A capacity crowd of around 80 people gathered at a community center in Chelsea last night to brainstorm the future of 14th Street.
The forum was the second 14th Street PeopleWay workshop, hosted by Transportation Alternatives, to help prepare for the crush of people who will need a new way to get around when the L train tube under the East River is closed for Sandy repairs.
TA Director of Organizing Tom DeVito prefaced the breakout session by explaining why designating 14th Street exclusively to transit, biking, and walking is the only realistic way to get the job done.
“Ride-share companies are eager to take advantage” of the situation, DeVito said. In September Uber proposed that the city suspend taxi regulations in order to spur more Uber trips along the corridor. “This is a recipe for catastrophe,” said DeVito. With 250,000 people taking the L train every day, he said, “That’s just not feasible.”
Data show that at peak travel times 14th Street handles 490 cars an hour in the eastbound lanes, and 430 cars per hour westbound — or eight cars and seven cars a minute, respectively. DOT can minimize the auto traffic impact on surrounding streets with traffic-calming measures — including neckdowns, chicanes, and mid-block crossings — according to TA.
The M14 is already the eighth busiest MTA bus line, with 32,868 daily riders. It’s also one of the city’s slowest lines. TA estimates that a car-free transitway on 14th Street could enable buses to travel smoothly while arriving every 30 to 60 seconds during peak hours.
To complement proposed bus improvements — dedicated lanes; off-board payment; at-level, ADA-compliant boarding; and transit priority at signals — the PeopleWay concept includes protected bike lanes and Citi Bike “super stations.”