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Eyes on the Street: The Case of the Missing Bike Lanes, Part II

Turns out many of the city’s marquee Vision Zero projects aren’t the only streets missing bike lanes.

DOT has also allowed its existing bike lanes to fade away. When it does repave streets, the agency often takes months to add back lane striping. Even when it puts paint back on the ground, DOT doesn’t finish the job in some cases, seemingly leaving the bike lane lost to history.

Last month, we showed you two examples where DOT didn’t refresh the bike lane after repaving and putting back all the other street markings. But the problem is much bigger than just those two streets. Earlier this week, we asked for your photos with the #MissingBikeNYC hashtag. The results are depressing. Read more…

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Levine to DOT: The Time Is Now for Amsterdam Avenue Protected Bike Lane

City Council Member Mark Levine sent a letter today urging Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg to put a protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue.

Council Member Mark Levine

Levine’s district encompasses much of the Upper West Side north of W. 95th Street. Calling on DOT to act, he pointed to unsafe conditions on Amsterdam, attendant wrong-way cycling on the Columbus Avenue southbound protected lane, and the pending arrival of Citi Bike.

Levine wrote:

This bike lane is especially timely considering the upcoming expansion of the Citi Bike program. Thirty-­nine Citi Bike docking stations are set to arrive in the area by the end of August. NYPD data also reveals that Amsterdam Avenue is one of the most dangerous streets in the neighborhood, second only to Broadway. This northbound street is frequently utilized by tourist buses and large trucks, in addition to the smaller vehicles that already use this vital artery. Many constituents who live in the area have reported feeling afraid when biking, citing the number of trucks, drivers, and people making deliveries. Unfortunately, the heavy vehicular traffic is causing many riders to ride against traffic, heading north on the southbound lane on Columbus Avenue, and further endangering riders and pedestrians.

Levine’s letter [PDF] follows an endorsement from local Council Member Helen Rosenthal and a Community Board 7 resolution asking DOT to “immediately” add “pedestrian refuges, curb extensions, signal timing, and a protected northbound bike lane” to Amsterdam — the board’s third such action in six years. Still, Mayor de Blasio’s DOT remains noncommittal.

Right now Amsterdam Avenue is getting a fresh coat of asphalt from 79th to 93rd street. As Ben Fried reported yesterday, unless DOT acts now, it will be too late to add a protected lane before Citi Bike comes to the Upper West Side in the fall, leaving a lot of new cyclists without a safe option for northbound travel in the neighborhood.

“I have been encouraged by the progress of the Department of Transportation in implementing various Vision Zero safety measures,” said Levine. “I now urge DOT to move expeditiously toward creating a northbound bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue, which is consistent with our shared commitment to making our streets safer for all.”

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Attn DOT: Amsterdam Avenue Is Begging for a Protected Bike Lane

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DOT is in the process of repaving Amsterdam Avenue from 79th Street to 93rd Street. Here’s the scene at 84th Street yesterday afternoon, courtesy of Community Board 7 member Ken Coughlin. Think there’s enough space for a protected bike lane? Nine feet is all you need.

Amsterdam is one of the big voids in the Manhattan bike network. Since 2010 there’s been a southbound protected bike lane on the Upper West Side (Columbus Avenue), but no protected route for cyclists heading uptown. With four lanes of one-way motor vehicle traffic, Amsterdam also has a higher rate of traffic injuries than other northbound streets in the neighborhood.

Local Council Member Helen Rosenthal endorsed a protected lane for Amsterdam this spring, and earlier this month Community Board 7 voted 34-5 in favor of a resolution asking DOT to “immediately” outfit Amsterdam with “pedestrian refuges, curb extensions, signal timing, and a protected northbound bike lane.” That was the third time in the last six years that CB 7 had formally requested action on Amsterdam, but DOT said only that it would continue to study the street.

Unless DOT stuns the world and restripes the freshly paved Amsterdam with a protected lane, it’s already too late to get one in the ground before bike-share expands to the Upper West Side this fall. A lot of new cyclists will have no safe, comfortable northbound option in the neighborhood.

Time is also running short to get a project in the pipeline for 2016. DOT will have to commit to a redesign in the next few months to be in a position to implement an Amsterdam Avenue protected bike lane next year.

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Tish James Calls on DOT to Make Bike Lanes Standard on Vision Zero Projects

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Public Advocate Tish James with members of Families for Safe Streets at the Vision Zero Vigil earlier this month.

Have you noticed that DOT street safety projects are leaving out bike lanes even when there’s plenty of room for them? So has Public Advocate Tish James.

In a letter to Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg last week, James called on DOT to make bike lanes a default feature of street redesigns, especially on wide arterial streets where a disproportionate share of traffic injuries happen. She also urged DOT to fold the addition of bike lanes into street repaving projects.

After a slowdown last year, in 2015 DOT’s bike program is making progress on protected lanes along segments of Queens Boulevard and Bruckner Boulevard, while creating better connections in the Manhattan network. But that’s a routine pace for New York City, which began implementing protected lanes in 2007. Trottenberg’s DOT hasn’t escalated its production of bike lanes as part of Vision Zero, leaving several projects without any bike infrastructure despite ample space.

