Wednesday, December 30, 2009

NEW YORK CITY VOTERS LIKE CAR-FREE TIMES SQUARE, QUINNIPIAC UNIVERSITY POLL FINDS

"Banning cars on Broadway, creating a pedestrian mall from Times Square to Herald Square is a good idea, New York City voters say 58 – 34 percent in a Quinnipiac University poll released today.   Support ranges from 66 – 27 percent among Manhattan voters to 50 – 44 percent among Bronx voters.



By a smaller 48 – 46 percent margin, voters say the city should create more pedestrian malls.  But voters say 57 – 38 percent that they don’t want such a mall in their neighborhood, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds.   The two-month experiment has attracted 44 percent of New Yorkers, who say they’ve spent time on Times Square."

Highway Traffic Safety : Men's Health

Highway Traffic Safety : Men's Health

"Car crashes happen to other guys, right? Maybe they don't have your quick reaction time or uncanny ability to multitask behind the wheel. Or maybe they're simply lesser drivers. If you believe that, let us introduce you to Adam LaBar, 1970-2008. We suspect you'll recognize him. We hope you'll learn from him."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Baby car seats recalled: Is yours safe?

Baby car seats recalled: Is yours safe?: "
Filed under:
A Columbus, Ind. company has recalled about 447,000 infant car seat carriers after dozens of reports of its handle coming loose and posing a fall hazard.



The recall involves famous brands such as Safety 1st, Cosco, Eddie Bauer and Disney. Priced between $120 and $220, the car seats were sold at department and juvenile product stores from January 2008 through this month.



Dorel Juvenile Group Inc. received at least three reports of injuries to infants including bumps, bruises and a head injury caused by the faulty handle, according to a joint release by the company, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.



Consumers can check the model number and manufacture dates on a label attached to the side of the car seat carrier to verify if their product is in good standing. The model numbers are listed at the CPSC release regarding the recall.



The government has instructed consumers to immediately stop using the car seat carriers handle until a repair kit has been installed. You can get your free kit by contacting Dorel at 866-762-3316.



The car seats were also sold as part of a travel system, and the government says that the strollers are not part of the recall.
Baby car seats recalled: Is yours safe? originally appeared on WalletPop Blog on Mon, 21 Dec 2009 10:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
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Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Weekly Carnage

The Weekly Carnage: "



The Weekly Carnage is a Friday round-up of motor vehicle mayhem
across the metro region. For more on the origins and purpose of this
column, please read About the Weekly Carnage.




carnage_raulston_news.jpgCyclist Solange Raulston, 33, was killed on December 13 when she was hit by the driver of a flatbed truck at a Greenpoint intersection known to be hazardous to cyclists and pedestrians. The driver was not charged. Photo via Daily News
Fatal Crashes (21 Killed Since 12/4, 310 This Year*, 28 Drivers Charged**)

  • Brooklyn: Greenpoint Cyclist Killed by Truck Driver; No Charges (News, Post, Bklyn Paper, Gothamist)

  • Brooklyn: Hit-and-Run Driver Surrenders After Killing Pedestrian in Bay Ridge (NY1, Newsday)

  • Brooklyn: Elderly Pedestrian Dies in Sunset Park Hit-and-Run (News, Post, NY1)

  • Brooklyn: Elderly Pedestrian Struck by Ambulance at Intersection Built for Speed (Streetsblog)

  • Bronx: Driver Killed in Three-Vehicle Crash Involving Tom Brokaw (NYT)

  • New Rochelle: Man Exits Limo After Argument, Hit by Three Drivers (LoHud)

  • Putnam Co.: 1 Killed in Head-On Collision on Icy Road (LoHud, CT Post)

  • Yorktown: 1 Killed After Driving Into Utility Pole (LoHud)

  • LI: 2 Pedestrians Killed in Lindenhurst, Ronkonkoma (Newsday 1, 2)

  • Bay Shore, LI: Pedestrian Killed by Hit-and-Run Driver (Newsday)

  • Mastic Beach, LI: Three-Vehicle Collision With Two School Buses Kills Truck Driver (Newsday)

  • Center Moriches, LI: 1 Killed, 4 Hurt in Two-Vehicle Crash (Newsday)

  • Wantagh, LI: 1 Killed in Drag Racing Crash; 2 Charged With Manslaughter (Newsday)

  • Jersey City: Driver With History of Seizures Crashes Into House, Dies (Jersey Jrnl)

  • Irvington, NJ: Man Changing Tire on Garden State Pkwy Killed in Hit-and-Run (NJLN)

  • Paramus, NJ: Truck Driver Killed in Three-Vehicle Collision (S-L)

