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Posts from the Community Boards Category


CB 12 Committee Backs Road Diet, Bike Lanes on St. Nicholas Ave

A road diet and bike lanes could come to St. Nicholas Avenue next spring. Photo: Stephen Miller

A road diet and bike lanes could come to St. Nicholas Avenue next spring. Image: DOT [PDF]

A DOT proposal for a road diet and bike lanes St. Nicholas Avenue in Washington Heights got a vote of support last night from the Manhattan Community Board 12 transportation committee. The project could get striped next spring.

The bike lanes will connect with newly-installed bike lanes near the High Bridge in Washington Heights, and to a two-way protected bike lane on Fort George Hill, which has survived attacks from nearby co-op residents.

The proposal, which would cover a little more than a mile of St. Nicholas between 169th and 193rd streets, would bring the avenue from two car lanes in each direction to one, with bike lanes, center turn lanes and, in a potential second phase, pedestrian islands [PDF].

The rate of people killed or seriously injured on this stretch of St. Nicholas is more dangerous than two-thirds of Manhattan streets, according to DOT. There were 25 severe injuries, including 18 pedestrians and 2 bicyclists, between 2009 and 2013, and a total 404 of injuries during the same period.

Intersections at 175th, 177th, 178th, 181st and 185th streets rank in the most dangerous ten percent of Manhattan intersections. These are also intersections with high foot traffic — people outnumber motor vehicles during rush hours.

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CB 12: Proposed Building on Top of 1 Train Is Too Big, Needs More Parking

X marks the spot of the 1 train entrance below a proposed apartment building on Broadway in Washington Heights, which CB 12 says needs more than 50 parking spots. Image via DNAinfo

X marks the spot of the 1 train entrance under a proposed apartment building that CB 12 says needs more than 50 parking spaces. Image via DNAinfo

Community Board 12 members voted against a proposal for a new apartment building in Washington Heights, to be built on top of the 1 train, in part because they want the developers to build more parking, according to DNAinfo coverage of the Wednesday meeting.

HAP Investment Developers wants to build a 16-story, 241-unit residential building at 4452 Broadway, with 50 parking spots to be accessed through a garage entrance on Fairview Avenue. Most residential buildings in Washington Heights and Inwood top out at six to eight stories, and the company needs a zoning variance to allow for additional height.

From DNAinfo:

Members of the Land Use committee voted unanimously to oppose HAP’s request for the zoning changes, citing the height of the building, the lack of parking and the potential impact on the character of the neighborhood.

The building would sit on top of the Broadway entrance to the 191st Street 1 train station, and would be served by several bus routes. It’s apparently lost on CB 12 members that the board serves an area where parking is not a concern for most people, given that only 25 percent of households own cars.

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Resolved: Manhattan Community Board 10 Rejects Bradhurst Plaza

This plaza isn't happening. Image: DOT

Instead of the plaza you see here, this short stretch of pavement will remain a dangerous cut-through for drivers turning off Frederick Douglass Boulevard. Image: DOT

It was loud. It was messy. And in the end, Manhattan Community Board 10 decided against turning a short section of Macombs Place in Harlem into a car-free public space. Supporters of the proposal spent years trying to get CB 10’s backing but came up a few votes short last night.

DOT won’t proceed with the project without a vote in support from the community board, and last night a resolution backing the plaza failed with 12 in favor, 18 against, and four abstentions. An earlier resolution to hold a town hall meeting on the plaza before revisiting the issue at the community board in October also failed, 13-19, with one abstention.

“We’re being bullied into delay, delay, delay, which means it doesn’t happen,” said CB 10 member Daniel Clark, who voted for the plaza. “We have to make decisions.”

“It’s what, four years this project’s been going on?” CB 10 transportation committee chair Maria Garcia said via telephone this morning. “My job was just to get a vote on it, and that is what I accomplished last night with my team.”

Although Garcia voted for the plaza, she took its defeat in stride. “The point was just for it to be heard in the public forum,” she said. “We have to vote. We have to say yes or no. We can’t just drag everything on for four or five years.” Plaza supporters, while disappointed, also seemed relieved to at least have an answer from the board after years of back-and-forth.

The plaza would have been maintained by Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement, Inc., which did not return a request for comment this morning. DOT says that while a plaza is now off the table, it will consider other safety improvements for the intersection.

As at previous meetings, the loudest voices last night belonged to plaza opponents.

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This Is What Harlem Plaza Supporters Will Be Up Against at CB 10 Tonight

Anonymously sent by someone who had the personal email addresses of all CB 10 members.

Someone anonymously sent this to the personal email addresses of all CB 10 members.

Neighbors have fought for years to get Manhattan Community Board 10 to support creating a small plaza by Frederick Douglass Boulevard and 150th Street. Tonight that proposal is up for a vote at a general board meeting of CB 10 for the first time.

