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People Flock to the Myrtle-Wyckoff Plaza for a Day

A mariachi band drew a crowd at the one-day plaza. Photo: David Meyer

On Saturday, neighborhood residents got an eight-hour taste of the one-block plaza DOT has proposed near the Bushwick-Ridgewood border. Going by the turnout, a permanent plaza would be a hugely popular public space for the neighborhood.

The block of Wyckoff Avenue between Myrtle Avenue and Gates Avenue was car-free from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Foot traffic started slow, but by the afternoon the plaza was bustling with people. A mariachi band performed, a pop-up library had books for kids, and moveable chairs let people stop and rest.

This block abuts a major transit hub where two subway lines and six bus routes converge. In addition to serving as a public gathering place, the car-free plaza would vastly simplify vehicular turning movements, creating a safer walking environment. Thousands of people who walk by each day on their way to the Myrtle-Wyckoff subway station or the Ridgewood Bus Terminal, on nearby Palmetto Street, would benefit.

Since 2009, three pedestrians have been killed at the six-legged intersection of Wyckoff, Myrtle, and Palmetto — two by MTA bus drivers.

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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.

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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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What’s Next for the Two-Way Protected Bike Lane Proposed for Clinton Ave

DOT wants to give Clinton Avenue in Brooklyn a two-way protected bike lane. Image: DOT

The Clinton Avenue redesign calls for adding a two-way protected bike lane between Gates and Flushing. Image: DOT

DOT has been going door-to-door in Clinton Hill to get the word out about its plan for a two-way protected bike lane on Clinton Avenue, which the agency first previewed at a Vision Zero town hall held by Council Member Laurie Cumbo in January. While a full presentation on the project is scheduled for next month, it’s expected to come up for discussion at a forum this Thursday hosted by 57th Assembly District Leader Olanike Alabi.

Currently, Clinton Hill lacks a protected north-south bike connection. The redesign would add a two-way, parking protected bike lane on Clinton Avenue between Gates Avenue and Flushing Avenue, connecting to the Brookly Waterfront Greenway. The street would be converted from two-way motor vehicle flow to one-way northbound, and pedestrian islands would narrow crossing distances for people on foot.

Representatives from DOT have been out in the neighborhood the past week talking to residents about the project, and people can also submit comments on Clinton Hill’s biking and walking needs via online surveys. DOT’s street ambassadors will be out again this Wednesday, on the campus of St. Joseph’s College from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and outside the Pratt Institute at the intersection of DeKalb Avenue and Hall Street from noon to 4 p.m.

A DOT presentation to Community Board 2’s transportation committee is scheduled for May 17, according to an agency spokesperson.

This Thursday, 57th Assembly District Leader Olanike Alabi is hosting a town hall, and the Clinton Avenue project is expected to be one of the topics addressed. There’s no presentation planned, but a DOT rep will be on hand to take questions and comments from residents. As with any substantial change to the streets, some opposition from nearby residents is expected. If you live in the neighborhood and want to see this safety improvement move forward, your voice can make a difference.

The town hall starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Teen Challenge Center at 444 Clinton Avenue.

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Eyes on the Street: Pulaski Bridge Bikeway Looks Ready for a Ribbon-Cutting

Update: A DOT spokesperson tells Streetsblog that while finishing touches are being made, cyclists should follow the posted signage, which directs them to the shared pedestrian-bike path on the west side of the bridge. The new protected lane will be “unveiled” later this week.

It hasn’t officially opened, but you can ride on DOT’s long-awaited Pulaski Bridge bike lane linking northern Brooklyn and western Queens. Word is that a ribbon-cutting is set for the end of this week.

Over the weekend, Twitter and the Streetsblog inbox lit up with alerts that the path is rideable, though there are still cones and signs at both ends marking the bike lane as closed.