  • Bloomsbury, NJ: Man Dies After Driving Under Tractor-Trailer (S-L)

  • Belleville, NJ: Driver, 20, Killed, Passenger Injured in One-Car Crash (S-L)

  • Secaucus, NJ: Man Pinned to Building by His Own Van (Jersey Jrnl)

  • Oxford, CT: Motorcyclist Killed in Single-Vehicle Crash (CT Post)



carnage_suvinstore_advance.jpgPhoto: Staten Island Advance
Arrests, Injuries and Property Damage





  • Unlicensed Driver Severely Injures 2 Brooklyn Teens; Charged With Assault, DWI (PIX, News 1, 2)

  • Queens: Off-Duty NYPD Detective Smashes Car Into Midtown Tunnel Toll Plaza (Post)

  • SI: Elderly Driver Crashes Into Store, Pinning Shopper Beneath SUV (Advance)

  • Manhattan: 2 Cabs Crash Into NYU Scaffolding (Gothamist)

  • Bronx: Motorist Assaults TEA Over Parking "Grace Period" (Streetsblog)

  • Bronx: Off-Duty Cop Injured in Collision With DWI Woman (Post)

  • SI: Mom Arrested After DWI Crash With Kids in Car (News)

  • SI: Unlicensed Driver Busted for Possession; DWI Suspect Flips SUV (Post)

  • SI: Woman Hospitalized After Flipping SUV on Hylan Blvd in Midland Beach (Advance)

  • SI: Driver Who Got Cops' Attention by Driving 10 MPH Arrested for DWI (Advance)

  • SI: 3 Drivers in Separate Incidents Arrested for Driving Drunk, High (Advance)

  • Weehawken: Crashed Tractor Trailer Clogs Lincoln Tunnel Traffic (WPIX)

  • Hoboken: Federal Officer Charged With DWI, Leaving Scene After Crash (Jersey Jrnl)

  • Brentwood, LI: Cyclist Hit, Seriously Injured (Newsday)

  • Shelton, CT: Weather Blamed for 50-Car Collision That Injures Scores (CT Post)

  • Metuchen, NJ: Pedestrian Hit, Critically Injured Near Train Station; No Charges (S-L)

  • Union City, NJ: Woman Tries to Run Over Husband With Kids in Car (Jersey Jrnl)



Following Up



  • "Leandra's Law" Takes Effect Today (NY1)

  • Victims, Electeds, Advos Want Tougher Punishment for Unlicensed Drivers (Streetsblog)

  • Brooklyn: B41 Ped Fatality an Apparent Hit-and-Run; Driver in the Clear (Post)

  • Family of Pedestrian Killed by Off-Duty Detective Sues NYPD, Feds (R'dale Press, Post)

  • Queens: Astoria Residents, Electeds Rally for a Safer 21st Ave (Queens Gazette, Your Nabe)

  • SI: Driver Convicted in 2007 DWI Crash That Killed Pataki Aide (Advance)

  • Newark: Truck Driver in Hit-and-Run Pedestrian Death Located, Not Charged (S-L)

  • Lawsuit Filed in Diane Schuler Crash (City Room)

  • Milford, CT: Speeding Cop in Crash That Killed 2 Teens Fired (CT Post)



carnage_weezeraccident1209.jpgPhotos via Gothamist
Out of Town

  • Dallas, TX: Three Girls, 16, 14, and 12, Killed Trying to Cross "Urban Highway" (Dallas MN)

  • Chicago: Unwitting Cyclist Killed in Road Rage Conflict (ATA)

  • Anchorage, AK: Drunk Driver Indicted in Crash First Blamed on Dead Cyclist (BCA)

  • Philadelphia: 2 Charged With Murder for Sidewalk Crash That Killed Mom and 3 Kids (AP)

  • Fallsburg, NY: 4 Killed in One-Car Wreck; Speeding Suspected (Newsday)

  • Syracuse: Nurse Run Down in Hit-and-Run Outside Hospital; Teen Driver Arrested (AP 1, 2)

  • Italian Police Wreck Lamborghini Patrol Car (Wheels)

  • Berbiguieres, FR: Driver Walks for DWI Crash That Killed 4, Including Wife, Stepdaughter (Telegraph)

  • Weezer Singer Rivers Cuomo Injured in Albany-Area Tour Bus Crash (Gothamist)

  • Sylvan, MI: Former "American Idol" Contestant Dies in One-Car Wreck (Post)

  • St. Louis: Cardinals' Third Baseman David Freese Arrested for DWI (AP)

  • Charlotte, NC: Cincinnati Bengals WR Chris Henry Killed After Falling From Pickup (Post)


