New research has found that the New York City subway system contains toxic air quality, according to a new report in City and State. The research, published by NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine, took measurements of the air quality in 71 subway stations across the city, as well as in Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and Boston, during the morning rush hour and the evening rush hour. It found that samples collected from ten Port Authority stations and three Metropolitan Transportation Authority stations “were found to contain two to seven times more ‘hazardous metals and organic particles’ than were detected in air samples collected outside,” City and State reports. Continue reading
New York City Council candidate John Sanchez recently laid out his plan for making the streets of The Bronx safer for cyclists and pedestrians. In an essay on StreetsBlog NYC, Sanchez described the key elements of his plan, which include protected bike lanes, curtailing parking, and better street design. “As a lifelong resident of The Bronx, I want my neighborhood to be one in which a family can ride bikes safely,” he wrote, “in which no one dies or become seriously injured simply for walking in the neighborhood or for performing the job of delivering food — left and discarded on the road by a hit-and-run driver.” Continue reading
Many of the cyclists killed by motor vehicles in 2020 were low-income essential workers, according to a recent analysis by StreetsBlog. There were 243 victims of vehicle-related deaths last year, 26 of whom were cyclists. As StreetsBlog notes, 2020 was “the second deadliest [year] for traffic violence during Mayor de Blasio’s seven years in office.” The analysis argues that the mayor’s administration did not do enough to protect cyclists, many of whom died in “neighborhoods that have historically been neglected and underinvested in for street-safety improvements.” Continue reading
A new post by the Emergency Safety Responder Institute details the under-appreciated danger of road debris, which studies found was “was a factor in a total of more than 200,000 police-reported crashes” between 2011 and 2014, “resulting in approximately 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths.” Road debris is defined as “any substance, material, or object that is foreign to the roadway environment,” and can be found in travel lanes as well as a road’s shoulder or median. While all roadway debris is dangerous, perhaps the most danger lies on highway debris, given that drivers traverse highways at higher speeds than on normal roads, giving them less time to react to foreign objects. Debris also poses a risk to roadway responders, the professionals and volunteers who remove debris from the roads.
According to the Emergency Safety Responder Institute, most debris-related roadway incidents are the fault of negligent drivers, though others are due to mechanical mishaps. The majority of such incidents are preventable, the post argues, citing AAA data showing that “two in three debris-related crashes result from items falling from a vehicle due to improper maintenance or an unsecured load.” Such items might include tires and wheels that come off the vehicle, cargo that becomes unsecured, and tow trailers that become detached and collide with other cars or trucks on the road, according to AAA’s research.
A new study by WalletHub, a financial advice and information website, ranked the hundred biggest cities in the United States according to 31 metrics of “driver-friendliness.” The study identified the best and worst cities to drive in according to “key indicators” like gas prices, hours of traffic congestion per auto commuter, number of auto repair shops, number of car washes, car theft rates, and days with precipitation. What the study ultimately found is that New York City is one of the worst cities to drive in a nation where “87 percent of daily trips take place in personal vehicles,” and during a pandemic in which people are increasingly wary of public transportation.
New York City came in 96th place in the study. The four cities worse for drivers were, in descending order: Detroit, Michigan; San Francisco, California; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Oakland, California. The top five cities identified by the study were, in descending order: Lincoln, Nebraska; Raleigh, North Carolina; Corpus Christi, Texas; Greensboro, North Carolina; and Boise, Idaho.
A new analysis by City & State suggests that New York City might be at risk of “Carmageddon,” a phenomenon in which residents returning to work after the pandemic forsake public transportation for private cars, risking increased congestion, traffic deaths, and poor air quality in the city. According to the report, 80% of commutes into Manhattan were on public transportation, a figure that has fallen approximately 785 since the pandemic began. On the other hand, data show that vehicle ridership on bridges and tunnels has only fallen 18%, and “traffic in Manhattan below 60th Street is down just 15%.” The figures are not quite so rosy for the Long Island Rail, whose ridership is at 23% of its levels one year ago, and the Metro North system, which is at 16% of its levels one year ago. The report states that transit experts fear New Yorkers may suffer massively as a result of these factors.
