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Posts from the DOT Category


DOT to Replace Seaman Ave. Bike Lanes With Wider Bike Lane and Sharrows

DOT says Seaman Avenue isn’t wide enough for bike lanes. Photo: @SheRidesABike

DOT says Seaman Avenue in Inwood isn’t wide enough for bike lanes in both directions. Photo: @SheRidesABike

Last week DOT told Community Board 12 that bike lanes on Seaman Avenue in Inwood, which were wiped out when most of the street was resurfaced in 2014, won’t be coming back on both sides of the street because the old 4-foot wide lanes didn’t comply with agency guidelines. DOT told Streetsblog yesterday that a 5-foot lane will be striped on northbound Seaman while the southbound side will get sharrows.

While the DOT plan isn’t necessarily a downgrade — riding outside the door zone is next to impossible in a 4-foot bike lane — it’s telling that the agency didn’t go with a more ambitious solution. A safer design like protected bike lanes would have to subtract parking or car lanes. With the bike lane-plus-sharrows configuration, the agency can meet its design standards without really changing the status quo on the street.

Seaman Avenue is the only north-south through street in Inwood west of Broadway, making it an important corridor for biking. A marked DOT bike route, Seaman connects the Hudson River Greenway and the Bronx. It’s also a cut-through for toll-shopping drivers avoiding the Henry Hudson Bridge.

A residential street that borders Inwood Hill Park for much of its length, Seaman is within the Inwood Slow Zone. But despite Slow Zone signage, speed humps, and the near-constant presence of children, speeding motorists are common on Seaman. Those who adhere to the 20 mph speed limit can expect to be passed by other drivers. With just 136 summonses issued this year through August, the 34th Precinct doesn’t enforce the speed limit in any meaningful way.

DOT told Streetsblog a wider northbound bike lane will help cyclists traveling uphill from Dyckman Street, at Seaman’s southern end, and that the agency expects the southbound lane to work well with sharrows. A spokesperson said DOT will monitor the new configuration to see if changes are needed.

Double-parked drivers make Seaman an obstacle course for cyclists. Image: Google Maps

Double-parked drivers make Seaman an obstacle course for cyclists. Image: Google Maps

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Eyes on the Street: Signs That the Pulaski Bikeway Will Really Happen


A reader sends in this shot of the southbound side of the Pulaski Bridge, taken yesterday morning. That was the day NYC DOT said construction would start on the two-way protected bike lane over the bridge, which has been beset by delays until recently.

Not that long ago it looked like construction of the bikeway, originally slated for 2014, might not begin until next March. But in the last few weeks the timetable has accelerated, and now DOT says it will be complete by the spring.

Those orange construction cones may not look like much, but they’re a sign that people won’t have to fight over scraps of space on the Pulaski’s narrow, shared biking and walking path much longer.


NYC Has Installed All 140 School Zone Speed Cameras Allowed by Albany

Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg says that, as of today, DOT has installed as many safety cameras as Albany will allow. Photo: Stephen Miller

Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg says that, as of today, DOT has installed speed cameras at as many locations as Albany will allow. Photo: Stephen Miller

Just in time for the start of the school year tomorrow, DOT has announced that it has finished installing speed cameras at the 140 school zone locations allowed by Albany.

“Our message is, to all drivers in New York, at all times and all places, you should be driving at a safe speed,” Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said this afternoon at a press conference on Fourth Avenue near Astor Place. “These cameras do protect lives. Speeding is the leading cause of fatal crashes.”

Drivers have to be exceeding the speed limit by at least 10 mph to trigger the cameras. Nevertheless, with just 140 permitted camera locations to monitor 6,000 miles of streets, the program is capturing an incredible number of speeders. The cameras have issued more than 940,000 violations since the beginning of last year, including more than 500,000 so far this year.

The $29 million in fines so far this year will probably lead to a few sensational local TV news segments about how the cameras are lightening driver’s wallets. But the fact is that revenue from the cameras, at $50 per ticket, decreases over time. A year ago, each camera issued an average of 192 violations per day. By last month, that number dropped to 69, DOT said, indicating that drivers are slowing down.

While early results are promising, Trottenberg said the city would have to wait a few more years before it had enough crash data to conclusively show how the cameras are reducing fatalities and injuries.

