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Posts from the "CHEKPEDS" Category

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TSTC and Manhattanites Call for Port Authority to Improve Bus Facilities

TSTC's Veronica Vanterpool, center, and CB 4 chair Christine Berthet, to her right, outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal today. Photo: Madeline Marvar/TSTC

TSTC’s Veronica Vanterpool, center, and CB 4 chair Christine Berthet, to her right, outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal today. Photo: Madeline Marvar/TSTC

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign joined locals in Hell’s Kitchen today to call on the Port Authority to invest in improved and expanded bus facilities to relieve pressure on local streets.

With no more space left in the authority’s existing facilities, a growing number of buses are parked by curbs near the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Locals and advocates have long urged the Port Authority to remove idle buses from neighborhood streets and improve conditions for bus riders with a new garage and renovations to the terminal.

“The asthma rate for our children is the third highest in Manhattan,” said Christine Berthet, chair of Manhattan Community Board 4 and co-founder of CHEKPEDS, in a written statement. “Bus gridlock prevents pedestrians from crossing the streets and retail stores see their revenues plummet. With each residential tower replacing a bus parking lot, the problem has escalated to crisis proportions.”

Today’s event took place before the Port Authority board was scheduled to vote on the 2014-2023 capital program.

“Every day, more than 8,500 buses carry nearly 400,000 people through the PABT and the GWBBS [George Washington Bridge Bus Station] so it’s baffling that there are no funds in the next capital program for a new bus garage or improvements to the bus terminal,” said Veronica Vanterpool, TSTC executive director.

A billion-dollar bus garage was proposed in the authority’s 2007-2013 capital program, but the project was dropped in 2009, Vanterpool told Streetsblog. The authority is looking to build a 100-spot garage annex on W. 39th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues, but that proposal is dependent on a federal grant. It’s also much smaller than the garage that was shelved by the authority, Vanterpool said.

Vanterpool noted that the authority can make year-to-year budget and capital spending adjustments, which leaves room for bus improvements to resurface.

“The annex is certainly something that will help,” said Vanterpool, “but the Port Authority needs to revisit its priorities and start making capital investments for buses.” 

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CB 4 Still Pushing DOT for Time to Cross Deadly Hell’s Kitchen Intersections

Shu Ying Liu was killed by a driver turning right at Ninth Avenue and 41st Street. Community Board 4 asked DOT for exclusive pedestrian crossing time here in 2008. Image: Google Maps

Manhattan Community Board 4 has renewed its call for safety improvements at the Hell’s Kitchen crossing where an elderly woman was killed by a driver last week. The request comes five years after a resolution that asked for exclusive crossing time for pedestrians at the deadly intersection, and is the latest episode in a years-long, and largely futile, campaign by neighborhood residents for split phase signals.

Shu Ying Liu, 69, was struck by a dump truck driver on the morning of February 5 as the driver made a right turn from Ninth Avenue to 41st Street, according to reports. Jack Montelbano, of Bayonne, was later arrested for leaving the scene.

“Ms. Shu Ying Liu lived on 54th Street in Hell’s Kitchen,” wrote Christine Berthet, of CB 4 and CHEKPEDS, in an email to Streetsblog. “She used to be the managing editor of a large magazine in China. According to both her attorney and her son, she was an optimist, cheerful with an outgoing personality.”

“She was doing research in healthy food, healthy living and was coaching and teaching her children to live a healthy life. Her son would talk to her once or twice weekly and relied on her for advice on health.”

In early 2008, a resolution adopted by CB 4 said that a recent reconfiguration of the intersection of Ninth and 41st, which sees heavy traffic from New Jersey-bound cars, trucks, and buses, posed a danger to pedestrians. The board asked for “emergency interim measures,” including a neckdown on 41st Street, to reduce crossing distance, and a shift in location for the crosswalk on the south side of the intersection, to increase pedestrian visibility.

Finally, the resolution stated: “On the west side, install a turn arrow red signal to give pedestrians a dedicated phase to cross safely.” If the crash that killed Liu occurred as described by the media, with adequate exclusive crossing time it’s less likely she would have been in the driver’s path.

“This issue is not new — there have already been 46 injuries and two fatalities in recent years at this corner,” reads a letter from CB 4, sent to DOT yesterday [PDF]. “The time has come to tackle this issue with urgency.”

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Proposal for New Park Near Lincoln Tunnel Endorsed by CB 4

Image: CHEKPEDS

A community-driven proposal to create a new public space on a street near the Lincoln Tunnel was endorsed by Manhattan Community Board 4 Wednesday.

The plan, as reported by DNAinfo in December, is to convert three lane-widths of leftover asphalt on Dyer Avenue between 34th and 35th Streets into a park. That stretch of Dyer currently has three lanes for vehicle traffic exiting the tunnel and one lane for inbound vehicles. The Port Authority, which owns the street, plans to eliminate one of the outbound lanes. A coalition of neighborhood groups, including the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association and CHEKPEDS, envisions a park on the east side of Dyer, encompassing about 7,200 square feet.

DNAinfo reports that last night CB 4 voted unanimously to recommend the plan to the Port Authority.

