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After Unanimous CB 3 Vote, Chrystie Street Protected Lane Scheduled for Fall

DOT’s rendering of the two-way protected bike lane slated for Chrystie Street in the fall.

This two-way protected bike lane is coming to Chrystie Street in the fall. Rendering: NYC DOT

DOT’s plan for a two-way protected bike lane on Chrystie Street [PDF] got a unanimous vote of support from Manhattan Community Board 3 last night. The project is scheduled for implementation in the fall.

The project will place a two-way bike lane protected by parked cars and concrete barriers on the east side of Chrystie from Canal Street to Houston Street, improving connections between the Manhattan Bridge and protected lanes on First and Second avenues. It promises to be a major upgrade over Chrystie Street’s painted lanes, which are frequently blocked by cars, trucks, and buses. Last year, 16 cyclists and 14 pedestrians were injured on Chrystie Street.

The redesign concept was originally presented at the beginning of 2015 by Transportation Alternatives volunteer Dave “Paco” Abraham. It attracted support from CB 3 and almost every elected official who represents the area.

In addition to the Chrystie Street redesign, DOT plans to install a protected bike lane on Jay Street on the Brooklyn side of the Manhattan Bridge in the fall.

Image: DOT

A typical section in the Chrystie Street redesign. Image: DOT

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DOT Plans to Beef Up the Bike Network Around Union Square

DOT will make the protected lane on Union Square East two-way this summer. Image: DOT

DOT will make the protected bike lane on Union Square East two-way this summer. Image: DOT

The Manhattan bike network breaks down around Union Square, where southbound and northbound bike lanes currently dump riders into the chaotic confluence of 14th Street, Park Avenue, and Broadway. DOT presented a plan to fix some but not all of those gaps last night [PDF], garnering a unanimous vote in favor from Manhattan Community Board 5.

The major change will be the extension of the northbound protected bike lane on Fourth Avenue from 12th Street past the irregular intersection at 14th Street, and along the east and north sides of Union Square. This entails widening the current one-way bike lane alongside the park to eight feet and making it two-way. Biking south past 14th Street from Union Square East, however, would remain treacherous.

In addition, a new painted crosstown lane would extend from Union Square to Sixth Avenue, and another pair of painted lanes would extend east from the park on 15th and 16th streets. The 16th Street lane, however, will stop at Stuyvesant Park without a direct connection to the Second Avenue bike lane.

DOT's plan would also bring new bike lanes to East 15th, East 16th, and West 17th Streets. Image: DOT

The expanded bike lanes are in orange, brown, and purple. Map: DOT

Last night, Transportation Alternatives volunteer Janet Liff suggested that DOT expand the project to include a protected lane on Fifth Avenue, which could help with southbound bike trips. The bike lane on Fifth is currently unprotected and frequently blocked by service trucks and double-parked cars. Liff shared photos of the motor vehicles that obstruct the bike lane throughout the day. “Fifth Avenue from 23rd to 14th Street is actually kind of nasty,” she said.

DOT Bicycle and Greenway Program Director Ted Wright said that while a protected lane on Fifth excites him, he sees it as a separate project. “That’s a big project. It involves, perhaps, concrete,” he said.

Later on, Wright said that for the moment DOT doesn’t have the staff resources to take on a Fifth Avenue project. “We’re getting a lot of push on these things right now, and I would love to see this happen,” he said. “This year, we’re so over-booked on projects — that’s the hesitancy.”

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Brewer to DOT: Start Looking Into a Bus-Only 14th Street

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer wants bus-only lanes on 14th Street. Photo: David Meyer

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer wants the city to study making 14th Street car-free so buses can carry the load while the L train is shut down for repairs. Photo: David Meyer

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is calling on DOT to study making 14th Street a bus-only thoroughfare while L train service is disrupted during Sandy-related repairs.

To allow for urgently-needed fixes to the L train tunnel, the MTA is considering either a full shutdown of service between Bedford Avenue and Eighth Avenue for 18 months, or a three-year variation that preserves about 20 percent of current service. At a press event this morning, the Riders Alliance revealed that most L train riders who responded to an online survey prefer to get it over with in 18 months — a position the MTA seems to share.

