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

Short Talks, Big Ideas: Event Recap


Last night’s Short Talks, Big Ideas event presented to a sold-out crowd, showcased the best in transportation innovation for nearly every NYC mode. The impressive speaker lineup was:

-Noel Hidalgo, Code for America, showcased the work of bike data hackers at Bike Hack nights.
- Lois Goldman, North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, discussed pedestrian safety measures in Newark, including a crash stat map and a planned demonstration of what various car speeds can do to a 10 year-old crash test dummy.
- Emily Gallo, Taxi & Limousine Commission, showed off the new lime green Boro Taxis and taught us that 97% of yellow taxi pickups are in Manhattan or at the airports.
- Kevin Ortiz, MTA, gave a behind-the-scenes look at wireless connectivity in the subways, and assured us it will be completely installed by 2017.
- Eric Goldwyn, Columbia University, shared his research on NYC dollar vans, which carry 125,000 passengers a day, making them the 20th largest bus system in the U.S.
-Gary Roth, MTA NYC Transit, made the case for bus security cameras, and showed how they work to show false injury claims.
- Robin Lester Kenton, NYC DOT, showed the power of Instagram photography for infrastructure, with special before/after shots of DOT-enhanced roadways. Follow NYC DOT on Instagram here.
- Randy Gregory II showed off his 100 Ideas for the Subway, some of the recommendations from his popular blog.

The event was moderated by Sarah Kaufman, Research Associate at the NYU Rudin Center, who is always looking for new presenters. Contact her at sarahkaufman /at/ nyu /dot/ edu if you’d like to speak in Spring 2014.

See below for some photos and check out #BigIdeas13 for tweets around the event.


Upcoming events at the NYU Rudin Center


Please join the NYU Rudin Center on the evening of November 4th for our next edition of Short Talks, Big Ideas, showcasing innovative work and ideas at the frontier of transportation innovation. Free registration is now open: http://wagner.nyu.edu/events/rudin-11-04-2013

We’ll cover streets, bikes, transit, dollar vans, data, wi-fi, photography, and more. #BigIdeas13
Also, we’re co-hosting the November 19th event “Closing the Enforcement Gap to Save Lives on NYC Streets” with Transportation Alternatives. Register here:

https://secure3.convio.net/ta/site/SSurvey;jsessionid=99462DC93AA291251B5950A7105F2B2D.app365b?ACTION_REQUIRED=URI_ACTION_USER_REQUESTS&SURVEY_ID=6420&pw_id=2441&autologin=true

 

Hope to see you in November!

WalkNYC comes to Crown Heights


wayfinding1

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.

wayfinding2

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.

Will pay phones become charging electric vehicle stations?


Photo via Flickr.com user Susan Sermoneta

Over the last decade, cell phones have become ubiquitous in cities across the world, creating less and less of a demand for the public pay phone. According to the Department of Technology and Telecommunications, there are still a little over 10,000 public pay phones on New York City sidewalks. The operational contracts for these kiosks expires in October 2014 and the city has the opportunity to transform the remaining kiosks to meet 21st century needs.

Earlier this year, the city sponsored a design contest to re-imagine these 20th century relics for the mobile 21st century. Several contest winners included electric vehicle charging stations as part of their design.

The electric vehicle is on the rise in the United States, electric vehicle sales are the fastest growing sector of the automotive industry and the number of E.V. models on the market has quadrupled in the last year. One challenge facing E.V. owners is the number and location of charging stations, especially in urban areas.

Converting kiosks into charging stations with two to three parking spaces each would be one potentially creative way to reuse the kiosks, which already have electric power. Finding charging stations can be a challenge for E.V. owners: Jay Friedland, legislative director for Plug in America, said that in one California town, E.V. owners use municipal owned Christmas tree light wiring to recharge.

Conflicting jurisdiction and interests of city agencies could complicate the process, which would involve formal applications and approval from the city. Earlier this year, New York Governor Cuomo announced plans to bring 3,000 charging stations to the state over the next five years and put 40,000 E.V.s on the road in that same period. Converting even a percentage of New York City’s pay phones to charging stations would meet statewide goals and increase access to charging for eager owners.

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.