There is still money to be raised, and the board wants “at least two” public feedback sessions. But organizers are upbeat — and with good reason, especially considering that the idea for the park came about only a few months ago.

“We’ve made a tremendous amount of progress so far,” said Jeffrey Peyser, who’s part of the effort to create the park.

“We’ve done outreach for corporate sponsorship to fund the initial aspects of the park and are working on getting matching grant programs.”

Meta Brunzema, an architect who helped create the initial design for the park, said that despite its tiny size, the green space would include new trees, seating areas and other amenities.

“Our group’s intent was really to make this a park for everybody — for seniors, for people with disabilities, for young people, for old people,” she said.

“The goal here is to make a real park.”

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NYPD Traffic Cop: “My Objective Is The Cars, Not The People”

This officer's job isn't to keep you safe, it's to keep cars moving. Photo: Mike Spriggs via Flickr.

The NYPD’s decision to crack down on cyclists committing even the most minor infractions — while an epidemic of deadly driving continues unabated — should make it clear that the police department is no friend to those on two wheels right now. A report we received today from Christine Berthet, the co-founder of the Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen Coalition for Pedestrian Safety, offers evidence that the police aren’t too concerned about the safety of those on two legs either:

Today at 10:30 a.m., I was waiting to cross the street at the intersection of 42nd Street and 9th Avenue.

A large construction truck was barreling west on 42nd Street where the traffic was light. The pedestrian signal turned to “walk” on the south leg. Instead of stopping the truck, the agent waved it to turn south, which it did at high speed, while the pedestrian platoon had already engaged in the crossing. People jumped back to avoid a collision but it was very close.

I approached the agent and mentioned respectfully to him that he had waved a truck at full speed into a platoon of pedestriansand that pedestrians expected to be protected by the police, to which he responded: “My objective is the cars, not the people.”

This is far from an isolated instance, but still, to hear it so bluntly put and seeing it nearly kill five people in a deliberate way is shocking.

So this is what our society has come to: In New York City , the most pedestrian city in the United States, we pay the police to protect cars, not people.

As the NYPD continues its assault on bikers, it is important to highlight that they are doing a horrible job of protecting pedestrians. The car owners have successfully pitted pedestrians against bikes, we need to refocus the press and everyone on pedestrians/transit users against cars.

I’d love for Vacca and Vallone to have a hearing on that.

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Hard Cap on Hudson Yards Parking Takes Effect. Will More Reforms Follow?

Hudson_Yards.jpgThe Hudson Yards district on the Far West Side of Manhattan now has limits on off-street parking. Image: hotdogger13 via Flickr.
Strict limits on the number of parking spaces that can be built on the far West Side of Manhattan are now in force, a year after the city settled a lawsuit over the issue brought by the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association. The new zoning amendment explicitly states that limiting off-street parking is an important component of building a pedestrian- and transit-oriented neighborhood, and it establishes a first-in-the-city program to track the number of parking spaces in the area.

The amendments put a "hard cap" on the total number of off-street parking spaces that can be built in the Hudson Yards special district: 6,905. "If a new developer comes in and says normally he's entitled to have 300 parking spaces, if the cap has already been reached, he won't be able to build those spaces," said Christine Berthet, co-founder of the Clinton/Hell's Kitchen Pedestrian Safety Coalition. Before the lawsuit, the city was poised to allow as many as 17,500 new parking spaces in the area.

The lawsuit grew out of local opposition to the Bloomberg administration's proposal to build a football stadium on the West Side of Manhattan. Sheldon Silver put an end to that particular idea but not the city's plan to allow huge amounts of off-street parking in the Hudson Yards area. Plaintiffs took their claims to court in 2005, arguing that the plan violated limits on parking south of 60th Street, established in 1982 to keep the city in compliance with the Clean Air Act.

The adoption of the zoning amendment last week is an important acknowledgment that traffic can be mitigated by managing the supply of parking. And, on the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day, it's a timely reminder of the link between parking policy and environmental sustainability. "We filed this lawsuit because we knew what they were doing was violating the Clean Air Act," said Dan Gutman, an environmental planner and plaintiff in the Hudson Yards case. "Some people at City Planning thought they didn’t have to obey the rules anymore. Most people had forgotten that those rules existed."

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Fallen Pedestrians Memorialized in Hell’s Kitchen

chelsea1.jpgChristine Berthet of CHEKPEDS speaks at Ninth and 40th, where Susanne M. Schnitzer was killed in April. At left are Manhattan DA candidates Cy Vance and Richard Aborn. State Senator Tom Duane, who also spoke, stands at right.

On Saturday, over 50 people, including several local electeds and candidates, joined bereaved family members for a memorial march in honor of pedestrians killed on Ninth Avenue in Hell's Kitchen.

In recent years, drivers have struck and killed six people on Ninth between 36th and 45th Streets. The victims were eulogized this weekend, with the circumstances of their deaths -- some of which received little or no mention in local media -- recounted. The march was sponsored by the Clinton Hell's Kitchen Coalition for Pedestrian Safety (CHEKPEDS), the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association and Transportation Alternatives.

chelsea2.jpgImpatient motorists lay on their horns as the procession, with TA's Shin-pei Tsay bearing a memorial plaque, crosses 40th.

