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.
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),
and Adolfo Carrión, John Catsimatidis, Joe Lhota, and George McDonald on the Republican / Independent panel.
Here were some the highlights:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- John Catsimatidis said that another subway line would never be built in our lifetime, but supports constructing “aboveways” (monorails) throughout the city.
- The Democratic candidates disapprove of the “Taxi of the Future.”
- Bill Thompson supports a commuter tax, but almost all of the other candidates believe that it is unattainable.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
By raw numbers, New York City’s new bike share system, CitiBike, has been a runaway success. In the first 10 days of operation – some 35,000+ riders have logged 100,000 rides and travelled more than 270,000 miles – enough to get to the moon (and partway back).
The research staff at the Rudin Center – transportation nerds that we are – all signed up the day CitiBike registration opened, and have been actively using the system since Day 1. As an East Village resident from 2000 to 2010, I was an avid biker on the streets of Manhattan. But when I moved across the river to Hoboken in 2010, I lost touch with New York’s bike culture. Dragging a bike on the PATH is a major headache. Taking one on the ferry, a major expense. So my new acquantanice with Citbike has also become a re-acquaintance with how utterly wonderful and simultaneously awful New York City is as a place to ride a bike.
Nonetheless, according to my CitiBike account logs, I’ve taken a total of 15 trips in the last 10 days – some as short as 3 minutes. And it occurred to me today how quicky I’ve integrated the system into my daily movements around the city. I feel like I’ve already become a Citibike Pro User.
And in honor of that realization, I’ve come up with the Rudin Center’s Top 10 List “You Know You’re A CitiBike Pro When….”
#10 -You’ve Worked CitiBike Into Your Commute, Deliberately to Deprive the MTA of Subway or Bus Fare
For me, getting to my office at the Puck Building used to mean a 25-minute walk across SoHo from the Christopher Street PATH Station, or a transfer to the F train somewhere along Sixth Avenue. Now, as long as the skies are dry, I’m keeping the $2.50 the MTA wants to take me 10 blocks. The MTA has been sticking it to us for decades. Time to stick it back! Thanks Citibike!
While we’re on the MTA…
#9 - You’ve Jumped Off A Crawling Crosstown Bus to Make the Trip to the [insert: East/West Side] By Bike Instead
Just yesterday I tried getting from Grand Central Terminal to the 39th Street Ferry Terminal on the M42. What a cruel joke. 20 minutes later, barely past Bryant Park, I hopped off and grabbed a bike on W. 43rd street. Five minutes and 36 seconds later, I arrive on the banks of the Hudson. Straight onto the boat, having purchased my ticket at a red light on the NY Waterway app, I’m out of the city – it was like some kind of postmodern urban escape rocket.
#8 - You’ve Scared the Daylights Out of at Least One Pedestrian
This is New York. We are mean people. Size matters. Speed matters. Get out of my way.
#7 - You’ve Realized The Stunning Number of Things Other Than Bikes That Inhabit New York City’s Bike Lanes
Postal trucks, pedestrians, construction barriers, UPS trucks, taxis loading/offloading, food carts, food trucks, dead pigeons, etc. etc. etc. Sometimes I think they should call them “Bikes and Stuff” lanes.
#6 – Despite Your Best Intentions to Obey Traffic Laws, You’ve Riden the Wrong Way Down A Bike Lane or A One-Way Street
I told myself from Day 1 I’d obey the rules, but sometimes the detours needed to stay legal can double the length of a short trip between two CitiBike stations (for instance, the contortions needed to get to the station in front of the Puck Building when coming from the northwest add 4-5 minutes). And so, I’ve just given in and started (like everyone else on a bike) riding south on the Lafayette Street bike lane.
New Yorkers are jaywalkers, and everyone accepts that, right? This is just New York’s timeless mobility culture expressing itself in a new medium. Or at least that’s what I tell myself at night.
#5 – You’ve Figured Out That If A Dock Is Full or Empty at Either End of Your Journey, There’s Almost Always One Available 2-3 Minutes Away
#4 - You’ve Dropped Your Coffee and Broken Into A Sprint When You See This
(p.s. Unlock bonus points if you’ve zoomed in far enough to see the cool 3-d building detail in the CitiBike app’s maps.)