This year alone, proposals for Riverside Drive, Eighth Street, and Atlantic Avenue, among other streets, failed to include bike lanes. DOT has yet to come out with a design for a protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue despite multiple requests from the local community board.

Noting that protected bike lanes have reduced injuries to all users on streets where they’ve been installed, James questions why DOT opts not to include them in some projects and calls for a more “ambitious” approach to implementation:

Read more…

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Mark Your Calendars: Summer Streets Returns in August

Another summer, another edition of Summer Streets.

For the eighth year, New York’s spin on Ciclovia is coming to nearly seven miles of streets on Manhattan’s east side. For three Saturdays in August — the 1st, 8th and 15th — Park Avenue, Lafayette Street, and a portion of 72nd Street between Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge are going car-free between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Each year Summer Streets has something new as the main attraction. This time, New Yorkers will be able to ride a tube down “Slide the City,” which in a promotional video looks like a large, multi-block Slip ‘N Slide. It will be installed at Foley Square — but be warned, walk-ups are not allowed. Participants must register online in advance.

Another new addition this year: a dog run and agility course at Astor Place sponsored by the American Kennel Club. Dogs not your thing? Maybe try riding a handcycle, also at Astor Place. Activities returning from previous years include a zip line and parkour workshops.

The theme this year is “accessibility.” “Whether you want to slide on water, bike, run, play soccer, take a self-guided architectural tour or play with your dog, our streets are an accessible and fun place for city residents and visitors of all ages to enjoy those activities,” Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said in a press release.

Since launching on three Saturdays in 2008, Summer Streets has not expanded to cover more streets or hours of the day. A major factor is the police presence required by NYPD. At last year’s Summer Streets announcement, Trottenberg said that cost limits the city’s ability to expand the event.

Looking for more car-free summer fun? Bronxites might also want to check out Boogie on the Boulevard, organized in part by the Bronx Museum. The event turns the center lanes of the Grand Concourse between 161st and 167th streets into car-free spaces featuring music and other programs from noon to 4 p.m. on the first three Sundays of August.

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Construction Begins on First Phase of Transforming Queens Blvd

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg visit work crews on Queens Boulevard this morning. Photo: Stephen Miller

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg visit work crews on Queens Boulevard this morning. Photo: Stephen Miller

The redesign of Queens Boulevard, long one of New York’s most notorious death traps, is underway.

“Queens Boulevard is tragically legendary. We all became used to the phrase ‘the Boulevard of Death,’” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference this morning marking the start of construction. “That is a phrase we want to banish from the lexicon. So work has begun. Work has begun to remake Queens Boulevard into the Boulevard of Life.”

The first phase of the project includes protected bike lanes, median crosswalks, and expanded pedestrian space. Image: DOT [PDF]

The first phase includes protected bike lanes, median crosswalks, and more pedestrian space. Image: DOT [PDF]

The redesign [PDF], which builds upon changes made more than a decade ago, adds protected bike lanes, expands pedestrian space, and redesigns ramps to reduce speeds on the boulevard, which has claimed the lives of 185 New Yorkers since 1990. “The actions that are being taken to save lives here on Queens Boulevard should have been taken long ago,” de Blasio said. “We’re going to change the whole configuration of Queens Boulevard to make traffic move more slowly and more smoothly.”

Lizi Rahman’s son Asif was killed while bicycling home from work on Queens Boulevard in 2008. She was the first person to speak at today’s press conference. “After his death, when I visited the site, I was shocked to see that there was no bike lane on Queens Boulevard. And I couldn’t help thinking if there was a bike lane, my son would still be alive,” she said. In the years after Asif’s death, Lizi kept asking officials for a bike lane on Queens Boulevard. “There were times when I was discouraged,” she said. “I almost gave up.”

“A lot of times change doesn’t happen because there isn’t enough willingness to challenge the status quo, to challenge bureaucracies,” de Blasio said. “It’s unacceptable to have any street known as the Boulevard of Death.”

Read more…

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Eyes on the Street: The 158th Street Connector

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The paint is down on what will be a short two-way bike lane on 158th Street in Washington Heights, part of a package of DOT improvements [PDF] to make biking and walking safer between the Hudson River Greenway and the recently reopened High Bridge linking Upper Manhattan to the Bronx. This segment runs between the Henry Hudson Parkway and Broadway.

A Washington Heights resident sent in the view looking west toward a Riverside Drive viaduct (a greenway ramp is on the other side of the viaduct). The finished bike lane will be separated from car traffic with flexible posts. A companion bike lane on 170th Street is also in progress.

While this particular segment may not be on the route, if you want to check out the state of these uptown bike improvements in a low-stress, all-ages setting, Kidical Mass will be riding from 137th to the High Bridge this Saturday at 10 a.m.

