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Ride the New Pulaski Bridge Bikeway With Streetfilms

Today was a milestone for traveling between Brooklyn and Queens: NYC DOT opened the Pulaski Bridge bike path to lots of cheers with a celebratory ride.

Before today, the Pulaski Bridge walking and biking path was dangerously congested, with more pedestrians and cyclists crammed on to its narrow right-of-way every year. The solution? Convert one lane of the roadway to a two-way bike lane, making the original path exclusively for walking. Read up on the project in Streetsblog’s coverage of the grand opening.

If a lane of the Pulaski can be taken from cars and given to active transportation, the same can be done on other bridges. One place I’d love to see NYC DOT tackle next? The insanely crowded bike-pedestrian path on the Brooklyn Bridge is begging for a solution like this.

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The Pulaski Bridge Bikeway Is Open and It’s Magnificent

State Senator Martin Malavé Dilan and City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer lead the pack of DOT officials, electeds and advocates on the Pulaski Bridge protected lane's first official ride. Photo: David Meyer

State Senator Martin Malavé Dilan (front left) and City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer (right) lead the pack. Photo: David Meyer

Pedestrians and cyclists don’t have to settle for scraps of space on the Pulaski Bridge any more. This morning, the bridge’s new two-way protected bikeway officially opened to the public, the culmination of a four-year effort to improve biking and walking access between Greenpoint and Long Island City.

The Pulaski carries thousands of cyclists between Queens and Brooklyn across Newtown Creek each day, according to DOT. For many years, cyclists and pedestrians had to squeeze onto a single narrow path, while motorists zoomed along on six lanes of congestion-free roadway. The Pulaski path became more congested every year as housing and jobs boomed on both sides of the bridge.

Assembly Member Joe Lentol began pushing DOT for the project in late 2012 after meeting with local residents frustrated by the increasingly crowded conditions on the path. The engineering challenge of providing sufficient protection for cyclists on the drawbridge section of the Pulaski proved surmountable, and construction was initially set to conclude by the end of 2014.

Red tape and construction delays pushed the project back more than a year, and the long wait came to an end with today’s grand opening. The project cost $4.9 million and was funded by the city with support from the Federal Highway Administration.

The Pulaski project is the most prominent example of the city repurposing car lanes on a bridge for biking and walking since Transportation Alternatives won the full-time use of a lane on the Queensboro Bridge for pedestrians and cyclists in 2000 (a fight that lasted no less than 22 years).

Other bridges could use similar treatments. The Brooklyn Bridge and Queensboro Bridge both have bike-ped paths that get uncomfortably crowded, and DOT is currently working to improve bike-ped crossings on the Harlem River.

DOT Deputy Commissioner for Transportation Planning Ryan Russo led a group of department officials, advocates, and electeds on an inaugural ride on the bikeway from Long Island City to Greenpoint this morning.

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
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Owners of Big Parking Lots Have to Pay More in Northeast Ohio

This big box center will be charged almost $11,000 a quarter. Image: NE Ohio Sewer District

This big box center will be charged about $44,000 a year for its parking lot. Image: NE Ohio Sewer District

Impermeable surfaces like parking lots are terrible for the environment in several ways, including the water pollution that results when stormwater runoff causes sewer systems to overflow. In Ohio, the state’s highest court recently upheld a fee on parking lots to help mitigate the damage to water quality.

Greater Cleveland, like a lot of older cities, was ordered by the EPA to fix its sewer infrastructure to prevent raw sewage from being dumped into Lake Erie every time it rains. It’s a not a cheap task, so it’s good to see the culprits will have to pony up to help cover the costs.

Marc Lefkowitz at Green City Blue Lake looks at who will pay what. The fees aren’t huge, when you consider how much it already costs to build and operate a large parking lot, but they shift incentives in the right direction:

Curious, we looked at some of the properties — the kind that you can easily pick out from a satellite image — and snooped at what they’ll have to shell out on a quarterly basis for their profligate parking lots and acres of operation centers.

Read more…

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Streetfilms Flashback: The Bad Old Days of the Pulaski Bridge

Later this morning, officials will cut the ribbon on the long-awaited Pulaski Bridge bikeway. Pretty soon, it will be tough to remember the claustrophobic anxiety of navigating the narrow path — just 8.5 feet wide, and even less at pinch points — that pedestrians and cyclists made do with before today.