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Saturday: Hell’s Kitchen to March for Pedestrian Safety

CHEKPEDS, the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association and Transportation Alternatives will hold a march tomorrow in honor of pedestrians killed on Ninth Avenue. The march will begin at 2:00 p.m. on the west side of Ninth at 45th Street and will proceed to 36th Street. Along the way, commemorative plaques will be installed for six pedestrians killed by cars in recent years: Randolph Walker, Nina Petrov, Douglas Dibble, Fabiola Grande-Coyotl, Sabina Paradi, and most recent victim Susanne M. Schnitzer.

Sabina.jpegSabina Paradi, killed on Ninth Avenue in 2007
Assembly Member Dick Gottfried, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, City Council Member John Liu and Manhattan district attorney candidate Richard Aborn are expected to participate. 

Reads a TA media release:

Ninth Avenue in Hell's Kitchen, with its many accesses to the Lincoln Tunnel, remains one of New York City's most dangerous streets for pedestrians. The community was once festering with crime, but in a recent survey 70% of the residents said they fear for their lives when they cross the street, while only 5% are scared of crime.

It is very encouraging that a potential future Manhattan DA is taking part in events like this, and we'd feel a lot better about Liu's involvement if he'd stop badmouthing measures to make pedestrians safer.

Expect calls tomorrow for passage of the Hayley Ng and Diego Martinez Law, which would mandate safety training and community service for New York State drivers who seriously injure or kill a pedestrian or cyclist. According to TA, the driver who killed Susanne Schnitzer left the scene. Though he was later located, he has not been charged for taking her life. In such cases, the Ng-Martinez bill would give DAs more options to pursue charges, adding a modicum of muscle to the state's weak laws against deadly driving.

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Turnout Needed Tonight for CB4 Eighth Ave Cycle Track Vote

3022964648_5ebd62b72d_o.jpgPedestrian refuges mean cyclists aren't the only beneficiaries of cycle tracks. Photo: wrkng/Flickr
Manhattan Community Board 4 will vote tonight on whether to recommend extending the protected bike lane on Eighth Avenue, now under construction below W. 14th Street, north to W. 23rd.

The board's transportation committee signed off on the lane last month. Still, about a dozen speakers turned out to oppose the project, which has community advocates, including CHEKPEDS, calling for a strong showing tonight by all who support a safer Eighth Avenue.

WHAT: Manhattan Community Board 4 General Meeting

WHEN: Wednesday, December 3, 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: Roosevelt Hospital, 10th Avenue between 58th and 59th St.

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CHEKPEDS: Check Up on Far West Side Proposals Tonight

new0j.jpg The Clinton Hell’s Kitchen Coalition for Pedestrian Safety (CHEKPEDS) has issued an alert regarding a meeting tonight to review Hudson Yards boulevard and park design proposals.

As part of Mayor Bloomberg's vision for far West Side redevelopment, the streetscape between 10th and 11th Avenues from 33rd to 42nd Streets is to be transformed with four acres of park space, linking to new commercial and residential high rises. Five designs have been submitted, with the winner to be chosen in October. The Post reports that, according to the Hudson Yards Development Corporation, phase one of the project is scheduled to be completed in 2013.

CHEKPEDS wants to ensure that the finished product addresses neighborhood considerations, such as:

  • Will it be mostly for cars or for people?
  • Will it be mostly for workers or for residents and neighbors?
  • Will it be mostly shaded and green or more like a plaza?
  • Will it be open 24 hours a day?
  • What should it bring that the neighborhood lacks?

Designs will be on display tonight at 6:30 at Hudson Guild in the Dan Carpenter Room, 441 West 26th St. between 9th & 10th Avenues.

Image via New York Post

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City Council Signs Off on 400-Car Garage in Hell’s Kitchen

10th.jpgLast week, the New York City Council approved a special permit granting developer Glenwood Management the right to build a 400-car parking garage at 310-328 West 38th Street. The decision was not unexpected, as the permit had already been approved by the City Planning Commission earlier this month.

The garage, situated near the mouth of the Lincoln Tunnel, will add more traffic to the already-congested streets of Hell's Kitchen, but its approval has strengthened calls to review similar permits more carefully in the future. "There are some positives," said Christine Berthet of the Clinton/Hell's Kitchen Pedestrian Safety Coalition (CHEKPEDS) in an email message. "The Borough President's office, the City Planning Commission, and the council all have special permits on their radar, and the commission indicated they are ready to do 'something about parking.' The Speaker is also interested in a long term action."

As a 2005 re-zoning leads to a surge in development around the West Side railyards, adopting stricter standards for the approval of special permits could prevent a concurrent boom in parking. The leniency of the current approval process, said Berthet, flies in the face of the city's goals for air quality and traffic reduction, and approving a flurry of permits now would saddle the neighborhood with parking facilities for years. "The special permit is like radioactive material," she said. "It remains toxic for a very long time."

Photo of traffic on 10th Avenue: SarahNYC/Flickr