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Battle for curb space at fever pitch, Trottenberg says



traffic jam

The subways are in trouble, the L train will be shutting down for 15 months and a section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway needs to be rebuilt. But in addition to its high-profile crises, New York’s transportation infrastructure is facing another, potentially unsolvable dilemma: not enough curb space. Or travel lanes, for that matter.

In the age of e-commerce, bike sharing, e-scooters, Uber and privately operated buses, the battle for asphalt access is raging.

“Right now, the demand for the curb exceeds the supply,” Polly Trottenberg, the city’s transportation commissioner, said Wednesday at a Crain’s Business Breakfast Forum, where industry players filled every seat of the cavernous room.

The growing demand reflects a change in shopping habits that has brought a spike in deliveries, which in turn has pressured the city to crack down on illegally parked delivery trucks. Recently the Department of Finance announced it was raising the penalties in its “stipulated fine” program, which discounts rates for companies, such as Fedex and UPS, that agree not to challenge their tickets.

The Finance Department says the program saves the city money and, with more expensive fines to take effect Dec. 3, can discourage bad behavior. But the program has long been criticized as a corporate giveaway and an invitation to break the rules. (Some 17 violations in the program carry no fine.) A bill to abolish it is set to be introduced today in the City Council, according to the Daily News.

At the same time, a UPS executive told Crain’s that the company might withdraw from the program, saying the pending 27% increase in fines has made contesting tickets a better deal.

Trottenberg acknowledged the difficulty the city faces in reducing congestion when New Yorkers are increasingly shopping online, not to mention taking Uber cars and commuter buses.

“Consumer demands and the amount of available space we have at the curb … they’re at odds right now,” she said, noting that some millennials order something every day.

The commissioner didn’t hold out much hope for shifting truck traffic to nighttime hours, something the city has tried with a commercial-delivery pilot program. She said the off-hours experiment has proved “tremendously challenging” for restaurants and other small businesses, which sometimes hire overnight workers to receive the deliveries.

“The truth is, it very much goes against the business models of those companies,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Clear Curbs pilot program proved “resoundingly unpopular” in the outer-borough locations where it was tried this year, she said.

Trottenberg also defended a roughly 30% increase in city-government vehicles under the de Blasio administration, citing a high demand for city services. Counterfeiting of parking placards has run amok, she added, and requires a technological solution.
Bike lanes are another area of contention: In some neighborhoods, they’re blamed by some for increasing congestion and cheered by others for making it safer to ride a bike. The Department of Transportation has added protected bike lanes as part of its mitigation plan for dealing with the L train shutdown, and Trottenberg predicted they would someday be used by e-scooters.

The scooters—which have been a hit in a few cities—are considered illegal in New York, but a bill to allow them is working its way through the City Council, while operators Bird and Lime work to convince regulators and elected officials that they are a safe transportation option.

“I think they will wind up in bike lanes,” Trottenberg said. “They certainly are knocking at the gates of the city.”


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9-year-old genius to graduate university




Laurent Simons

(CNN) – A child prodigy from Belgium is on course to gain a bachelor’s degree at the tender age of 9.

Laurent Simons is studying electrical engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) — a tough course even for students of an average graduate age.

Described by staff as “simply extraordinary,” Laurent is on course to finish his degree in December.

He then plans to embark on a PhD program in electrical engineering while also studying for a medicine degree, his father told CNN.

His parents, Lydia and Alexander Simons, said they thought Laurent’s grandparents were exaggerating when they said he had a gift, but his teachers soon concurred.

“They noticed something very special about Laurent,” said Lydia.

Laurent was given test after test as teachers tried to work out the extent of his talents. “They told us he is like a sponge,” said Alexander.

While Laurent comes from a family of doctors, his parents have so far not received any explanation as to why their child prodigy is capable of learning so quickly.

But Lydia has her own theory.

“I ate a lot of fish during the pregnancy,” she joked.

The TUE has allowed Laurent to complete his course faster than other students.

“That is not unusual,” said Sjoerd Hulshof, education director of the TUE bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, in a statement.

“Special students that have good reasons for doing so can arrange an adjusted schedule. In much the same way we help students who participate in top sport.”

Hulshof said Laurent is “simply extraordinary” and praised the youngster.

“Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here,” he said. “Not only is he hyper intelligent but also a very sympathetic boy.”

Laurent told CNN his favorite subject is electrical engineering and he’s also “going to study a bit of medicine.”

His progress has not gone unnoticed and he is already being sought out by prestigious universities around the world, although Laurent’s family wouldn’t be drawn on naming which of them he is considering for his PhD.

“The absorption of information is no problem for Laurent,” said his father.

“I think the focus will be on research and applying the knowledge to discover new things.”

While Laurent is evidently able to learn faster than most, his parents are being careful to let him enjoy himself too.

“We don’t want him to get too serious. He does whatever he likes,” said Alexander. “We need to find a balance between being a child and his talents.”

Laurent said he enjoys playing with his dog Sammy and playing on his phone, like many young people.

However, unlike most 9-year-olds, he has already worked out what he wants to do with his life: develop artificial organs.

In the meantime, Laurent has to finish his bachelor’s degree and choose which academic institution will play host to the next stage in his remarkable journey.

Before that, he plans on taking a vacation to Japan for an undoubtedly well-deserved break.

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New award to honor arts and activism named after Lena Horne




Lena Horne

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Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem




Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem

Two gangbangers aimed their BMW like a missile at a father and his 8-year-old son on a Harlem sidewalk in a horrifying incident captured by video distributed by police Thursday.

The BMW — driven by a man police believe is a member of the Gorilla Stone Bloods Gang — was zeroed in on the father, a rival gang member, said cops.

Around 3:45 p.m. Nov. 6, the boy and his father were walking on W. 112th St. by Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. when the BMW jumped the sidewalk and slammed into them both, said cops.

Father and son were both knocked through a gate.

The BMW driver then backed up — and its driver and passenger, also believed to be a gang member, jumped out of the car and ran toward the father and the son.

One of the attackers slashed the father, identified by sources as 32-year-old Brian McIntosh, who’s served prison time for robbery and bail jumping.

McIntosh and his son went to Harlem Hospital. Miraculously, the boy escaped serious harm.

McIntosh was so adamant about refusing to help police catch his attackers that the young boy’s mother had to file a police report alleging he was the victim of a crime, police sources said.

Cops released video of the attack, and ask anyone with information about the suspects to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.


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