Today’s announcement marks a milestone for the speed camera program. Albany first approved 20 locations in 2013, then cleared an expansion to 140 last year. Now, more than a year later, the city has completed installing that allotment, with 100 fixed camera locations and 40 mobile units.

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How City Hall Can Improve NYC’s Public Spaces Instead of Tearing Them Out

While recent comments from Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton about potentially yanking out the Times Square plazas have caused an uproar, a much deeper and more substantial debate over plazas has been simmering for months.

Whether it's Times Square or Corona Plaza, advocates and plaza managers say DOT needs better rules for its plaza program. Photo: NYC DOT/Flickr

Whether it’s Times Square or Corona Plaza, advocates and plaza managers say DOT needs better rules for its plaza program. Photo: NYC DOT/Flickr

Public space advocates and plaza managers say the city’s rules governing who can do what with plaza space are cumbersome and in need of an overhaul. Now, they’re turning to City Hall to fix the problem.

Since the plaza program was launched seven years ago, DOT has required that each space be managed by a local partner. The rule makes sense: Without someone in charge of managing the space, plazas can quickly deteriorate, people will stop spending time there, and public support for them will wither. But the organizations that have signed on to manage plazas say they don’t have enough leeway, under the current model, to do the job well.

There are two types of agreements between the city and plaza managers. One is a maintenance agreement that provides for limited sponsorships, like corporate logos on umbrellas, to help defray the partner organization’s costs. The other is a license agreement, which allows vending, events, and other methods of generating more substantial revenue for the plaza partner.

Most plazas in Manhattan and nearby neighborhoods are managed by a local business improvement district and have both types of agreements. In addition to food concessions, these plazas can generate revenue by hosting large corporate promotional events that require approval from the mayor’s Street Activity Permit Office, or SAPO.

Outside Manhattan, most plazas are sponsored by local merchants associations or neighborhood groups. They typically don’t have the resources to attract corporate sponsorship or concessions, and have signed only a maintenance agreement, not a license agreement, with DOT. That means that for the most part, they don’t host events that generate revenue. But they do put on smaller events like performances or pop-up libraries — and each time they have to navigate a cumbersome process with SAPO.

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Lentol: Pulaski Bridge Bikeway Construction to Begin September 14

Construction of the Pulaski Bridge protected bike lane is now set to begin in a matter of days, according to Assembly Member Joe Lentol, and could wrap before the end of the year.

Coming, potentially sooner than expected. Image: DOT

The Pulaski Bridge bikeway may be back on track to wrap up in 2015. Image: DOT

DOT had announced last month that drainage design issues would delay the start of construction until next March, but that no longer seems to be the case.

Lentol says the complications have been resolved sooner than expected, and DOT will begin installation of the bikeway on September 14, potentially wrapping up by the end of the year.

DOT did not respond to an inquiry about the project timeline.

The Pulaski Bridge bikeway will provide relief for pedestrians and cyclists who currently share a narrow path on the west side of the bridge between Greenpoint and Long Island City. It will also calm traffic on the southbound side the bridge, which funnels traffic onto McGuinness Boulevard in Greenpoint and will have two lanes instead of three.

The project had already been delayed once after the initial timetable pegged it for completion last year. It looks like there won’t be a second major delay after all.

With Citi Bike arriving on both sides of the bridge this month, that’s welcome news to Lentol, who’s been a booster of the project since 2012. “I am delighted that this project could potentially be completed before the winter. We have been fighting for a long time for this dedicated bike lane,” he said. “I applaud DOT and the company fabricating the barriers for making this project a top priority.”


Citi Bike Arrives on the Upper East Side and Upper West Side

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer at the first Citi Bike station on the Upper East Side. Photo: NYC DOT

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer at the first Citi Bike station on the Upper East Side. Photo: NYC DOT

Citi Bike has begun its expansion to the Upper East Side and Upper West Side.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Council Member Ben Kallos, DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione, DOT Deputy Commissioner for Policy Michael Replogle and Citi Bike General Manager Jules Flynn celebrated the first Citi Bike station on the Upper East Side with a photo-op this morning at 67th Street and Lexington Avenue.