Here’s a look at this block before, courtesy of Google:

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Zero Vision in DOT’s “Great Streets” Plan to Revamp Atlantic Avenue

This is one of the marquee Vision Zero projects under the "Great Streets" initiative. Image: DOT [PDF]

This is one of the marquee Vision Zero projects under the “Great Streets” initiative. Image: DOT [PDF]

The de Blasio administration’s Vision Zero “Great Streets” initiative aims to improve safety on the city’s most dangerous streets. Will NYC DOT implement designs that are bold enough to save lives and prevent serious injuries? It’s not looking that way on Atlantic Avenue.

The Great Streets program dedicated $250 million to rebuild and redesign four arterial streets. Designs for three of the streets, including Atlantic, have now been revealed. The biggest change is coming to Queens Boulevard, which will be getting its first stretch of protected bike lanes later this summer and a full reconstruction in the next few years. A road diet and wider pedestrian medians on Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn, already implemented with temporary materials, will be cast in concrete. The redesign of the Grand Concourse has yet to be made public.

Atlantic Avenue covers more than 10 miles from the Brooklyn waterfront to the Van Wyck Expressway in Queens. DOT’s $60 million Great Streets project focuses on two miles from Pennsylvania Avenue to Rockaway Parkway. The bulk of the project is in East New York, where the de Blasio administration also wants to spur housing growth. (This part of Atlantic does not overlap with the section to the west where the Department of City Planning is studying potential changes and where street safety advocates are focusing their efforts.)

The first phase covers the western half of that two-mile zone, between Pennsylvania Avenue and Conduit Avenue. Here Atlantic is 90 feet wide, and the crash rate is higher than on 90 percent of Brooklyn streets, according to DOT [PDF]. Two pedestrians and one motor vehicle occupant have been killed on this 1.2-mile segment since 2009. From 2009 to 2013, 37 people suffered severe injuries, two-thirds of them car occupants. Of the 993 total traffic injuries, nine out of 10 were sustained by people in motor vehicles.

The design proposed by DOT will make Atlantic look nicer and probably yield a marginal improvement in safety, but it does not fundamentally alter the geometry of the street.

Read more…

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Will 2nd Ave Get Its Protected Bike Lane After Subway Construction Wraps?

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If you look closely, you can see that the Upper East Side segment of the Second Avenue protected bike lane is still in DOT’s renderings. Image: NYC DOT via DNAinfo

As the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway wraps up sometime in the next two years, the largest construction zone in the city will turn back into a functional street. Those 40 blocks of Second Avenue on the Upper East Side won’t be the same as before, though. Back in 2010, the city laid out a plan to add bus lanes and protected bike lanes on that stretch when construction is over.

Seven years is a long time for a plan to sit on a shelf. Will the city follow through on the 2010 redesign?

The bus lane will fill the gap in the exclusive right-of-way for downtown-bound M15 Select Bus Service. It’s a foregone conclusion. But the protected bike lane is a different story.

Under Mayor Bloomberg, City Hall at one time lost enthusiasm for its 2010 pledge to build continuous bike routes on First and Second Avenue from Houston Street to 125th. East Harlem and Upper East Side advocates had to fight pretty hard to compel the city to honor that commitment.

So a protected bike lane between 60th Street and 100th Street on Second Avenue can’t be taken for granted. After DNAinfo ran a story about DOT’s plan to add benches and bike racks to Second Avenue sidewalks when subway construction finishes, Streetsblog emailed DOT to double-check on the bike lane.

A spokesperson said the agency intends to make good on the 2010 plan:

Read more…

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When a Driver Had a Seizure and Killed Two in Manhattan, It Was Murder

The motorist who killed a cyclist and injured several others in Brooklyn yesterday told police he had a seizure after he did not take his medication. If the driver’s claim is true, the case would be similar to a Manhattan crash that resulted in a murder conviction.

According to reports, at around 7 a.m. Tuesday 37-year-old Claudio Rodriguez, driving against traffic on Fourth Avenue, hit a male cyclist head-on, near the Atlantic Avenue intersection, killing the victim instantly. The Brooklyn Eagle identified the cyclist as 35-year-old Alejandro Moran-Marin.

Reports said Rodriguez hit a stopped vehicle before striking Moran-Marin, and drove into another car before coming to a stop near Fourth and Flatbush Avenue. Five people, including Rodriguez, were hospitalized.

From WABC:

After smashing into the back of the Camry, witnesses say the driver backed up, went around the Camry then drove into oncoming traffic and kept speeding up the block, hitting the bicyclist near Atlantic Avenue.

Witnesses said Moran-Marin’s bicycle was scattered in pieces across several blocks.

A witness told the Daily News he “thought the driver was trying to flee after rear-ending the Toyota because he backed up before taking off.”

In the immediate aftermath of the crash, several outlets reported that NYPD said the driver had a seizure, information the Daily News and the Post said came from Rodriguez himself. “He admitted to cops that he had forgotten to take medication on Monday to control his seizures, law-enforcement sources said,” the Post reported.

“I was feeling, like, you know when you feel dizzy,” Rodriguez said. “After that, I don’t remember until I hit the other guy and the other guy hit me.”

As of this afternoon no charges had been filed against the driver by NYPD or Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, police told Streetsblog. NYPD said the investigation is ongoing.

Read more…