Green paint is down on a new section of the Queens Boulevard bike lane in Elmhurst.
The second phase of the Queens Boulevard redesign runs from 74th Street to Eliot Avenue [PDF], extending east from phase one, which was implemented in Woodside last year. After construction wraps up this summer, there will be 2.5 miles of continuous median-aligned bike lanes on the most important east-west route in Queens.
In addition to the bike lane, the project calms car traffic and creates safer walking conditions. Below is a new crosswalk at a stop-controlled transition from the center roadway to the service road at Cornish Avenue. Previously, the design enabled drivers to merge quickly, without stopping.
The city is removing two pedestrian islands from Eastern Parkway to accommodate the West Indian Day Parade, but the parade has passed three other islands for years, including this one by the Brooklyn Museum. Image: Google Earth
DOT and NYPD are destroying two concrete pedestrian islands the city installed less than a year ago on Eastern Parkway at the request of organizers of next weekend’s West Indian Day Parade, the Post reports.
Instead of making the parade accommodate permanent pedestrian infrastructure, the city is undoing safety measures that protect people 365 days out of the year to accommodate an event on a single day.
The medians — at the intersections of Kingston and Brooklyn Avenues — were installed in December as part of a Safe Routes to Schools plan for Arista Prep Academy and Nursery School and the Oholei Torah yeshiva that was in the works for 10 years [PDF]. The intersection of Kingston and Eastern Parkway is also a Vision Zero priority intersection where seven people were severely injured from 2009 and 2013.
The West Indian Day Parade draws more than a million people to Eastern Parkway every Labor Day. DOT must have been aware of the parade when planning the project.
It’s not clear why the parade is incompatible with the islands, especially since the route has already passed by three concrete pedestrian islands west of Washington Avenue for years. Those islands will not be removed. Parade officials were nevertheless able to convince the city to remove the two new concrete islands.
DOT has posted detailed bike counts from the four East River bridges from April through July of this year, a promising new step in making its data on bicycling publicly available. The data was released as monthly PDFs that include bike counts on each bridge, cumulative precipitation, and temperature ranges for each day.
The increasingly crowded Queensboro Bridge north outer roadway. Image via Streetfilms
It’s the first time DOT has published such granular information. But the release would be better if the counts were published as a feed on the city’s open data portal, which would make it much easier to analyze the information.
DOT has been counting bicyclists on the Manhattan, Brooklyn, Williamsburg, and Queensboro bridges since the 1980s, but only since 2014 has it deployed automated counters to collect a more robust data set. The city used to only count bicyclists a few days out of each month. Now it counts every day.
Last year’s “screenline” bike counts (which include the Staten Island Ferry Whitehall Terminal and the Hudson River Greenway at 50th Street, in addition to the bridges) were not released until this past May. Not only will the timely release of data speed up public access, but the greater detail in these spreadsheets can also lead to a better understanding of how factors like temperature or precipitation affect cycling rates.
To measure changes in cycling volumes, DOT uses counts from weekdays without precipitation, to ensure that it is comparing apples to apples. Using this method, the new counts show that the number of cyclists riding over the bridges increased by 7.9, 7.2, 10.3 percent respectively in April, June, and July, compared to the same months the previous year. In May, the count decreased 3.7 percent.
Mere weeks after installing a parking-protected bike lane on East 38th Street in Marine Park, DOT removed the protection, caving to complaints about the narrower roadway even though the motor vehicle lane was still a roomy 12 feet wide.
Streetsblog reader Jeffrey Diamond shot this video of how the bike lane, which is part of a project designed to improve bike access to the Jamaica Bay Greenway, is working now that it’s not protected. (Diamond also has video of the entire Marine Park bike lane project.)
As you can see, 38th Street has resumed its function as a drop-off zone free-for-all by the park, rife with sloppy, illegal parking and standing. Odds are, losing the ability to easily double-park was what stoked the complaints to DOT in the first place. Diamond warns that once recreational sports start back up in the fall, the bike lane obstructions will only get worse.
The irony is that more people could safely access Marine Park by bicycle instead of driving — if they had good bicycle infrastructure connecting them to it. Instead, the neighborhood keeps its double-parking zone.
DOT is set to cast Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue pedestrian safety improvements in concrete, which will make it harder to add a protected lane on the corridor. Image: DOT
Sunset Park residents are calling on DOT to change its plans for Fourth Avenue to include a protected bike lane, the Brooklyn Paper reports. They make an excellent point: If DOT doesn’t change the design of an upcoming capital project on Fourth Avenue, it’s going to be very difficult to add a protected bike lane on what should be a major corridor in the city’s bike network.
DOT installed pedestrian safety improvements along Fourth Avenue between 65th Street and 15th Street in 2012 and between 15th Street and Atlantic Avenue in 2013. The projects used temporary materials like paint and plastic posts to expand pedestrian medians and narrow traffic lanes, reducing the bloodshed on a wide, dangerous street. Pedestrian injuries fell 30 percent in Sunset Park and 61 percent in Park Slope.
But bike lanes were not included, and Fourth Avenue remains a forbidding street to bicycle on, despite being the best continuous connection between Bay Ridge/Sunset Park and Downtown Brooklyn.
Soon, the city plans to cast the wider medians in concrete with a “Vision Zero Great Streets” capital project. The first phase of construction is set to begin in the spring, between 8th Street and 18th Street and between 33rd Street and 52nd Street. Once that concrete is poured, it’s going to be a lot tougher to return to Fourth Avenue again and add a good bike lane.
DOT will reverse this design and expose cyclists to moving traffic on East 38th Street in Marine Park. Image: DOT
A new protected bike lane segment on East 38th Street in Marine Park won’t be protected much longer. Even though the new layout provides a similar width for parking and driving as other residential streets in the area, DOT has caved to pressure from local residents who want to go back to having a short stretch of wide-open asphalt.
