Sunday, March 22, 2015

Lawsuit aims at former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's pedestrian malls, bike lanes initiatives


Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s bicycle initiatives are under attack in a lawsuit filed Friday.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s legacy of installing pedestrian malls, bike lanes and bicycle rental stations on city streets is under attack in a lawsuit filed Friday in Manhattan Supreme Court.
Carl Person, the former Libertarian Party candidate for state attorney general, says the measures are illegal because the mayor never did an environmental impact statement as required by law.
The court papers say those innovations created “significant” environmental harm as drivers -- particularly cabbies -- spend more time wasting gas in slow moving traffic and economic harm because it takes longer to move around Manhattan.
The effect of these innovations "has been to create more congestion" because vehicles have fewer moving traffic lanes on the major avenues, the court papers say.

Steve Vaccaro, an attorney who helped write the 2014 law, said the maximum penalty is $250 and 30 days in jail.


Alexander Smotritsky, 39, was three blocks from his Bath Beach home when he struck Xiali Yue, 61, Monday morning at 21st Ave. and Cropsey Ave., cops said. She is in critical condition

           ******Steve Vaccaro******  

Attorney Steve Vaccaro is like a Transportation Alternatives "legal button man." Sues the city at the drop of a hat. Tries to intimidate the NYPD. The law does not mention cyclists being penalized if a rogue rider hits a pedestrian who is within a cross walk and has the right of way. This is a Vision Zero blind spot. We believe this is an intentional neglect of equal motor vehicle culpability. A prejudicial law that is a result of Transportation Alternatives radical mission to drive the auto from the city and recapture the streets and sidewalks for the bicycle.

*****Having Vaccaro write the law is akin to having lobbyists(TA employs and is a registered lobby group) write a Federal law. It is akin to having Halliburton write the laws pertaining to Fracking.******

Alexander Smotrisky, 39, was just three blocks from his Bath Beach home when he struck Xiali Yue, 61, Monday morning at 21st Ave. and Cropsey Ave.

The driver who rammed into a woman as she crossed a Brooklyn street, critically injuring her, was charged under the city’s fledgling right-of-way law, police said Tuesday.
Alexander Smotritsky, 39, was three blocks from his Bath Beach home when he struck Xiali Yue, 61, Monday morning at 21st Ave. and Cropsey Ave., cops said.
She was crossing 21st Ave. walking north in the crosswalk with the light when Smotritsky’s Ford Fiesta hit her while making a right onto Cropsey around 8:13 a.m., police said.
The Fiesta struck her with the center of its bumper, cops said. A police source said she was in grave condition.
The right-of-way law has been in effect since August and makes it a misdemeanor to strike a pedestrian who has the right of way. Twenty-two people have been charged under the law, including Smotritsky.
Steve Vaccaro, an attorney who helped write the 2014 law, said the maximum penalty is $250 and 30 days in jail.
“The hope of the people who are behind this law is that it will lead drivers to take these cases more seriously,” he said. “Up until this law was passed it was really common for there to be no charges at all.”
A man who answered at a listing for Smotritsky said he wasn’t home. He said he was unable to take a message.
Smotritsky also faces a violation of highway safety law for a failure to exercise due care, cops said.

Court Rules Citi-Bike In Petrosino Square Can Stay

Admirers photograph Carole Feuerman’s Survival of Serena an exhibition in the artist space located at the northern part of Petrosino Square on Lafayette Street and Cleveland Pl. between Kenmare & Spring Streets at the intersection of SoHo, Little Italy, and Chinatown.  (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Adovcates) 

The City surreptitiously installed a 32-dock Citi-Bike docking station (below) in April 2013 which replaced park space that had been dedicated to art installations since 1985, and even though there is an alternative location fro the bikes directly across the street. 

By Geoffrey Croft

In yet another strange ruling from the Supreme Court  Appellate Division First Department involving a parkland alienation case the court ruled that a controversial Citi-Bike docking station in Petrosino Square can stay.

