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Posts from the "Bicycle Parking" Category

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CB 2 Committee OKs Varick Street Traffic Calming, Punts on Bike Corrals

With two unanimous 9-0 votes, Manhattan Community Board 2′s transportation committee took one step forward and one step back for livable streets last night, voting for safety fixes at a problematic intersection while punting on a proposal for bike corrals after local NIMBY extraordinaire Sean Sweeney showed up to squash it.

Just another day at the intersection of Carmine Street, Clarkson Street, Varick Street and Seventh Avenue South. Photo: Doug Gordon

A request for traffic calming and pedestrian safety fixes at the intersection of Clarkson Street, Carmine Street, Varick Street and Seventh Avenue South moved ahead after the committee agreed to drop further consideration of converting one block of Carmine Street to one-way operation. The intersection, which floods with traffic bound for the Holland Tunnel, would receive curb extensions on the northeast and northwest corners to reduce the crossing distance and daylighting treatments on the southwest corner through removal of on-street parking. The proposal was put forth by Brooklyn Spoke blogger Doug Gordon, who works nearby, and will move to the full board on January 24 before advancing to DOT and NYPD for agency consideration.

In a surprise move, the committee sent plans for three on-street bike corrals back to DOT for further study. Bike corrals were presented for three locations, each to be maintained by an adjacent business that had requested the bike parking: Spring Street Natural on the southwest corner of Spring and Lafayette Streets, Little Cupcake Bakeshop on the southeast corner of Prince and Mott Streets, and Organic Avenue at the corner of Sullivan and Houston Streets.

Sean Sweeney, winner of Streetsblog’s 2008 NIMBY of the Year award, pounced on these bike corral installations. “Why is SoHo DOT’s petri dish?” he asked. “Experiment somewhere else!”

Although DOT’s Inbar Kishoni pointed out that corrals are being installed in several other neighborhoods, and that the committee had already voted in support of a bike corral at Cafe Habana at Prince and Elizabeth Streets, Sweeney’s opposition scared away enough members from supporting the corrals. In the end, Committee Chair Shirley Secunda put forward a resolution asking DOT for more planning, education, and outreach before installing bike corrals.

So, thanks to Sweeney, instead of safer sightlines at intersections and on-street bike parking that would help relieve the spatial crunch on crowded sidewalks, SoHo and these local businesses will be getting nothing, at least for the time being. Chalk up another win for Sweeney’s SoHo Alliance.

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Tomorrow: Manhattan CB 2 Takes Up Ped Safety Fixes and Bike Corrals

The 2013 Streetsblog calendar kicks off with a slate of pedestrian safety measures and bike corrals up for discussion at Manhattan Community Board 2.

The traffic and transportation committee will be considering safety improvements for the intersection of Sixth Avenue and Canal Street, as well as a package of sidewalk extensions, daylighting, and other upgrades for the area where Varick Street converges with Carmine and Clarkson Streets. As you can see in the video from BrooklynSpoke’s Doug Gordon, Holland Tunnel traffic makes this spot pretty hellish for walking.

Also on the agenda: three bike corrals that could bring the one-two punch of safer intersections and more convenient bike parking to three intersections in Greenwich Village and SoHo.

If you live or work in the area, this will be a good opportunity to start off your year in livable streets activism. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow at the NYU Silver Building, 32 Waverly Place, Room 401.

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CB 7 Turns Down Bike Racks as Big Complete Streets Meeting Approaches

Despite a positive vote in committee, earlier this week Community Board 7 on the Upper West Side sidelined a plan to bring more bike racks to the area, after some procedural maneuvering by transportation committee co-chair Dan Zweig stifled discussion. With a key presentation from DOT on extending the Columbus Avenue protected bike lane coming up next week, the episode is a reminder that just about any change to the street faces an uphill battle with Zweig and his fellow co-chair, Andrew Albert.

Next week CB 7 will discuss a bigger issue than bike racks: the potential extension of the Columbus Avenue bike lane. Image: DOT

On Tuesday evening, Manhattan CB 7′s full board meeting seemed to be off to a good start. A proposal for a bike corral at Broadway and West 105th Street, which DOT modified to include more bike parking in response to committee members’ requests, passed the full board 34-1, with two abstentions.

