Archive for the ‘Traffic’ Category

Service of Citizen’s Arrest

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

Photo: steelturman.typepad.com

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve said out loud, sometimes to no one in particular “I wish I could make a citizen’s arrest!” When I told my husband the subject of this post he suggested I check out just what this would entail, “because,” he added, “everyone uses that expression and they may not know.”

So a quick detour before I share my targets. According to criminal.findlaw.com, in a Breaches of the Peace section: “In general, people can’t use citizen’s arrests for misdemeanors unless the misdemeanor involves a breach of the peace. Even in these circumstances, however, individuals can only make arrests when they have personally witnessed the criminal behavior and the breach has just occurred or there is a strong likelihood that the breach will continue.”

Photo: youtube

In its conclusion: “Every individual is empowered to arrest wrongdoers in certain circumstances, but individuals looking to make a citizens arrest act at their own risk. Not only is the act of apprehending a criminal inherently dangerous, but failure to meet the legal requirements for a citizens arrest could have devastating consequences for the person making the arrest.”

I trust that you don’t take me literally and that you realize I write out of exasperation. It’s helpful to let off steam once in a while in a benign way and not make life miserable for others as some of my fellow citizens are prone to do.

Photo: nyc.streetsblog.org

The most recent affront that awoke the policewoman in me was made by a delivery truck driver for a well known brand who leaned on his horn when there was nothing the vehicles in front of him could do to move out of his way. Nobody was walking in front of him; no car was cutting him off, yet he polluted the air and turned the time we all shared with him on that street into earsplitting misery.

Joining him on my hit list are the

***selfish subway passengers who won’t let me either in or out of a train

***bicyclists who miss me by a hair when they are driving in the wrong direction, zooming past me against the light or whisking past me on the sidewalk

***impatient drivers who ignore oncoming pedestrian traffic and swerve into avenue or street while endangering all those crossing an avenue

***bus drivers who use their airbrakes with abandon even when they know incoming passengers, some frail, aren’t yet holding on or settled in seats. Note: In some busses it’s quite a distance between the MetroCard fare collecting machine and strap or seat.

***drivers who won’t pull over and stop for an ambulance to pass: Don’t they realize their sister, mother, child, spouse or nephew might one day be inside?

An arrest for the following infractions would be too harsh—maybe I’d just give a warning for

***people who bump into me and don’t apologize

***elevator passengers who let the door slam in my face or who don’t offer to hit my floor when my hands are full

Are there infractions or violations to living in crowded places in a civilized way that you would hit with a citizen’s arrest or warning if you could?

Photo: dreamstime.com

Service of Being Stuck in Traffic

Monday, June 5th, 2017

George Washington Bridge midday traffic. Photo archive.northjersey.com

Manhattan doubles its population to 3.1 million people daily according to a 2013 census estimate. No surprise that as long as I can remember I’ve heard morning traffic reports. When my uncle commuted by car to the city from Westchester, and for years after, I thought of him when there was an accident holding up traffic on the Hutchinson River Parkway.

I feel for drivers who almost every day are faced with one hour waits to cross bridges and tunnels from NJ. According to citylab.com, “New Jersey workers…..seem to prefer cars more than most other areas.”

Long Island isn’t an easy place to commute from either and it may soon be getting worse. After 70 minutes waiting my turn in less than a mile outside the Midtown Tunnel one recent Saturday evening, I wondered aloud, “How do commuters do it?” I have to hand it to them.

Waiting so long to return to Manhattan from Long Island wasn’t bad enough: I had to fight off predator drivers who jumped the line which further slowed the process. Imagine a daily diet of such stress. This particular Saturday the bottleneck was caused by elimination of all but one lane in the tunnel giving Long Islanders access to the city due to ongoing repairs. I wondered why there were no traffic police to keep things civil and moving. And by the way: There were traffic slowdowns on various highways to and from our destination and it wasn’t weekday rush hour.

Queens Midtown Tunnel traffic. Photo: nbcnewyork.com

What happens to the citizens of Long Island who take the railroad to the beleaguered Penn Station that will be closing countless gates this summer to repair long-neglected tracks? How will they get to work? The exorbitant cost of parking aside, driving is clearly not an option unless you travel to the city at 4:00 a.m. and return home by 2:00 p.m.

What do people do to calm their nerves when faced with such daily drives that eke the energy they should apply to their jobs? When will politicians stop playing “hot potato” passing disaster on to the next administration and learn to routinely maintain their bridges, roads and tunnels? Citizens will pay the piper in time and money whenever it happens so it might as well be for quick patches rather than years-long major repairs.

