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Posts from the Community Boards Category


5 Highlights From Last Night’s Bike-Share vs. Parking Meeting

A dense network of stations is what makes bike-share work so well in these Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Last night’s Brooklyn Community Board 6 bike-share forum lacked the fireworks of previous meetings — no physical threats this time. While the tone was civil, the demands from the anti-bike-share crowd weren’t exactly reasonable.

So far, Citi Bike has proven incredibly popular in CB 6, with some stations getting as much as seven rides per dock each day. That’s a lot more activity than the average free car parking spot ever sees.

Opponents said they would be fine with the bike-share stations if they didn’t occupy curb space that previously served as free car storage. They suggested the docks be moved onto sidewalks and that the station density be cut in half. But sidewalks in Park Slope and Carroll Gardens don’t have room for bike-share stations, and reducing station density would ruin the usefulness of the bike-share system. Bike-share only works well when you don’t have to walk more than a couple of minutes to reach a station.

With the room at capacity, Council Member Brad Lander live streamed the meeting for people stuck outside. The entire one-hour, 45-minute video (which amazingly does not capture the entire meeting) is available on Lander’s Facebook page. Here are the highlights:

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CB 1 Endorses Metropolitan Bridge Bike Lane After Two Years of Delays

CB 1 members cited this "extremely dangerous" left turn (red arrow) as justification for tabling DOT's proposal for bike lanes on the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge last month. Image: DOT

CB 1 members cited this “extremely dangerous” left turn as justification for tabling DOT’s proposal for bike lanes on the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge last month. Image: DOT

Brooklyn Community Board 1 unanimously endorsed DOT’s bike lane plan for the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge. It took a while to reach this point — the board repeatedly delayed an endorsement for more than two years.

The project will add painted bike lanes in both directions over the bridge, which connects Bushwick and Ridgewood [PDF].

DOT has revised the design multiple times since first presenting to the board in June 2014. Most recently, CB 1 voted 18 to 8 last month to table the project, demanding that DOT do something about a supposed “left turn of death” from westbound Metropolitan Avenue onto Varick Avenue. The intersection doesn’t have a record of high injury rates, however. In the past three years, two cyclists have been injured at the location (it’s not clear if left turns were involved), and no one has been killed there according to Vision Zero View, which contains crash data going back to 2009.

Transportation committee chair Vincent Gangone said last night that he was recommending the plan because DOT had committed to exploring banning the left turn. Gangone explained that he, CB 1 Chair Dealice Fuller, and District Manager Gerald Esposito had met with DOT officials. He then read the text of a letter from the agency promising to return to the transportation committee in November or December once it has fully studied the potential impacts of the proposed left turn ban.

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CB 1 Stalls Bike Lane Because of “Left Turn of Death” Where No One Has Died

Since at least 2009, no one has died at the intersection of Varick and Metropolitan, according to city data. Image: Brooklyn CB 1

Brooklyn CB1 leadership sent a packet to all its members opposing a bike lane, and this was the cover page.

The leadership at Brooklyn Community Board 1 is pulling out all the stops to delay or block DOT’s plan for safer bike infrastructure on the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge.

After a meeting last month, CB 1 leadership sent a packet to all board members arguing that the project should not move forward until DOT makes changes at the intersection of Metropolitan Avenue and Varick Avenue [PDF].

DOT first presented the Metropolitan Avenue bike lane project to the CB 1 transportation committee more than two years ago — in June 2014 — and since then the plan has undergone multiple revisions [PDF].

Last month, the board voted to table the project. In an unsigned email statement to Streetsblog after the meeting, CB 1 said DOT’s project “failed to address” the “extremely dangerous” left turn from westbound Metropolitan Avenue onto Varick Avenue, just east of the bridge. The cover page of the packet that CB 1 sent around calls it the “left turn of death.”

