INTERVIEW

State Senator Jessica Ramos Takes on Transportation Justice

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Photo by Konstantin Sergeyev

It is a Friday afternoon in early spring and the East Elmhurst District Office of State Senator Jessica Ramos is positively buzzing. Constituents are stopping by for free tax preparation by a group of CPAs downstairs. The staff — most of whom live in the district — are packing up: cases of bottled water, paper plates, a public address system, a podium. Tonight will be Senator Ramos’ first community town hall since she took office on a wave of popular support at the end of last year.

Someone calls excitedly across the room, “Hey, we got the Women’s History Month pamphlets!” A “woop-woop” can be heard back. The trifolds get placed on a crowded table at the front of the room, near take-home copies of the Constitution and a stack of #FixTheSubway surveys for straphangers. A sign above the surveys explains that increasing resources for public transportation is the key issue in the 2019 budget and Senator Ramos wants to hear from passengers. “Comparte porque es tan importante arreglar el subway,” it reads. “Share because it is so important to fix the subway.” On the wall, a framed poster lists ways to build community: leave your house, know your neighbors, dance in the street, help carry something heavy, hire young people for odd jobs, know that no one is silent though many are not heard — work to change this.


PHOTO ALBUM

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If there’s a common thread running through Khaleeq Alfred’s photographs of New Yorkers on skateboards, rollerblades and bikes, it is the rapid movement of the city itself. “New York is one of the only places where you don’t need a car to get around and it’s a lot easier if you don’t have one,” he says. “It is a fast-paced lifestyle, and bikes and skateboards are fast, so it just fits better.” But his photography is about more than just getting from place to place, Alfred explains. “Traffic surfing makes you one with the city, whether it is a skateboard or bike or blades or a scooter. …


PROFILE

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Camille Raneem is a born and bred New Yorker, bicycle mechanic, and owner of Kween Kargo Bike Shop, located at 79A West Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Photo by Konstantin Sergeyev

You worked as a messenger before you opened your shop. What did you deliver?

A lot of film footage on hard drives. Boxes of wine, liquor, and beer on the cargo bike. And, of course, catered lunches.

What is your bike commute like now?

I currently have what might be the shortest bike commute in the city. I live in southeast Greenpoint and I bike to work at the shop on the other side of the neighborhood, in west Greenpoint. But I used to live at my family’s house up in Washington Heights and would commute to Tribeca every day — a 22-mile round trip. I definitely miss having the excuse to get in those miles. …


Plus: forgiveness for shooting a crib, RBG’s accidental death, and Swae Lee’s unintentional dick pic

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Credit: cako74/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty

Over the 35 days that the government remained shut down due to a disagreement between Congress and the president, 14,000 air traffic controllers went without paychecks. They were among the 800,000 federal employees furloughed or forced to work for free during the longest shutdown in U.S. history. The president agreed on Friday to reopen the government temporarily, perhaps prompted by chaos at LaGuardia Airport, as flights were halted due to a lack of staff at key air traffic control facilities.

Earlier last week, Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, told CNN that airport control towers were so short-staffed that many controllers were working their legally allowable limit — 10-hour days, six days a week. With the staff responsible for training and maintenance deemed nonessential, “risk is getting into the system, and we cannot quantify it yet.” …


A dog shoots his owner, a man hits his girlfriend with a car, and a high school band spells out a racial slur

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Credit: JuanDarien/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Man Shoots Self

Police officers in Buckeye, Arizona, reported on Twitter: “Adult male accidentally shot himself in the groin area inside the Walmart.” The man was carrying a loaded gun in the elastic waistband of his sweatpants and shot himself when he attempted to readjust the firearm. The man was found bleeding (wait for it) in the meat department.

Dog Shoots Man

A 120-pound dog named Charlie shot his owner, Sonny “Tex” Gilligan (confusingly a resident of New Mexico), while being driven though the desert outside Las Cruces on a jackrabbit hunting trip. During his recovery from a gunshot wound to the back, a shattered collarbone, and multiple broken ribs, Gilligan told reporters that Charlie had “got his foot in the trigger of the gun,” then slipped off the car seat. “It was an accident, although they tease me asking me if he did it on purpose. Truth is, he’s a big, loving dog and would never hurt anybody on purpose.” …


Interview with Naomi Doerner

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In 2017, the Seattle Department of Transportation launched a first-of-its-kind program to make its transportation network, and the process by which that network is planned, increasingly equitable. Naomi Doerner serves as Transportation Equity Program Manager at the Seattle Department of Transportation, and sat for an interview with TransAlt Editor in Chief Jessie Singer to explain what it takes to build a new, fairer framework for transportation planning.