Photo: atlantic.com

Service of So Many Vehicles and No Way to Get Anywhere

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

Traffic jam in Paris

The first time I felt stranded in a city swarming with cars was in Teheran long ago. The feeling of frustration, helplessness and dread is always the same. I think: “How will I get where I need to be on time or at all?” We were miles from our hotel, there were no taxis, we spoke not a word of Farsi and had no clue about public transportation.

The next time this happened was in Paris years later and years ago. The trick then was to know the number of a responsible car service. This didn’t always work either even when the concierge of a well regarded hotel placed the call. At least Paris has a superb metro system though it’s not fun taking public transportation very late at night when you’re dressed up and in uncomfortable shoes.

Back in NYC last week we waited 45 minutes for the cross-town bus at traffic jam in nyc49th and First Avenue, a jaunt from a subway. It never came. Everyone at the stop when we arrived eventually gave up. Meanwhile countless busses raced along First Avenue.

We left frantic calls on our friend’s mobile phone to make alternate plans. He held the tickets to Radio City Music Hall‘s Christmas Show and was waiting for us outside. My phone went dead. It needed a charge. We walked to Second Avenue hoping for better luck and mercifully someone hopped out of a cab which we dashed into. The driver charged my phone; we were able to connect with our friend but gosh–the stress to get there dampened our enthusiasm.

Lucky the show was spectacular as that’s what we remember when we think of that evening.

“There are rideshare options in your city!” some readers are yelling at their computer screens. My response: “I don’t have access to apps to hire Uber, Lyft, Gett or Juno car services. Does everyone?” Why don’t I? I need to set aside 3 hours to wait my turn at the Apple Store to acquire a new password/Apple ID in order to download apps. Something happened with my old one. The daunting potential time waste has put me off.

Second avenue subwayThe city is strangled by traffic. In addition to the annual influx of holiday shoppers and tourists eager to see the tree at Rockefeller Center, the stroke in midtown traffic caused by security around the President-elect’s Fifth Avenue midtown office/home will ensure that for blocks we continue to suffer for four years. In addition, the Governor has promised to complete the first stretch of the Second Avenue subway [photo left] by year’s end. To satisfy his ego, he has workers at it 24/7 and the avenue shrinks to one lane around 72nd Street. This subway has been in the works for 70 years at least when the first bond issues were floated. So what’s a few more days?

A sidebar: To feed a MetroCard for access to busses in NYC a person needs access to the subway which is usually up or down flights of stairs. Doesn’t that eliminate people for whom stairs are an issue? Grand Central Station no longer sells the cards on the main floor. Maybe you can buy or feed a card in a convenient spot somewhere else in the city but I don’t know where.

So how should people plan on getting around in cities?

Lyft

Service of Ingenuity

Monday, September 12th, 2016

Bike 1 turned

I love New Yorkers. They think of ingenious ways of making the city work for them. Sometimes, though, they are thrown a curve ball for which even the most resourceful have trouble coming up with solutions.

Bike 2 turnedFirst the resourceful. Just down from my office on 45th Street near Third Avenue is a bank of rental bikes locked into place. Pass it at lunch time and you’ll find citizens perching on and leaning against parked bicycles to eat, catch up on texts and emails, sip a soda, watch the world pass by or to simply sit in the shade in midtown during a break on a hot summer day. The price is right, there are others to chat with if you want—it works!

But it doesn’t always.

I’m a fairly street smart lifelong New Yorker and yet I still haven’t figured out a safe way to get in and out of the parking spaces cobbled out of avenues, such as First, to make it safe for bikers to travel next to the sidewalk. [I first wrote about the dangerous configuration in a post last October.] The photo below best illustrates the challenge.

I parked in one of these spots for the first time over the Labor Day weekend so there was little city traffic and yet my heart was in my throat as I backed in hoping that:

  • I was quick enough not to be hit by impatient oncoming traffic.
  • I was accurate enough when backing into the space perfectly on the first try and
  • I wouldn’t hit a bicyclist.

Parked cars 2 turnedWhen my passenger joined me he had to dash across the bicycle lane, [looking both ways as bicyclists ignore traffic rules], and into the avenue to the passenger door, open it, jump in and close it before the red light turned green for galloping oncoming traffic.

