NYC Mayor Bloomberg Loves Bike Lanes

As Toronto fights smart planning and removes sustainable transportation infrastructure (indeed, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to do so), New York City Mayor Bloomberg continues to espouse how great bike lanes are. In NYC they have added a lot of miles of bike lanes and found local business get more business, neighbourhoods become nicer, and more people can get around easier than they did before!

With the release by NYC DOT this week of a report showing the economic impact of their street projects, Bloomberg wove the economic case into his speech. “Talk to merchants everywhere we’ve put protected bicycle lanes [and pedestrian plazas]… They will tell you that business is dramatically better than it was before.”

Bloomberg called New York City’s legacy of mega-highway building by former DOT Commissioner Robert Moses a “mistake” because “we bulldozed neighborhoods.”

With the mistakes of the past fading from view, Bloomberg seems to understand the direct link between how streets are used and whether or not a city succeeds. “We’re using the streets in ways they had not been used in a long time,” he said, “Cyclists and pedestrians and bus riders are as important — if not, I would argue more important — than automobile riders.”

While he acknowledged that bike lanes “are always controversial” he defended them by noting that, “more and more people are using them.”

Looking ahead, Bloomberg said he has no plans of letting naysayers or controversies stop the progress. “Transportation… it’s not sexy and it certainly invites controversy,” he said, but added, “We’ve just got to keep developing, keep building, sensibly, with some plans and community involvement; but not stopping.”

As you can probably guess from my recent series of pro-bike lane posts, I am rather embarrassed by Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his archaic approach to transit. When he’s out of office we may get to see some good news coming from Toronto again.

Read more here.

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Good Designs to Protect Against Flooding

The damage of Hurricane Sandy is still being fully realized and we won’t know the full cost of the damage for a little while. What we can do for know is to look into ways to lessen the damage the next time an anthropogenically influenced storm hits the city. The Atlantic has put together some previously thought-out plans for preparing New York City for flooding from ideas that are used elsewhere in the world.

As ocean levels rise this will be a more pressing issue for New Yorkers and other cities on coasts.

Here’s what I think will be the easiest for NYC to implement, but I haven’t been there for years so I could be way off.

2. Elevated infrastructure. There are very few buildings in the entire state of New York built at grade at elevations below sea level. But New York City has constructed one massive piece of infrastructure below that threshold: the subway system. As we saw this week, flooding can devastate an underground network of tunnels, train platforms and corridors. So how do you keep more of that water out? For one thing, elevating subway entrances would help. Bangkok, another low-lying city susceptible to rising tides, has built precisely these kinds of subway entrances. They’re raised a meter off the ground and include built-in floodgates.

See the rest of the ideas here.

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In New York City Gay Marriage is Worth $259 Million

You read that correctly, a $259 million (USD) boom in New York City’s economy is thanks to respecting human rights! Changing the law to reflect reality and letting homosexuals marry one another has generated some needed economic growth for the local economy. All of this in just one year!

“Marriage equality has made our City more open, inclusive and free — and it has also helped to create jobs and support our economy,” Mayor Bloomberg said in a statement.

More than 8,200 same-sex marriage licenses have been issued over the past year, representing more than 10% of the 75,000 licenses issued in the city, according to a survey conducted by the City Clerk’s Office and NYC & Company, the city’s tourism and marketing organization.

Read more at CNN.

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Empire State Building Gets a Green Overall

The Empire State Building in New York has received a green overall that has cut 20% of the building’s energy consumption and will save the owners a ton of cash.

The renovations are part of a $500 million rehab plan for the building. The building’s owners, Malkin Holdings LLC, filed for an initial public offering back in February which valued the building at $2.5 billion.

The changes to the Empire State include:

–Filling the existing windows with an energy saving gas and adding an additional plastic pane.

–Upgrading the building’s cooling system.

–Using computerized “smart” energy management technology that can adjust temperatures floor by floor.

–Provide tenants with detailed energy use in their space.

–Automatically shut off lights in unused areas.

Read more at CNN.

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Subways to (Kinda) Power Themselves

Most hybrid cars capture energy excerpted while braking and use it to help refill the battery. A company that makes flywheels will be working with New York City to apply the same kinetic energy capture concept to subway cars, meaning that the subways will become an even more efficient way to travel. Every time a subway car enters a station and applies the brakes its capturing kinetic energy to get it started again.

The difference is that the power generated would reach into the megawatts. A 10-car subway train in New York’s system might require a jolt of three to four megawatts of power for 30 seconds to get up to cruising speed, according to Louis Romo, vice president of sales at Vycon. That’s enough to power 1,300 average U.S. homes.

And when one train leaves the station, another one comes in right on its heels. While delivering walloping surges in power like that to downtown stations is feasible, remote stations can experience drops in power. Train departures have to literally be staggered to accommodate the availability of power.

“Almost every rail company in the U.S. has a station where voltage sag is a problem,” said Romo.

Vycon claims it can help smooth out this problem by effectively getting the trains to act like Priuses. When drivers hit the brakes on their hybrids, the kinetic energy of the moving car gets transformed into electric power that then gets stored in the battery.

Read more at Green Tech Media.

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