow the passing of Susan Kupferman, the first Co-Director of the Rudin Center. Susan’s energy and intelligence made her a joy to work with. Our condolences to her family.

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/nytimes/obituary.aspx?n=susan-kupferman&pid=165552410

Taxis, Taxes, and Monorail. The NYC Mayoral Transportation Forum


Earlier today, UTRC hosted a panel discussion to ask mayoral candidates about their transportation policies. In attendance was Sal Alabanese, John Liu, Bill Thompson, and Anthony Weiner on the Democratic panel (Christine Quinn and Bill de Blasio were no shows),

Democratic Mayoral Candidates: Sal Albanese, John Liu, Bill Thompson, and Anthony Weiner (left to right)

and Adolfo Carrión, John Catsimatidis, Joe Lhota, and George McDonald on the Republican / Independent panel.

Republican and Independent Mayoral Candidates: Adolfo Carrión, John Catsimatidis, Joe Lhota, and George McDonald (left to right)

Here were some the highlights:

  1. Most candidates support expanding SelectBusService and Express Bus Service in the outer boroughs to provide transit to underserved areas; however none mentioned creating exclusive busways to improve this service.
  2. Anthony Weiner and Paul Steely White (of Transportation Alternatives) got into a friendly debate about cycling in the city. After Weiner mocked the polls indicating support for cycling, White said that bicycles poll higher than the mayoral candidates in front of him.  
  3. Sal Albanese and Joe Lhota both explicitly support the city investing in mass transit infrastructure. Lhota believes that the N/R trains should be extended to Staten Island.
  4. Joe Lhota was the only candidate to bring other transit modes into the discussion, such as Light Rail on Staten Island’s Northern and Western shores. He also supports construction Metro North Railroad stations at Co-Op City and Parkchester.
  5. John Catsimatidis said that another subway line would never be built in our lifetime, but supports constructing “aboveways” (monorails) throughout the city.
  6. The Democratic candidates disapprove of the “Taxi of the Future.”
  7. Bill Thompson supports a commuter tax, but almost all of the other candidates believe that it is unattainable.
  8. Sal Alabanese believes that New York City Transit should be under city control. Anthony Weiner said that the city needs more control of the MTA board.
  9. There was a lot of discussion of tolling in the city, with candidates divided about additional tolls in the city, particularly on the East River bridges.
  10. Anthony Weiner noted that the city pays $7000 per student that takes a school bus. While candidates disagreed about labor costs, many mentioned that inefficient routing was a large reason for the high costs of school buses.

Democratic Mayoral Candidate Anthony Weiner fields questions from the press after the panel.