Currently viewing the tag: "New York"

Put this in the “Things that can make life better NOW” category.  

From the New York City Department of Transportation:

The project was based on a feasibility analysis that indicated it would improve traffic flow on 6th and 7th Avenue and improve traffic safety along Broadway. Both before and after implementing Green Light for Midtown as a pilot, NYCDOT collected extensive data on travel times, traffic volumes, pedestrian volumes and traffic accidents in the months just prior and just following project implementation. According to this data, the project is delivering on its expectations.

DOT collected and analyzed extensive data from GPS units in taxis to understand the impacts on this project for travel in and around midtown. Findings show:

  • Travel speeds for northbound trips throughout West Midtown improved 17% from fall 2008-2009, compared with 8% in East Midtown.
  • Travel speeds for southbound trips in West Midtown fell by 2% while East Midtown showed an increase of 3%.
  • The speed of eastbound trips increased by 5% and westbound trips by 9% over the same time period.
  • Bus travel speeds increased by 13% on 6th Avenue and fell by 2% on 7th Avenue.

Safety has also been vastly improved as a result of this project.

  • Injuries to motorists and passengers in the project area are down 63%.
  • Pedestrian injuries are down 35%.
  • 80% fewer pedestrians are walking in the roadway in Times Square.

And the project has had additional benefits as well.

  • 74% of New Yorkers surveyed by the Times Square Alliance agree that Times Square has improved dramatically over the last year.
  • The number of people walking along Broadway and 7th Avenue in Times Square is up 11% and pedestrian volume is up 6% in Herald Square.

Based on these findings, Mayor Bloomberg has decided to make these changes permanent. NYCDOT will begin a capital project to design and build the plazas and corridor treatments with permanent, high quality materials.

 

Miami lacks a center.  We have no urban square in which to assemble, no central oasis within our concrete jungle.  Our coastal parks lack focus, continuity, or the social elements which make them function.  By looking into the success of Urban Squares across the country, we’ll gain a better understanding of the attributes which make these squares function as centers for civic pride.  The features which make these urban parks succeed is what we as a community pour into them.  By contrast, our closest example of an Urban Square, Bayfront Park, is a disjointed, uncohesive mess, littered with commercial enterprises.  As we’ve discussed before, our closest community assembly point may just be a parking lot…

As you glance through these select few parks, notice the emphasis on community events.  You will find successful squares exist centered among the crossroads of business, theater, retail, and artistic centers while serving as the focal points for our densest urban communities. Don’t neglect the transit infrastructure.

Without reiterating many of the points made by my colleagues, I’ll turn our attention to the most successful urban squares across the United States, addressing why they work.

Union Square (San Francisco)

The 2.6 acre Union Square is located in the heart of San Francisco’s shopping, entertainment, and theater district.  A plethora of boutiques, department stores (6 to be exact), hotels, and theaters surround the square, making it one of the largest tourist attractions and shopping districts in the Bay Area.  The square is serviced by 2 cable car lines (Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason), the F Market Heritage Streetcar line, Muni Metro, and BART Subway systems (3rd busiest station along the system.)  Click here to go on a 3D Tour of Union Square.

Madison Square (New York)

The 6.8 acre Madison Square Park first opened in 1847, almost immediately served as a catalyst for the surrounding area, attracting hotels and theaters to the district (yes, this is where Madison Square Garden gets its name from.)  The park experienced a renewal in 1870 which bought a new design and sculptures to the park, among other items.  In 1912, America’s first public Christmas tree was erected in the park.  Today, the park plays host to abundant community and civic events (like the meatscursion.)  A new park favorite, the Shake Shack, garners hundreds of hungry patrons daily with lines snaking throughout the park.  Six lines of the MTA Subway service the region.

Union Square (New York)

Speaking more from personal experience, New York’s Union Square is a hub for local activity surrounded by an abundant mix of retail, residences, and commercial property.  The square is surrounded and influenced by the surrounding flatiron, Chelsea, Greenwich, and NYU neighborhoods.  Originally founded in 1815 as a public commons, the square began to take its more modern shape later into the mid 1800’s.  One of the square’s most prominent local features, the GreenMarket, began in 1976, providing regional small family farmers with opportunities to sell their fruits, vegetables and other farm products in the city.  The Union Square Hub is serviced by eight MTA subway lines.

The Unions Square Pillow Fight 2008:

Copley Square (Boston)

Boston’s Copley Square was founded in 1858.  Up until the early 1900’s, the square served as a cultural and educational center for Boston, bordered by the original Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Public Library, and original MIT Campus.  In 1983 with the formation of the Copley Square Committee, the park was revitalized improving green space, water features, and sightlines.  The Square is serviced by the four routes of the Green Line Light Rail system.

From 7 am to 1 pm on August 9, 16, and 23, New York’s Park Avenue will partially resemble it’s earlier form when a municipal park actually occupied the right of way.  A nod to the successful Ciclovia events in Bogota, Colombia, “Summer Streets” will ban all vehicular and bus traffic on the bustling thoroughfare from the Brooklyn Bridge to 72nd Street into central Park, giving way to pedestrians and cyclists only.