In either case, said Riders Alliance Deputy Director Nick Sifuentes, the city and the MTA need to take steps to keep people moving: “No matter what the MTA does, a shutdown will profoundly change transportation options for commuters on both sides of the East River.” Sifuentes said survey respondents “called broadly for robust, supplementary bus service in Manhattan and Brooklyn.”

In the survey, respondents suggested bus lanes in both Brooklyn and Manhattan and along the Williamsburg Bridge, as well as a number of other measures, including Citi Bike expansion, more capacity for bicycling on the Williamsburg Bridge, increased service on nearby subway lines, and increased ferry service.

“The shutdown will not be easy, but a robust set of alternatives would reduce the pain,” said Kate Slevin of the Regional Plan Association. “For example, 14th Street could become reserved for buses, pedestrians and bikes, and the Williamsburg Bridge could offer dedicated bike and bus routes. The MTA and DOT need to be bold.”

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It Shouldn’t Take This Much Effort to Count Bike Trips in NYC [Updated]

Update: We added a short Q&A with Chancey to the end of this post.

In case you missed it, at 6:30 a.m. yesterday Bahij Chancey set up a table on the DUMBO side of the Manhattan Bridge to count cyclists. By the time he wrapped up at 8 p.m., 5,589 people had biked past.

Chancey was also collecting signatures from people who’d like DOT to install a bike counter — also known as a totem — on East River crossings, starting with the Manhattan Bridge.

“A lot of criticism from community boards focuses on the idea that cycling is a seasonal mode of transportation,” Chancey told AMNY. “The counter is a great way to incentivize cycling — for people to see the numbers of rides and compare it to car traffic — and to establish it as a viable, quick, cheap commuting option that people use all year around.”

More broadly, Chancey wants DOT to make bike count data more accessible to the public. DOT releases trip data in occasional reports, but does not publish it on the city’s open data portal.

“With the information available to all to dissect on the totem, I’d be interested in looking into how weather impacts the number of riders, or maybe compare the number of rides taken on different days of the week,” Chancey said.

An online petition calls for improvements to the plaza under the bridge, like better lighting and signage, in addition to the counter. Chancey plans to send signatures to Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, DOT Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Keith Bray, and City Council Member Steve Levin. You can add your name here.

We asked Chancey about yesterday’s event and the campaign to get better bike data from DOT. Here’s what he had to say.

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DOT Defers Action on Clinton Avenue Bikeway

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

The Clinton Avenue redesign calls for a two-way protected bike lane and concrete pedestrian islands. Image: DOT

DOT has deferred its plan for a two-way protected bike lane on Clinton Avenue, saying it will return to Brooklyn Community Board 2 next month.

The department’s decision was announced by CB 2 transportation chair John Dew at the beginning of last night’s committee meeting. The committee had initially intended to finish hearing comments from people who didn’t get to speak at Tuesday’s meeting on the project, then vote on the plan, which Dew said he believed was “not-yet-ready for primetime.”

The redesign would add a two-way parking protected bike lane on Clinton between Flushing Avenue and Gates Avenue, converting the street from two-way motor vehicle flow to one-way northbound. In addition to creating a low-stress bike connection to the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway on Flushing, it would narrow crossing distance for pedestrians and simplify intersections, reducing the potential for conflict between drivers and people on foot.

While similar projects have reduced injuries and deaths all over the city, and the design closely resembles an arrangement that has functioned perfectly well on Kent Avenue for several years, property owners on Clinton Avenue campaigned against it, claiming that repurposing space from cars to bikes would impede emergency access, endanger seniors, and destroy “the historic nature of the Avenue.”

On Tuesday, Public Advocate Tish James and local Council Member Laurie Cumbo sided with the opponents.

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DOT and Motivate Will Put New Citi Bike Stations Closer Together

Brooklyn CB 6 and other parts of the city where Citi Bike expansions have fallen short on standards for station density are in line for new "infill" stations. Image: DOT

There will be more bike-share stations in Brooklyn Community Board 6 than this map indicates. Image: DOT

The Citi Bike expansion that began last year has always been tempered by the fact that new stations are spread more thinly than the original bike-share network — making the expansion zones less convenient for bike-share users. Now it looks like DOT and Motivate, the company that runs Citi Bike, are going to fix that.

In a press release about Citi Bike expansion in 2016, the mayor’s office announced today that up to 42 new stations will be placed in “portions of the system installed in 2015, including the Upper East Side and Upper West Side of Manhattan, and portions planned for installation in 2016 and 2017.”

