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News & Notes

One proposal to combat sea-level rise in Boston, convert Clarendon Street into a canal.

BostInno: 6 Visuals for How Boston Can Adapt to Rising Sea Levels

Though Boston has historically grown outwards into the ocean, with landfill expanding its boundaries over the decades, the threat of it being submerged back into the Atlantic is very real. Though the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has introduced numerous legislation in an attempt to curtail rising sea levels, as has the City of Boston, there needs to be a shift in thinking from how we can combat the effects of climate change to how we can adapt to them.

A new report published by the Urban Land Institute’s Boston/NewEngland branch makes a number of municipal design suggestions and reaffirms on several occasions that the time to act is now.

The study, called The Implications of Living With Water, examines four specified areas dangerously at-risk should Mother Nature decide to unleash her wrath in the form of a hurricane not unlike Sandy, which devastated the Eastern seaboard from New York City down to Florida.


BostInno: It’s Official: Allston Is Going to Get a New MBTA Station

Tuesday afternoon Governor Deval Patrick announced that previously derailed plans for West Station are back on. When West Station is complete, commuters will be able to make direct trips back and forth between Allston and Back Bay or South Station – without having to suffer the misery of the Green Line.

Harvard University will help pay for the new railroad station in Boston’s Allston neighborhood.

The MBTA has long range plans to do short run subway-like service on some of it’s commuter rail lines within areas in and close to Boston using smaller DMU trains.

If/when the MBTA moves ahead with plans for purchasing DMU’s, Rhode Island should be ready to get on board with them (sorry). DMU’s would be perfect for running higher frequency intra-state service in Rhode Island.


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Streetsblog: NYC Motorists Killed Three Pedestrians on City Sidewalks Today

In one tragic day in New York City, three people walking on the sidewalk were killed by drivers; and after this story was published, a fourth pedestrian was struck and killed on Staten Island.

Three pedestrians were killed on NYC sidewalks today in two separate crashes. Just before 7:30 a.m. on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst, a 22-year-old man driving a new Camaro ran over and killed two men on the sidewalk, and just before 1 p.m., a woman was killed on an East Harlem corner after a taxi driver struck a box truck, which careened onto the sidewalk. So far, no charges have been filed, though witnesses say the Queens Boulevard driver was speeding and the East Harlem cabbie ran a red light, according to reports.

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Bill de Blasio, New York City Mayor-Elect

First and foremost, when given the choice to grow or to sit idle, we need to grow and we have to be aggressive about it. There are factors beyond our control — economic conditions, bureaucratic interference from afar — that can kill good projects. The things I value as a progressive — good jobs and affordable housing — cannot happen if projects stall or never materialize. If we aren’t doing everything possible as a City government to spur on development, even if valid compromises are included, we risk nothing getting built at all, and that is the worst possible outcome.

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News & Notes

Citi Bike Share

Citi Bike, NYC bike share. Photo (cc) ccho.

Gawker: Tycoon’s Pet Newspaper Thinks For-Profit Citi Bikes Are Socialism

The Observer objects to Citi Bike not because the bikes are hideous or dangerous—the editors mention, but shrug off, the possibility of “accidents involving goofy tourists,” which for many New Yorkers is a plus—but because of… socialism. Yes! Citi Bike “represents another governmental incursion into the private marketplace.”

Okay, but. This is 180 degrees wrong. It is exactly backwards. Citi Bike, run by Alta Bicycle Share, is a for-profit business, and functions as a massive marketing campaign for Citi Bank .


Crane’s New York Business: A storm-proof way to elevate city buildings

Up and down the coast of New York and New Jersey, property owners are being forced to raise their homes and businesses above a new 100-year floodplain drawn up and mandated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In the five boroughs, elevating multistory buildings present a particular problem.

If buildings must be raised five, eight, even 12 feet up on stilts, planners fear it could deaden New York’s vibrant street life along coastal areas. In other words, will Jane Jacobs float?


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News & Notes

cornell-tech-campus

Proposed Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology campus on Roosevelt Island in New York.

Inside Higher Ed: The Lure of the City

Cornell, one of the only top private research universities in the country not located in an urban area, saw expansion into New York as a necessary component of its future ambitions and was willing to go to greater lengths, invest more money, and better conform to what the city wanted, officials said.