So here’s some footage for posterity that Clarence shot in October, 2013. You’ll never have to deal with this again, New York.

We’ll have a full report from the grand opening and a new video from Clarence later today.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Albany Has Put Off Confirmation of de Blasio’s MTA Board Appointees for Nearly a Year (MTR)
  • Today’s the Day DOT Officially Opens the Pulaski Bridge Bikeway (Gothamist)
  • DOT’s Crosstown UES Bike Lane Plan — Now With More Bike Lanes (DNA)
  • $4 Billion WTC PATH Station Will Get a Ribbon-Cutting After All (Politico)
  • 3 Things Brooklyn Spoke Would Change About Car-Free Day
  • Western Queens Needs Better Pricing and Fewer NYPD Vehicles at the Curb (Courier)
  • Baychester Golf Course Will Be Replaced By Shopping Center With 1,200 Parking Spaces (BxTimes)
  • Pedestrian Island Coming to 138th Street and 31st Road; Tony Avella Pleased (QChron)
  • Surely This Will Fix Congestion on the Staten Island Expressway (AdvanceDNA)
  • The Marketing of de Blasio’s Ferry Service Has Begun (DNA)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Cyclists Press DOT for Night-Time Access to Queensboro Bridge

The Queensboro Bridge biking and walking path could be closed for construction on weeknights for months, cutting off access at times when many people still use it. Members of Transportation Alternatives’ Queens Committee have a solution: Allow cyclists and pedestrians to use the bridge’s south outer roadway, which is closed to car traffic after 9 p.m.

Ongoing infrastructure work by ConEd has shuttered the Queensboro Bridge bike-pedestrian path every weeknight from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. since March 28. The construction is expected to continue “for several months,” according to public notices posted by DOT. ConEd has accommodated cyclists and pedestrians by providing a shuttle bus to transport people and bikes across the East River every 15 minutes.

Image: DOT

ConEd is providing a shuttle bus service for people crossing the Queensboro Bridge after 10 p.m., but the wait times and circuitous route are frustrating bike commuters who depend on the bridge to get to and from work. Image: DOT

TA volunteers were out on the bridge last night speaking to cyclists taking the shuttle service, the vast majority of whom were heading to or from late-night jobs. They were tired and frustrated. “It’s of course overwhelmingly working cyclists crossing the bridge at night,” said TA Queens member Angela Stach.

The shuttle service takes a circuitous route on both sides of the bridge. Add that extra travel time to the wait time, and it adds up to significantly longer night-time commutes.

Opening up the unused south outer roadway for biking would not only save cyclists time but also save ConEdison the expense of operating the shuttle, says TA member Steve Scofield. “They’re really making an effort, but it’s costing them a fortune,” he said. Scofield has been in touch with the ConEd project manager, who is currently negotiating with DOT about opening the roadway.

DOT has not replied to Streetsblog’s inquiry on the subject, but Scofield said that a resolution could be possible in the next few weeks.

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Car-Free Day Doesn’t Mean Much Without New Policies to Reduce Traffic

car-free-day-2016

To be meaningful, Car-Free Day needs to be tied to permanent traffic reduction policies. Photo: David Meyer

New York City is America’s car-free capital, home to eight and half million people, most of whom get around without owning a car. When so many of us already live car-free, what more can come out of an event like last Friday’s Car-Free Day?

There are basically two ways an awareness-raising event like Car-Free Day can go. It can be a big galvanizing moment, like the original Earth Day in 1970, that shows the political strength of a social movement and leads to real public policy changes. Or it can be an exercise in conscience soothing and public relations, like the modern incarnation of Earth Day, where governments, corporations, and private citizens “go green” for a day, then carry on with business as usual the next morning.

Car-Free Day 2016 wasn’t what you would call a big galvanizing moment.

Don’t get me wrong. City Council transportation chair Ydanis Rodriguez mobilized an impressive coalition for the day, working on a short schedule with, I’m guessing, a tiny budget. And it’s great that some of NYC’s large employers asked people to get to work without a car. Most of us do that already, sure, but more than a million of us do not. Maybe some habitual car commuters switched things up on Car-Free Day and found that the train, bus, or bike works better than they thought.