Trends and Other News



  • Silent Carnage: Air Quality Tests Show NYers at Risk From Vehicle Emissions (Streetsblog)

  • Teen-Targeted DWI Program Created by Maureen McCormick Goes Citywide (News)

  • Speeding Drivers Boost Crash Rate on Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (Post)

  • Study Links Homicides and Traffic Fatality Rates (PubMed)

  • Tax Court Judge Allows Man to Write Off DWI Truck Damage (WSJ)

  • For Decades, Mobile Industry Has Peddled Phones as Distracted Driving Devices (Streetsblog)

* Since the week of June 8
** Drivers charged for deaths since the week of June 8, based on latest available reports

"

Friday, December 18, 2009

GOOD LOOK: Wireless Parking San Francisco

The prerequisite of having a smart parking system installed is to have the motorist possess a smartphone, ie, iphone, blackberry, android. But current laws prevent drivers using a device while driving. How is this ever going to work then?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Will Congestion Pricing Return From The Dead?

Will Congestion Pricing Return From The Dead?: "

2009_12_congestionpric.jpg
Photograph by RGP on Flickr
Even while haggling in Copenhagen, our politicians are still hard at work for us: case-in-point, Mayor Bloomberg did an interview with CNBC yesterday to discuss the MTA funding crisis, and alluded to the possible re-birth of his congestion pricing plan:



'I don't think congestion pricing, or those kind of things, are dead. One-half of the legislature, the Albany Assembly, they tried to pass a bill to put congestion pricing around all of Manhattan and they couldn't get it done. The Senate didn't go along. Next time, come March, they're going to have to balance a budget and I think any kind of revenue source will be on the table...If we had done congestion pricing two years ago, perhaps they wouldn't be in this situation.'



As the Post reports, Bloomberg's controversial idea was to charge $8 to drive into Manhattan below 86th St. on weekdays, based on similar successful pricing plans in London and Stockholm, but it died in the Assembly last year. With the MTA facing a budget gap of nearly $400 million right now, Bloomberg took this opportunity to raise the congestion pricing plan as a solution, although the News reports he was careful to distance himself a little from pushing the idea too hard, saying, 'Whether you see it in New York or not, I'll leave it up to the state legislature.'



However, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, seen as congestion pricing's killer, told NY1 yesterday, "[T]he mayor has added congestion by narrowing streets, by putting benches in the middle of the city—and this was the same mayor who talked about congestion when he was going to build a football stadium in the middle of the most congested part of the city. They've now put park benches in the middle of Times Square, reduced Broadway traffic up and downtown from four lanes down to one or two, and lower Broadway down to one lane. So, he's created congestion just in these traffic patterns that have taken place.'





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Cheap Gas for iPhone Tracks Gas Prices So You Can Fuel Up for Less [Downloads]

Cheap Gas for iPhone Tracks Gas Prices So You Can Fuel Up for Less [Downloads]: "

iPhone/iPod touch: It's so frustrating to stop for gasoline, drive two miles, and discover another gas station with lower prices than you just paid. Put Cheap Gas! on your iPhone and get the scoop on prices before you fill up.

Cheap Gas! determines your location then scans the GasBuddy.com database to pull up information on what gas stations are near you and what they're charging for fuel. You can sort by price or distance (handy if you're already driving on fumes), and also perform searches by zip code. Once you find a price you like, the app maps out a route on how to get there.

The coolest thing about this app is the augmented reality view for 3GS users. When you point your iPhone in the direction you want to travel, the camera opens up and prices from local gas stations hover onscreen. Check out the video to see it in action.

To install Cheap Gas! you'll need iPhone OS 3.1 or later. The app also installs just fine on an iPod touch, though you'll only be able to search by zip code since the touch has no geo-location features. Sorry, overseas readers, Cheap Gas! only works in Canada and the United States.

Finding the lowest gas prices is one thing, but being frugal with the fuel you have is an important way to save money, too. How do you cut corners to save money when gas prices start climbing? Share your tips in the comments.

Cheap Gas! [iTunes App Store]







"

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

City Council to Overturn Grace Period, Clergy Parking Vetoes

City Council to Overturn Grace Period, Clergy Parking Vetoes: "

2009_12_parktix.jpg Last week, Mayor Bloomberg vetoed the 5-minute grace period bill which was overwhelmingly passed by the City Council. He also vetoed a similar bill which would allow clergy to receive city-issued free parking permits. Today it was expected that the Council's Transportation Committee is expected to overrule the vetoes on both bills. This would be followed by the full Council voting to overrule on Dec. 21, with both bills becoming law 90 days thereafter.