Next up: a resolution asking DOT to consider installing bike racks at locations that the Upper West Side Streets Renaissance Campaign had determined met the city’s standards on Broadway, Amsterdam Avenue, and Columbus Avenue. After reaching out to adjacent businesses and property owners, asking if they wanted to opt out of getting a new bike rack, the campaign was left with 111 bike rack locations that it presented the transportation committee, which passed a resolution in support, 7-2.

Committee co-chair Dan Zweig, who voted against the resolution, introduced the issue to the full board Monday night. In giving many board members their first glimpse of the proposal, Zweig acted ”as though the work we had done was really threadbare,” said Lisa Sladkus, an organizer of the campaign. Zweig wanted committee members to talk to business owners and property owners themselves about each bike rack location.

“We felt we went over and above what was required,” Sladkus said, adding that the campaign modeled its outreach on DOT’s popular CityBench program, which allows adjacent businesses or property owners to opt out. Sladkus said she even sent Zweig a file containing voicemails, emails, and letters between businesses and property owners and the UWS Streets Renaissance Campaign. “Whatever we provided, they wanted more,” she said. ”Dan Zweig did not believe us.”

Quickly after Zweig gave the resolution a withering introduction at Monday’s meeting, board member Ian Alterman made a motion to send the issue back to committee. With the motion on the table, board members were forbidden from speaking about the merits of the bike rack plan. The board, which had heard only criticism of the proposal, voted 23-13, with one abstention, to kick it back to the transportation committee.

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Eyes on the Street: A New Bike Corral and a Safer Intersection in Cobble Hill

A new bike corral was installed yesterday on Court Street in Brooklyn. Photo: Josef Szende/Atlantic Avenue BID

Yesterday, DOT crews installed a bike corral on Court Street near the intersection with Pacific Street, in a “no standing” zone that was often ignored. Like other bike corrals the city has recently installed, this one will improve safety for pedestrians by keeping the corner visible to turning drivers. It’s also going to improve customer access to nearby retailers, including the Trader Joe’s across Court Street.

The planting was done by Atlantic Avenue gardening shop Dig and was paid for by the Cobble Hill Association (the corral is one of several street safety improvements the CHA has called for). The Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District will maintain the bike corral. Community Board 2′s transportation committee voted unanimously in support of the project in June.

The Cobble Hill Association advocated for the bike corral to help improve sightlines at the corner of Court and Pacific. Photo: Josef Szende/Atlantic Avenue BID

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CB 7 Committee Votes for More UWS Bike Parking, Overriding Co-Chair

Last night, the transportation committee of Manhattan Community Board 7 signed off on plans for more bike racks on the Upper West Side and the neighborhood’s first on-street bike corral. The two resolutions mustered more than enough support to overwhelm the objections of committee co-chair Dan Zweig, and both will advance to the full committee in December.

DOT's Jennifer Harris-Hernandez presents the plan for an on-street bike corral at Broadway and West 105th Street last night.

DOT has installed five on-street bike corrals in Manhattan, but none on the Upper West Side. The corner of Broadway and West 105th Street, in front of Henry’s Restaurant, would be the neighborhood’s first.

“It’s replacing a parking spot that we just gained from the change to muni-meter,” restaurant owner Henry Rinehart told Streetsblog. “Any time you turn a parking spot into a bike corral, you have a net gain of seven to nine potential customers.”

DOT’s Jennifer Harris-Hernandez explained that the corral design includes planters as protective barriers, though the committee’s resolution, approved 7-1 with one abstention, asked DOT to swap out the planters for more bike racks after some meeting attendees said the space was needed for more bike parking. Zweig was the lone vote against the bike corral.

The committee also considered a list of potential bike rack locations compiled by the Upper West Side Streets Renaissance Campaign, whose volunteers had fanned out across the neighborhood to identify 136 spots that are both in need of bike parking and meet DOT’s CityRack installation standards.

The UWS Streets Renaissance sent business owners a letter informing them that the sidewalk in front of their establishment had been identified as a potential bike rack location, asking if they wanted to opt out of the program in advance of last night’s meeting. After 45 businesses opted out, the remaining 91 bike rack locations were presented to the committee.

