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Posts from the Pedestrian Infrastructure Category

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Eyes on the Street: Eastern Parkway Gets Removable Rubber Ped Islands

Photo: Zeke Mermell

The rubber pedestrian island at Eastern Parkway and Kingston Avenue, where the city ripped out a concrete island earlier this year. Photo: Zeke Mermell

DOT has installed “removable rubber pedestrian islands” at two intersections on Eastern Parkway, two months after Mayor de Blasio authorized the removal of concrete pedestrian islands to ostensibly make room for the West Indian Day Parade.

The concrete islands were only in place for about eight months. They were installed last December at Kingston Avenue and Brooklyn Avenue in response to an extensive public process for a Safe Routes to School project, but they were removed mere days before the parade without any public notification.

After the concrete islands were torn up, de Blasio said the city would find a “long-term solution” that would not require parade floats, which come down the boulevard just once each year, to “navigate the very tight space.”

Yesterday, DOT began installing removable rubber islands in place of the concrete ones. The new islands are made of modular components and roughly match the dimensions of the ones they replaced, but they cannot anchor the heavy-duty bell bollards that provide a line of defense in the event a motorist drives into the refuge. This is the first such “removable rubber pedestrian refuge island” in the city, according to DOT.

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Deadly Woodhaven Boulevard and NYC’s Broken Community Board Process

Cross Bay Boulevard and 149th Avenue, where Jazmine Marin was struck and killed yesterday. Queens Community Board 9 does not want to change this street. Image: Google Maps

Yesterday morning, a driver struck and killed 13-year-old Jazmine Marin as she walked across Cross Bay Boulevard at 149th Avenue on her way to school. The location is deadly — one other person has been struck and killed there since 2012, and Cross Bay is one of the most dangerous streets in the city. From 2009 to 2013, 17 pedestrians lost their lives on Cross Bay and Woodhaven Boulevard (the name of the same street north of Liberty Avenue) [PDF].

And yet, opponents of DOT’s Woodhaven Boulevard Select Bus Service project — which would create safer conditions by expanding pedestrian space and restricting vehicular turns — continue resist it by claiming pedestrians would be harmed.

To win the support of local Council Member Eric Ulrich, DOT has already scaled back plans for left turn bans in the Woodhaven project — including one at Jamaica Avenue, where more pedestrians were killed between 2009 and 2013 than any other intersection in the city, according to DOT.

While Ulrich is on board now, Queens Community Board 9 remains adamantly against the redesign. Despite the agency’s concessions, all but three CB 9 members voted last week to oppose the project. One person went so far as to say that if any fatalities occurred on the corridor after SBS implementation, “Their blood will be on your hands,” the Queens Chronicle reported.

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No More Stalling: DOT Redesigns Gerritsen Ave After Teen Cyclist’s Death

In the coming weeks, Gerritsen Avenue will get a two-way protected bike lane, concrete pedestrian refuges, and bus boarding bulbs aimed to calm traffic and create safer access to the park. Image: DOT

By next month, Gerritsen Avenue will get a two-way protected bike lane, concrete pedestrian islands, and bus boarding islands. Image: DOT [PDF]

DOT will install a two-way protected bike lane and other traffic-calming measures on Gerritsen Avenue, the street next to Marine Park in southern Brooklyn where a drunk driver killed a teenage cyclist this summer [PDF].

On the night of July 19, Thomas Groarke, 24, overtook another driver on the left and sped into the wide painted median on Gerritsen near Gotham Avenue, then fatally struck 17-year-old Sean Ryan, who was riding his bike southbound, the Daily News reported. Three other people were injured in the crash. Groarke’s blood alcohol level was found to be twice the legal limit.

Gerritsen Avenue is a wide street with a speeding problem and a history of traffic injuries and deaths. Since 2007, there have been four fatalities on the street, according to DOT, including three in the past two years. After the deaths of Joseph Ciresi and James Miro last fall, the Times looked at the street’s reputation as a drag strip.

The city has tinkered with the design of Gerritsen Avenue before. After a motorist severely injured 12-year-old cyclist Anthony Turturro in 2004 at the same intersection where Ryan was killed, the city implemented a four-lane-to-three-lane road diet with a painted median. In 2008 and 2009, the city floated concrete pedestrian islands and painted bike lanes for Gerritsen but backed off after local residents protested the changes. The only change implemented was to narrow the medians to make room for a “wide parking lane” (instead of painted bike lanes).