A limited amount of parking permits are given out to clergy as of now, but with heavy restrictions, so only a fraction of the city's religious officials are able to receive them. Nonetheless, the City Council voted unanimously, 49-0, in favor of the new bill. Along with his veto, Mayor Bloomberg argued, 'By expanding the scope of privileges offered to clergy permit holders and increasing the number of individuals and motor vehicles eligible for such permits, this bill would make fewer spaces available within the city, to the detriment of residents, local businesses and the general public.' Or maybe it would just 'generate confusion with drivers and prove difficult to enforce.'





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Free Parking Through iPhone App

Free Parking Through iPhone App: "

brokenmeters1209.jpg Of all the NYC Big Apps contenders (Taxihack is one), we think the NYC Broken Meters will be the most used and abused. The app uses the city's own data to locate broken meters, allowing users to score free parking! The NY Post points out that under city law, parking at broken-meter spots is permitted 'for at least an hour.'



Most shocking is that the city made the data available specifically for the app, and the creator, Raviv Turner, says it's a win-win situation 'because it may help motivate the city to fix broken meters.' Turner also hopes in the next version users will be able to upload information on broken meters not yet listed, though drivers may not be anxious to alert The Man of the free parking they've scored.



Right now you can locate about 1,000 busted meters using the app. Check out the top 10 Big Apps here; there's something for cyclists, tree lovers, dog owners, foodies... none for stroller pushers though. What other apps would New Yorkers find useful?





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Video: Anthony Bourdain on 'Alt Side'

Video: Anthony Bourdain on 'Alt Side': "

20091215-alt-side.jpg



Only in New York, where parking is just one of the hassles of daily life. Witness Alt Side (after alternate-side parking), a mini interview show whose conceit is to chat with noted folks while trying to find a spot. The concept seems a bit contrived, but if you're fan of Anthony Bourdain, you can listen to his three minutes of car talk after the jump.


Anthony Bourdain on Alt Side





Alt Side airs on New York Nonstop, channel 161 on Time-Warner Cable in New York.




"

Is Toyota's Stuck Throttle Problem Real? And What Can You Do?

These tips are not only applicable with Toyota but with all make and models. Other than the floor mats being wedged upon the gas pedal, the host also addresses scenarios to prevent the car to runaway out of control. Cars with push button starts also have different solutions in this stuck throttle situation.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The NYPD’s Holiday Gift to Motorists: Central Park

The NYPD’s Holiday Gift to Motorists: Central Park: "

After introducing some yuletide sanity two winters ago, the city is back to sending a schizophrenic message to New Yorkers this holiday season: Please use mass transit, but if you choose to drive, we've made it easier by increasing the hours when cars are permitted on a section of Central Park's loop road. Only this time it's the NYPD, not the Department of Transportation, behind the double message.



Holiday_hours_09_3.jpgThese small, flimsy flyers are the only thing tipping off pedestrians and cyclists to the presence of more traffic in Central Park. Photo: Ken Coughlin.
According to a well-placed source with knowledge of the situation, the NYPD issued a directive this year that cars be allowed to use the loop's southeast corner as a cut-through for an additional two hours, until 9 p.m., on weekdays. The expansion runs until "January 2010," according to notices. The NYPD has not returned inquiries about the reason for the change or why it is setting traffic policy.



The road in question is the southeast corner of the Central Park loop, a half-mile stretch that allows drivers to go from Sixth Avenue to the Upper East Side by cutting across a corner of the park. Two years ago Streetsblog reported that the DOT had quietly done away with "holiday hours" on Central Park's loop road, ending the annual suspension of car-free time that had been used to accommodate motorists during the holidays. The change was a huge success in that the only people who seemed to notice were the park's recreational users, who were delighted. Holiday hours didn't resurface last winter, and the annual holiday traffic plan that DOT produced for 2009 contains no mention of the change [PDF]. (The DOT and Parks Department press offices both directed inquiries to the NYPD.)


Park users may have thought holiday traffic hours were gone for good, but they were wrong.



Holiday_hours_sign.jpgWould you notice this sign if you were passing by? Photo: Ken Coughlin.
Meanwhile, the way the change has been broadcast is revealing. The reduction in car-free hours is being announced to cyclists, runners and other park users by a small, 8½ by 11-inch flyer fastened to a pole a few feet shy of the point where someone on foot or on a bike would merge with car traffic. Identical small signs are secured to poles at six or seven other points along the route. The signs, which look for all the world like the "lost pet" or "affordable housecleaning" flyers taped to light poles all over town, would barely register with a cyclist or runner, much less be readable by them. Nevertheless, the signs warn recreational users to "Proceed With Caution."









