The Omnibus Roundup — No Bins, CityBench, Secaucus 7, Parking Reform, The Civilians on OWS and Urbanized at IFC

New York City residents are deeply skeptical of a new pilot program designed to reduce litter in subway stations. Garbage cans have been completely removed from two stations, the 8th Street N station in Manhattan and the Main Street 7 station in Queens, in a test to see if their absence will stop passengers from throwing things away at all. The program is part of a broader effort by the MTA to improve cleanliness in subway stations, to relieve its overburdened garbage crews, and to alleviate service delays caused by an increased number of maintenance trains. Doubters argue that riders will just throw their trash onto the tracks, which are already often littered with refuse, or offload their trash onto platform newsstand owners. The program will last for another two months before the MTA decides how to proceed. For more information, check out The New York Times and DNAinfo.

CityBench | photo via

Weary pedestrians take note. This week, DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan introduced CityBench, a PlanNYC project to install 1,000 new benches on the sidewalks of New York City. The benches will strategically be located adjacent to major transportation nodes that mostly attract seniors and mobility impaired or physically disabled individuals. They also will enable social encounters across local communities and will bring people together in a collective effort to improve their own neighborhoods, as local residents can help determine the location of the benches simply by calling 311. Meanwhile, as part of their “Building of the Day” series, the folks at the Archtober blog reminded us of the Rogers Marvel-designed flood mitigation streetscape installations, already in place in certain locations around the city. In response to subway shutdowns caused by intense storms back in 2007, the MTA and the DOT were charged with finding a way to prevent similar service interruptions in the future. The benches serve a utilitarian double function as they manage overflow depths and provide outdoor seating for pedestrians.

Photo by Flickr user SpecialKRB | via

Mayor Bloomberg has generated some buzz this week with his apparent support of a proposal to extend the 7 line, under the Hudson, to Secaucus, New Jersey. The plan was first floated after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie killed plans for the ARC Tunnel last year. Details are still fuzzy, with the city’s plan only in draft form and not yet formally released to the public, and though city officials claim funding could be shared by the City, the State, NJTransit, the MTA and the Port Authority, some of those parties are already distancing themselves from the idea. The $10 billion plan is already drawing criticism and skepticism, even though nothing concrete has been announced. Check out Second Avenue Sagas, which has been keeping a close eye on the topic, for the latest.

Streetsblog has been reporting this week on some potential parking reforms under consideration at the Department of City Planning that would tighten loopholes in the policies that determine parking maximums in Manhattan’s core. Parking maximums were implemented in response to a series of lawsuits brought against the city after the passage of the Clean Air Act in 1970. But the research studies come from DCP appear to be flawed, weakening the agency’s argument, and any proposed parking reforms will no doubt be challenged by opponents, such as the Real Estate Board of New York, which lobbies for the removal of parking limits already in effect. Meanwhile, in a seemingly contradictory move, the DCP has also expressed interest in removing the link between the existing parking maximums and the Clean Air Act, a connection that Noah Kazis describes as “the ultimate guarantee that the parking rules will remain in place and be upheld.” For more about parking reform and the potential future of the DCP plan, stay tuned to Streetsblog.



The Civilians — Tonight at Joe’s Pub: Tonight, Friday, October 28, theater company The Civilians (whom Omnibus readers might remember from Brooklyn at Eye Level, a production about Atlantic Yards in 2009) will perform a one-night-only cabaret of monologues and songs on the topic of Occupy Wall Street. The Civilians team has been down at Zuccotti Park “talking to the 99% about the current demonstrations, our government, the economy and the future,” and tonight they’ll turn those conversations into a performative investigation of “the current exercise of democracy that will mark our nation’s history.” Buy tickets here or watch a livestream of the event here.

Urbanized at IFC: Last month we spoke with Gary Hustwit about his new film Urbanized on the eve of its US premiere at the closing night of Urban Design Week. For everyone who was unable to make that screening, the film is returning to New York for a week-long engagement at IFC Cinemas, until November 2nd. Don’t miss this chance to see this inspiring overview of some of the innovative thought and action addressing some of the most complex challenges facing our cities and our planet.

The Roundup keeps you up to date with topics we’ve featured and other things we think are worth knowing about.

The views expressed here are those of the authors only and do not reflect the position of The Architectural League of New York.