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Starting off with a bit more busway news this week: In a study released by Sam Schwartz Transportation Consultants [PDF link], the 14th Street busway has improved travel times on multiple modes of transit by evaluating a variety of data sources, including the Department of Transportation, independent traffic counting, and Citibike data. M14 A and D bus weekday ridership is up 24% compared to last year, and transit times between Third Avenue and Eighth Avenue are faster by 36%, making the crosstown bus ride 5.3 minutes faster. Although the criticisms of the busway before it was even implemented were that the surrounding streets would become parking lots, the data shows that travel time on the surrounding crosstown streets stayed the same or increased by an average of one and a half minutes during weekday rush hours, with the biggest total increase found on 17th Street, the first crosstown street to the north of 14th that isn't broken up by Union Square. By comparison, travel times on the next-closest two-way crosstown streets, 23rd to the north and Houston to the south, showed a variety of increases and decreases in total travel times compared to October last year. On the Avenues, only minuscule changes were seen in drive times, with speeds actually increasing significantly during morning rush hours. The preliminary report released by Sam Schwartz Transportation Consultants is the first of seven scheduled reports, with the final report on the project set to be released in Spring 2021.
In the span of just 16 hours, four people were struck and killed by drivers across the city. In Manhattan, a 26-year-old woman was struck at a crosswalk in SoHo by a box truck driving in reverse, a man in Hell's Kitchen was struck and killed by a sanitation truck driver, an 85-year-old man was killed in Sunset Park by a truck driver, and a 57-year-old man was struck by three drivers separate and killed in Park Slope. According to Streetsblog.org, that brings the total number killed by drivers this year to 214, an 8% increase over 2018. In response, Mayor de Blasio stated that the NYPD will be deploying extra officers citywide to increase truck enforcement. The news sadly coincides with bicyclist Daniel Cammerman being struck and killed by the driver of a school bus on the 96th Street Central Park transverse on December 18th and the Brooklyn Supreme Court handing down a $43 million ruling this week in the case of a young girl struck and seriously injured by the driver of a school bus in 2017.
Now is the time to focus on avoiding the flu this winter. The measles outbreak was a rare occurrence that was confined to small communities and mostly young children who hadn't yet been vaccinated, and only a few hundred people were affected, but different types of flu viruses take hold each year and flu vaccines must be built to properly address the flu strains that will be most prominent during each flu season. Data from the New York Department of Health shows that flu activity in New York City is already at a high level and there has been a 48% increase in hospitalizations statewide due to influenza. Within the city, there have been a total of 2,028 cases since the flu season began in October, with the past week showing a sharp increase of nearly 1,000 new cases within a week. The number of total cases is much higher at this point in the season than it has been in previous years. Given the early arrival of flu season, it's important to get a flu shot as quickly as possible, and it is a vital step for young children and older adults, especially anyone with heart disease, diabetes, asthma, lung disease, liver disease, or those who are pregnant. Just like the measles vaccine, everyone should receive a flu shot to avoid potentially spreading the disease to someone else in the city who may have a more compromised immune system. To find flu vaccinations across the city, use the NYC.gov Health Map at nyc.gov/flu or visit your neighborhood pharmacy, hospital, or clinic and ask if they administer flu shots. And please, everyone, wash your hands and cover your mouth by coughing or sneezing into your elbow! It's one of the easiest most impactful actions you can take to stop the spread of disease, and everyone holding the subway pole after you will be thankful.
30 years ago on December 15, 1989 — Arturo Di Modica's 7,100 pound bronze 'Charging Bull' statue is secretly installed overnight near the New York Stock Exchange Christmas tree as a gift to the people of NYC
Christmas and Hanukkah are on the way, and our list of tree and menorah lightings at agreatbigcity.com/christmas or agreatbigcity.com/hanukkah has the times and dates of 50 lighting ceremonies across the city! You can sort the list by holiday and past events are still listed, so that you can find a local Christmas tree to visit and keep track of public menorah lightings for each day of Hanukkah. If you don't see your local event on the list, drop us a note and we'll put the info up, whether it's the Rockefeller Center tree or just a neighborhood gathering to hang homemade ornaments on an evergreen in the local park!