Bradhurst Plaza would convert a short one-way “slip lane” segment of Macombs Place, which runs diagonally across the Harlem grid, into pedestrian space, connecting a small triangle-shaped patch of trees to the sidewalk in front of the Dunbar Apartments building.

Today, northbound drivers on their way to the Macombs Dam Bridge make a quick right turn from Frederick Douglass. With a plaza, pedestrians would no longer have to worry about getting hit by drivers taking fast turns. Drivers going to Macombs Place would have to turn from 150th Street instead.

In addition to improving the pedestrian environment, the plaza would provide space for a new farmers market. Local businesses and community groups, led by the Harlem Community Development Corporation, have signed on to maintain the plaza.

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DOT’s Fear of Community Boards Leads to Bike Lane Gaps in Brooklyn

Disjointed street design changes coming to Kingston Avenue and Brooklyn Avenue illustrate how DOT’s sheepish approach to bike lane implementation interferes with the development of a connected bike network.

One corridor, three community boards. Three drastically different projects. Same old DOT. Map: DOT

One project, three community boards, three different designs. Map: DOT

At Fulton Street in Bed-Stuy, these north-south routes connect with Tompkins Avenue and Throop Avenue, which both have bike lanes. But for years, the bike lanes didn’t extend south of Fulton into Crown Heights and Prospect Lefferts Gardens.

Kingston and Brooklyn, already marked on the city’s bike map as “potential future bicycle routes,” run through an area with one of the city’s higher bike-to-work commute rates. They connect with east-west bike lanes on Eastern Parkway, Empire Boulevard, East New York Avenue, and Maple Street. They are natural candidates for a bike lane extension.

The mile-and-a-half stretch crosses three community boards — CB 3 in Bed-Stuy, CB 8 in Crown Heights, and CB 9 south of Eastern Parkway. Instead of bringing a cohesive project to all three boards, DOT proposed three different designs, one for each community board.

Community Board 9 has a mixed record on bike lanes — its members pushed DOT to add them to an Empire Boulevard road diet in 2009, yet weren’t able to muster enough votes last year to support a road diet with bike lanes on Franklin Avenue.

On both Kingston and Brooklyn, DOT proposed keeping two motor vehicle lanes on the southernmost blocks near Kings County Hospital and going down to one lane north of Lefferts Avenue. Though there is plenty of room for bike lanes in CB 9, the plan doesn’t include them. Instead, parking lanes on both sides of the street would be enlarged to up to 13 feet wide [PDF].

Why didn’t DOT propose extending the bike lanes south into CB 9? I asked DOT Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo after a press conference this morning. “There’s differences in widths and traffic flow, and those sorts of things,” he said.

Later, he cited rapid neighborhood change as a factor. “Have you read any coverage of CB 9? They are literally disintegrating because of gentrification. Literally disintegrating,” Russo said, referring to rancor over a rezoning study for Empire Boulevard.

Trouble is, ditching the bike lanes didn’t help DOT get CB 9’s support. Although its transportation committee backed the proposal in June [PDF], the full board voted it down later that month, DOT says.

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Reappointed by Rosenthal, Dan Zweig Already Trashing Amsterdam Ave Plan

Bike lane opponent Dan Zweig is at it again. The longtime Manhattan Community Board 7 transportation committee co-chair was quoted in a Post article trashing the Amsterdam Avenue bike lane before DOT even presents its design, set to be released in September or October.

Dan Zweig is speaking out against a safer Amsterdam Avenue after Council Member Helen Rosenthal reappointed him to Manhattan Community Board 7.

Dan Zweig is speaking out against a safer Amsterdam Avenue after Council Member Helen Rosenthal reappointed him to Manhattan Community Board 7.

“There is very heavy traffic [on Amsterdam] and it is a truck route,” Zweig told the Post. “We don’t know if Amsterdam Avenue can accommodate a bike lane.”

Though Zweig preemptively denounced the Amsterdam Avenue bike lane, he voted for a resolution asking DOT to study it. Zweig voted for the resolution only after language was added urging DOT to consider alternative routes.

Zweig’s position contradicts that of Council Member Helen Rosenthal, who unambiguously supports a protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue. Yet shortly after coming out in favor of the bike lane last spring, Rosenthal reappointed Zweig, a longtime bike lane foe who lives outside her district, to CB 7.

With the reappointment, Rosenthal kept Zweig in a position to thwart safety projects on the Upper West Side. DOT almost always gives de facto veto power over its street safety projects to appointed community boards.

Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg says working with community board appointees is one of the highlights of her job. “Particularly as we’ve done our Vision Zero projects,” she said in April, “one thing that’s been really gratifying is… we’ve gotten a lot of support and very caring and well-educated people on the community boards that want to partner with us on these projects.”

