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Posts from the DOT Category


Eyes on the Street: Flex Posts Keep Drivers Out of 158th Street Bike Lane

Photo: Alec Melman

Photo: Alec Melman

Reader Alec Melman sent these before-and-after pics of the bikeway on 158th Street in Manhattan, which is now protected with flex posts. The lane is part of a package of Upper Manhattan bike improvements intended to make biking and walking safer between the Hudson River Greenway and the High Bridge.

As you can see in the photo below, before DOT added the posts the lane was vulnerable to incursion by drivers, many with placards, who commandeered the space for parking. The lane runs beneath a Riverside Drive viaduct where NYPD has a fleet service station.

This is the type of low-cost, high-impact improvement that could also make it safer to ride on streets like Chrystie Street, where safety advocates who call themselves the Transformation Department put traffic cones to keep drivers out.

“Now this actually feels safe to bike on,” Melman wrote.

Photo: Alec Melman

Photo: Alec Melman


Streetfilms Shorties: Fix the Dysfunctional Chrystie Street Bike Lane

Back in February, Manhattan Community Board 3 asked DOT to study a protected bike lane for Chrystie Street. Head over there during any rush hour and it’s easy to see why: There are tons of people biking to and from the Manhattan Bridge, but the painted bike lanes on Chrystie are constantly blocked by double-parked cars and buses. Even when you’re not weaving in and out of motor vehicle traffic, you have to keep your eyes peeled for illegal U-turns and drivers crossing the southbound bike lane as they exit garages.

The agency said it would study bike lane upgrades for Chrystie, but gave no timetable. That was in March. Apparently, someone got tired of waiting and set up orange cones on one long block in the beginning of October to keep the bike lane clear. That was all it took to provide a little more security for people biking northbound on Chrystie, and in this short Streetfilm, Clarence makes the case for some simple changes to permanently improve safety on one of the city’s most important bike routes.


Eyes on the Street: The First Avenue Bike Lane Gap Is Shrinking

DOT tweeted a status report this afternoon on the First Avenue protected bike lane gap. Green paint is down on the newly protected section between 49th Street and 56th Street:

This project will close most of the 10-block gap in the First Avenue protected bike lane in Midtown. The last few blocks up to 59th Street, where left-turning motor vehicle traffic heading to the Queensboro Bridge is most intense, will remain unprotected for now. DOT has said it will return to the local community board with a plan to protect those blocks after this phase has been completed.

In addition to the green paint, DOT will be adding pedestrian islands on these blocks this fall. That should prevent fatalities on a very dangerous stretch. Since 2009, the pedestrian death rate on First Avenue along the 10 blocks without a protected bike lane has been much higher than on the rest of First Avenue, according to DOT.


The Next Brooklyn Bike-Share Expansion Will Be the Thinnest Part of Citi Bike


Citi Bike is coming to the neighborhoods west of Prospect Park, but the stations won’t be spaced conveniently close together. Map via NYC DOT. Click to enlarge.

DOT unveiled its latest Citi Bike expansion map last week, and the stations look significantly more spread out than stations in the rest of the system.

Spread-out stations are a problem for bike-share users because people have to walk farther to make trips, and that costs time. The National Association of City Transportation Officials recommends 28 stations per square mile — and the city’s contract with Citi Bike operator Motivate stipulates the same metric — but NYC DOT has been thinning out stations in its expansion zones. The city wants to cover the geographic area described in the bike-share contract, while Motivate doesn’t want to supply more than the 378 additional stations it’s required to. The result is a less effective system for everyone.

With 62 stations covering the 3.1 square miles of Brooklyn Community Board 6 — which includes Red Hook, Park Slope, and everything in between — the station density works out to 20 per square mile. As Citi Bike expands into Upper Manhattan, western Queens, and more of Brooklyn by 2017, these are the station densities New Yorkers can expect in the absence of a new strategy from DOT and/or Motivate.

DOT officials told the CB 6 committee that more stations can be added after the initial rollout. But it could be a long time before those gaps get filled in. When the current round of expansion wraps up in 2017, there will be a lot of ground to cover with infill stations plus huge pressure to keep expanding outward.

Ironically, the one thing Citi Bike had going for it consistently from the very beginning — a convenient network where a station was always a short walk away — is deteriorating just as everything else comes together. Citi Bike is finally on the rebound thanks to a thorough overhaul of its equipment and software. How long will the good times last if every expansion fails to deliver the convenience bike-share users have come to expect?


