Archive for the ‘Traffic’ Category

Service of Initiatives That are Both Just and Unjust

Thursday, June 13th, 2024

A side street on the East side in midtown.

There are some programs, initiatives or fights that have both intensely just and unjust components complicating decisions about which is the right way to go. Pondering where you come out can turn your brain around like a ball on a spinning roulette wheel. Elements of both sides of the argument make good sense, so you agree and disagree in equal measure.

Congestion pricing for Manhattan is a perfect example. Passenger cars that drive below 60th Street would pay a $15 toll which would be more for larger vehicles and less late at night and for motorcycles. The toll was almost set to go when at the last-minute New York Governor Hochul pulled the plug for now.

Our streets are jammed with cars and trucks creating traffic and pollution nightmares. The Metropolitan Transit Authority needs money to install elevators at subway stations for strollers and handicapped passengers as well as to extend the Second Avenue Subway.

On the other hand, retail, restaurant and entertainment businesses that have barely recovered from the impact of work-from-home programs that sucked millions out of midtown during Covid shudder at the anticipated reduction of customer traffic. Most will need to increase prices to compensate for what shippers pass along to them to cover the cost of their tolls. Consequently, citizens in the impacted area will pay more for what they buy as well as for taxi and car services that swing in and out of 60th Street.

A long-term impact might be that companies that can will move their businesses out of NYC which would impact the Big Apple’s tax coffers.

If you never need a taxi that crosses the toll boundary, don’t require a vehicle to carry heavy tools for your job or a disabled friend, client or relative, don’t live and shop in the affected area, and never go to theater or concerts from a neighborhood with nonexistent or unreliable public transportation, the decision is much easier.

Can we trust that buses and subways, already jammed at times and too often delayed, will sufficiently compensate for anticipated additional passengers?

What other issues make you go round and round when you weigh the pros and cons to decide on which side you stand? Where do you fall on congestion pricing in Manhattan?

The cars in the bus lane on Second Avenue in the 50s do not belong there.

Service of I Don’t Want to Hear That

Thursday, October 27th, 2022


Image by Pexels from Pixabay 

It’s not fair, I know, but when my favorite classical music station conducts a fundraiser, I either turn to YouTube to hear Mendelssohn or Mahler or to a competing station. I normally listen all day through my laptop, but I can’t think, read, or write with constant talk and only brief music breaks.

As previously admitted here, there are some commercials that cause me to immediately flip TV or radio stations and often I end up intrigued by the other program to the detriment of the original that loses a viewer or listener. These topics probably wouldn’t faze a medical audience, but I don’t want to hear repeatedly about gizmos that wash the guck from noses or mask the odor of a person’s privates.

When there’s a traffic jam, I’m irritated by the sound of useless impatient honking. And drivers: please keep your mufflers on and don’t go so fast you have to screech to a stop–or before slamming into an innocent neighboring vehicle—another painful noise. Pedestrians visibly jump when a large empty truck clatters down an avenue at top speed creating a BOOM when it confronts a significant pothole.

I move away from angry, raised voices on the street or in a store.

I am not a fan of political commercials that promote lies and, in this pre-midterm season we hear the same ones incessantly.

My beloved now deceased drama queen kitty would wail if I went near her paw to clip her nails when normally she was a tough girl. I couldn’t do it. Her cry was a deterrent. She didn’t utter a peep in the vet’s hands.

What sounds set you on edge?

Service of Pet Peeves III

Monday, February 22nd, 2021

I wrote the first two Pet Peeve posts in 2010 and 2011, summarized below as my feelings about them are unchanged. And although they’re not earmarked as such, many posts over years focus on irritating situations that fall in the peeve category, such as the recent ones about bait and switch sales tactics and euphemisms like “food insecurity” for hunger.

NOW

Hard to believe I have so many new ones.

I recently paid by credit card for bread in a bakery and dinner from a takeout-only Chinese place. In both instances an automatic tip request popped up on the tablet’s screen. Why should I give a tip to someone for putting a loaf of bread in a bag? I gave a tip for the Chinese takeout, even though I picked up my order, but friends who tip generously said they wouldn’t.

I don’t answer when surveys ask me what my income is and don’t believe that they should ask.

TV news producers: Stop showing close-ups of injecting vaccines into arms. For the squeamish who aren’t planning to get the vaccine it’s a turnoff and deterrent.