Park Avenue Before 1922

Image Via: Aaron Naparstek

Today:

Park Avenue Traffic

Image Via: MikeyNYC’s Flickr

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Transit Miami reader/contributor Dave sent me an excellent price comparison he composed on the cost of transit:
Listed are the comparable monthly passes (basic all purpose pass for busses, trains and transfers) and what the single cash fare would be for one trip. The number of trips listed is how many trips you would have to make in a month for the pass to be worth while for simple round trips.

Miami monthly metropass: $75, single fare $1.50 (50 trips)
Boston monthly metropass: $59, single fare $2 (29.5 trips)
New York monthly metropass: $76, single fare $2 (38 trips)
Chicago monthly metropass: $75, single fare $2 (37.5 trips)
San Francisco (Muni&some Bart stations) metropass: $45, single fare $1.50 (30 trips)

Maybe its because Miami-Dade’s transit thinks we need to pay more than other cities for our monthly pass because we use the transit system so much more often than these other cities do (sarcasm)?

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I’ve spent the better part of the past 5 days traveling throughout New York and Canada, articles will reappear later today as soon I as I recover… Here is a view of one of my recent traveling delays at JFK. We taxied in line of jets for an hour, waiting for 40 planes to take off before we were given the go ahead. Looking back, these were just a fraction of the planes waiting behind:
On the plus side, I did eventually get a pretty nice aerial view of Manhattan:

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The video above shows a bunch of New York’s infamous bike messengers racing through the streets of Manhattan, no holds barred. In no way am I advocating cycling like this in Miami (or any city for that matter), and in no way do I consider this safe or sane. I don’t even condone their often hostile actions toward pedestrians. However, it does show just how fast you can get through a city on a bike - oh yeah and it’s entertaining, too.

Note: Fast Forward to the 45 second mark for the beginning of the race.

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Judging by qualitative experience and from comments on this blog and in other local print media, it seems there is some confusion about what it really means to be a “Green City”. Frankly, when people who claim to be pro-green are still referring to Mayor Diaz as “Concrete Manny” with derogatory undertones, it means many of us still don’t get it. Today I was going to wax on about the counter-intuitive nature of the Green City, but instead I strongly recommend reading an essay written in the New Yorker a couple of years ago that does an outstanding job explaining why New York is actually the greenest city in the U.S. Click here to download it.

top photo courtesy of Scott Foy’s Flickr account

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What is taking Miami so long to embrace bicycle-oriented policies? Given the area’s fantastic year-round weather, terrible traffic congestion, underdeveloped mass transit, and fairly dense urban core (i.e. Miami proper, Miami Beach, downtown Gables), one would think Miami would be at the forefront of developing bicycle-oriented infrastructure. This certainly hasn’t been the case, however. As of this day, there are only a handful of bicycle lanes in all of Miami-Dade County, and they are located primarily in the suburbs of Coral Gables and Key Biscayne.
Mayor Diaz’s Green initiatives provide an excellent foundation for sustainability in Miami, I find that a bicycle-boosting initiative is conspicuously missing. If you google “Miami” and “bike”, you’ll sadly get more results for bike-related activities in Ohio’s Miami Valley then in America’s southernmost metropolis. Doing some quick research, the only mention of bicycle projects was at the MPO’s website. However, there are only a very small number of bike projects being considered, and all of them are either fragmented suburban routes or recreational trails. It appears there is very little direction or leadership for improved bicycle policy in Miami. Meanwhile, many cities across the county and around the world are pedaling full speed ahead (pun intended) with their own initiatives to promote bicycling as a popular, sustainable, safe, and effective means of transportation.

  • New York, NY: An elaborate city website exhibits all the bike information you could ever need, including maps. The City already has several hundred miles of bike lanes cris-crossing all five boroughs, yet plans to implement another 900 lane miles of bike lanes and greenways. NYC even has a bicycle master plan, which, if I am not mistaken, is completely foreign to any municipal body in Miami-Dade.
  • Louisville, Kentucky: The City is in the process of implementing a citywide system of bike lanes and paths. Mayor Jeffrey Abramson, who keynoted the 2007 National Bike Summit in Washington, has adopted a “complete streets” policy that requires bike lanes as apart of all major road improvements.
  • Seattle, Washington: Creating safer cycling conditions is the City’s top priority. The City is about to implement its own Bicycle Master Plan, a 10-year strategy to create 200+ miles of bike lanes citywide.
  • Portland, Oregon: A national leader in urban bicycle policy, the City’s fantastic website has extensive biking information. Everything from maps, guides, and brochures - it’s on the website.
  • Copenhagen, Denmark: Perhaps the most bicycle-friendly city on Earth, 32% of residents bike to work. This is despite being a city with a climate that is cool, wet, and dreary for much of the year - the antithesis of Miami (so much for all those lame weather excuses Miamians use to drive everywhere). So 32% of residents bike to work…fantastic, right? Not good enough for Copenhagen. The City has set a goal to increase this percentage to 40%.
Photo courtesy of Flickr account: vj_pdx

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