"The trial court erred in failing to acknowledge the distinctions between recreational bicycling and bike-share commuting, which, though similar in instrumentality, serve completely different purposes," Plaintiffs argued. 

The Court did not agree.

The Appellate Division found that the bike share station served a proper park purpose of allowing members of the public to ride and dock a Citi-Bike at Petrosino Square, where they may “enjoy the Park as a respite, a spot for a meal or even as their final destination.”

In other words because the public can theoretically ride a Citi-Bike to the square where they can theoretically use the sitting area the docking station constitutes a "park purpose."  So even though that is clearly NOT the purpose of Citi-Bike nor how the bikes are used there the transportation bike sharing program can stay. 

And to add insult to injury, bike riding is prohibited in Petrosino Square according to the Parks Department.    

Section §1-05 Regulated Uses states that, "No bicycle...shall be ridden or otherwise operated in a pedestrian way, park path, sitting area..."

In 2013 Plaintiffs filed suit arguing that the city ignored state "parkland alienation" law and its own regulations when they installed Citi Bike racks in tiny Petrosino Square, a Parks Department owned property on  Lafayette Street in SoHo.   The suit alleged that the Department of Transportation and the Parks Department improperly failed to get necessary approval from the state Legislature to use parkland for a non-park purpose.

During the suit Corporation Council had absurdly tried to argue that the Square belonged to the Department of Transportation. 

Several requests seeking comment from the City's Law Department were not returned.  Attempts to reach Plaintiffs and their lawyer were also unsuccessful. 

"This is not a legitimate park purpose for Petrosino Square. It's an outrageous violation of law," Plaintiff's lawyer Randy Mastro, Gibson Dunn's senior managing partner said last month.

Sunday, December 7, 2014


New items include park-wide speed limit reduction from 25mph to 20mph, barricades further separating pedestrians from cyclists and enhancements to key crosswalks
                     By Geoffrey Croft  New York City Park Advocates Nov 18, 2014

The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, NYPD, and the Central Park Conservancy today announced immediate safety enhancements along the Central Park Drives. In addition to a reduction of the speed limit inside Central Park from 25 to 20 MPH for all modes of transportation, four key crossings across the park will receive substantial enhancements, including highly prominent “Pedestrian Crossing” warning signs at the intersections, advisory 10 MPH speed signs, and advance pedestrian crossing signs before each intersection.  The advance signs will be reinforced with roadway markings near the sign locations, refurbished crosswalks and clearer lane use markings.
Barricades will also be installed to shorten pedestrian crossing distance on the West Drive at two crossings (at Sheep Meadow, near W. 68th Street, and at Heckscher Ballfields, near E. 63rd Street) where the drive is significantly wider than typical. The barricades will be placed in the west-most motor vehicle lane during car-free hours. At Delacorte Theater (near W. 81st Street), a barricade will be installed between the pedestrian and bicycle lanes to better guide pedestrians to the crosswalk and to improve their sightlines to cyclists.
The Central Park Precinct will continue its public awareness campaign in the park to inform every one of the rules and regulations as it relates to traffic and pedestrian safety.  Individuals found in violation of the rules will be cited accordingly. 
        “Central Park is for all to enjoy in a safe and enjoyable manner, no matter how you choose to experience it,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “These immediate safety enhancements, worked out in partnership with our sister agencies, augments that experience by calming traffic, improving crosswalks and further reinforcing the appropriate lane assignments for all users.”
“Public safety is our highest priority and the new safety enhancement measures being implemented in Central Park will surely provide its millions of visitors with a safer experience,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver.  “I commend the NYC Department of Transportation, the NYPD, and the Central Park Conservancy for partnering with us to ensure enhanced safety conditions for all of the park's pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists.”
Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said, “The New York City Police Department is committed to ensuring the safety of all those who use Central Park as a means of transportation and recreation.  We will continue to collaborate with our partners from the Central Park Conservancy, NYC Department of Transportation and the Parks Department to make our streets safer for all New Yorkers and visitors alike.” 
“There’s no question; slower traffic will mean a safer park” said Doug Blonsky, President and CEO of Central Park Conservancy. “We applaud the DOT’s leadership role in lowering speed limits and adding signs and barricades, and we urge all  park users to know the new rules of the road.”
The four locations to receive these treatments include:
•       West Drive at Delacorte Theater (near W. 81st Street)
•       West Drive at Sheep Meadow (near W. 68th Street)
•       West Drive at Heckscher Ballfields Crossing (near E. 63rd Street)
•       East Drive at Terrace Drive (near E. 72nd Street)