To start, can you explain what transportation equity means?

When we launched the Transportation Equity Program at the Seattle Department of Transportation, we defined it with a picture goal: to provide safe, environmentally sustainable, accessible, and affordable transportation options to support communities of color, low-income communities, immigrant and refugee communities, people with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity, LGBTQ people, women and girls, youth, and seniors. Transportation equity should allow all people to travel in and out of, and thrive in, vibrant and healthy communities, and eliminate, or at least mitigate, racial disparities and the effects of displacement.

What does equity have to do with Vision Zero?

First off, Seattle’s Vision Zero program is grounded in the belief that the most effective way to reach zero is through redesigning our streets, to prioritize safety over speed or throughput. To state it plainly, the goal is to enhance safety by changing street design, not relying on enforcement to change behavior. The Seattle Department of Transportation uses data to drive our investments in street design, which means we focus on the corridors with the most serious and fatal injury crashes. Like many other cities, Seattle’s most crash-prone streets intersect with our most diverse communities. Linking back to the data, we can justify our approach and prioritize our work based on need, rather than on the number of phone calls we receive from more connected communities. …


From stabbing while slipping to dragging while driving, sometimes ‘accidents’ just happen

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Image: jossdim/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Slip and Stab

In Lakeland, Florida, a woman named Rachel Fidanian called 911 and told the dispatcher that she had accidentally stabbed her husband. The first time she explained it, she said that she was holding the dog while washing dishes, ran toward her husband, slipped, and accidentally stabbed him. Later, when Rachel told the story to paramedics, she said she was holding the dog while slicing pizza, tripped, and accidentally stabbed her husband. …


An anonymous NYPD officer explains the enforcement of Vision Zero

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Photo by Konstantin Sergeyev

The New York Police Department is quiet about many of its internal policies and procedures, and the enforcement of Vision Zero is no exception. Without pronouncement or explanation, the number and type of traffic summonses issued by precincts has seesawed since Vision Zero began in 2014. Adjacent precincts often focus their enforcement resources in disparate directions — a jaywalking sting in one neighborhood, a tinted-window crackdown in the next. Limited policy clues appear on Twitter, where the NYPD is known to muddle the very definition of Vision Zero. …


PROFILE

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Tracey Capers is executive vice president of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, the newest member of TransAlt‘s Board of Directors, and led the largest single-neighborhood Citi Bike ridership growth trend.

When did you start riding a bike?

Whenever it is that people start riding bikes, age three or four. I always rode a bike, from my little tricycle to my 10-speed. My family would ride around the neighborhood, and when they would close down the Bronx River Parkway, we would go ride on the Parkway. I don’t know when I stopped riding bikes regularly, probably somewhere in high school. I forgot about taking the Bronx River Parkway until I started riding again as an adult.

Now you’re a regular bike commuter. What brought you back?

It’s a long story. Five years ago, when Citi Bike expanded into Bed-Stuy, they approached me with an idea for a partnership. Compared to other neighborhoods where Citi Bike launched, Bed-Stuy was more low-income and had more people of color, and they wanted to experiment with bike share equity. I ended up as a leading force behind the New York City Better Bike Share Partnership — a collaboration with Citi Bike, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Health, and other community organizations — to get more people of color in low-income communities on Citi Bike, and strategize how to move the needle on bike share equity. I realized I had to try biking myself, and it came right back to me. …


A look back with the street photography of Carl Hultberg

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On July 22, 1987, Mayor Ed Koch held a press conference to announce what came to be known as the Midtown Bike Ban — outlawing cycling from 10 am to 4 pm, Monday through Friday, on Madison, Park, and Fifth, from 31st Street to 59th Street. At that time, a young activist named Carl Hultberg was the unofficial photographer for a precursor to Reclaim called City Cyclist.

According to Hultberg, “Transportation Alternatives was still a mom and pop outfit — and cycling in New York City was chaos.”

About

Jessie Singer

Senior Editor @TransAlt, writing a column about accidents in America. Subscribe: tinyletter.com/accident

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