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Brooklyn CB 1 Wants to Delay Metropolitan Ave Bridge Bike Lane Some More

CB 1 members cited this "extremely dangerous" left turn (red arrow) as justification for tabling DOT's proposal for bike lanes on the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge. Image: DOT

CB 1 members cited this “extremely dangerous” left turn (red arrow) as justification for tabling DOT’s plan for bike lanes on the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge. Image: DOT

On Wednesday night, Brooklyn Community Board 1 voted 18 to 8 against a DOT plan to add a bike lane connecting Bushwick and Ridgewood via the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge. Technically, the board voted against making a recommendation on the project, but after two years of deliberation already, the decision to withhold an endorsement is tantamount to opposition.

The Metropolitan Avenue Bridge is an important connection between the Williamsburg Bridge and points east, used by hundreds of cyclists each day. It’s also treacherous: Two cyclists were killed on the bridge between 2009 and 2013, according to DOT. More than half of peak-hour drivers on the bridge travel above the speed limit.

DOT’s plan would remove one westbound car lane to make room for painted bike lanes. It has been in the works since 2012. Under the plan, the buffered eastbound bike lane would extend all the way to Onderdonk Avenue, while the westbound lane would give way to sharrows on the bridge [PDF].

Despite the years of back-and-forth on the minute details of the project, the board continues to withhold its support. In an unsigned email statement to Streetsblog, CB 1 said DOT’s project “failed to address” the “extremely dangerous” left turn from westbound Metropolitan Avenue onto Varick Avenue, just east of the bridge.

The motion to table the project was made by transportation chair Vincent Gangone during his committee report, according to board member Ryan Kuonen, who said board members in favor the project were “very upset” by the move.

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Bronx CB 8 Delays Vote on Play Street Where Driver Killed 8-Year-Old

Bronx Community Board 8 delayed a decision on whether to approve a play street application from the school where a motorist killed 8-year-old Rylee Ramos, when people complained that a play street at a different school would interfere with their driving.

Responding to complaints from motorists, Bronx CB 8 postponed a decision on a play street application from the school where Rylee Ramos was killed by a curb-jumping driver.

When motorists complained, Bronx CB 8 postponed a decision on a play street application from the school where Rylee Ramos was killed by a curb-jumping driver.

The Riverdale Press reports that the 50th Precinct has joined P.S. 307, Horace Mann School, and St. Margaret’s of Cortona in requesting that CB 8 sign off on opening street space to kids during school days. The schools already cordon streets for children, but they want to make it official, which NYPD says is important in the event of a crash.

“By formalizing this process and enforcing it, responsibility for an accident would land squarely on the shoulders of the driver,” Deputy Inspector Terence O’Toole, commanding officer of the 50th Precinct, told the Press.

In 2014 a motorist backed onto the sidewalk on Eames Place outside P.S. 307 in Kingsbridge Heights, striking 10 people and killing Ramos. Since then, according to the Press, the 50th Precinct has positioned barricades to keep motorists off the street at drop-off and dismissal times.

While Horace Mann and St. Margaret’s are applying for drop-off and dismissal play street hours, P.S. 307, which doesn’t have a playground, wants to keep one block of Eames Place open to children for the entire school day.

“We are desperate to find a place for our students to go out and to be able to run around and just have some exercise,” P.S. 307 assistant principal Debra Springsteen told the CB 8 land use committee at a meeting last month. “There’s 150 kids in the lunchroom. They’re screaming at each other in the lunchroom because they just don’t get a chance to be outside. So, that’s why we’re imploring.”

DOT requires that school play street applications be endorsed by the local precinct and community board, and the committee chose to postpone a vote on all three requests until September. “The panel said the delay would allow more time for the community to discuss the issue,” the Press reported.

Despite entreaties from NYPD and school officials, disgruntled motorists carried the day.

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Matt von Ohlen’s Friends and Family Call for Grand Street Protected Lane

The bike lane on Grand Street, where Matthew von Ohlen was killed last month, fails to keep cyclists safe from motor vehicles. Photo: Google Maps

The painted bike lane on Grand Street, where Matthew von Ohlen was killed last month, provides no physical protection from motor vehicles. Via Google Maps

The family and friends of Matthew von Ohlen pleaded with Brooklyn Community Board 1 to support a protected bike lane on Williamsburg’s Grand Street, where the 35-year-old was killed while biking by a hit-and-run driver on July 3.

