Thursday, April 25, 2013

Intersection Pictures

Ok, so you read the story of how the timing of the traffic light was changed due to my request.  I thought I'd show you the intersection.  I should have included pictures in my previous post but I kept forgetting to take my camera with me.

Logan and Caterina had an early review class today for a chemistry test they are going to take tomorrow.  (We'll be up early tomorrow again so they can go to another review class.  Ugh!) Happily, I remembered to bring my camera as we were leaving the house today.  I took these pictures while we were waiting at the light.

This is at 6:30 in the morning which accounts for the lack of life in this picture except for those two  pedestrians. Trust me, an hour and something later which is when we usually go through that intersection, the picture will look quite different.  There will be double parked trucks of all sorts, from sanitation to tractor trailers, on either side of the street because their drivers have left them to get their breakfast and coffee from that coffee shop on the left just after the Just Tints car detailing shop with the blue awning.  Traffic will be backed up for blocks because of the light and the bottle neck created by the trucks.   
This is the view coming from the opposite direction after I dropped off Logan and Caterina at school.  That side will also be bottled necked because of the coffee shop on that side, again, just after the auto body place on the left.  You can see 2 trucks already double parked there on either side of the street creating that bottle neck. 
While things are better now since the timing change, traffic will never flow perfectly smoothly there unless they stop the trucks from double parking.  However, those hard working men need their coffee to make this city run so we will continue going around them.  Nonetheless, I'm happy because that timing change shaved extra minutes off my commute and in this city, that's a good thing!

Here's hoping your commute is a good one. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

One voice...

or in this case, one email, can bring about a change, even in a city as big and dynamic as New York City.  It comes as a huge and pleasant surprise to me as well that a simple request submitted online to a city agency could not only be acknowledged but then fulfilled in a relatively short time frame. 

No doubt you're wondering to what am I referring.  Well, every day I travel the same route to take Logan to and from school and to generally get around in my neighborhood.  After years of experience, I've determined it's the best route due to it having the fewest traffic lights.  If you know anything about NYC, there's a light on nearly every single corner.  It can take 20 minutes to go just a few blocks because of all the lights.  My tried and true route has worked for years but in recent months, one particular traffic light has been messing up a carefully mapped out travel plan designed to get me where I need to go in the shortest time. 

This traffic light was causing a back up blocks long and it would take 4 or 5 changes for one to actually get through that intersection.  The light was longer on the north/south street and shorter on the east/west street and this was a problem because the east/west street has by far the higher traffic volume.

So one day last January after sitting at that light way too long and way too many times, once I got home I went online to the Department of Transportation's website.  After a bit of searching I discovered I could request a traffic study on that light.  At the time, I wasn't even sure such a thing could be done.  I just knew I'd wasted enough time at that darn light.  I submitted the traffic study request and this is the response I received...

Thank you for your email concerning the timing of the traffic signals on Steinway Street and 20th Avenue  in Queens .

Signal timing cycle lengths usually fall between 45 and 120 seconds. The timing for each signal is determined based on traffic volume and traffic patterns in each particular area. Our Signal Engineering Division will conduct an analysis of the signal timing to determine if the signals are operating properly with adequate amount of time allocated for safe crossing of pedestrians.

The careful consideration of all relevant information is necessary to reach a solution that will be in the best interests of public safety as well as allowing for well managed street operations. The Borough Commissioner will inform you of our findings and recommendations by end of March 2013 .

Information about traffic signals is available on the DOT web site at

The safety of our residents is of primary concern to the NYCDOT.  Please be assured that we will fully investigate this matter.  Your participation in transportation issues which affect your community is greatly appreciated.

Customer Service Division
New York City Department of Transportation

Ok, so after reading that, I didn't really expect anything to happen.  After all, this is New York City, a city of millions of people and nearly 12,000 traffic lights.  So imagine my surprise when the following emailed attachment came.

This is in response to January 10th e-mail to the 311 Customer Service Center regarding the operation of the traffic signals at the intersection of Steinway Street and 20th Avenue.
As a result of our investigation completed last month, we have modified the timing of the signals at this location (and adjacent intersections) to improve coordination.  We believe this change will alleviate the problem outlined in the e-mail.

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.

Dalila Hall 
Deputy Borough Commissioner 

Can you believe it?  Isn't that something else?  I'm very happy to report traffic is moving much better at that intersection.  Good job New York City!


Monday, April 22, 2013

Spring is springing!

I'm so happy Spring is here.  It's still pretty chilly outside but it's coming.

In my eagerness to welcome spring, I've been busy playing in the dirt!  I've been enjoying getting my hands dirty and not only have I been having fun but look what's happening because of it.

These are my strawberries.  There's actually 2 plants in that box but this one is much taller.  Both are flowering. 
 These are my green and red peppers.
 This is an orange pepper plant.
 These are cucumbers.  I haven't put up the wire yet that they will climb up and let the cucs hang which will yield larger ones. 
 This is a hanging pot just bursting with new flower sprouts.  I bought a butterfly garden seed mix so I'm not exactly sure what kind of flowers these will be but there will be plenty of blooms.  I'll probably have to thin these a bit. 
 This window box is also going to be flowers.  I have 2 others that will be flowers as well. 

I have plans to paint my outside railing and spray paint my little bench that sits in the front of my house.  Unfortunately, it was way too cold to be outside that long painting a fence railing today.   It was also way too windy today to do any spray painting so I'll have to wait for a better day. 

Happy Spring!!!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Another Gift

Hello, friends.

I think you'll remember last year when our neighbor, Dave, bought Logan a surfboard.  You can read about it here.

Well, tonight, that kind man did it again.  Dave came over tonight; we thought to say hello and hang out for a while.  He had a box with him which he gave to Logan.  In the box was a brand new wetsuit.  Yes, that's right.  Dave bought my son a wetsuit to go along with the surfboard he got last year. 

Logan couldn't wait to try it on.  It's a perfect fit.  The kid didn't want to take it off.  You can see how happy he is.

Look at Logan's big smile here.  He's beaming with joy.  I, on the other hand, was in tears from Dave's kindness.  His generosity towards my son has touched my heart. 
Now Logan is ready to go surfing.  They are both looking forward to a fun summer catching waves.

A most heartfelt thank you to Dave!