According to those experts, “a modest change in the number of cars circulating around Manhattan makes a difference” that can ruin the entire transportation system. One metro planning think tank president said that if just 10,000 more vehicles are added to the system, “It’s actually the difference between the system functioning and completely crashing.” This may lead to the demise of New York City’s public transportation—due to budget cuts and decreased ridership—that adversely impacts working-class New York residents who have no other choice but to ride the subways and buses. Experts believe workers might not return to work in their offices in New York City en masse until the summer of 2020, long after there’s a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. This is because office buildings, with their ill-ventilated rooms and crowded elevators, may be a hotspot for COVID-19 outbreaks. In contrast, according to the report, public transportation poses less of a risk, so long as riders follow proper precautions. “ In New York City’s subways, filtered air circulating around a car is replaced with fresh air at least 18 times an hour, The New York Times reported,” the report states, whereas the “recommended rate of replacement” in offices is six to eight times per hour. “I definitely think that there’s the chance that a significant fraction of the workforce will not return until we have a vaccine in place,” one expert told City & State.
New York lawmakers are revisiting the state’s century-old scaffolding law that requires construction companies to cover the full cost of all workplace injuries. According to The New York Daily News, the recent conversation about reforming New York’s construction safety laws comes at the behest of the Trump administration and the construction industry, which are looking for ways to reduce the price of construction projects in New York. As the only state in the country with the so-called “Scaffolding Law,” critics of the law say it increases the cost of construction and believe the time to reform the laws and join the rest of the country have arrived.
According to the construction industry owners, the scaffolding law significantly increases the cost of constructing a building in the state. In some circumstances, the law pushes costs so high that entire construction projects are canceled. As evidence of these claims, critics of the law point to a 2013 study from SUNY Rockefeller Institute which determined the law costs private businesses approximately $1.5 billion and taxpayers almost $800 million for public projects each year. The Trump administration told Gov. Cuomo in a recent meeting that the law would make the Gateway Project, a vital infrastructure project in the Northeast, almost $300 million more expensive. With the citywide building boom driving up wages for construction workers coupled with the increased price of construction materials caused by President Trump’s tariffs, the federal government is looking for ways to lower the price of the Gateway Project. Continue reading
Recent train and subway accidents have led to renewed attention to the 2013 Metro-North derailment that killed four and injured dozens. After an investigation by LoHud.com showed that the Metro-North Railroad still had not installed the required safety equipment to prevent another crash, Connecticut Senator Blumenthal and New York Senator Chuck Schumer called for the railroad to speed up its efforts.
On December 1, 2013, a train on the Hudson Line of the Metro-North flew off the rails going 80 miles-per-hour on a turn with a speed limit of 30 mph. The engineer in control of the train, William Rockefeller, had apparently dozed off. In response to the accident, the National Transportation Safety Board released a report pointing towards an absence of “Positive Train Control” as a contributing factor in the accident. Continue reading
The Metropolitan Transit Authority, responsible for running New York City’s subways and buses, is attempting to dodge responsibility and pin a $30-million award on a homeless man.
In 2012, Naeem Davis, described as “homeless” and “a drifter” by the New York Post, pushed Ki Suck Han in front of a subway train. Arguing that he was only defending himself, Davis was acquitted by a jury just last year. Notably, Davis was too poor to afford an attorney for the murder charge.
Still looking for justice, Ki Suck Han’s family then went after the Metropolitan Transit Authority. The family filed a “wrongful death” lawsuit against the state agency. In short, the family argued that the train operator should have stopped earlier, before Davis had the opportunity to push Han in front of the Q train. According to the family’s attorney, “Just because someone is on the tracks, you can’t run them over and kill them and say it’s not our fault. Davis pushed him, Transit killed him.” Continue reading
On March 24, a train accident occurred in Mentz, NY resulting in the death of a passenger in the vehicle. The accident occurred at the North Main Street railroad station when a work van drove around the flashing lights and horizontal bars that signaled a train coming; one person was ejected from the vehicle and died. The accident occurred at approximately 6:50 a.m., leaving one line open for the passing of freight trains with both lines being open by 12 noon; the two sets of tracks are major routes with 50-60 freight and Amtrak passenger trains passing through daily.
Rob Doolittle, communications director for the CSX railroad, stated that the Federal Railroad Administration estimates that every three hours a person or vehicle is struck by a train. In 2015, there were 31 incidents in New York where a train struck a vehicle at a railroad crossing. These accidents resulted in eight deaths and 59 injuries. Doolittle said the deaths were unfortunate and that people should pay attention at all times. People who live near train tracks may think they know the train schedule; however, it is never a good idea to ignore the warning signs because trains today travel quickly and are much quieter. In some instances, drivers may not realize that as one train passes another could be passing in the opposite direction.