Today’s Headlines

  • Spitzer Open to Congestion Pricing (Sun)
  • NYC Commuting: Stick to the Facts (TSTC)
  • Planner Behind PlaNYC (Sun)
  • Corzine Warns NJ Gas Tax May Go Up (Post)
  • Is Corzine Ad Contrite or Calculating? (NYT)
  • Clearing Bike Lanes for Bicyclists (Voice)
  • Traffic Agents Talk About Possible New Powers (NYT)
  • Noise Enforcement Leads to Lots of Traffic Tickets (Daily News)
  • Brooklyn Heights Leads in Parking Fines (Sun)
  • G8 Leaders Fight Over Climate-Change Agreement (Guardian)
  • Biodiesel Makers See NY Opportunity (NYT)
  • RELATED: Turning Grease Into Fuel (NYT)
  • All Hail the Green Cabs (NYT)
  • Parking, Pollution and the Pricing Zone: Letters (NYT)
  • Civilians Use Placard Scam (Post)
  • Circle Line Wants to Go Solar (Gothamist)
  • ddartley

    Very exciting crop of headlines today!

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    The Times article about traffic agents enforcing blocking-the-box laws is an interesting study in power relationships. First of all, everyone seems to have sympathy for the drivers: the Mayor, John Gambling and the agent at Broadway and Canal. I’ve never seen so much sympathy in any article about pedestrians or cyclists breaking the law.

    Second, there may be some lack of education involved in the fact that so many motorists try to ignore traffic agents, but I think the fact that they’re pedestrians. If they could give those same hand signals from the window of a patrol car, I bet there’d be a lot less of this. And the cab driver that tried to run down the agent at 59th and Second should have his medallion taken away.

  • Steve

    Noise enforcement summonsing: based on 311 calls that there are illegal levels of noise, NYPD goes into Upper Manhattan and the Bronx en masse to stop it. When they show up, NYPD can’t find the noise makers, so they issue summonses for whatever they find instead.


    Reminds me of going into Iraq looking for weapons of mass destruction . . . once we got there and we couldn’t find the weapons, the goal shifted to “regime change.”

    If the ticketing blitz was focused on the noise violations, that might be OK. Or, if City wanted to conduct ticketing blitzes for any and all violations, and conducted them on a random basis throughout the City, it conceivably could be justified as a way to realize maximum impact with scarce law enforcement resources.

    But going in based on noise violations and then ticketing everything that moves, conducting extra stop & frisks, etc., is a big mistake and is sure to create NYPD-community tensions. Let’s see how long the UES or UWS could withstand ticket blitzes like this.

  • ddartley

    Traffic agents in intersections:
    The ones I see are virtually never like the one featured in the Times piece: hand signals? Get outta here. 90% of the traffic agents I see in intersections stand there using extremely unclear, uncommitted, small, hard-to-see hand gestures. The only thing that gives them the appearance of caring about what happens in the intersection is when some of them, embarrassingly, spend the whole time yelling (which of course motorists can’t hear)!

  • jmc

    Biodiesel is retarded. If you turned every last ounce of vegetable oil produced in the US into biodiesel, it would only make 2% of the diesel we use. It’s not a solution to anything. Just because it sounds good doesn’t mean it is good. We can get much better results by improving efficiency (hybrid trucks) and use of particulate filters/reductive catalysts (bluetec)

    There was a recent study on it from Univ. of Minn.
    Check it out.

  • jmc

    Oh, yeah, and to make palm oil to power the Netherlands they’ve destroyed countless acres of rainforest in Indonesia and Malaysia, emitting massive amounts of CO2.

  • JMC,
    How about driving less. Promoting other means that are not so fuel intensive or are more efficient.

    It’s like the ethanol peeps talking about how energy efficient it is to turn corn into fuel–they neglect to mention that with current corn production in the US, it takes more than one fossil fuel calorie to produce one corn calorie. Ethanol is just the middle man between the petroleum producer and the consumer in the end.

  • Jmc


    Of course, driving less is the whole point. walking, biking, and electrically-powered mass transit are the only long-term solutions to problems.

    However, in the coming decades we’ll still be using liquid-fuel powered buses and trucks as part of our mass-tranist mix, and we’re going to need to generate some of our electricity from fossil sources until we can get enough nuclear, wind, and tidal power sources on-line. We can do a lot to improve what we have now. Bloomberg’s hybrid cab announcement is a good example of that.

    We should work towards more efficient liquid-fueled transport, cleaner power plants with less CO2 emission (replacing oil and coal with gas, wind, nuclear, etc.) and energy efficiency in buildings to lower electricity demand.

    My point is that investing in biodiesel is a distraction as it doesn’t work towards the solution. You’re absolutely right about ethanol, it’s the same thing.

    Burning food is not really a good option in the long run, either.

    Are you talking food calories to energy calories? A nutritional calorie is 1000 energy calories, btw.

  • galvo

    mandating that drivers licence test have the hand signals used by traffic control movements is a good start. The Drivers test should also have the bicyclist right to use the road and ped rights questions. there should be a written test every year via mail or web, 100 percent correct answer should be required, with the ability to retake until test is correct.traffic control officers should not be wearing white gloves, there are many high visibility gloves that side over regular gloves. OSHA requires that flagman use a approved flag to direct traffic. traffic agents should be using better gear.

  • Rich Conroy

    The last line in the NYT article about traffic agents & blocking the box really sums up why we have such lousy traffic enforcement in this city. Besides restrictive rules (blocking the box as a moving vs non-moving violation, or parking in a bike lane as a “discretionary” violation), the main reason is that enforcement agents sympathize and identify with the scofflaw driver, not all the other driver’s that are being inconvenienced, or all the other people the scofflaw is endangering. The officer who thinks “I also want to get home sooner” or “Park in the bike lane” or “double park”, or “speed” or “run red lights” or “drive on the bike path” won’t write tickets to people who commit those infractions. The only time I see NYPD officers make a double parked car move is when it’s blocking the forward progress of their own police cruiser.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Galvo, I agree with many of your ideas, but not about the hand signals, and I’m drawing on my background in sign language linguistics and gesture analysis here.

    I don’t know everything about the hand signals in question, but as far as I can tell there are a relatively small number of hand signals (“come towards me”, “stop”, “go that way”, and maybe “go back”). Unlike baseball hand signals, they’re designed to be as clear and unambiguous as possible. It’s true that “come towards me” is culturally dependent, but I can’t help but suspect that anyone who can’t understand those signals is being wilfully obtuse.

    I remember studying for my driver’s license and learning that a police officer’s hand signals trump everything else. It seems like a fairly straightforward idea.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Here’s the relevant page of the Driver’s Manual:

    Directions given by traffic officers take precedence over signs, signals or pavement markings. If a traffic officer signals you to stop at a green light, for example, you must stop. If an officer signals you to drive through a red light or stop sign, you must do so.

    Among those authorized to direct traffic are police officers, peace officers such as on-duty auxiliary or fire police, highway work area flag persons, and school crossing guards.

    Also note that there are questions that refer to this rule (but not to specific signals) in the practice quiz and the summary questions.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    See also Chapter 5: “You may not enter an intersection if traffic is backed up on the other side and you cannot get all the way through the intersection. Wait until traffic ahead clears, so you do not block the intersection.” And for you, Galvo, Chapter 11 is all about sharing the road.

    Now if people would actually follow the manuals once in a while…