While other CB 7 members have worked with DOT, even actual safety statistics don’t seem to sway Zweig from his anti-bike lane position. He refused to accept DOT numbers showing a decrease in crashes after the Columbus Avenue bike lane was installed because one of the “before” years had a high number of collisions. He asked DOT to throw out that year of data.

“We don’t invent new methodologies,” replied Josh Benson, who was then DOT’s bicycle and pedestrian director. “To just pick one year and eliminate it, that’s just not what we do.”

There is a key difference between the Amsterdam and Columbus plans. While the Columbus lane simply narrowed that avenue’s three car lanes, adding a protected bike lane to Amsterdam will require removing one of its four car lanes. This has the potential to impact DOT’s models of how quickly it can move car traffic on the uptown corridor.

The members of Community Board 7 have repeatedly voted in favor of adding protected bike lanes and pedestrian safety improvements to Columbus and Amsterdam avenues. But it looks like its leadership is gearing up to yet again oppose safer streets.


Developers Adding More Parking Than They’re Supposed To, Thanks to DCP

For years, the City Planning Commission approved special permits that let developers in Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea get around limits on parking construction in the Manhattan core. Recently, the city implemented a new formula that reformers hoped would curtail these permits. But Community Board 4, Council Member Corey Johnson, and Borough President Gale Brewer say the city’s math is flawed, resulting in too much new parking. They’re asking the Department of City Planning to come up with a better measuring stick.

The city's rules allow buildings like this to exceed Manhattan parking regulations. Rendering: Related Companies and Zaha Hadid Architects

Luxury condos are securing exemptions to the Manhattan parking cap established in response to the Clean Air Act. Rendering: Related Companies and Zaha Hadid Architects

Since 1982, new buildings south of West 110th Street and East 96th Street have been subject to parking maximums established in response to the Clean Air Act.

But in practice, the city allows exceptions. If developers want to build more parking than allowed, they can apply for a special permit. For a long time, the city reflexively granted these permits for new buildings on the West Side, leading to the addition of thousands of parking spaces that otherwise wouldn’t have been built.

Then the city revised its Manhattan parking regulations in 2013, with DCP issuing new guidelines for developers looking for exemptions from parking maximums [PDF]. Has the new policy made a difference? Apparently not.

The city now requires developers seeking special permits to measure trends in the area over the past decade, by calculating changes in the number of residences and parking spaces within one-third of a mile of the project. Echoing the parking maximums in the law, DCP aims for there to be 20 percent as many new parking spaces as there are new apartments south of 59th Street. On the Upper East Side and Upper West Side, the ratio is 35 percent.

If the extra spaces being requested push that ratio above the target, it’s likely the permit will be denied. If the ratio stays below the target, the city is likely to approve the permit.

It sounds scientific, but by only looking at new development and new parking, DCP rigs the game.

For years, neighborhoods like Hell’s Kitchen and West Chelsea had lots of extra parking but little new residential development. In the past decade, that’s changed. As a result, City Planning’s numbers show the number of new apartments far outpacing the supply of new parking spaces. This opens the door for lots of special permits to get the parking ratio up to the department’s 20 percent target, but ignores the fact that the neighborhood had lots of parking to begin with.

“They are missing a very fundamental element of the calculation,” said CB 4 Chair Christine Berthet. “It’s broken. It clearly doesn’t work.”

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Will CB 9 Take Its Cues From a Denny Farrell Rant Against a Safer Broadway?

Five pedestrians,

Five pedestrians, including four seniors, have been killed on Broadway since 2009. But Denny Farrell thinks stopping for pedestrians is causing traffic and a road diet will lead to massive congestion. Image: DOT [PDF]

Council Member Mark Levine and the local precinct commander spoke in support of a traffic safety plan [PDF] for a deadly stretch of Broadway last night at a Manhattan Community Board 9 transportation committee meeting. Then Denny Farrell, chair of the New York State Assembly’s powerful ways and means committee, let loose with a nonsensical rant against the plan.

The project calls for adding pedestrian space and trimming car lanes from three in each direction to two. Will Community Board 9 vote for safety or go along with Farrell? We should find out this fall, when the board is expected to weigh in on the proposal.

Denny Farrell at a 2008 hearing on congestion pricing. Photo: Aaron Naparstek

After DOT’s presentation last night, Levine spoke up in support. “The status quo is a big problem, and not something we can tolerate,” he said. “Something has to be done, and we have a plan that seems to provide safety for pedestrians.”

The plan also received support from Captain Michael Baker, commanding officer of the 30th Precinct. Baker said he was pleased with changes DOT made to nearby Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, also known as Seventh Avenue, and looked forward to similar changes on Broadway. “What they did with Seventh Avenue made sense. The traffic does flow,” he told CB 9. “There need to be changes to the Broadway corridor. And I think what DOT is looking at will help.”