Matthew’s father Bernt von Ohlen and other friends and supporters were joined by Council Member Antonio Reynoso, but the board did not take a position last night.

Matthew Von Ohlen. Photo via Gothamist

Matthew von Ohlen.

“I’m not a bike advocate. In fact, I’m afraid of riding a bike on the streets of New York,” said Christine McVay, who had known von Ohlen since he was a child. “Putting effective protected lanes on streets like Grand Street will making riding safer,” she said, holding back tears.

Von Ohlen was riding east on Grand Street between Manhattan Avenue and Graham Avenue at around 2:20 a.m. when the driver of a Chevy Camaro struck his back tire, then struck him again as he fell off his bike and dragged him 20 or 30 feet. Police believe the driver ran over von Ohlen intentionally. They located the vehicle on July 6 but have not apprehended a suspect.

At the outset of the meeting, Council Member Antonio Reynoso led the room in a moment of silence. He made his own call for safer bike infrastructure on Grand Street. “Matt’s death was a tragedy and it was a preventable one,” he said. “We’re gonna sit down and have a serious conversation about what we can do with infrastructure along Grand Street to really move forward and [take] the next step of bike lane protection and infrastructure.”

The bike lane on Grand Street/Borinquen Place runs between the Brooklyn Queens Expressway near the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge to the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge in East Williamsburg. It’s a key connector for people biking across North Brooklyn and is slated to expand eastward along Metropolitan Avenue later this year. In 2015, 29 cyclists were injured along the route between the BQE and Metropolitan Avenue, according to Vision Zero View.

In town from Minneapolis to take care of his son’s estate, Bernt von Ohlen implored the board to call for action. “I think that the best solutions are local solutions. You are a local group, and by keeping your eyes and ears on what goes on in the city by demanding that problems of this kind be addressed, you can make this community a better community for everybody,” he said.

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Vacca Blames Bronx CB for Deadly Street Design, But He’s Culpable Too


Dozens of people are injured on this part of East Tremont Avenue each year. Council Member Vacca could insist that DOT take action despite opposition from the local community board. Image: NYC DOT

DOT failed to make safety improvements to the deadly stretch of East Tremont Avenue where a driver struck and killed cyclist Giovanni Nin last month, and City Council Member James Vacca says Bronx Community Board 10 is to blame.

City Council Member James Vacca

City Council Member James Vacca

In the spring of 2015 DOT put forward a road diet plan for East Tremont between Williamsbridge Road and Bruckner Boulevard, reducing through traffic lanes while adding a center turn lane, pedestrian islands, and other traffic-calming measures [PDF]. But DOT abandoned the project after CB 10 voted against it. The plan faced opposition organized by the Throggs Neck Merchants Association, according to the Bronx Times.

Hundreds of people were injured in traffic crashes on East Tremont between Williamsbridge and Bruckner from 2009 to 2013, according to DOT. Drivers injured 59 pedestrians and 10 cyclists in that time frame.

Three drivers struck and killed 74-year-old Angel Figueroa as he tried to cross East Tremont at Puritan Avenue in 2013. This June, Nin, 26, was killed by a hit-and-run driver as he attempted to bike across East Tremont about a block away from where Figueroa was struck.

At a recent memorial for Nin, Vacca — a former transportation committee chair who used to work as district manager for CB 10 — blasted the board for standing in the way of safety improvements.

From the Bronx Times:

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Tonight: See DOT’s Plan for 16 More Blocks of 2nd Avenue Protected Bikeway

Second Avenue, pictured here between 58th and 59th Streets, is getting more protected bike lanes. Photo: Google Maps

DOT intends to close some but not all of the protected bikeway gap on Second Avenue, pictured here between 58th and 59th Streets. Photo: Google Maps

Later today, NYC DOT will present its plan to install a protected bike lane on Second Avenue between the Queensboro Bridge/59th Street and 43rd Street to the Manhattan Community Board 6 transportation committee. The project would significantly shrink the gaps in the southbound protected bike lane but still leave cyclists exposed for several blocks approaching both the bridge and the Queens Midtown Tunnel.