The Pulaski project has been in the works since 2012, when Assembly Member Joe Lentol requested that DOT explore the possibility of converting a car lane to a protected bike path so pedestrians and cyclists could have some breathing room instead of sharing a narrow, cramped pathway. The bikeway advanced in fits and starts since then, and after some delays it’s finally here, separated from car traffic by concrete barriers and a metal fence.

It’s not every day that part of a six-lane bridge gets repurposed from motor vehicle traffic to make room for biking and walking. The Pulaski bikeway points the way forward for bigger crossings like the Queensboro Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge where cyclists and pedestrians are an afterthought, jammed together on paths without enough space to move comfortably. We’ll have a full report when the new path officially opens.

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Seaman Ave. Has a Bike Lane and Sharrows, But It’s Still a Speedway

… and looking north, where the northbound bike lane turns to sharrows. Driver 1 is backing down the street for parking. Driver 2 is about to make a U turn. Photos: Brad Aaron

Seaman Avenue and W. 215th St., looking north, where the northbound bike lane turns to sharrows. Driver 1 is backing down the street for parking. Driver 2 is about to make a U turn.

The thermoplast is down on the new northbound Seaman Avenue bike lane — but it’s really a bike lane and sharrows. Unless DOT makes a bolder move and puts a protected bike lane next to Inwood Hill Park, not much is going to change on this important Upper Manhattan bike route

I’ve written about this project, which took almost two years to complete, many times now, so here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: DOT replaced two narrow bike lanes on Seaman, Inwood’s only north-south through-street west of Broadway, with a northbound bike lane and southbound sharrows. DOT’s rationale for one bike lane was the street isn’t wide enough for two standard-width lanes — though the new design retained two lanes for parked vehicles. The reason for putting the lane on the northbound side of the street, DOT said, was to provide more room for slower cyclists going uphill from Dyckman Street, at Seaman’s southern end.

But as it turns out, the northbound lane converts to sharrows at W. 215th Street, one block before Seaman terminates at W. 218th, probably because the street narrows there. I looked back through my correspondence with DOT and there was no mention of the northbound bike lane ending before the street does.

As noted in prior posts, the current design does not address the major obstacles to biking on Seaman. As shown in these photos, taken yesterday, drivers are already double-parking on the barely-dry thermoplast. Cyclists will be forced to weave around them, just as before. As far as speed is concerned, motorists aren’t taking cues from the fresh markings. On her walk to the train just after dawn today, my wife texted to let me know that “Seaman [was] a speedway this morning.”

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Eyes on the Street: Lafayette Street Gets Its Bike Lane Back

Not quite Kermit, but the Lafayette Street bike lane is looking quite fresh. Photo: David Meyer

The Lafayette Street bike lane is looking quite fresh. Photo: David Meyer

One of New York City’s most faded bike lanes has gotten its shine back. There’s a fresh coat of thermoplast on the Lafayette Street bike lane between Spring Street and Canal Street, which for a while had almost completely disappeared.

The erosion of bike markings and the long lag times between resurfacing streets and restriping bike lanes became such a noticeable problem that it spawned the #PaintMyBikeLane hashtag last year.

At a City Council hearing in March, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said the city is aiming to do better, with $10 million in the 2017 budget set aside for DOT’s restriping program.

Of course, the Lafayette Street bike lane could use an upgrade too. Above Spring Street, the northbound Lafayette Street bike lane was converted to a parking-protected lane in 2014, but the southbound segment remains unprotected and is frequently blocked by double-parked cars. Refreshing the paint will make a difference, but swapping the parking lane and the bike lane would be the best move to keep cars out of this important southbound connection to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Until this week, the Lafayette Street bike lane was starting to look a lot like sharrows. Image: Google Maps

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Will DOT Make Safety Upgrades Over Objections of Sheepshead Bay Cranks?