The competition helps cement the idea research universities have been pushing in recent years that they can serve as economic engines to local communities and the country as a whole, and could spawn a host of similar initiatives in other cities.

It also reinforces a growing notion that research universities are going to need access to the resources provided by urban areas to continue to serve as such engines. “We believe the city had the right idea at the right time,” Cornell President David Skorton said at the announcement. “The tech sector of universities is shifting from simply the pursuit of knowledge to service of business and industry.”


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Broadway Bike Lanes (Finally (Almost))

Remember back in April when signs were posted that bike lanes were coming to Broadway? Remember back in 2008 when it was first announced that they were coming? Don’t worry, no one does.

They are here now”¦ almost. Just in time for a snow storm, we have the guides laid down on Broadway’s fresh pavement for bike lanes:

Broadway

Of course, as Car-Free in PVD points out, the bike lanes are in the dreaded door zone. If you ride to the right of the lane, which as Car Free points out, Rhode Island Law instructs cyclists to do, then you are gonna get doored. There is room to stay the the left side of the lane and avoid the door.

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More New York City: The High Line

High Line

Aside from the September 11th Memorial, what I really wanted to see was the High Line.

There’s not really a lot to say about it, it is awesome. A linear park threading through the city up above the streets.

There has been some push back, the area the High Line runs through had been what many would consider run down. The Meat Packing District was once a place where meat was packed and after the abattoirs left auto shops and other similarly non-glamourous businesses moved in. The High Line has been followed by a wave of gentrification.

So while boutiques and galleries and trendy bars have moved in”¦

“¦the old businesses are being squeezed out. Except, the High Line is high in the sky, the hoards of tourists that visit it don’t drop back down to street level very often. So the gentrifiers are now find that they are having a hard time of it as rents have gone up but the customers have not arrived.

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Reason.tv: The Tragedy of Urban Renewal

Every October, Jim Torain mails out invitations for the annual reunion of his community, which was displaced 60 years ago by one of the first urban renewal projects in New York City. In 1951, Torain’s home and those of his neighbors on West 99th Street were destroyed as part of the Manhattantown project, which razed six blocks on the Upper West Side to build housing for middle-income residents.Title I of the 1949 Housing Act, known as the “urban renewal” program, allowed for local governments to use eminent domain to seize private property. In the 1950s and ’60s, urban renewal initiatives uprooted more than 2,000 communities in New York City.

Read an interview with filmmaker Jim Torian at Channel Thirteen.

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National September 11th Memorial

National September 11th Memorial

North Tower footprint with the unfinished Museum in the background.

Earlier this month I spent a few days in New York and one of the things I wanted to do was see the new National September 11th Memorial at the World Trade Center site.

I have a few thoughts about it, but mostly just want to share some photos and a short video.

National September 11th Memorial

Temporary Entrance to the Memorial at the corner of Albany and Greenwich Streets in Lower Manhattan.

The permanent Museum on the World Trade Center site is not complete yet, there’s a temporary Museum next to a fire station on Liberty Street. I’m sure the people who set it up are well meaning but between the ratio of merchandise to museum pieces, the sort of sad state of the displays, and the laughing and carrying on at the front door, I really wish I did not go in there. That experience (and common sense) lead me to avoid the gift shop on West Street when I left the actual memorial site.

The experience of getting to the Memorial site was like boaring an aircraft (something which I hate). It is an active construction site both with buildings being erected at 150 Greenwich Street and 1 World Trade Center, the Museum itself, and the PATH station underground. And of course it is one of the most high profile sites in the world, so security is an understandable it regrettable concern.

We made reservations before leaving Providence and waited in line for about 15 minutes to be ID’d. We then went into another line and were sent around the block to go through metal detectors (empty pockets, belts off, but happily we got to keep our shoes). Then we went through another line and off to the site. It took all together a half hour, maybe more to get onto the site.

National September 11th Memorial

When we go to the Memorial I was trying pretty hard and somewhat unsuccessfully not to be thouroughly annoyed by the whole thing. We entered the site from the southwest approaching the footprint of the South Tower. People were milliing about, some solemn, some sad, but mostly it felt like one of the many steps on the New York tourist cicuit, Times Square, Top of the Rock, Statue of Liberty, World Trade Center”¦

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Tuesday Morning

Tuesday Morning

Primary day for the Mayoral election in New York City. I walk from my house the block to PS 84 to cast my vote.