As of this afternoon, stations have also been installed on the Upper West Side at 63rd and Broadway and along Central Park West at 68th and 72nd streets. In the coming weeks, a total of 47 stations will be installed as far north as 86th Street. Next year, 31 additional stations will bring Citi Bike as far north as W. 110th Street and E. 96th Street.

While the latest expansion is exciting, the station density on the Upper East and Upper West sides is lower than both the existing Citi Bike service area and DOT’s own density targets. This makes bike-share less convenient, potentially hampering ridership in two of the city’s densest neighborhoods. At this morning’s event, Daily News transit reporter Dan Rivoli asked about station density, and Kallos said he would welcome additional bike-share stations in the neighborhood.

Most stations in Citi Bike’s latest round of expansion have already been installed in Long Island City, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and Bed-Stuy. Expansion will continue next year, with stations in Harlem, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, and Red Hook by the end of 2017.

New York isn’t the only city in the area getting bike-share stations: The first of 35 Jersey City bike-share was installed today.


What Planet Is DOT Living On?

Last week, Henry Melcher at the Architect’s Newspaper ran a thoughtful piece about the state of NYC DOT’s bike program that got buried almost immediately by comments from Bill Bratton and Mayor de Blasio about the Times Square plazas.

DOT Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo. Photo: Stephen Miller

DOT Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo. Photo: Stephen Miller

Melcher asked why DOT so often passes up the chance to add bike lanes in its street safety projects. He elicited this response from DOT Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo:

Russo explained that while certain road diets may exclude bike lanes, they can be the first step in convincing skeptical communities that precarious streets can become complete streets. “We have to get people from A to C,” he said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean every single street has to have a bike lane initially or when you do a project.” In the Vision Zero era, he continued, redesigning a dangerous intersection might initially get priority over a bike lane. The idea is that once a street is made safer for all users (cyclists included), the DOT can go back to a community board with a more substantial focus on cyclist safety.

At a press conference where Russo announced safety improvements at an Atlantic Avenue intersection earlier this week, Streetsblog’s Stephen Miller questioned this line of thinking. In the exchange, Russo repeatedly asserted that DOT is doing everything it feasibly can to make streets safer for biking given the local politics of community boards and City Council members.

Before I get to the specifics of what was said, it’s important to keep in mind that Ryan Russo has been instrumental to the street design renaissance that began at DOT with the appointment of commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan in 2007. He played a leading role in introducing protected bike lanes to New York City streets and in major projects like the Times Square plazas. After Bill de Blasio was elected and put Polly Trottenberg in charge of DOT, advocates saw Russo’s elevation to deputy commissioner for transportation planning and management — a post second only to the commissioner — as an important sign that the agency would retain its capacity to make change happen.

And when it wants to, DOT remains perfectly capable of putting out great street redesigns — the changes this month on Queens Boulevard are proof of that. But there’s a huge gap between the de Blasio administration’s ambitious Vision Zero goals and DOT’s tentative decisions about bike infrastructure. Getting the agency to, for instance, propose a protected bike lane for Amsterdam Avenue — a major void in the bike network with a high injury rate — has been like pulling teeth, despite ample support from local electeds. There’s a political calculus behind these DOT decisions, and as deputy commissioner Russo is more responsible than ever for formulating it.

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DOT Axes Midland Beach Slow Zone, and Staten Islanders Seem OK With That

20 mph speed limits won't be coming to Midland Beach, but sped humps might. Image: DOT [PDF]

20 mph speed limits won’t be coming to Midland Beach, but speed humps might. Image: DOT [PDF]

DOT has shelved a Neighborhood Slow Zone planned for Staten Island’s Midland Beach neighborhood over local opposition to a 20 mph speed limit on one of the streets within the project area. Borough President Jimmy Oddo, who supported the Slow Zone as a council member, is now applauding DOT for canceling it.

The news came in a letter from Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg to Oddo and his City Council successor and former chief of staff, Steven Matteo. While the Slow Zone is dead, DOT says it will consider speed humps on cross streets in the neighborhood.