The city expects to have “more than 600 stations” and 10,000 bikes operational by the end of this year. The system will extend up to 110th Street in Manhattan, and to the neighborhoods between Red Hook and Park Slope in Brooklyn. More expansions are slated for next year.

The 42 “infill” stations will put more bike-share stations in the expansion zones within a short walk of each other, and that’s one of the keys to making the whole network function as well as it should.

The National Association of City Transportation Officials recommends 28 bike-share stations per square mile. But recent Citi Bike expansions on the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, as well as expansions into Harlem and Park Slope that have been mapped but not installed, have all fallen short of that standard.

It’s possible that some of the infill stations will cannibalize docks from other stations, and we’re still crunching the numbers to see if 42 new stations is enough to achieve the density that NACTO recommends. But today’s announcement is definitely good news for the future of bike-share in NYC.

DOT will be presenting the infill station locations publicly in the coming weeks, beginning tonight at Brooklyn Community Board 6.

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James and Cumbo Wilt Under Pressure, Oppose Clinton Ave Bikeway

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

The proposed street redesign creates space for a two-way protected bike lane by removing the southbound traffic lane on Clinton Avenue. Image: DOT

Last year, Public Advocate Tish James called on DOT to make protected bike lanes a standard feature of street redesigns, a stance she recently elaborated on in an interview with Streetsblog. In December, Council Member Laurie Cumbo stood with the family of Victoria Nicodemus, who was run over and killed on a Fort Greene sidewalk, at a vigil for safer streets.

Now DOT is making a concrete proposal to redesign a street in Cumbo’s district for greater safety [PDF] — a plan for a two-way protected bike lane on Clinton Avenue first floated at the “Vision Zero town hall” Cumbo convened after the vigil for Nicodemus. But James and Cumbo have folded under pressure from street redesign opponents, coming out against the project at a public meeting last night. If Brooklyn Community Board 2’s transportation committee endorses the redesign when it reconvenes on Thursday, it won’t be thanks to leadership from James or Cumbo.

Public Advocate Tish James

Public Advocate Tish James

More than 250 people attended last night’s CB 2 meeting. Opponents outnumbered supporters among people who testified, but fewer than a third of the 90 people who signed up got a turn at the mic. The committee will reconvene at the Brown Memorial Church on Thursday to allow for more public comment, then vote on the plan.

The redesign would convert Clinton between Flushing Avenue and Gates Avenue from two-way motor vehicle flow to one-way northbound with a two-way, parking-protected bike lane on the east side. Crossing distances for pedestrians would be significantly shorter, and concrete islands would encourage motorists to take right turns more carefully. The design would be very similar to the two-way protected bike lane on Kent Avenue, but with more pedestrian islands and more frequent intersections.

Last night was DOT’s first public presentation of the full project, but in April the agency had met with local residents’ associations, schools, and employers about the proposal, and sent staffers to get the word out in the neighborhood. At the same time, some property owners on Clinton Avenue were mobilizing and collecting 1,300 signatures against the project.

James and Cumbo clearly had those signatures in mind as they attempted to reconcile their stated positions on Vision Zero and protected bike lanes with their opposition to this project.

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Rodriguez: Wouldn’t DOT Like More Vision Zero Funding? Trottenberg: Nope

The de Blasio administration continues to resist the City Council’s efforts to devote more resources to street redesigns that will save lives.

Speaking at a transportation committee hearing yesterday, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said DOT has sufficient funding in the city budget to redesign, within six to seven years, the 292 dangerous intersections where most fatal traffic crashes occur. That “general timetable” is based on an annual pace of redesigning between 50 and 80 of the intersections identified by DOT in its pedestrian safety action plans.

While DOT may be on track to hit that implementation target, the city is not on track to achieve the mayor’s Vision Zero goal of eliminating traffic deaths by 2024. After declining in the first two years of the de Blasio administration, fatalities did not drop through February this year — the last time the city updated its public crash data. Advocates have noted that at the current rate, the city will not eliminate fatalities until the 2050s.

In a statement following March’s hearing, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White called on the city to increase funding for operational projects — which can make streets safer quickly and at a low cost — to $52.4 million for 98 projects total, compared to 80 completed by the city in 2015.

Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez expressed frustration that de Blasio’s executive budget adds no new dollars for Vision Zero street safety projects, which the council requested during the preliminary budget process. He pressed Trottenberg on the pace of progress on wide, arterial streets in particular, where the majority of fatal crashes occur.

Trottenberg reiterated her previous stance that DOT does not need more funding for street redesigns, arguing that progress on arterials was not solely a matter of money. “It’s partially a funding issue, but it’s partially a project delivery and staffing issue,” she said, pointing to the extensive communication and outreach DOT conducts for even its quick and low-cost projects.

But if that’s the case, additional resources in the budget should still help DOT staff up and deliver more projects. For whatever reason, the de Blasio administration has decided against increasing its capacity to implement street redesigns.

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To Improve Walking and Biking Across the Harlem River, DOT’s Thinking Big

Some Harlem River Bridge -- including the Madison Avenue Bridge depicted in this image -- may be in line for two-way protected bike infrastructure. Image: DOT

The Madison Avenue Bridge is one of several Harlem River crossings where DOT is considering a protected bikeway. Image: DOT

There are 16 bridges linking Manhattan and the Bronx, but if you walk or bike between the boroughs, safe, convenient routes are still scarce. That could change if DOT follows through on ideas the agency released this spring to improve walking and biking access over the Harlem River bridges [PDF].

Currently, 13 of the 16 bridges along the river have pedestrian access and just five (including the Randall’s Island Connector) have bike paths. The streets and ramps feeding into the bridges are mainly designed for motor vehicle movement and poorly equipped to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe.

Most nearby residents don’t own cars, and the conditions make it especially difficult for them to make short trips between the boroughs. “I know it could be more efficient for people to get to and from the Bronx, as opposed to waiting for the bus,” said Transportation Alternatives’ Sandra Hawkins. “Some of [the bridges] are not easily navigable for walking or cycling.”

After Bronx and Uptown residents called for safer access between the boroughs, DOT launched a series of workshops last summer to gather ideas for its “Harlem River Bridges Access Plan,” which will guide walking and biking improvements on the bridges and the neighborhood streets they connect.

DOT’s final plan is set to be released in the fall, but in March, the agency shared some of the improvements it is considering based on what people have said so far. The projects cover both short-term fixes that can be implemented quickly at low cost, and more time- and resource-intensive capital projects.

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Ulrich Back on Board With Woodhaven SBS After DOT Waters Down Turn Bans

DOT has significantly reduced the number of left turn bans in the Woodhaven Boulevard Select Bus Service project. Image: DOT

DOT has decided to significantly reduce the number of left turn bans in the Woodhaven Select Bus Service project. Image: DOT

DOT has halved the number of left-turn restrictions and cut about a mile of bus lanes from its plan to enhance bus service on Woodhaven Boulevard.

The changes will dampen the expected improvements in bus speeds and pedestrian safety but have won over Council Member Eric Ulrich, who’s back on board supporting Woodhaven Select Bus Service. Most of the street design, which will add dedicated bus lanes and pedestrian islands along Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards, remains unchanged since the last iteration of the project, and DOT says the effects will be small.

In January, Ulrich told a meeting of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association — which organized against the plan — that DOT’s proposal “stinks.” Chief among Ulrich’s concerns was a proposed left-turn ban at Jamaica Avenue. “I don’t think it’s good,” he said of the plan. “I think we have to go back to the drawing board.”

Eric Ulrich

Eric Ulrich

It was a disappointing change of stance from an elected official who had been one of the project’s main proponents. In 2014, Ulrich co-authored an op-ed in the Daily News calling for “world-class” bus rapid transit on Woodhaven Boulevard.

Later that year, he told Streetsblog that the project was important to improve safety on Woodhaven, where more people lost their lives than any other street in Queens between July 2012 and December 2014, according to Transportation Alternatives.

“Whatever we’re doing now obviously isn’t working,” Ulrich said at the time.

DOT presented the revised project last week [PDF]. In addition to the left turn at Jamaica Avenue, the updated plan preserves left turns at Pitkin Avenue, Forest Park Drive, Myrtle Avenue, Metropolitan Avenue, 67th Road, 62nd Road, and southbound at Rockaway Boulevard — all of which were set for turn bans in the previous iteration of the plan. A section of bus lane between the Belt Parkway and Jamaica Bay has also been cut.

I tweeted at Ulrich to ask if the changes to the project meant he was back on board, to which he responded in the affirmative.

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