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Beware the Dread “Parking Lot for Bikes”

Looks like Queens Community Board 1 has some competition when it comes to irrational opposition to on-street bike parking. DNAinfo reports that a proposed bike corral at Wyckoff Avenue and Starr Street in Bushwick has some detractors at Brooklyn Community Board 4.

“The transportation will be disrupted…and anyone hit by a car or bike coming out of that parking lot for bikes has to fend for himself,” worried Eliseo Ruiz, the transportation committee’s chair. “It looks like this is just going to be storage for bikes.”

Excellent points here. Also: Anyone struck by a meteor coming out of that parking lot for bikes has to fend for himself. Anyone attacked by a bear coming out of that parking lot for bikes has to fend for himself. And anyone crushed by a falling piano coming out of that parking lot for bikes has to fend for himself.

It is, after all, just storage for bikes. Watch out!

A fearsome "parking lot for bikes" on Smith Street. Photo: Jeremy Charette

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Mayor’s Report Card: NYC Traffic Fatalities Up, NYPD Enforcement Down

The Mayor’s Management Report, an annual summation of how well city agencies are doing their jobs, includes bad news for traffic safety and sustainable streets. In the last fiscal year, traffic fatalities were at their highest level since 2008, and NYPD moving violations summonses were at a 10-year low. Meanwhile, DOT missed its bike lane and bike rack goals for the year.

NYPD is issuing fewer tickets for moving violations than at any time in the past ten years. That doesn't mean the streets are safer. Photo: Global Jet on Flickr

The total number of traffic crashes dropped for the second year in a row, falling 1.5 percent from last year. DOT says that crashes were most prevalent on highways and during overnight hours, with more than half of motorist or passenger fatalities due to speeding, drunk driving and running red lights or stop signs.

Traffic crashes killed 176 cyclists and pedestrians in FY 2012, up from 158 in 2011, and 115 motorists and vehicle passengers, up from 78 the year before. More than half of the increase in motorist fatalities were motorcyclists. This 23 percent jump in total traffic fatalities comes after four years of decline.

NYPD issued fewer moving violations summonses in the past year than at any time since 2002. Summonses for cell phone use while driving fell to their lowest level since 2005. While the report tells us how many tickets officers are writing, it does little to illuminate whether compliance with traffic laws is getting better or worse.

Transportation Alternatives was critical of police traffic enforcement. “Since January 1, 2012, the NYPD wrote 28 percent fewer tickets for speeding, the number one killer in traffic, as tinted windows,” TA noted.

DOT spokesman Seth Solomonow said that the traffic fatality numbers show the need for ”legislation in Albany to expand red-light cameras and install the city’s first speed cameras.”

DOT failed to meet its own targets for bike lane and bike rack installation, according to the report. The agency barely reached half its annual goal of 50 lane miles, with 25.8 miles of bike lane in 2012, of which 4.7 lane miles were protected bike lanes.

The agency also fell short of its goal of 1,500 new bike racks per year, installing 1,286 bike racks. That’s down by more than 50 percent from the year before. DOT said that development of the meter rack and StreetRack programs slowed progress this year, and said the agency anticipates to pick up the pace for bike rack installations in the future.

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Markowitz: Loosen Downtown BK Parking Regs for Older Buildings Too

Borough President Marty Markowitz wants to reduce parking minimums in Downtown Brooklyn, and he thinks developers should be able to convert existing parking spots to other uses.

Downtown Brooklyn Map

The area of downtown Brooklyn rezoned in 2004 will be affected by DCP's proposed parking rule changes.

This spring the Department of City Planning unveiled a plan to cut Downtown Brooklyn’s onerous parking requirements in half, and Markowitz’s recommendations [PDF] are the latest step on the way to enacting some type of reform. In some respects, his preferred parking reforms go farther than DCP’s original proposal and a resolution passed by Community Board 2 this summer. The borough president wants to retroactively apply the reduced parking minimums to downtown Brooklyn properties developed since 2001, condition the relaxed parking requirements for new development on the inclusion of affordable housing units, and increase the requirements for bicycle parking.

While this bodes well for Downtown Brooklyn parking reform, it also indicates that DCP didn’t aim very high with its original proposal. With local Council Member Steve Levin being an early proponent of reform, perhaps the complete elimination of Downtown Brooklyn parking requirements would have stood a chance.