Train your vicious dog or give it away particularly if you live in an apartment house.

Respond to personal texts within 24 hours–especially if the sender infrequently reaches out and/or if they pose an important question.

If I never hear from you for months and we are personal acquaintances send me something more than a link to an article.

If I consistently “like” your Facebook postings, every once a quarter please “like” one of mine.

THEN

I’m surprised at how many of the oldie peeves are pandemic-proof. The exception might be how miffed I feel when my hands are full and someone near a door doesn’t hold it open. These days some might be afraid of getting too close. Another that irritated me 10 years ago was someone borrowing my pen and not returning it. I wouldn’t want it back now.

Otherwise, here are many of the oldie but still valid:

You call at a scheduled time and are told “Call me in 20 minutes.” The person who changes the time should make the second call.

Repetition of misinformation so it becomes true to some.

Drivers who don’t use their signal lights. It’s as handy a communication tool for pedestrians crossing city streets and avenues as it is for drivers.

Waste by government and corporations.

Buzzwords and jargon.

Tell me privately something that impacts me–don’t first announce it in public and if you want to give away something of mine, don’t ask me if it is OK in front of the potential recipient so I feel forced to say “yes.”

Don’t:

  • roll your eyes if I ask a question
  • offer to do something you know you won’t do
  • pull out on me causing me to slam on my brakes

Lack of traffic lights or signs at dangerous intersections drive me nuts.

Have your peeves stayed the same over years? Any new ones? Do people close to you know your peeves or do you keep them close to the vest?

Service of Keep off the Grass: Bryant Park & Bicycles in the Big Apple

Monday, July 8th, 2019

 

Bryant Park [photos above and to the right below] is one of my favorite places to roost at lunch in summer. There are kiosks selling food in the park and plenty of takeout places around it and the price is right when I bring the fixings from home. Sitting with a friend and a box lunch under one of many trees on a green folding chair with matching round table is heavenly. I pretend I’m in Paris.

I mentioned this to a pal who shared the following story. Her son had recently been in that park to grab a bite to eat. As he did so he laid his bike on the grass in the center of the park and, she texted, “Pretty soon a security guard came along and told him he had to remove his bike. My son protested citing a nearby couple with a giant stroller also on the grass. ‘A double standard’ said my son. The guard apologized and said that they can’t approach a family and ask them to remove a stroller [the size of a Smart Car]. But a single guy with a bike can be shooed away.” She ended with “It’s all about being PC I suppose.”

However, when it comes to this city, bicyclists are on the long end of the stick in most other ways. A community board just agreed to new protected bicycle lanes on Central Park West from 59th to 110th Street which will eliminate 400 parking spots–but the impact on residents is far more than the loss of parking. It has to do with pedestrian safety. As I’ve bemoaned countless times before, you walk at your own risk in this city if there are bikes around. I was almost smashed into by speeding bicycles two Saturdays ago during a mid afternoon walk from 39th Street and First Avenue to 23rd Street off 5th. One bike surprised me from behind on the sidewalk; the other paid no attention to the traffic light that was green in my direction and the rider, a woman, didn’t respond or apologize to my protest. She just kept going.

Michael Riedel rides his bicycle to work. The WOR 710 morning radio show co-host said he got a $90 traffic ticket for hurtling through a red light and ever since has followed traffic rules. He agreed that many of his fellow bike riders are menaces because they ignore the laws.

Shouldn’t keep off the grass rules apply to all vehicles with wheels, bicycles and baby carriages alike? Similarly, shouldn’t bicyclists be held to the same standards as motor vehicle drivers when it comes to traffic laws? Before forcing citizens to pay exorbitant fees to park in garages or leave cars out of town shouldn’t the city first increase the capacity of its public transportation options? Do bicycles cause consternation where you live? Do you have favorite places to picnic where you live or work?

Service of Congestion Pricing: Positive or Negative Impact on NY Metro Area?

Thursday, April 4th, 2019

Michael Riedel declared on the radio yesterday morning that he doesn’t care about the impending congestion pricing initiative slated for high traffic zones in Manhattan because he won’t be impacted by it as his colleagues might. He lives in the Village and often rides his bicycle to work. He’s half the WOR Radio 710 morning team. Len Berman, the other half, drives in from Long Island and the other key players are news director Joe Bartlett and executive producer Natalie Batos-Vacca. They hail from New Jersey. The latter three are currently less enthusiastic.