"I was riding home through the park at 8:30 p.m. and cars were pouring in from Sixth Avenue," said commuter cyclist Albert Ahronheim, who first alerted Streetsblog to the extra time allotted to park traffic. "I thought someone must have left the gate open by mistake." Ahronheim only discovered the small signs when he returned the next evening to take a closer look.




By contrast, the city has taken great pains to ensure that any driver traveling up Sixth Avenue is aware of the change. Like a bright star in the east guiding the Three Wise Men to Bethlehem, a large mobile electric sign is positioned at Sixth Avenue between 55th and 56th Streets, announcing in foot-high, blinking letters: "PARK OPEN TILL 9 PM N/B [northbound] ACCESS 59TH AND 6TH EAST DRIVE IN CENTRAL PARK UNTIL 9PM." To ensure that no motorist will fail to remark the glad tidings, a duplicate sign flashes between 58th and 59th Streets -- still enough time to change lanes and speed into the world's most famous urban green space.

"

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

NYC Bridge Tolls: The Solution That Won’t Go Away

NYC Bridge Tolls: The Solution That Won’t Go Away: "

Is 2010 the year of bridge tolls? Or will it be 2011 or 2012? If the editorial boards and political insiders are even half right, New York State appears to be back on the brink of an epic fiscal crisis. Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch said today that the state faces a deficit of $9 billion to $18 billion next year. 


"In my personal view, we have been eating our seed corn and we face terrible terribly difficult choices," Ravitch said. "Not moral choices. Political choices, social choices of
unprecedented variety... You're talking about cutting, not just fat,
talking about cutting to the bone."

If he's right, and he probably is, the MTA budget will take yet another whack next year. This is a big problem since the agency is already likely to cut service in 2010 to pay for the shortfalls it had to absorb in 2009. The under-performing MTA payroll tax, which is hugely unpopular in the suburbs, only aggravates an already bad situation.


The really big underlying problem is that regardless of how much the MTA cuts service, it faces rapid increases in "uncontrollable costs" like pensions, health care and Access-A-Ride. These unfunded legislative mandates exert a huge drag on the agency, which is partly what Mayor Bloomberg alluded to yesterday when he called the MTA a "piggy bank."


The net result is that without a new source of funding, the MTA will soon run out of money and options. Let's take it for granted the MTA will be forced by Albany to engage in desperate new financial sleight-of-hand and "seed corn eating" (capital money going to operating expenses, borrowing against future fare hikes). Let's further assume the MTA will have to accelerate the fare hikes planned for 2011. If this comes to pass, in about a year the MTA will be out of options and have to cut service so harshly that even Albany will be forced to care.


It will be a political slug fest worth watching. How deep will service have to be cut before the East and Harlem River bridges are tolled? Are tolls dead, or are they actually inevitable?

"

Parking Ticket Grace Period Vetoed by Bloomberg

Parking Ticket Grace Period Vetoed by Bloomberg: "

120909mike.jpg Last week a Bronx motorist threw a ticket agent's hand-held computer to the ground during an angry dispute over a parking ticket issued minutes after his Muni-Meter expired. 'I get a five-minute grace period. It was in the media, today on the news,' George Collazo reportedly yelled during the altercation. George, if you're reading this, we regret to inform you that your grace is still denied.



Yesterday Mayor Bloomberg made good on his threat to veto a parking grace period bill passed by the City Council last month by a vote of 47-2. The bill would give drivers an extra five minutes past the expired time on Muni-Meters and alternate-side parking (but not coin-operated, single-space meters.) As he proscribed grace, Hizzoner declared, 'While characterized as a 'grace period' to benefit drivers who are rushing to their vehicles, this universal extension of time for drivers would have the practical effect of impeding traffic flow and disrupting street cleaning operations. It would thus have a negative impact on the quality of life for all city residents. Additionally, the bill could generate confusion for drivers and prove difficult to enforce.' (You do hate to see that.)



City Councilman Simcha Felder wasn't happy about the veto, and the City Council may override it: 'People are getting tired of the gotcha. I'm a big supporter of the mayor's, but I respectfully disagree. The [five-minute grace period] was in effect for many years without anyone having any difficulty.' Indeed, there used to be an informal grace period when traffic enforcement was controlled by the DOT. When the NYPD took over, traffic agents were instructed to ticket immediately.



According to an analysis conducted by the Times last year, almost 300,000 alternate side violations were issued within five minutes of the rule taking effect in 2007. Of those, nearly 28,000 tickets were issued exactly on the hour that the rule went into effect.





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