DOT is reportedly going ahead with a plan add pedestrian space and eliminate B36 turns, including one at the intersection where an MTA bus driver killed Eleonora Shulkin last December, indicated by the red arrows. Image: DOT

DOT is reportedly going ahead with a plan to add pedestrian space and eliminate B36 turns, including one at the intersection where an MTA bus driver killed Eleonora Shulkin last December, indicated by the red arrows. Image: DOT

Update: DOT confirmed this project is happening.

DOT intends to go ahead with a project to straighten out a bus route and add pedestrian space in Sheepshead Bay, reports the Brooklyn Daily. DOT had let the project stall after Council Member Chaim Deutsch and Community Board 15 opposed it, but after a bus driver killed a pedestrian in December while performing a turn that would have been eliminated under the plan, the improvements now appear to be moving forward.

The plan was first put forward in 2014, when DOT and the MTA proposed eliminating a winding detour on the B36 bus route between E. 17th Street and E. 14th Street, removing bus turns at intersections that see a lot of collisions. Sheepshead Bay Road would be converted to one-way eastbound between Jerome Avenue and E. 14th Street, and a taxi stand would be installed near the B/Q entrance, where livery cab drivers now park illegally to wait for passengers getting off trains.

The plan would also replace a slip lane on E. 17th Street at Sheepshead Bay Road with space for people, and convert one block of E. 15th Street to a public plaza.

Seventy-four people were injured in crashes within the project area between 2009 and 2013, DOT says, and seven people were killed or seriously injured. A driver killed a pedestrian on Avenue Z at E. 15th Street in 2008, according to DOT.

But DOT shelved the plan after CB 15 and Council Member Chaim Deutsch objected to the street design changes and the proposed E. 15th Street plaza. Deutsch said he was concerned about plaza upkeep, and that bus riders would have to walk a block to transfer between the train and the B36. CB 15 chair Theresa Scavo was okay with the taxi stand but otherwise wanted Sheepshead Bay Road to remain as is. “The problem comes down to enforcement,” Scavo told Streetsblog. “If you have proper enforcement, traffic will move on Sheepshead Bay Road.”

Six months later a bus driver making a left turn killed 62-year-old Eleonora Shulkin at Avenue Z and E. 17th Street, an intersection where bus turns would have been eliminated had the redesign been implemented.

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After Fatal Hit-and-Run, Queens CB 1 Calls on DOT to Redesign 21st Street

A hit-and-run driver killed a 45-year-old man earlier this month at this on 21st Street in Astoria, where advocates have been calling for traffic-calming for over two years. Image: Google Maps

A hit-and-run driver killed 45-year-old Sean Crume earlier this month on 21st Street in Astoria, where advocates have been calling for traffic-calming for over two years. Image: Google Maps

Queens Community Board 1 endorsed a resolution late last night asking DOT for a “comprehensive redesign of the entire length of 21st Street along Complete Street principles.”

The vote comes after a hit-and-run driver killed 45-year-old Sean Crume walking across 21st Street at 30th Road, where there is no signalized crossing, earlier this month. It was the fourth fatality on 21st Street since 2009, according to Vision Zero View.

The resolution was nearly delayed to next month, according to advocates who attended last night, but the board ultimately passed it at around 10:30 p.m.

With wide lanes and lots of car traffic traveling between the BQE and the free Queensboro Bridge, 21st Street ranks in the bottom third of Queens’ streets in terms of safety, according to DOT [PDF].

Volunteers with Transportation Alternatives’ Queens Committee have been pushing for traffic calming on 21st Street for two and a half years. The campaign has collected 1,600 signatures and 37 letters of support from local organizations and businesses.

DOT responded last year with meager safety improvements: some painted curb extensions and a few tweaks to signals and lane striping, but no major changes to the basic geometry of the street. Agency officials maintained that high rush hour traffic volumes precluded narrowing the roadway and adding bike lanes or pedestrian islands.

Local advocates weren’t satisfied. “We haven’t stopped campaigning,” said TA Queens member Angela Stach. “We have been trying to push our council members to go back to the city and ask for more.”

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