Temporary Red Hook Greenway Plan Looks Better Than the Permanent One


Currently, plans call for ditching an interim on-street two-way bike lane in Red Hook once a waterfront greenway is built, but there’s no reason DOT couldn’t keep the interim design. Image: NYC DOT

Eventually, New York City intends to build a biking and walking path along the Red Hook waterfront, one link in the longer Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. It’s going to be several years before that project gets built, so in the meantime DOT plans to make streets a few blocks inland safer for biking and walking. The question is, why not keep the safer, multi-modal surface streets after the permanent project wraps up?

Last night, DOT presented the interim plan [PDF] to the Brooklyn Community Board 6 transportation committee, which voted for it unanimously. The plan would reconstruct bumpy Ferris Street and Beard Street and make room for a two-way curbside bike lane and green infrastructure features. But the long-term plan for the greenway currently calls for moving the bikeway to the waterfront and putting a parking lane back on the street.

Currently, Ferris and Beard are in such poor condition that there is no sidewalk on large sections of each street, which impedes walking. The shoddy pavement and lack of bike lanes also prevent cyclists from comfortably accessing nearby Valentino Pier. The interim treatment will address both problems, and some people at the meeting last night questioned why the on-street bikeway is slated to be removed once the permanent greenway is built.

“I think that having an interim design is an appeasement to people who are worried about parking,” said committee member Bahij Chancey.

Read more…


Eyes on the Street: Progress on Pulaski Bridge Bikeway

Photo: DOT

Photo: DOT

Last week DOT posted photos of construction work on the Pulaski Bridge bikeway on the project’s Facebook page. DOT is adding a protected lane that will create more room for people who bike and walk the bridge, which connects Greenpoint and Long Island City over Newtown Creek.

The project has been on New Yorkers’ wish list for years, and has been delayed a few times. In August DOT said drainage problems would push the start of construction to next spring, but those issues were resolved within a few weeks and things got started soon after.

It looks like work is moving apace. Doug Gordon tweeted a pic today, and thanked Assembly Member Joe Lentol, a vocal proponent since 2012, for his support of the project.

We’ve asked DOT about the timeline and will post the agency’s response if we get one.

Photo: DOT

Photo: DOT

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City Hall Wants Council Members to Beef Up “Bikes in Buildings” Bills

No matter how well you lock up your bike in NYC, if you leave it outside for any significant amount of time, you never know what will be left when you get back. For secure storage, nothing beats a spot inside. But thanks to a bizarre aversion to bicycles shared by many landlords and property managers, a large percentage of NYC buildings are de facto bike-free zones.


Folding bikes are no bulkier than rolling luggage — and they’re fine in City Council chambers — so how come a lot of building managers don’t allow them in elevators? Photo: @juliakite

In 2009, the Bicycle Access to Buildings Law started to chip away at these restrictions by creating a legal mechanism for employees to win bicycle access to their workplaces. That law had its limitations, though, like a loophole that compelled some bike commuters to leave their ride at the office if the freight elevator was shut down for the day. This session, three bills have been introduced in the City Council to expand the guarantee of bike access to buildings.

The bills appear to have a clear path forward, judging by a hearing on all three in the Housing and Buildings Committee yesterday. A representative from NYC DOT commended the legislation and wants the sponsors to strengthen their proposals, signaling City Hall’s general approval of the new bills.

One problem with the 2009 law is that even if a tenant successfully petitions for bike access to a building, there is no full guarantee. Building owners can deny access to passenger elevators entirely, and while access to freight elevators is required during operating hours, it’s common for buildings to cease operating their freight elevators long before most workers head home for the day. In a DOT survey of 209 tenants who had applied for bike access to their buildings, many said that limitations on freight elevator access were a significant hindrance, according to testimony delivered yesterday by DOT’s Michelle Craven.

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NYPD Conspicuously Absent From City Council Vision Zero Hearing

How seriously does Police Commissioner Bill Bratton take Vision Zero? The City Council transportation committee held a hearing today to gauge the city’s progress in reducing traffic injuries and deaths, and NYPD didn’t send a single person to provide testimony or answer questions.