Most speakers at last night’s meeting were receptive to the plan. A few urged DOT to consider bus lanes or protected bike lanes. DOT project manager Jesse Mintz-Roth said center-running bike lanes like those on Allen Street would be difficult to install because Broadway, unlike Allen, has through streets at nearly every block and DOT isn’t willing to make significant changes to cross traffic along Broadway.

LaQuita Henry, a CB 9 member who also volunteers with the Community Alliance of Sugar Hill and Hamilton Heights, spent the week speaking with business owners on Broadway about the plan. She found that while most preferred three lanes in each direction, their primary concern was securing additional loading zones, which are part of DOT’s plan.

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Tonight: Community Board 9 Weighs Fix for Dangerous Stretch of Broadway

DOT's plan for 18 blocks of Broadway in West Harlem would drop it from three lanes to two lanes each way. Image: DOT [PDF]

DOT’s plan for 18 blocks of Broadway in West Harlem would widen pedestrian medians and narrow motor vehicle lanes. Image: DOT [PDF]

A street safety plan [PDF] for Broadway in West Harlem is going before the Manhattan Community Board 9 transportation committee tonight. The redesign is a road diet similar to other DOT projects that have reduced deaths and injuries, but CB 9 members also have a track record of opposing attempts to improve safety by removing car lanes.

This stretch of Broadway is three lanes in each direction with a center median. Six people have been killed between 135th Street and 153rd Street since 2007, according to DOT, including five pedestrians and one motor vehicle passenger. Four of the five pedestrians were senior citizens.

There were 35 severe injuries and 455 total injuries from 2009 to 2013, mostly among people in cars. Of the 108 pedestrians injured, 53 percent were crossing with the signal, nearly double the percentage crossing against the light. DOT also found that up to 30 percent of drivers were speeding, even before the speed limit was lowered to 25 mph.

To address the dangerous conditions, DOT is proposing a road diet similar to projects already implemented on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard in Harlem and Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn. The Broadway redesign calls for going from three lanes in each direction to two, with space reallocated to buffers along the median, larger pedestrian zones at intersections, and wider parking lanes.

Broadway runs parallel to the Henry Hudson Parkway. Even during summer Friday afternoons, when traffic increases on Broadway, DOT says two lanes in each direction is enough. The issues for motor vehicles, DOT says, have to do with left turns and trucks making deliveries.

Today, truck drivers often double park in the right lane, reducing visibility for pedestrians and forcing drivers to weave around them. On the other side of the street, drivers turning left often stack up in the left lane.

New loading zones would be added along Broadway to reduce double parking. In addition, left turns from northbound Broadway at 138th and 145th streets would be banned, and U-turns from southbound Broadway at 152nd Street would also be prohibited.

Like the other road diets on similar streets, however, there is no bike infrastructure in the plan. Instead DOT opted to devote all the repurposed space to enlarge the median and create super-wide parking lanes, which will double as space for illegally double-parked vehicles.

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All Eyes on DOT After CB 7 Endorses Amsterdam Ave Protected Bike Lane

Will the third time be the charm? Manhattan Community Board 7 has overwhelmingly voted — again — to ask the city for a northbound protected bike lane as part of a redesign of Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side. DOT will have to move forward on a redesign very soon to get a complement to the southbound protected bike lane on Columbus Avenue in place by the time Citi Bike debuts in the neighborhood, which is expected sometime later this year.

It's time to act, DOT. Photo: birdfarm/Flickr

It’s time for DOT to act. Photo: birdfarm/Flickr

Last night, in a 34-5 vote with one abstention, the full board passed a resolution calling on DOT to “immediately” install safety improvements including “pedestrian refuges, curb extensions, signal timing, and a protected northbound bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue.” If for some reason DOT determines that a northbound bike lane isn’t feasible on Amsterdam, CB 7 is asking the agency to install a northbound lane elsewhere in the neighborhood [PDF].

The CB 7 transportation committee unanimously endorsed the request last month.

Last night’s vote was actually the board’s third request for a northbound protected bike lane. CB 7 first asked DOT to design protected bike lanes for Amsterdam in 2009. But during years of haggling with CB 7 transportation committee leadership over the installation of a protected bike lane on Columbus Avenue, plans for Amsterdam stalled. The community board approved another resolution at the end of 2013 asking DOT to “study” a protected bike lane for Amsterdam, a vote that prompted no visible action from the agency.

The pressure on DOT to act from local advocates, officials, and now the community board is intensifying. Council Member Helen Rosenthal endorsed a protected bike lane on Amsterdam in April, and now the board has said loud and clear that a protected bike lane on Amsterdam is a priority.

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