The system that state legislators approved in concept on Monday might start as early as the end of 2020. A network of license plate readers would bill vehicles south of Central Park. The money would supplement the tolls on seven bridges and tunnels around the city that charge between $9.50 and $15.

According to an Associated Press [AP] article that appeared in USA Today, some 717,000 vehicles daily enter the high traffic zone in question. With a toll of say $11.52, [which is being considered] proponents estimate a 13 percent reduction in traffic and $1.1 billion/year in revenues. After expenses, the money would go to trains and buses. Pollution should also be less.

The scheme has been in place in London [since 2003], Stockholm [since 2007] and Singapore [since the 1070s]. At first the effect was positively felt in London but congestion has increased lately because of businesses like Uber that were exempt from the toll. That changes on April 8.

The AP asked, as do I, if there is sufficient alternate transportation for those who give up their cars. What happens to taxis, delivery trucks, and ride-hail cars that might go in and out of the zone multiple times a day? Will excessive exemptions weaken the effect of the initiative? One pundit predicted that people “aren’t going to abandon their cars to get into the subway.”

“Asked about concerns over whether such a beleaguered transit system could even handle more riders if people decided not to drive into Manhattan, [Kate] Slevin pointed out that transit officials have almost two years to take steps that will help, like redoing bus routes.” Slevin is with an advocacy organization that supports the congestion toll.

How come we hear nothing about measures taken to belt-tighten at the MTA? Anyone review the budget for pork and ways for efficiency to lower the cost of doing business? The organization might find more than enough money for repairs were these steps taken.

Is Riedel right: That because he doesn’t live or work in the high traffic zone congestion pricing won’t impact him in any way? Do you think New York City’s limping transportation system can withstand an increased passenger load until the money kicks in to improve things? Aren’t the exorbitant fees in high traffic zones that are already added to the cost of yellow taxi rides—onerous for citizens and a death knell for the taxi owners–enough? Might the new tolls impact the value of residential real estate in the boroughs and NY Metro area?

Service of Questions—Does Google Have All the Answers?

Monday, January 14th, 2019

Questions, without immediate answers, often pop into my head. Every post has them of course and I’ve also focused on the topic several times before.

Here are some recent ones:

  • How do commuters fill the time and not go crazy when a traffic reporter tells them it will be 80 minutes just to get on a bridge or in a tunnel to NYC during morning rush hour–which happened last week?
  • How do pet owners of average means pay the vet bill when they have more than two love-animals?
  • I’ve lived in a moderate sized house and apartments ranging from very large to moderate size and now I live in a small apartment. Why is it that my husband and I lose as many things in the small space as in the large?

I asked Mike, a millennial and techy and my office next door neighbor, if unanswered questions like these pop into his head and did he think about the answers. He said, “I Google everything. I’d rather know.”  The child of the Internet added, “Google has never steered me wrong.”

I use Google a lot but hadn’t thought to do so regarding this crop of questions and when I did, it satisfied a third of them.

  • Commuters in traffic: I’d already thought of learning a language or listening to an audio book which I also read about as a result of a Google search. To address the stress I hadn’t thought of wearing comfy shoes as that would be automatic for me before a potentially trying drive, or loosening clothes and stretching before heading home after a difficult day. None addressed how to tackle the surprise of an extra one hour plus to a commute.
  • Pet owners paying vet bills for many pets: I didn’t find a satisfactory answer to my second question though I admit I didn’t spend a long time looking. I read about what percentage of pet owners have pet insurance; How much should pet owners spend on a sick pet; How much is the average vet bill and How much does a dog cost monthly? I suppose the answer to my question is “these owners don’t go to a vet for routine care.” [Our bills upstate ran on average $350 for such care for one cat especially if a blood test was involved.]
  • Losing things in big and small spaces: Results for question number three were equally unsatisfactory. Response categories covered how to stop losing things at home and a prayer to find a lost item to how to find something you love.

What kinds of questions pop into your head? Do you resort to Google for responses? If not, how do you satisfy them?

Service of Citizen’s Arrest

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

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.”

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.

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?

Service of Being Stuck in Traffic

Monday, June 5th, 2017

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.

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.

Service of So Many Vehicles and No Way to Get Anywhere

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

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 49th 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.

The 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?

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

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