Hard to imagine NYPD skipping a council hearing on shootings or terrorism, but it seems traffic violence is not a priority for Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. Photo: Clarence Eckerson

Hard to imagine NYPD skipping a council hearing on shootings or terrorism, but it seems traffic violence is not a priority for Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.
Photo: Clarence Eckerson

In NYPD’s absence, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg — as she often does — had to field council member queries pertaining to police traffic enforcement. Transportation chair Ydanis Rodriguez wondered if NYPD is making progress in keeping dangerous violations down, and how often police are ticketing motorists for blocking bike lanes. James Vacca wanted to know if speeding ticket counts increased after the new 25 miles per hour speed limit took effect last year. Not surprisingly, Trottenberg didn’t have responses, and deferred to NYPD.

DOT does manage the city’s traffic enforcement cameras, which are making streets safer, Trottenberg said, but they could be doing more if not for arbitrary restrictions imposed by state lawmakers.

Trottenberg said violations are down 60 percent at fixed speed camera locations. Red light camera citations have dropped 71 percent since that program started in 1994, Trottenberg said. In 2014, when less than half of the city’s speed cameras were operational, cameras ticketed almost four times as many speeding drivers as NYPD.

Yet in addition to limiting the number of cameras the city is allowed to use — 140 speed cameras and 150 red light cameras — Albany limits when and where speed cameras may operate. Albany allows cameras do be turned on during school hours only. Trottenberg said location restrictions mean that in some cases, DOT is not permitted to place a speed camera on the most dangerous street that kids actually cross to get to a school. Also thanks to Albany, drivers have to be speeding by 11 miles per hour or more to get a speed camera ticket.

Council members asked Trottenberg if expanding the speed camera program was on the de Blasio administration’s Albany agenda for next year, but she didn’t give a definitive answer.

Trottenberg also said DOT has completed 26 street safety projects since the agency released its Vision Zero borough action plans, including the ongoing revamp of Queens Boulevard and 300 leading pedestrian intervals. But since DOT puts all Vision Zero projects in the same basket — from major changes to Queens Boulevard to tweaking a single intersection — a single number doesn’t convey much information.

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34th Precinct Cracks Down on Drivers Double-Parked in Inwood Bike Lanes

A 34th Precinct officer cites a driver blocking a bike lane on Sherman Avenue in Inwood. Photo: 34th Precinct/Facebook

A 34th Precinct officer cites a driver blocking a bike lane on Sherman Avenue in Inwood. Photo: 34th Precinct/Facebook

When DOT installed new bike lanes on Sherman Avenue in Inwood a few weeks back, it didn’t take long before they were blocked by double-parked drivers.

Sherman is one of many Inwood streets that effectively has four parking lanes. This isn’t good for anyone, as it makes it dangerous to walk and bike, and creates aggravation for drivers — which, in turn, makes it dangerous to walk and bike.

Responding to residents’ complaints, on Friday the 34th Precinct announced a double-parking crackdown. Deputy Inspector Chris Morello, the precinct’s commanding officer, posted photos of officers issuing tickets on Facebook.

Well, you asked for it, and you got it: we had a double parking initiative yesterday in the 34 Pct. Summonses were issued for double parking (particularly in bike lanes) on Broadway, Sherman, Dyckman and Post (these are our most congested and dangerous roadways).

In the past month, we have issued 632 double parking summonses, up 10% from last year. And we have issued a total of 7,711 parking summonses this year. This is all done in an effort to keep traffic moving and keep our residents safe.

Hats off to Deputy Inspector Morello and precinct officers for taking on what is mainly a symptom of dysfunctional curb management. Now if DOT would help out by swapping private car parking for commercial loading zones, traffic would flow more smoothly and Inwood streets would be safer.


DOT Secures Federal Grant to Add More Sidewalk Seating

DOT officials and others with CityBench number 1,500, at MS 22 in the Bronx. Photo: DOT

DOT officials and others with CityBench number 1,500 at MS 22 in the Bronx. Photo: DOT

A federal grant will bring more public benches to NYC sidewalks, DOT announced yesterday.

The CityBench program, a PlanNYC initiative launched in 2011, has brought hundreds of steel benches to streets across the boroughs. DOT marked the installation of the 1,500th bench yesterday, at MS 22 in the Bronx, and said the Federal Transit Authority has awarded the program an additional $1.5 million. The FTA provided 80 percent of the initial $3 million CityBench budget.

CityBench targets commercial districts and areas where seniors and people with impaired mobility lack places to sit. Bench sites can be requested via the DOT web site.

“New York’s CityBench program is a welcome reprieve for many who pound the pavement every day,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “The additional funding for this program will benefit many, especially those in my district of East Harlem, which has a prominent and growing senior population.”