In June, 2018, bike sharing pilot stated in White Plains with 300 dock less, two wheelers on the streets of White Plains. They yellow and green bicycles cost $1.00 a ride. The companies Lime Bike & OFO started the program in White Plains. The pros and cons and etiquette of bike sharing are being discussed on social media. The reaction has generally been positive with few kinks need to be worked out, according to an article in The Journal News on June 20, 2018, entitled “pedal power is the talk of White Plains” by Richard Liebson. The owner of businesses along Mamaroneck Avenue have seen good, bad and ugly by the owner of Vino 110, Stuart Levine who stated “like all new things, there are growing pains”. Bikes are left all over including in front of his store door, on people’s lawns and riding on sidewalks. It is recommended the bike program rules be adjusted to including parking stations or a dedicated team member to better organize a bike return protocol.

White Plains is the third Westchester community to introduce a bike sharing program this year following New Rochelle and Yonkers. White Plains Mayor, Tom Roach said “usage has exceeded our expectations”. It is noted that ride bikes on sidewalks is prohibited. White Plains had painted bike lanes at various thoroughfares for a few years and is spending $1.5 million state grants on bikes and pedestrian improvements. The program comes at no cost to the City or taxpayers. The bike company pays a small permit fee to operate a one year pilot program in White Plains.

The bikes are equipped with GPS and unlocked with an app starting at $1.00. Once a trip is completed and the bike is in an area that does not block traffic and the locks is pulled down, it ends their ride which goes to the app. People love taking the bikes from the outer ring of the city into the train stations. The train station and downtown area has been a really popular corridor.

White Plains train station becomes slippery because of paint on the yellow warning strip. According to an article in The Journal News on October 15, 2018, a 37 year old White Plains resident slipped at about 8:11 A.M. while waiting for a Metro North train to Grand Central. “I took a pretty good fall” he told The Journal News (loHud). He slipped on the newly painted yellow warning strip a half hour earlier. Another passenger slipped and fell boarding a train and needed to be hospitalized.

The work on the White Plains train station was part of a $92 million renovation of the station. They had to close the northern end of the same platform.

Another passenger fell and was dazed. He was told about the person that fell before at approximately 4:00 P.M. The falls, according to the person that fell, should have been preventable. The newly painted warning strip is unusually slippery. The platform edge has small, round, tactile bumps to help with traction, but new paint seems to be a problem.

The Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge is now open in both directions. Now the walking and biking paths on the new bridge is being worked on. Still to be decided is if the path will be open 24 hours per day or from dusk to dawn. South Nyack Major Bonnie Christian mounted a fight against The New York State Thruway Authority to reconfigure the path on the Rockland side of the bridge and The Thruway Authority has changed the configuration in response to Nyack’s complaints.

According to an article in The Journal News entitled “The bridge path forward” by Matt Coyne on July 12, 2018, the future walking and biking path will be a shared use path. A ridge has been built into the right most of all Rockland bound lanes. The ridge will accommodate a future barrier separating vehicle traffic from pedestrian and cyclists. Once finished, the Thruway Authority has not committed to an opening date yet.

The path will feature lanes for pedestrians and bikers and six overlooks, each with a local historical or cultural theme. The article points out that the overlooks hold tourisms potential which could boost the economies of Tarrytown and Nyack.

All buses in New York are required to have seatbelts by State Law but it is up to the individual school district to decide whether to enforce their use. On May 17, 2018, a horrific crash in New Jersey when a school bus crashed into a dump truck in which a student and teacher died has parents worried about putting children onto buses. The Federal Government claims school buses are 70 times safer than a passenger car. School officials, experts and industry figures say school buses are designed to protect students in the event of a crash even without seatbelts. Even without seatbelts, he Assistant Director of Transportation at The Rockland County Board of Cooperative Educational Services claims “there are actually a lot of things that make the role of a school bus drivers much safer than a parent”.

According to an article in The Journal News entitled “Buckle up: Is it the law?” by Kimberly Redmond and Matt Coyne on May 19, 2018, school buses are safer because of their size and weight. The distinctive yellow color, the extra lights and retractable stop sign, the interior of a school bus is designed with safety in mind. The Assistant Director in Rockland County, Joann Thompson states “the design – the compartmentalization which is the higher backed seat in front and behind helps student from getting significantly hurt if we were involved in a crash”. “It gives an added level of safety that supersedes a parent transporting their kid in their own car”.