Rather than wait for the bus, I walk the 8 blocks from PS 84 to Ditmars Station, because it is such a stunning day. I grab a coffee before climbing the stairs up to the station and getting on the N train.

I had taken to crossing the platform at Queensboro Plaza from the N train to the 7 train, allowing me to avoid the crowds at Times Square. After leaving Court House Square the train makes the bend around 5Pointz and before going under the East River I’d catch a view of the Towers.

I get off the train at 5th Avenue in Manhattan and come above ground at Bryant Park. As I cross 5th Avenue making my way to my office on Madison Avenue, looking left I could see the Towers again. I probably didn’t that morning, no reason to; besides I was busy looking right to make my way across the street.

When I get to my office the longest part of my commute begins, the interminable wait for the damn elevator. It always took forever. Most days a collection of co-workers formed and the morning ritual of complaining about the elevator commenced. This day however, the conversation was about the weather. It was glorious! The most amazing blue sky, I remember talking to people about it, even strangers on the train were talking to each other about it, it was truly remarkable. One of the very few perfect New York City days between our horrifically muggy summers and windswept winters. I was already thinking about lunch at Bryant Park and the best time to get there to get a chair on the lawn.

The elevator eventually brought me to my office on the 8th floor. Sitting at my desk I must have been checking my email or something. At some point I called a co-worker downstairs. She couldn’t talk, a plane had crashed at the World Trade Center and she was trying to get in touch with a friend downtown.

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Video: Roosevelt Island Tram

The Roosevelt Island Tram returned to service today after being closed for a modernization project:

On Tuesday, November 30th, 2010 Roosevelt Island’s state-of-the-art Aerial Tramway will return to service. Island visitors and residents are provided a 3 minute ride across the river from Roosevelt Island to East 60th Street and vice versa. The Tram is designed with two independently operated and powered cars shuttling back and forth across the East River, carrying 109 passengers at a time and 2 million people annually.

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Megabus Coming to Providence

Megabus -- From Chicago to St. Louis
Photo (cc) eekim

Speaking of buses, remember when I posted about the double-deck Megabus operating between Boston and New York. And everyone was all like, “yay, when will they come to Providence?” And I was all like, “I wish they’d run to Cape Cod.”

Well, they are coming to Providence to do a New York run (no Cape Cod love for me).

Megabus has the news on their website:

For as low as $1, Providence residents can now travel direct to New York. Megabus.com, the original $1, city-to-city, express bus company will begin daily service to and from Providence on August 25. To celebrate the launch of the Providence to New York route, megabus.com will offer 1,000 FREE seats during the first four weeks of travel. Customers will need to enter the promo code LUVPROV when booking their trip.

The Providence bus stop will be located at the corner of Fountain and Eddy Streets, near the Avis. I wonder why discount carriers like Fung Wah and Megabus don’t operate from Kennedy Plaza where Peter Pan and Greyhound stop. Maybe they have to pay to operate their or something, would certainly be more convenient to have all buses in one place.

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Reader: NYC Bike Lanes

nycbike_9th-av

9th Avenue

nybike_5th-bway

Madison Square Park

nybike_5th-bway002

Madison Square Park

A reader submitted these photos from New York City to show what is being done with bike lanes there and as an example of what we should be thinking about doing in the 195 Street Grid:

Attached are photos of bikeway conditions at two intersections in New York. Ninth Avenue in Chelsea that shows one of the new bike traffic signals and partial island separations that NYCDOT has recently been installing around Manhattan. The other two show part of a complex intersection at Fifth Avenue and Broadway at Madison Square Park. The images reveal a hierarchy of use between the automotive traffic-way and stop-line, bikeway crossover, and pedestrian crosswalk. Bicycles usually are signalized along with automotive traffic. The bike crossovers act as a safety buffer between vehicles and pedestrians.

These conditions could provide examples for alternatives approaches for the Wickenden Street intersection. The potential for dangerous interactions between cyclists, pedestrians, and vehicles with the current auto-centric design seems great. RIDOT may have legitimate concerns about traffic backing up on the highway, but its design comes at the expense of everything else.

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