The agencies will follow up the enhancements with stakeholder outreach and will be distributing DOT’s Bike Smart Brochures and Central Park-specific brochure geared toward cyclists and pedestrians.

Read/View More:

 New York Daily News  - November 19, 2014 -  BY Erin Durkin

CBS - November 18, 2014 - By Dave Carlin 

New York Daily News  - November 18, 2014 -  BY Erin Durkin

WCBS 880 -  November 18, 2014 -  by  Alex Silverman

New York Post  - November 19, 2014 - By Amber Sutherland and Yoav Gonen 

gothamist -  November 18, 2014 - Christopher Robbins

Central Park Speed Limit To Be Lowered

The speed limit in Central Park will be reduced to 20 miles per hour and new barricades will be installed in four areas.  (photo: NYC Park Advocates) click on image to enlarge

By Geoffrey Croft
The De Blasio administration will lower the speed limit in Central Park as part of the Vision Zero plan NYC Park Advocates has learned.

The speed limit will be reduced by 5 miles per hour to 20mph.
The move comes after two people were killed and three suffered fractured skulls this year alone as a result of being struck by cyclists in the park. 

Police in the park have dramatically increased bike enforcement and education.
The Central Park Pct. has so far issued 865 tickets to cyclists this year compared to 212 over the same period last year as of November 12th.  
The top four categories for tickets issued: 386 for Failure To Yield To Pedestrians,  164 wearing head phones,  117  biking on pathways, and 94 summons for running red lights. 
Some people were stopped for multiple infractions but given only on summons according to police.

Last week two off-leash dogs were run over and killed in the park by motor vehicles.  
Starting on November 7th the speed limit on all New York City streets was lowered to 25 MPH unless otherwise posted as part of Mayor De blasio's Vision Zero plan in an effort to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries in the city.  
In the early 90's police briefly enforced a separate speed limit for cyclists in Central Park under then parks commissioner Betsy Gotbaum, who instituted a 15 m.p.h. limit.  Issues involving speeding go back to when the park first opened in the 19th Century as horse-drawn carriages accidents were prevalent.

Husband begs city to stop speeding cyclists after wife dies

November 27, 2014 | 10:59pm
The bike with which Jason Marshall fatally struck Jill Tarlov.