#3 - You’ve Figured Out What the F—ing Inscrutable Light System Means
Oh you mean the one that isn’t documented -anywhere-? Not on the stations, not in the app, not on the CitiBike website?
Yeah that one. Sure to get the “Worst UX” award this year.
(And BTW, its “Green = please steal me, the guy trying to rent me got bored waiting for the yellow light and walked away but I’ll unlock anyway after he’s gone”, “Yellow = please wait, my crappy wireless Internet is slow/not working”, and “Red = I’m broken…. again”)
#2 - You Have Reconciled In Your Mind the Irony of Those Who Would Criticize CitiBike (What Is Essentially A Giant Roving Bank Advertisement Pushed By a Billionaire Mayor)… as “Socialism”
(thanks to Alex Soojung-Kim Pang @askpang in Silicon Valley for that detached observation)
and the winner…
#1 - You’ve Figured Out How to Unlock the Bike and Simultaneously Adjust the Seat Height With A Single Well-Timed Yank
It’s like learning how to snap your fingers for the first time. Look me up in SoHo, I’m happy to show you how it’s done.
On March 12, Anthony Townsend of the NYU Rudin Center and Aaron Naparstek of MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning convened a workshop on New Data for Bicycling Research: Crowdsourcing, DIY Sensing & Apps to assess the demand and availability for a wide range of data about bicycle ownership and use in New York City. There was active participation from a broad range of stakeholders including the city’s transportation and IT agencies, leading bicycling advocates, and civic tech and hacker groups. In the coming months, the Rudin Center will be developing a research plan devoted to improving the supply and quality of data for bicycle research in New York City.
A Prezi of the workshop proceedings can be found at
Neil Bezdek, New York City Department of Transportation
Justin Brandon, Harvard Graduate School of Design
Wendy E. Brawer, Green Map System
Alison Cohen, Independent consultant
Neil Freeman, New York City Department of Transportation
Melinda Brooke Hanson, NYU Rudin Center
Frank Hebbert, OpenPlans
Noel Hidalgo, Code for America
Mike Infranco, Transportation Alternatives
Charles Komanoff, IGC
Dan LaTorre, Project for Public Spaces
Stephanie Levinsky, New York City Department of Transportation
Aaron Naparstek, MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Andrew Nicklin, New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecomunications
Brian Riordan, Strava
Caroline Samponaro, Transportation Alternatives
Dani Simons, Independent consultant
Claudio Silva, NYU Center for Uurban Science and Progress
Anthony Townsend, NYU Rudin Center
Chris Whong, NYU Rudin Center
Matthew Willsee, Cyclee
Susi Wunsch, Velojoy
Where and when are people using Washington, DC’s BikeShare? Check out this new visualization by Chris Whong:" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/O_njHxFRj4o" width="100%" height="480" scrolling="no" class="iframe-class" frameborder="0">
Rudin Center director Mitchell Moss contributed to the Transportation Nation story, saying, “Biking has become the mode of choice for the educated high-tech worker. The modern office today is not really just a work place. It’s a play place. If you go to Mozilla they have pool tables.”
Check out the full story here.
Waiting and stopping.
For public transportation users across the world, it is what defines their daily journey: waiting for the next bus or train, and then stopping several times before reaching the chosen destination. Waiting and stopping is so intrinsic to the public transportation experience that it is not often recognized, much less challenged. Imagine a world in which waiting and stopping were eliminated altogether, where the choice of when and how to get to a destination was chosen not by a transit system but by each individual user.
Such is the world envisioned by Georges Amar. Amar is the Director of Prospective and Innovative Design at Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP), operator of the Paris subway and bus systems. In a recent lunch discussion hosted by the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management, Amar highlighted the potential for transit agencies to reinvent the way transportation is offered and utilized. At the center of his presentation was a distinction between two interacting (and often competing) concepts: transport and mobility.