48 years ago on December 26, 1971 — Members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War occupy the Statue of Liberty for 42 hours to draw attention to the ongoing war
35 years ago on December 22, 1984 — Bernhard Goetz shoots four men on a subway car, seriously wounding them during what was either a panhandling or robbery attempt
8 years ago — A Very Shepherd Christmas - Stories From Jean Shepherd's New York City Radio Show — Shepherd hosted a late-night show on WOR for 21 years, and each night was packed with the same storytelling and clever insights that became the inspiration for 'A Christmas Story'. While his voice has become ingrained in Christmas pop culture as the narrator of 'A Christmas Story', the recordings of his radio career from 1956-1977 paint a raw, impressionistic vision of New York City life. When Christmas came around each year, Shep would retell some of the various anecdotes that would be gathered together into 'A Christmas Story', some of which had recently been published in Playboy magazine and some of which made their debut on his radio show.
A Great Big City has been running a 24-hour newsfeed since 2010, but the AGBC News podcast is just getting started, and we need your support. A Great Big City is built on a dedication to explaining what is happening and how it fits into the larger history of New York, which means thoroughly researching every topic and avoiding clickbait headlines to provide a straightforward, honest, and factual explanation of the news. Individuals can make a monthly or one-time contribution at agreatbigcity.com/support and local businesses can have a lasting impact by supporting local news while promoting products or services directly to interested customers listening to this podcast. Visit agreatbigcity.com/advertising to learn more.
AGBC is more than just a news website: Every evening, just before sundown, A Great Big City checks the Empire State Building's lighting schedule and sends out a notification if the tower's lighting will be lit in special colors for a holiday or celebration. Follow @agreatbigcity on social media to receive the alerts.
Park of the day
This is the AGBC Concert Calendar for the upcoming week:
- Yo La Tengo is playing Bowery Ballroom on Sunday, December 22nd at 7pm.
- A KANYE WEST OPERA - MARY is playing David Geffen Hall on Sunday, December 22nd at 8pm.
- Yo La Tengo is playing Bowery Ballroom on Monday, December 23rd at 7pm.
- Yo La Tengo is playing Bowery Ballroom on Tuesday, December 24th at 7pm.
- Yo La Tengo is playing Bowery Ballroom on Wednesday, December 25th at 7pm.
- Yo La Tengo is playing Bowery Ballroom on Thursday, December 26th at 7pm.
- Dave East is playing PlayStation Theater on Thursday, December 26th at 9pm.
- Yo La Tengo is playing Bowery Ballroom on Friday, December 27th at 7pm.
- PNB Rock (16+, Rescheduled from October 20, 2019) are playing Brooklyn Steel on Friday, December 27th at 8pm.
- Oliver Heldens is playing Schimanski on Friday, December 27th at 9pm.
- The Disco Biscuits is playing PlayStation Theater on Friday, December 27th at 9pm.
- Gogol Bordello with Dub Trio is playing Webster Hall on Saturday, December 28th at 6pm.
- Phish is playing Madison Square Garden on Saturday, December 28th at 7pm.
- Yo La Tengo is playing Bowery Ballroom on Saturday, December 28th at 7pm.
- The Allman Betts Band is playing Beacon Theatre on Saturday, December 28th at 8pm.
- NERO is playing Schimanski on Saturday, December 28th at 9pm.
Find more fun things to do at agreatbigcity.com/events.
Today's fact about New York
Here's something you may not have known about New York:
- There have been 7 versions of the Times Square New Years Eve Ball: One made in 1907, 1920, 1955, 1995, 1999, 2007, and 2008
The extreme highs and lows for this week in weather history:
Record High: 72°F on December 24, 2015
Record Low: -4°F on December 20, 1942
Weather for the week ahead:
No major precipitation throughout the week.
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