In January, Manhattan CB 8 endorsed DOT’s plan for a protected bike lane and pedestrian islands between 68th Street and 105th Street on Second Avenue. And last month DOT unveiled plans to close gaps in the First Avenue protected bike lane in Midtown.

On Second Avenue, DOT said the nine blocks above the bridge would have a “transitional” design of sharrows, implying that the gap would be filled in later. Until there’s a continuous protected route, however, people on bikes will still have to confront intense traffic and intimidating conditions on the streets near the two crossings between Queens and Manhattan.

If you want to speak up for safer biking on Second Avenue and convey the urgency of closing all the gaps, so there’s a continuous bikeway and safer pedestrian crossings along the length of the whole street, tonight’s meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the NYU School of Dentistry, at 433 First Avenue.


New Riverside Park Master Plan May Send Greenway Cyclists on Hilly Detours

The preliminary Riverside Park Master Plan reroutes cyclists away from the waterfront at 72nd Street. Image: NYC Parks

The preliminary Riverside Park Master Plan reroutes cyclists away from the waterfront at 72nd Street, along the hillier path marked by the bold dotted green line. Click to enlarge. Image: NYC Parks

The waterfront greenway in Riverside Park is one of New York’s most popular places to bike and walk. During the summer, it can get crowded — so crowded that the Parks Department is proposing new detour routes to divert cyclists away from the waterfront path. Those routes are hillier and poorly lit, however, and advocates are worried that the department will compel cyclists to use them at all times.

On Monday, the Parks Department presented parts of its preliminary Riverside Park Master Plan to the Manhattan Community Board 7 parks and environment committee. The plan includes bike detours along three segments of the greenway — between 72nd and 83rd streets, 93rd and 99th, and 145th and 155th.

The detour path between 72nd and 83rd received some funding courtesy of Council Member Helen Rosenthal’s 2015 participatory budget and will be built next year. It includes a particularly steep incline at 79th Street, where cyclists will have to climb up and around the 79th Street Rotunda. Lowering the grade of the rotunda’s access ramps is included in the long-term Riverside master plan, but is not part of the upcoming project and will likely be very expensive.

CB 7 member Ken Coughlin, speaking for himself and not the board, said that while the waterfront esplanade can get messy in the summer, most of the time it is fine. The greenway is the most heavily-biked route in the city, and for much of the year there are more cyclists than pedestrians using the waterfront path.

He warned that the detour paths could pose particular problems during the winter, when there is limited lighting and inclines may freeze over and become slippery. “The absence of notable conflicts on the current riverfront path during most days and times does not justify forcing [cyclists] to divert to a sub-optimal hilly, indirect and potentially unsafe route at all times,” he said in an email.

Rosenthal’s communications director Stephanie Buhle said rules regarding cyclists’ use of the waterfront path have yet to be determined. “[We are] trying to assess and make sense of what will work to make sure pedestrians and cyclists are using the space in a way that makes it possible for everyone,” she said.

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Manhattan CB 8 Votes Against Basic Striped Crosstown Bike Lanes

At CB 8's request, DOT proposed alternative pairings (in blue) to those in its original proposal (in purple). Image: DOT

At CB 8’s request, DOT proposed a menu of six potential crosstown bike lane pairs. Image: DOT

Last night, by a vote of 25-19 with one abstention, Manhattan Community Board 8 voted against DOT’s plan for three pairs of painted crosstown bike lanes on the Upper East Side. Despite four months of deliberations, bike lane opponents managed to achieve their desired outcome last night, sending a strong signal that no bike lane design is too mild to avoid their wrath.

The board was considering a resolution passed by the CB 8 transportation committee in favor of crosstown lanes on 70th/71st, 77th/78th, and 84th/85th. Multiple meetings and several months of absurd wrangling over thermoplastic stripes preceded that vote.

The Upper East Side plan does not remove any parking or car lanes — it just puts lines on the ground to designate space for cycling.

To opponents, this basic safety measure is, for some reason, unsuitable for any street with a school, hospital, church, or other notable institution. Parents and administrators from schools on 84th and 85th Streets in particular have said the presence of bike lanes would, all evidence to the contrary, endanger their students.

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