The heartbroken husband of the Connecticut mom fatally struck by a speeding bicyclist in Central Park is calling on the city to crack down on cyclists who have turned the urban oasis into a dangerous racetrack.
Calling the situation a “time bomb,” Michael Wittman said it’s not a matter of if, but when someone else gets hit by a speeding biker.
“It’s too little, too late,” a still-grieving Wittman told The Post, referring to the city’s plan to reduce the speed limit from 25 to 20 mph for cars and bikes.
“You can certainly ride your bike through Central Park — you just can’t weave in and out of mothers and strollers at 30 mph. It’s pretty clear that these guys race each other through the park every day,” the CBS exec said.
His wife, Jill Tarlov, a 58-year-old mother of two, was in the crosswalk at West Drive and 63rd Street on Sept. 18 and about to step onto the curb when cyclist Jason Marshall plowed into her.
Tarlov, who was out shopping for her daughter Anna’s birthday, was left brain dead. She died three days later.
“I suspect she was hit from behind and thrown a good distance and hit with pretty good force,” said Wittman, who has reviewed the accident report but can’t bear to see the autopsy findings. “Doctors told me they’ve never seen an accident that bad from a bike.”
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Jason MarshallPhoto: Facebook
Witnesses told cops that Marshall, 31, was speeding the wrong way down West Drive, yelled at Tarlov to get out of the way, and then tried to swerve around her instead of braking.
I assume if he were driving a car, he’d be arrested on the spot,” Wittman said.
So far, investigators haven’t been able to determine how fast Marshall was traveling, even though the avid cyclist obsessively tracked his more than 700 rides this year online — and clocked a top speed of 35.6 mph in Central Park hours before he hit Tarlov.
He told cops at the time he was going only 8 or 9 mph, sources said.
“His statement that he hit her at 8 or 9 mph is highly questionable to me,” Wittman said. “I just don’t see how that could’ve happened. He never applied the brakes.”
Marshall hasn’t been criminally charged, but the Manhattan DA’s Office is still investigating.
At the time of the incident, the biker, a studio jazz saxophonist, dismissed it as “an unavoidable accident,” and stopped just short of apologizing.
“Since the day of the accident, I and my family have been in constant prayer for her and her family. This is the deepest of pain. It is the deepest of tragedies,” Marshall said in a statement.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


The Danger of Speeding Bicyclists in Central Park Investigators: Speeding cyclists in Central Park Investigative reporter Jim Hoffer looks into whether a police crackdown is making a difference. . WABCBy Jim Hoffer Thursday, November 06, 2014 NEW YORK (WABC) -- The Eyewitness News Investigators are looking into a growing problem in Central Park: Speeding bicyclists. The problem has led to pedestrian injuries and even some fatalities, and the NYPD is out to slow people down. Police have beefed up patrols ever since the death of pedestrian Jill Tarlov, who was struck and killed by cyclist Jason Marshall. After that incident, in September, the Investigators set out to test the speeds of cyclists in the park. And despite an almost daily crackdown by the NYPD, we found many bikers routinely surpassing the 25-mile-per-hour speed limit. We clocked them with a radar gun all over the park during busy times of the day. One of those we tagged speeding is Jason Colon. We asked if he thought he needed to slow down. "If you're aware of your surroundings, go for it," he said. "Something pops up, like a kid, it is time to dial back." Collisions are up 52 percent, according to the Central Park precinct. Authorities say 35 people have been struck by bikes in the park so far this year, while only one person has been hit by a car. The death toll in the bike-pedestrian accidents is two, and three suffered head fractures. Yet all throughout the park, on different weekdays at different times, our radar gun clocked bicyclists speeding, some topping 30 miles per hour. From the west side to the east side, we found dozens of cyclist zipping by joggers, walkers and baby carriages and doing it above the speed limit. It's a worry for many people who like to walk in the park. "They go so fast," pedestrian Martha Diprete said. "They go so fast." There are others, though, mostly cyclists, who blame distracted pedestrians. "You've got pedestrians on their cell phones, you've got people walking with baby strollers and babies right into the street," cyclist Terra Cardwell said. "I've almost nicked a few." The chaotic mix of Central Park is what makes it unique, and this year, it provides another distinction, the only place in the city where bikes pose a greater danger to people than cars. As to who is more to blame when bikes and walkers collide, cyclist James Rosa thinks he knows. "Often in these situations, both sides are wrong," he said. We caught up with Jason Marshall, asking him what can be done to minimize these collisions and if he had any thoughts. He just shook his head. He responded to a follow-up question with a polite "Good day, sir," ending the interview. We also spoke on the phone with the surviving spouses of the two victims killed by Central Park cyclists. One says giving more safe space to people walking and biking will bring down the accidents. Meanwhile, the husband of the woman killed in September takes a much harder line, saying his wife was killed in a senseless accident while in a crosswalk in broad daylight, adding that the park is no place to combine speeding cyclists and pedestrians.