Transport, Amar stresses, is a rather outdated concept. Transport is the steel and the pavement and the bus and the physical elements that comprise the traditional role of transportation. Mobility, however, is a distinctly separate idea. Mobility is the ability to move about independently, without restrictions or barriers. Amar points out that our mobility is a function of the transport options available to us. More often than not, our desire for mobility transcends the physical restraints of transport. This concept is hardly surprising to anyone who has suffered through rush hour traffic. The gap between our demands for mobility and the restraints put on us by transport are immense, and can be measured in the minutes one sits idle at a station or the hours one wastes in highway congestion each year.
Amar envisions a world in which transit agencies focus on mobility instead of just transport. Offering new tools and services that allow users to embrace their own mobility is the next greatest challenge for transit agencies. In the old paradigm of transport, the one which most of us still interact today, we have a choice between two or three methods of transport. Shifting the paradigm from transport to mobility means offering a broad menu of options – “trans-modality” – which can mean up to 20 or 30 choices of modes.
So, how well are the world’s transit agencies doing at shifting the paradigm? Amar admits that even his own agency has a long way to go, but ideas and innovations are sprouting up. Amar points to the rise of carpooling, car sharing, bus rapid transit and bike sharing as early examples of a move towards “trans-modality.” Moving beyond the one-size-fits-all approach to transport will require planners to start by asking, “what would the user want?” Responding to those wants, Amar believes, is the very heart of the paradigm shift from simple transport to mobility.
Like it or not, bike share is coming to New York City. The announcement of the long anticipated program came on Wednesday, when New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan confirmed the City had entered a private-public partnership with Alta Bicycle Share, the same vendor responsible for Bixi and Capital Bike Share. During the press conference, Sadik-Khan told reporters that the initial phase of the program would consist of about 600 bicycle stations and 10,000 bikes stretching from below 79th Street in Manhattan through much of northwest Brooklyn. DOT and Alta employees working at the demo following the announcement toted yearly memberships of under $100, with stations every 3-4 blocks, making the program exceedingly convenient for users. High density of station is the most crucial factor to the success of any bike share program. Convenience for short commuting trips, and ease in finding and returning bikes is what makes the program work.
Alta Bicycle Share Demonstration in the Flatiron Pedestrian Plaza on Wednesday, September 14, 2011.
Blogs and news outlets around the City have been reporting that New Yorkers are generally pleased, if not ecstatic at the idea of bike share coming to New York. DOT and Alta are promising jobs for New Yorkers and a healthy, green and inexpensive way to travel. Many in New York, particularly those who have used bike share in London, Paris, Washington DC, or Montreal, shared the sentiments of Dan Cantor, leader of the Working Families Party when he said, “What took so long?”
However, change never comes without some resistance, and New Yorkers really know how to pushback. Doubts and concerns range from safety, to cost to the taxpayers, to real estate. Despite a lot of public support, DOT and Alta may face an uphill battle when dealing with many New Yorkers, NIMBYism and members of the press. During the press conference Sadik-Khan tried to briefly address some of the major concerns people may have about the program. She was very clear about the fact that tax payers will not incur any cost because of this program. The City contract with Alta states that the system must operate without any public subsidy – DOT’s role will be strictly oversight. Alta is assuming all of the risk, and expecting to turn a profit from user fees and sponsorship in return. “Rules of the Road” will also be provided on station kiosks in order to get users to ride safer. Helmet coupons will also be provided with purchase of membership so users can get quality safety gear at a marginal cost. Maybe most importantly, DOT has also announced an extensive public outreach campaign that will include workshops and collaboration with residents, community boards and civic leaders to assist in choosing location for bike station. “We really want your help in planning the system,” Sadik-Khan said towards the end of the announcement. And you can start by going to the DOT bike share website and dropping pins where you’d like to see stations: suggest a station
Whatever your opinion on the City’s bicycle program and growing bike infrastructure, no one can deny the benefit of an increase in transportation options for New Yorkers, particularly with the ever increasing cost of public transit and the traffic congestion at rush hour. What do you think about bike share in New York City?
NYC Bike Share will launch in the late spring, early summer 2012. For more information, demonstration dates and locations and FAQ’s about bike share, please visit http://a841-tfpweb.nyc.gov/bikeshare/