The two-way protected bike lane between Avenue U and Avenue V was approved by Brooklyn Community Board 18 earlier this year as part of a package of improvements to connect the neighborhood to the Jamaica Bay Greenway [PDF].
Local Council Member Alan Maisel pushed DOT to remove the parking protection. He said that because of the redesign, “people can’t get into their driveways,” sideview mirrors have been knocked off, and delivery trucks on the street are blocking traffic.
A DOT spokesperson told the Brooklyn Daily that the parking protection will be removed by the end of the month, leaving cyclists exposed and the bike lane vulnerable to double-parking and other obstructions.
With so few cars, people were easily able to navigate Lower Manhattan’s streets. All Photos: David Meyer
DOT’s first-ever “Shared Streets” event limited car traffic entering a 60-block section of the Financial District for five hours on Saturday. With the neighborhood free of the near-constant stream of cars passing through on a typical day, pedestrians and cyclists were free to navigate the streets without fear.
Drivers who entered the area between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. faced barriers at streets along the edge of the neighborhood, with NYPD officers on hand to let motorists through and, aided by temporary street signs, remind them of the day’s 5 mph speed limit.
Officials held a noon press conference celebrating the event. “I think this is an opportunity to show you can go five miles an hour in a car [and] you can still get there,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for New Yorkers and visitors to New York to see how our historic center can operate with less traffic, and still accommodate cars, but to be a very pedestrian- or bicycle-friendly place that works for everybody,” said DOT Deputy Commissioner for Policy Michael Replogle.
While the heat kept many inside, those who did venture outdoors were rewarded with a tranquil traffic-calmed zone punctuated by event hubs, including a drum line at Federal Hall and bike races for children at Park Row.
A new sight in old New York: Children playing ball in the street during DOT’s “Shared Streets” event in the Financial District on Saturday.
Take a look below the jump for more photos of “Shared Streets” in action:
For five hours tomorrow, limited vehicular traffic will transform 60 blocks of Lower Manhattan into “shared streets” for people on foot and bikes. Image: DOT
Summer Streets takes a big step forward this weekend with “Shared Streets: Lower Manhattan.” From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow, DOT will open up a 60-block radius in the Financial District to pedestrians and cyclists, limiting motor vehicle access to residents, deliveries, and emergency vehicles [PDF].
The event evokes the concept of “shared space” — where pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists navigate streets based on the movements of other users, as opposed to curbs, signage, and traffic lights. Shared Streets will feature activities for cyclists of all ages, as well as historic walking tours and games for kids.
The full list of offerings is available on the DOT website. Tomorrow also brings the second installment of Summer Streets 2016, when Lafayette Street and Park Avenue will be car-free between the Brooklyn Bridge and 72nd Street from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Speaking to Streetsblog this morning, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said the Financial District’s narrow streets already function a lot like shared space, and are primed for tomorrow’s “experiment.” Check out our Q&A with Commissioner Trottenberg, lightly edited for length, after the jump.
A leader of the Throggs Neck Merchants Association tried to thwart DOT’s safety plan for East Tremont Avenue at a town hall in the Bronx last night and was firmly rebuffed by Mayor de Blasio, Council Member Jimmy Vacca, and Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. After the exchange, Raisa Jimenez, whose son Giovianni Nin was killed by a hit-and-run driver on East Tremont earlier this year, made an emotional plea to prevent the further loss of life.
East Tremont Avenue between Williamsbridge Road and Bruckner Boulevard is an exceptionally dangerous 1.1-mile stretch where hundreds of people were injured between 2009 and 2013, according to DOT. Angel Figueroa, 74, was struck and killed at the intersection of Puritan Avenue in 2013.
The DOT plan would convert the two-way street from four lanes to two, with a center turn lane and pedestrian islands [PDF]. Community Board 10 voted against the project when DOT first proposed it last year, and the agency set it aside. On June 11, Nin, 26, was struck and killed on East Tremont, and Vacca prodded DOT to proceed with the redesign.
Last night John Cerini of the Throggs Neck Merchants Association attacked de Blasio and Vacca for moving ahead with the project. You can watch the entire exchange — about nine minutes — in the video above.
“We voted for you. You represent us,” Cerini told de Blasio. “We’re not in England, we’re not a monarchy. We’re not asking you to be our king and make decisions for us… Our community board voted against this.” He asked opponents of the project to identify themselves, and nearly 50 hands went up.
“I think you’re misreading the Constitution a little here,” said de Blasio. “We are elected with the point of saying to people what we intend to do, and I certainly talked about Vision Zero and what it would mean for this city to protect people, because we were losing hundreds of people per year.”
Mayor de Blasio will hold a town hall in Throggs Neck tonight, and Transportation Alternatives organizers are expecting a significant turnout from a small but vocal group of area residents and businesses who oppose a DOT road diet for East Tremont Avenue.
A 2015 DOT safety plan called for a road diet, pedestrian islands, and other improvements that could have saved Nin’s life [PDF]. But the Throggs Neck Merchants Association and other groups organized to defeat the plan and Bronx Community Board 10 voted against it. DOT did not implement the project as scheduled.
In this video from a June memorial ride honoring Nin, made by TA’s Luke Ohlson, local Council Member Jimmy Vacca blasts CB 10 for voting against the plan.
At Vacca’s urging, DOT has since moved to implement the traffic-calming plan by the end of the summer. Now opponents are expected to vent at the mayor himself at this evening’s town hall. Nin’s family and members of TransAlt’s Bronx Committee will also be in attendance to support the road diet.