Elmsford students from kindergarten to sixth grade have to use seatbelts and the district has monitors on buses to make sure. Briarcliff Manor requires seatbelts for elementary school students on field trips. White Plains encourages the use of seatbelts at transportation orientation for parent and students every year but does not mandate it. In the New Jersey school bus accident on May 17, 2018, students were reportedly wear seatbelts and when the crash happened, students were screaming and hanging from their seatbelts as the bus went on its side and escaped through windows and emergency exits. Al Roney from New York School Bus Contractors Associates states seatbelts can help in situations like crashes but when a young student has to evacuate, the seatbelts can slow things down. He states “we’re all about student safety first. If there is a mandate that all students have to wear a seatbelt, too, we’re going to go with that and whatever the state decides”.

The number of home sales in the first quarter of 2018 dropped in Westchester and Rockland Counties for the first time in four years. According to an article in the Journal News on April 23, 2018 by Akiko Matsuda, the lack of inventory has been an issue but also the implications of the new tax laws might have had an additional hand in home sales in the first quarter of 2018. Sales figures in the first quarter reflect transactions that were negotiated in the last quarter of 2017.

Westchester’s single family home sales from Jan. – March, 2018 declined 5.6% to 1034 from the same period in 2017 which was 1095. In Rockland, the sales dropped 18.9% to 360 from 444 in 2017 according to the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Services. However, in Putnam County, single family sales rose by 8.1% from 209 in 2017 to 226 in 2018. In all three Counties, single family home inventory (the number of home for sale) saw a significant drop from a year ago; down 7.3% in Westchester, 12% in Rockland and 2.15% in Putnam. The lack of inventory pushed up overall prices in all three counties. In Westchester, the median price for a single family home went up 2.2% to $613,250 from 2017. In Rockland, the median home price went up 10.7% to 357,011.

According to The Somers Record on April 19, 2018, Westchester County, the most popular county in the region, dropped 2.3%, co-op sales continue to be resilient and increased by 1.1% for the first quarter of 2018. Single family residence sales decreased by 5.6% from 2017 while the median sales price for a single family home in Rockland rose 2.4%. In Orange County, sales of single family homes dropped by only 0.5% and the single family home price rose to a median of 240,000, a 4.3% increase from 2017.

Route 119 is a major east-west road with constant traffic. There is very little room for sidewalk or bicycle lanes. According to an article published in The Journal News on Sunday, June 10, 2018 by Matt Coyne states “for Westchester bike commuters, plus anyone who walks or takes a bus, there’s hope in a plan to open one of the major east-west thoroughfare to more than just cars”.

There is in existence “the Route 119 Complete Streets Plan”. This plan includes local transportation activists and local, county and state officials on the Steering Committee and funding from the Thruway Authority who wants to make the state road that runs from Tarrytown to White Plains more bike and pedestrian friendly. This Committee hopes to add bike lanes, add or enlarge sidewalks and make bus tops more accessible.

Route 119 runs through Tarrytown where there exists office buildings, hotels and apartments with wider lanes of traffic. However, on Main Street in Elmsford, they have many small businesses such as deli’s, barber shops and bars with narrow roads that require parking on Route 119. Thereafter, Route 119 gives way to car dealerships and strip malls before you get to the Westchester County Center. The physical geography changes vastly along Route 119. The roads goes from raised meadows with three lanes to tight lanes next to curb parking to 10 lanes by the County Center and The Bronx River Parkway.

Pedestrian deaths in the USA have skyrocketed 46% since 2009 according to an article in USA Today – The Journal News published on May 8, 2018 entitled “Perils of walking in USA increase” by Eric D. Lawrence, Chris Woodyard, Zlati Meyer and Kristi Tanner. The increase far outpaced other traffic related death according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Almost 6,000 pedestrians were killed by motor vehicles on American roads in 2016, the latest year for which numbers are available.  That’s almost twice the number of death tied directly to the September 11 terrorist attacks and more Americans have died as they walked than died in combat in Iraq each year since 2003.

There are many causes for the increase in pedestrian deaths. Distraction behind the wheel, texting while driving and while walking and marijuana legalization have been cited as potential culprits.