The trouble is, Car-Free Day was not tied to any concrete public policy proposals that would get the city closer to Rodriguez’s goal of reducing private car ownership. Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg ran down the list of what NYC DOT is doing to make streets safer for walking and biking, but those projects were already in the works.

Like San Francisco’s version of Bike to Work Day, where every elected official from the mayor on down gets seen biking to City Hall without making any real policy commitments, New York’s Car-Free Day didn’t take on much more significance than a photo op.

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
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Take a Moment to Appreciate the Absolute Enormity of This Interchange

Louisville's new "Ohio River Bridges" Interchange, right between downtown and the waterfront. Photo: Ohio River Bridges project

Louisville’s new and expanded “Spaghetti Junction,” right between downtown and the waterfront. Photo: The Ohio River Bridges Project

Every once in a while you have to step back and gape at the sheer scale of the highway interchanges America has built smack in the middle of our cities.

Branden Klayko at Broken Sidewalk is taking a moment to do just that with Louisville’s Spaghetti Junction, between downtown and the waterfront. This giant interchange is being expanded as part of the $2.6 billion Ohio River Bridges Project, after wealthy suburban property owners and Kentucky’s highway industrial complex squashed a grassroots effort to reclaim the Louisville waterfront from cars.

Klayko says a whole city neighborhood could just about fit inside the footprint of this one interchange:

When you’re zooming through Spaghetti Junction for most of the day when there’s no traffic, it might seem like the tangle of highway ramps isn’t really that big. Or if you’re stuck in construction traffic, it might seem like it never ends. Speed has a way of distorting our sense of distance.

The Downtown Crossing segment of the Ohio River Bridges Project (ORBP) recently shared these aerial views of the junction taken this spring by HDR Engineering, and it’s apparent you could fit a large chunk of Downtown Louisville within the bounds of the highway.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • De Blasio’s People Get Subpoenaed in Campaign Finance Probe (WSJ); Will Cuomo’s? (Politico)
  • Gridlock Sam: More Than One Senate Republican May Sponsor Move NY Bill (Politico – Paywall)
  • David Weprin Ties Himself in Knots Talking About NYC Road Pricing (News)
  • Why New York Needs a “Textalyzer” Bill and How It Would Work (WNYC, NYT)
  • NY/NJ Legislators Want More Oversight of Port Authority; Christie Silent (Politico)
  • De Blasio Budget Includes $328 Million for Staten Island Ferry Boats (DNA)
  • How the MTA Is Toughening SI Railway’s St. George Terminal for Future Storms (NY1)
  • In the Quest for More Parking, a Supermarket on Astoria Blvd Moved an MTA Bus Stop (TL)
  • It’s Not as Simple as This Guy Makes It Seem for the City to Reclaim Control of the Subway (Crain’s)
  • Mark Your Calendars for Next Week’s Jane’s Walks (WNYC)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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De Blasio’s Budget Has No Funding Increase for Street Safety Projects

Mayor de Blasio released his executive budget yesterday, and it does not include the increases for street safety projects that the City Council recommended earlier this month, says Transportation Alternatives. Without more funding for street redesigns, TA says, the administration won’t be able to improve safety at the pace needed to attain the mayor’s stated goal of eliminating traffic deaths by 2024.

On street safety, de Blasio hasn’t put his money where his mouth is.

De Blasio’s revised executive budget includes a small 1.3 percent increase for DOT’s Traffic Operations division, which executes the low-cost “operational” street safety projects that can be completed much faster than years-long capital projects. It’s not a meaningful change.

At a March budget hearing in the City Council, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White said DOT would need to double the number of low-cost redesigns projects it completes each year in order to meet its Vision Zero goals.

At the same hearing, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said it would take “many billions of dollars” to redesign the priority corridors and intersections identified in the city’s pedestrian safety plans, while insisting, “We very much feel we have the resources we need.”

But at the current pace of improvement, NYC won’t get to zero traffic deaths until the 2050s.

The City Council recommended an additional $52.4 million in FY 2017 for 98 “operational” projects in its response to the mayor’s budget, a roughly 25 percent increase. The council also proposed $250 million in annual capital funding for street redesigns.

The budget City Hall released yesterday follows none of those recommendations.

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