Neighborhood Slow Zones include speed humps, 20 mph speed limits, and signage to slow drivers in residential areas. Community Education Council 31, a group of volunteers who advise the city on education policy for the neighborhood, first applied for the Midland Beach Slow Zone in 2011, said president Michael Reilly, and resubmitted its application in 2013.

DOT accepted the Midland Beach application that year and announced it would be implemented in 2016. The zone is bounded by Father Capodanno Boulevard, Hylan Boulevard, Midland Avenue, and the Miller Field recreation area [PDF].

All streets in the zone were to get a 20 mph speed limit, and speed humps were to be installed on most streets, but not Lincoln Avenue and Greeley Avenue, which cross the neighborhood between Hylan and Father Capodanno.

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Eyes on the Street: Clinton Street’s New Bikeway

The bikeway isn't complete yet, but it's already getting used. Photo: Stephen Miller

The bikeway isn’t complete yet, but it’s already getting used. Photo: Stephen Miller

A new two-way bikeway is under construction to provide a connection between the Williamsburg Bridge and the East River Greenway.

The route along Clinton Street extends the existing two-way protected bike lane between Delancey and Grand an additional five blocks to South Street, where it connects to the waterfront bike path beneath the FDR Drive.

The waterfront greenway, which runs along South Street, will also be getting an upgrade: concrete barriers to protect greenway users from cars and trucks. DOT says the installation schedule for this component of the project is still being determined.

Cinton Street is getting a two-way bikeway and painted curb extensions. Image: DOT [PDF]

Clinton Street is getting a two-way bikeway and painted curb extensions. Image: DOT [PDF]

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Atlantic and Washington Gets Fixes, Now What About the Rest of Atlantic?

DOT Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo talks about the latest changes to the intersection of Atlantic, Washington and Underhill avenues. Photo: Stephen Miller

DOT Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo talks about the latest changes to the intersection of Atlantic, Washington and Underhill. Photo: Stephen Miller

The multi-leg intersection of Atlantic Avenue, Washington Avenue, and Underhill Avenue has received its second round of street safety improvements in four years. Adding to a 2011 project that expanded pedestrian space, this latest set of changes includes new turn restrictions, crosswalks, and larger median islands [PDF]. Advocates welcomed the changes, but want DOT to think bigger when it comes to overhauling Atlantic Avenue, one of the city’s most dangerous arterial streets.

The intersection has two new crosswalks and larger sidewalks and medians, among other changes. Image: DOT [PDF]

The intersection has two new crosswalks and larger sidewalks and medians, among other changes. Image: DOT [PDF]

When Atlantic was named the city’s first Arterial Slow Zone last year, DOT noted there were 25 fatalities along its 7.6-mile length, including 10 pedestrians, from 2008 to 2012. The area near the intersection with Washington and Underhill had 99 injuries, including two severe injuries, from 2009 to 2013.

In 2011, DOT added pedestrian space along the edge of Lowry Triangle, a pocket park between Washington and Underhill, and banned left turns from eastbound Atlantic. That project also included a road diet and bike lanes on Washington Avenue [PDF].

After the project was implemented, total crashes decreased 31 percent and pedestrian injuries fell 44 percent along Washington between Lincoln Place and Dean Street — but the intersection with Atlantic remained a danger zone.

This latest redesign is focused solely on the intersection. The median on the west side of the intersection has been lengthened, reducing potential conflicts between turning drivers and pedestrians while providing a direct crosswalk for people walking between the triangle and the north side of Atlantic. Other sidewalk extensions and crosswalks reduce crossing distances and provide more direct routes for pedestrians.

The only legal way for drivers to access Underhill now is to turn right from eastbound Atlantic, though plenty of drivers were ignoring the new rules this morning. Drivers turning left from Washington onto westbound Atlantic now wait at a red arrow while pedestrians cross, until getting a flashing yellow arrow indicating they can turn with caution. Pedestrians also have eight additional seconds to cross the intersection.

“This left turn arrow is a huge help,” said John Longo, a local restaurant owner who was injured while walking across the intersection by a turning driver in December 2013.

“I think everyone feels scared crossing a major thoroughfare,” said Council Member Laurie Cumbo, who represents the area near Atlantic and Washington. “So anything we can do to make it smaller, to shorten the crossing distances, that’s good.”

But what about the rest of Atlantic Avenue?

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