Pulling out into a pause in traffic with a sedan was another heart-stopper. I noticed most of the other cars parked there that day were SUVs. Try pulling out into parking-lot thick traffic filled with frustrated, angry drivers. One furious driver, just before I snapped the photo below, took off in the bike lane instead of waiting for someone to let him into First Avenue. He broke into traffic with the light, ahead of the cars waiting to enter the avenue on 50th Street. Clever perhaps but God help any pedestrian or bicyclist in his way. I don’t recommend this solution.

Have you noticed other resourceful ways city dwellers in New York or elsewhere have made creative use of what’s around them? Do you have suggestions for how to use these floating parking spots in safe ways?

 

From the right, bike lane, parking lane and First Avenue morning traffic

From the right, bike lane, parking lane and First Avenue morning traffic

Service of Just Because the Light is Green…

Monday, December 14th, 2015

Green light

We see green lights but that doesn’t mean it’s safe to pass or to take the next step or to expect the usual to happen.

I thought of the title and this post as I crossed 45th Street and Second Avenue with the light and was almost run over by a police car that couldn’t go very far after its turn. The street was clearly jammed and traffic was at a standstill. The policeman driving didn’t honk and no lights indicated who he was or that he was rushed.

Nevins Street SubwayI encountered a second example commuting back and forth to Brooklyn from Manhattan on the subway a few times over a weekend recently. Waiting at the Nevins Street station where both East and Westside trains pass by, in the 16-some minutes before my train arrived, three went to the Westside. Did someone at the MTA check the schedule?

Given the delay, my train to Manhattan was jammed on a Saturday night at 6:30 pm. When it reached the city, at every stop, the recorded announcement blared, “This is an express train to Woodlawn,” and yet it stopped at every single local station. Imagine your confusion if you were from out of town?

jammed subway carWhen it reached 42nd Street, I stayed on figuring it would stop at the next local station, 51st street, but it didn’t. It became the express it was supposed to be all along, without notice. There are motormen and women on each train: Were they, like those who maintained the schedule, asleep or busy cashing their paychecks?

Not everyone has a smartphone that works underground nor is everyone linked to apps with the latest subway information. Does MTA management assume we all are?

It’s not just transportation—by foot or by subway—that gives off mixed signals. I might count on something or someone and whatever’s promised falls through or becomes a shadow of its original self, turning a green light into a watery orange or red one. Do you have an inner gauge that accurately reports to you when “Go!” means that and/or other examples of when you’ve proceeded based on a literal or symbolic green light and shouldn’t have or couldn’t?

 Go

Service of Two-Wheelers: Good for the NYC Orthopedic Business

Monday, October 26th, 2015

Bicycle Shots Oct 2015 003

I’ve written before about bicycles in NYC, the first time when the cycling program was announced in July 2012 and several times since. In a post a few months ago I described two near-miss crashes as I crossed the street with the light and bicycles ignored me.

A recent traffic alteration in my midtown Manhattan neighborhood inspired me to cover the subject again. It underscores my opinion that this city is not bicycle-appropriate and that bicycles are neither traffic nor pedestrian-friendly.

Bicycle Shots Oct 2015 004New to the East 50s on First Avenue is a bicycle lane next to the curb where cars have parked for decades. [See the photo above. That line of cars is parked!] Parked cars use up what had been a traffic lane [which should strangle the movement of vehicles on the Avenue]. Drivers backing up to park in one of these spaces will temporarily intrude on a third traffic lane slowing movement even more.

Crossing NYC Street 003 flipThis strategy, designed to protect bike riders, must have been made by a person who doesn’t walk the streets of New York or who isn’t observant. New Yorkers don’t stand on the sidewalk to wait for a green light to cross a street, they stand in the street. Potential BOOM! [The man in the photo at left isn’t even looking in the direction of oncoming traffic!] And when drivers push open their car doors to get out, how many will watch for zigzagging bicyclists? BOOM again with potential broken bones and work for auto body repair shops.

Yellow caution tapeThursday morning the city cordoned off all the First Avenue bike lanes with yellow caution tape from 49th to at least 54th Streets. I couldn’t see any reason for it and there was nobody to ask. Where did the bikers go? They were forced to squeeze into the traffic. Argh. [See the photo below.] By Friday morning the tape was still there, only on the ground, as were the toppled traffic cones they were taped to.

I’m not anti-bike; I’m increasingly not a fan of bicycles in midtown Manhattan where I don’t think they belong. I doubt they alleviate substantially the need for motor vehicles to justify their pride of place. And you?

 Bicycle Shots Oct 2015 006 flip

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