Photo: Chris Goldberg / Flickr

Translated from Annie Correal, “Repartidores en ‘Bulevar de la Muerte’El Diario/La Prensa, August 13, 2009.

Death of Mexican immigrant shows the level of danger in their work

New York – Pablo Pasarán was run over last Saturday at the intersection of 21st Street and 35th Avenue in Queens. As the family he left behind reflected on his life, other delivery workers continued his dangerous line of work, transporting heavy plastic bags filled with food in the hope of making a few more dollars in tips.

This task is particularly perilous on Queens Boulevard, known as the “Boulevard of Death,” where even though fences and signs have been installed, pedestrians continue to die as they try to cross the street.

“Buses have the least respect for cyclists. Taxis are also always trying to beat the light,” says Crispin Zapata, 46, a delivery worker from Puebla, Mexico, who supports his family on $350 a week he brings in working for a pizzeria on Greenpoint Avenue. “I’ve almost been in an accident so many times.”

In New York, around twenty cyclists have been killed every year since 2005, according to figures released by the Department of Motor Vehicles. There are no exact figures regarding how many of those were delivery workers, but Leah Todd, spokesperson for the New York Memorial Project, an organization that puts up white “ghost bikes” at locations where cyclists have been killed, said that Pasarán is the second delivery cyclist to be killed in a crash since 2005. The other was an Asian delivery worker killed in Manhattan. The organization will set up a bike to memorialize Pasarán before the end of the year.

Official statistics indicate that there are approximately 4,000 delivery workers in New York, a small fraction of the city’s 185,000 cyclists. Despite this, delivery cyclists are in greater danger than other cyclists because they spend more time on the street and travel at top speed under pressure from their employers and in order to earn more tips.

Candelario Serrano, a 22-year-old Mexican who has worked for eight months delivering pizzas for Victoria’s II, a pizzeria on 46th Street and Queens Boulevard, said that the greatest danger comes from driver carelessness. “People open car doors, and you don’t have time to react,” he argued, while a driver laid blame on the delivery workers.

“They’re idiots. They cross when they’re not supposed to. Every day I see them running red lights,” said Jorge Andrade, who has cruised Queens Boulevard in his taxi for 30 years. “There have always been deaths on this boulevard.” A few minutes later, a young Hispanic delivery cyclist rode against traffic, while motorists sped by.

Wiley Norvell, spokesperson for Transportation Alternatives, said that the organization has been lobbying for the creation of a separated bicycle lane on Queens Boulevard since the death of Asif Rahman in 2008. Rahman was the first cyclist killed on Queens Boulevard since 1995, but from that year to 2005 there were 227 cyclists and 1118 pedestrians killed. “That’s just too many,” he concluded.

Translation of Michelon, Vincent. June 8, 2010. Le vélo colonisera les Champs-Elysées. Metrofrance.com.

The bicycle plan, which envisions extensions of bicycle lanes, was passed on Tuesday by the Paris City Council. Four years from now, the Champs-Elysées will have two lanes reserved for cyclists.

The frustration of drivers will be the pleasure of cyclists. The bicycle plan, which unanimously passed the Paris City Council on Tuesday, had been upgraded at the urging of the Green Party. The Greens won a symbolic victory: the creation of a bicycle lane within four years along three kilometers on each side of the Champs-Elysées.

“This lane will be taken from the roadway,” explained Jacques Boutault, who was elected on the Green Party line as Mayor of the Second District. “Bicycles should not be taking space from pedestrians when cars are occupying 80% of the street.” The plan envisions a continuous route along the Rue de Rivoli and the Champs-Elysées. “This means that there will be a bicycle route across the Place de la Concorde,” Boutault suggested. The city’s bicycle network will be expanded from 440 kilometers to 700 by 2014.

Another Green Party proposal that was included in the plan is the creation of 2000 bicycle parking spots per year, instead of the 1000 per year originally envisioned. Half of these spaces will be on city property, in the courtyards of public housing projects, and the other half will take up road space, if necessary from automobile parking, as was done in 2007 for the 1400 Vélib’ stations.

“The message is clear: the car is not welcome in the central city,” explained Mayor Boutault. “People who travel by car will have to use private facilities.” In the central districts, a quarter of households own at least one car.

Photo: Travis Fox

Here’s a great Planet Money video where you get to see Adam Davidson figuring out why jitneys in Haiti are painted so vibrantly. However, I think there’s a mistranslation at 3:48 in the video.

Driver Patrick Toulousma is translated as saying “One can read the skill of a driver from the exterior of the vehicle in question,” and Davidson, clearly not a Creole speaker, goes with that.

I don’t know Creole myself, but it sure sounds like Standard French to me, and pretty formal:  “On peut lire l’image du chauffeur à travers la véhicule en question,” literally,  “One can read the image of the driver through the vehicle in question.” If a Parisian said that to me I would translate it as, “You can pick up on the driver’s image by looking at their vehicle.”

