Developing Social Media Protocols and Policies


The presentation made at TRB based on Sarah Kaufman and Susan Bregman’s book chapter, “What’s the worst that can happen? Developing social media protocols and policies” is now available on Slideshare. Please review and comment below if you have questions. The book is available here.


Developing Social Media Protocols and Policies for Transportation Agencies from Susan Bregman

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

NYU Rudin Center at TRB


If you’re heading to the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board next week, don’t miss the NYU Rudin Center’s appearances:

– “Citi Bike Takes New York,” presented by Mitchell Moss (NYU Rudin Director), Lily Gordon-Koven and Nolan Levenson (NYU Rudin Research Assistants) in Session 672, “Striving to Build Consensus Across Transportation Modes,” Tuesday, January 14, 2014, 3:45pm- 5:30pm.

– “What’s the Worst That Can Happen? Developing Social Media Protocols and Policies,” written by Sarah Kaufman (NYU Rudin Digital Director) and Susan Bregman, presented by Susan Bregman in Session 559, “Using Social Media to Improve Urban Transportation,” Tuesday, January 14, 2014 10:15AM – 12:00PM.

This presentation is based on the book chapter by the same name written by Sarah Kaufman and Susan Bregman.

Hope to see you there!

Mobility Factbook: Official Launch


NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation has launched a “Mobility Factbook” to explain how people move in, through and out of New York City. This site conveys, for each of NYC’s 28 modes, precise usage patterns and trends. We highlight the use of multiple modes, the surge in off-peak travel, and the use of information technology to enhance mobility.
You can visit the Factbook at www.nycmobility.org.A few key facts:

- The Grand Central Terminal Area hosts 750,000 pedestrians every weekday – more than the population of North Dakota (672,391) (See our map of daily pedestrian counts in major Manhattan destinations here)

– 97% of yellow taxi pickups occur in Manhattan or at the airports. (See more taxi facts here)

- NYC’s dollar vans are estimated to be the 20th largest bus system in the U.S. (And usually cost two dollars; see more here)

– NYC averages 0.59 automobiles per household; the U.S. averages 2.2 automobiles per household. See a map of car ownership rates within the city here.

Visit the site at nycmobility.org – you will learn something new on every page.

On train and car drivers, and their robotic successors


I, for one, welcome our robotic driver overlords.

Positive Train Control, which kicks in to control when human error puts travelers in a dangerous situation, sets the train on a safer course. As federal authorities, politicians and the public call for its implementation on commuter rail, in the wake of last week’s Metro-North train derailment that killed four and injured twenty passengers, I wonder why they don’t demand the same for cars.

Two million drivers in the U.S. fall asleep behind the wheel every week, as WNYC pointed out yesterday, and Ben Kabak of Second Avenue Sagas summarized other startling statistics: “…since 1993, for every 1 billion train passengers, seven have died. In 2012 alone, 33,561 Americans died in traffic incidents. The comparable motor vehicle death rate is 108,000 for every 1 billion drivers.” Clearly, despite the recent tragedy, human error makes trains the safer bet than cars.

Positive Train Control is being planned or implemented by train operators across the United States, by federal mandate. PTC monitors a train’s movement and speed through a combination of on-board computers and wireless communications to assess the train’s speed, location and proximity to other equipment and personnel, and often imposes a speed limit on the train. Hypothetically, if the Metro-North train that derailed had been using PTC, even if the driver “was in a daze situation,” the system would have reduced the train’s speed at that dangerous location, avoiding the derailment. The technology, despite its cost (up to $22.5 billion) and limitations (it only protects against human error, and not, for example, a broken rail), seems like a no-brainer for Metro-North, one of the busiest commuter railroads in the U.S. (and likewise Long Island Rail Road, the busiest in the country).

But where are similar safety measures for cars? There, the human error factor is extremely high, particularly when it comes to driving under the influence and distracted driving; according to the National Safety Council, “21 percent of crashes or 1.1 million crashes in 2011 involve talking on handheld and hands-free cell phones.” As we approach an era of driverless cars, it is time to establish a system that controls cars’ speeds, monitors their proximity to other vehicles and pedestrians, ensures they stop at red lights, de-activates drivers’ texting capabilities, and checks their blood alcohol levels before ignition. While accidents will still occur, the milliseconds of reactive speeds required by an on-board computer will almost always beat out the human computation needs, especially with a cell phone or drink in hand. Many of these safety measures are imminent, if not already possible. Those calling for improved train safety using PTC technologies should be demanding the same tools for personal cars, and sooner. In other words, despite last week’s accident, cars should be operated more like trains, and both should reduce their reliance on unreliable humans.

Sarah Kaufman

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


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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.

wayfinding2

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.