Markowitz’s bike parking recommendation is attracting the most attention this week, but his most significant request may be to retroactively apply the new parking rules to any development built since 2001, which would allow parking spaces that currently sit empty to be converted to more productive uses. Markowitz’s position goes farther than Community Board 2, whose land use committee voted 9-2 in June to support retroactive application only for projects that included an affordable housing component, after a vote to apply the rules to all existing development failed.

Markowitz does not go so far as to support removing parking minimums entirely. “We should not make future plans based on initial trends of the past decade,” he states in the letter. Arguing that the area may attract residents in the future who “will view access to automobiles in a different light,” Markowitz says that one of the country’s most transit-rich neighborhoods needs parking mandates in cases when “public transportation is inadequate for the intended journey.”

And in fact he’d like to attach some conditions to relaxed parking minimums in new development. Echoing CB 2, Markowitz wants the zoning code to create further incentive for developers to utilize the inclusionary housing program, by triggering the reduced parking requirements for market-rate units only if at least 20 percent of a project’s units are affordable. It should be noted that lowering parking minimums is, on its own merits, a way to reduce the cost of housing.

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The Case of the Condemned Bike Rack: Solved!

Earlier this week, East Village blogger EV Grieve posted the above picture of an Astor Place bike rack scheduled for removal. He surmised that the bike rack could have been on the way out to make room for the 55-dock bike-share station planned for the location, but fear not: No such personal bike vs. shared bike parking fight is going down.

According to a DOT spokesperson, the rack is being temporarily removed in order to make room for a Summer Streets activity station. The city’s marquee car-free streets event runs down Park Avenue and Lafayette Street and the open expanse that is Astor Place is a perfect spot to place attractions like a “Cyclo-Phone” and to hold some on-street sunrise salutations. The bike racks will be back after the final Summer Streets installment on August 18.

Streetsblog’s own theory about the not-quite-mysterious bike rack removal didn’t pan out either. The city’s plan to reclaim thousands of square feet of street space at Astor Place and Cooper Square, which was unanimously endorsed by the local community board last January, was supposed to be under construction by spring 2012. Neither DOT nor DDC responded to a Streetsblog inquiry on when the city would break ground on that major new pedestrian space.

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Grassroots Coalition Crafts Action Plan for Lower East Side Cycling

A survey conducted by Lower East Side coalition Local Spokes found a widespread desire to own bikes but significant obstacles that need to be addressed.

After a year and a half of grassroots activism, last week the Lower East Side’s Local Spokes coalition released a wide-ranging action plan to improve cycling in the neighborhood [PDF]. The plan includes both actions that Local Spokes member organizations plan to undertake, like developing a bicycle safety curriculum for area residents and organizing businesses to provide bike parking, and those they intend to lobby the city for, such as more bike-share stations and better bike parking in NYCHA buildings.

The Local Spokes coalition includes some of the neighborhood’s deep-rooted community organizations, like Asian Americans for Equality and Good Old Lower East Side, as well as issue-focused groups like Transportation Alternatives. Together, they developed a plan to improve conditions for cycling in the neighborhood based on sustained grassroots organizing, including a 1,200 person survey, eight public visioning meetings and a team of youth ambassadors who combed the neighborhood.

“Local Spokes’ Neighborhood Action Plan is the culmination of close to two years of community engagement and planning,” said AAFE Director of Community Building and Organizing Douglas Nam Le. ”As a next step we will be working with resident groups, elected officials, city agencies, and ally organizations to build support around the plan, and to work with partners to implement key recommendations.”

Based on Local Spokes’ research, there’s substantial latent demand for cycling among low-income residents of the economically diverse neighborhood. Low-income residents possessed bikes at a lower rate than others surveyed by the coalition, but expressed more interest in bike ownership than any other group. They also lived farther from transit stops. Cost, ability to ride safely, and storage space were all identified as obstacles to owning bikes.

To help would-be cyclists get around the neighborhood more easily, the coalition has a slew of recommendations. On each issue, they’re also willing to put some skin in the game. Local Spokes wants the city to increase the number of bike racks in the neighborhood by 20 percent, for example, and include up to five new on-street bike corrals – and they promise to find the bike-friendly businesses needed to maintain those corrals.

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