What does Toulousma mean by “image”? I’m guessing he’s referring to glamour, which Cap’n Transit argues can influence people’s decisions about a single trip.

Decentralized cooperation: our capital will soon have its streetcar line. The French company Lohr, based in Strasbourg, will construct it.

Coop?ration d?centralis?e : Bient?t une ligne de tramway ? Bamako, A. Doumbia, L’Essor, April 14, 2009.

A signing ceremony for two agreements towards this goal was held by Malian head of state Amadou Toumani Tour?. The initiative is part of the cooperation framework that has been established between France and our country. The signing took place in the Koulouba palace, in the presence of government ministers and the French ambassador to Mali, Michel Reveyrand De Menthon.

The first agreement was signed by the Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation, Ahmed Diane S?m?ga, and the representative of the Lohr Industrie corporation, Jean Fran?ois Argence, for the delivery of the equipment. This was the first step in what will be the first streetcar line in Bamako, which the French representatives explained would be compatible with the particular requirements of the District and its population. In fact, Strasbourg has not only a streetcar network but also a factory that produces streetcars.

Bamako is currently grappling with three problems: health, urban mobility and urbanization. The city is modernizing, but improvements are lagging. The other accord, within the decentralized cooperation framework, signed between the mayor of the District, Adama Sangar?, and his counterpart from Strasbourg, Senator Roland Ries, was aimed at improving the existing physical plant and bringing modern infrastructure to the District.

Mr. Ries, who is on his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa, thanked President Tour? for the warm welcome he had shown the delegation from Strasbourg. He announced that the agreement had already been ratified by the Strasbourg city council. He reminded the audience that Strasbourg has extensive experience in public transit that it wants to make available to our country.

President Tour? explained that Bamako’s transportation needs are constantly growing. “We will no longer be satisfied with minibuses and other mass transit vehicles. This is why I wanted to bring a streetcar line to the District. The city of Strasbourg, which generously agreed to a preliminary technical consultation, wants to give its best to ensure our satisfaction,” he enthused. Mr. Tour? expects to double energy production here by 2012 to power the tramway.

A note on cooperation: many French towns have sister-city agreements with cities here. The relationship between Angers and Bamako, for example, is long-lasting. President Tour? wants to guide the country towards a more open form of partnership. He observed with pleasure that the decentralized cooperation between our two countries is very dynamic.

Máximo Gómez station
Máximo Gómez station. Photo by Orad

La Nación Dominicana: El Metro costará RD$105 millones cada mes, arranca el lunes de forma gratuita, hasta el día de reyes.

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic, December 19.  According to Diandino Peña, the monthly operating cost of the Santo Domingo Metro will come to roughly $3 million US, or $105 million pesos at the current exchange rate.

Mr. Peña, the Director of the Transportation Reform Office (OPRET), also announced that on Monday Metro will begin the long-awaited in-service test of  Rapid Mass Transit Line 1, with full access to passengers at no charge through Epiphany on January 6.  Ten trains will circulate, each with a capacity of  650 passengers, and straphangers will have to wait no more than 5-6 minutes for a train.

Mr. Peña made the announcement alongside Manuel Vásquez, Miguel Ángel Sánchez and Rafael Serrano.  Mr. Vásquez, from Spain, was a consultant on the construction of the Santo Domingo Metro on loan from the Madrid Metro.  Mr. Sánchez will serve as Chief of Operations for the Santo Domingo Metro representing the Spanish side, while Mr. Serrano will fill the same function on the Dominican side.

Mr. Peña explained that once the in-service test with passengers is completed, covering the entire line and all the stations, they will conduct an inspection and evaluation of all of the subsystems and rolling stock in terms of their ability to respond to diverse situations, in the face of a demand that is expected to be higher than originally projected.

Once all the 19 trains are put into service, Mr. Peña said, they will prepare to charge fares by the end of January.  He and his colleagues invited all who are interested in the Metro to visit the sixteen stations on Line 1 during the following hours:

December 22-24, 26-28 and 31; January 2-6 9:00 AM through 7:00 PM
December 25 and January 1 1:00 PM through 7:00 PM
December 29 and 30 7:00 AM through 7:00 PM

On the other side of the operations, Mr. Peña announced that the OPRET will meet with Dominican business owners, including transportation syndicates, to determine who will operate feeder lines to the Metro.  He also assured the audience that the operation of the Metro will not affect electricity consumers nearby, because it is fed by two power lines of 69 and 138 megawatts.

As for the operating cost of the Metro, Mr. Peña explained that at the beginning it was expected to be around three million dollars per month, but eventually it would be lower due to better understanding of the system.