A study released in May by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety suggests at least part of the blame rests with Americans increase use of SUV’S. The study shows 81% increase in the number of SUV’S involved in single vehicle pedestrian fatalities from 2009-2016. The Insurance Institute President said one reason SUV’s have a greater impact on pedestrian fatalities has to do with their design. SUV’s have higher front end and the design is more vertical than passenger cars. The vehicles are playing some role. Pedestrian fatalities reached 5,987 in 2016, the highest since H.W. Bush was President.  Nationally, more pedestrians die in collision when they are crossing at points other than intersections along busy roads. More of the fatalities occur at night and involve males and alcohol. In 2016, pedestrians accounted for 16% of traffic deaths; in 2008 that figure was 11% according to NHTSA. The crisis fell mostly in American cities such as St. Louis and Newark but also in Sun Belt cities such as Phoenix, Baton Rouge and Miami. Detroit Michigan had the highest role among larger cities, nearly a quarter of the 118 people who died in traffic crashes in 2016 were pedestrians. Despite its first place ranking in the city, they saw improvements in its fatality numbers in 2016 which dropped after 65,000 street lights were installed over a three year period. The City intends to replace 125,000 sidewalk slabs to keep more pedestrians out of the street.

Recently there was a tragic accident involving a self-driving Uber vehicle that struck and killed a pedestrian near Phoenix. A Tesla Model X was on autopilot and crashed in March, 2018 in Mountain View, California killing the driver. More people are starting to think about setting realistic expectations for self-driving cars.  The essential question being whether they can be expected to completely avoid fatalities or whether it’s good enough that they reduce them.

According to an article in USA Today – The Journal News on April 8, 2018 by Bob O’Donnell, the ethical implications are far reaching.  What makes the question troublesome is that it ties together computing technology with life and death consequences. The technology built into self-driving cars such as the ones involved in the aforementioned accident generate significant amount of data that are already making the process of determining the course must faster and more definitive than traditional investigative processes.  From a technical perspective, many of the questions about safety have to do with sensors that collect all the data. Most self-driving cars have a collection of traditional cameras, radar and liDAR (a type of sensor that bounces laser light off nearby objects) built into them.  In theory, these components work together to provide the car with all the information it needs to make real-time driving decisions. Radar and liDAR have the ability to essentially see through objects allowing them to provide views and perspectives that cannot be seen by humans.

In the Phoenix Uber accident, the technology should have been able to see that there was a pedestrian on the side of the road even if she was hidden from human view by cars or other objects and slam on the brakes.  These vehicles are supposed to see things that people can’t and read in ways that are faster and better than the human ever could.

The City of New Rochelle has become the first municipality in the lower Hudson Valley to offer bike sharing.  Mayor Bramson said 50 bikes have been rolled out for a soft opening.  According to an article entitled “County embraces new bike sharing program” by Richard Liebson and Nicholas Tantillo on the front page of The Journal News on March 23, 2018.  By the end of April, 100 bikes will be available at 11 locations in New Rochelle.

The article points out that White Plains adopted a bike sharing law in March.  White Plains expects to hire an operator for a one year pilot program.  Yonkers Mayor, Mike Spano announced that Yonkers had an agreement with Spin & Lime Bike to start a bike sharing program. Mount Vernon

Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas stated they had explored talks with companies and are open to bringing bike sharing to Mount Vernon.

A new AAA study finds that Americans are starting to lose the fear of self-driving cars.  In a new survey, 63% of U.S. drivers say they are fearful of taking a ride in a self-driving vehicle.  A year ago, that figure was 78% which equals to 20 million more people are now more comfortable with self-driving cars.

In an article in the USA-Today, The Journal News by Chris Woodyard on January 28, 2018, “The decline is definitely noteworthy” said Grey Brannon, Director of Automobile Engineering for AAA-Orlando. The article points out the study comes as automakers and tech giants are rushing to develop self-driving cars which could go on sale within 5 years.  Brannon said motorists are more willing to trust self-driving cars when they see the benefits of new high tech safety gear systems which are precursors to fully autonomous vehicles. “there are many more vehicles on the road with advanced driver systems like automatic emergency braking or adoptive cruise control, people who have experience  with these technologies are 75% more like to trust them” said Brannon.  AAA’s findings are based on a telephone survey of 1,004 American adults in December.

AAA found that millennials – those in the most tech savvy generation, have the greatest faith in cars that drive themselves.  About half were hesitant about self-driving cars. Only 13% of drivers said they would feel safer sharing the road with self-driving cars. Some 46% said they would feel less safe. Brannon said he has no doubts about the benefit of self-driving cars.  The technologies hold the promise of reducing injuries and fatalities. Brannon said “one thing we know about self-driving cars is they are not going to become distracted or intoxicated.”