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Rodriguez Wants DOT to Remedy NYC’s Most Cramped Sidewalks

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Sixth Avenue by Radio City Music Hall. Photo: Kevin Case/Flickr

City Council transportation chair Ydanis Rodriguez wants DOT to address overcrowding on some of the city’s most cramped sidewalks. A bill introduced this week would require DOT to identify 10 locations with the heaviest pedestrian traffic volumes and “develop strategies for improving safety and traffic flow at such locations.”

“In this city, most New Yorkers rely on public transportation — and we also walk,” Rodriguez told AMNY. “It’s important that this is a starting point to look for opportunities to make sidewalks more walkable and safer and make sure the DOT has the data to make that possible.”

Speaking with Gothamist, Rodriguez spokesperson Russell Murphy identified Seventh and Eighth avenues in the vicinity of Penn Station and Times Square as areas in need of upgrades.

A temporary sidewalk extension on 32nd Street near Penn Station, installed by Vornado Realty Trust in 2015, was popular with the public, but plans to make it permanent were shelved after businesses complained about the lack of loading zones. Vornado’s Plaza 33, on 33rd Street at Seventh Avenue, returned this year after a successful 2015, but Vornado and DOT have not committed to making it permanent.

And while those projects can help alleviate crowding on cross streets, no plans are on the table to widen sidewalks on Midtown avenues, where there are so many people on foot that during peak hours they can’t fit on the sidewalk and walk in traffic lanes.

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De Blasio: Eastern Parkway Pedestrian Islands Posed Parade Safety Hazard

Mayor de Blasio speaking at yesterday's press conference. Photo: Flickr/NYC Mayor's Office

Mayor de Blasio said the city didn’t realize pedestrian islands on Eastern Parkway would interfere with an annual parade, so he had them torn up. Photo: NYC Mayor’s Office/Flickr

Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference yesterday that pedestrian islands on Eastern Parkway were removed because unnamed elected officials wanted to make room for West Indian Day Parade floats, which would have otherwise posed a risk to the public. The mayor indicated the median islands would not have been installed had the city realized they would interfere with the parade, which is held once a year.

The concrete islands at Eastern Parkway and Kingston and Brooklyn avenues were installed last December as part of a Safe Routes to School project 10 years in the making. The segment of Eastern Parkway where the islands were is a Vision Zero priority corridor with five priority intersections, including Kingston Avenue, where seven people were severely injured in traffic crashes from 2009 to 2013. Four pedestrians were killed on that section of the parkway during that time period.

Last Sunday the Post reported the islands would be removed at the request of parade organizers. On Tuesday the city ripped them up.

Yesterday the mayor’s office told Streetsblog removing the islands was “an NYPD directive.” NYPD referred us to DOT.

Ultimately, though, it was the mayor who authorized removing pedestrian infrastructure from one of Brooklyn’s most dangerous streets with no public process. At Wednesday’s presser on new J’Ouvert security measures, de Blasio said he was prompted by requests from elected officials, whom he did not name.

Here are de Blasio’s remarks, from a press conference transcript:

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De Blasio’s Office Ducks Responsibility for Erasing Eastern Pkwy Ped Islands

Pedestrian islands on Eastern Parkway barely lasted nine months before DOT ripped them up, and no one in the de Blasio administration will say why. Photo: David Meyer

Pedestrian islands on Eastern Parkway barely lasted nine months before DOT ripped them up, and no one in the de Blasio administration will say why. Photo: David Meyer

DOT removed pedestrian islands on Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights yesterday, undoing years of street safety advocacy work on the part of local residents and community board members with no public process, and no one in the de Blasio administration is taking responsibility.

Earlier this week, the Post reported that organizers of the West Indian Day Parade requested that concrete medians at Kingston and Brooklyn avenues be destroyed so floats and trucks “can navigate the roadway” for the event, which is held once a year. It’s not clear how the islands, which were installed in 2015, would impact the parade, since identical street treatments have been in place for years elsewhere along the route.

We asked City Hall if the order to remove the islands originated with the mayor’s office. “This was an NYPD directive, not City Hall’s,” de Blasio spokesperson Austin Finan told us via email.

NYPD referred us to DOT. When we called DOT for comment, the person who answered the phone said all agency press reps were away from their desks. DOT got back to us, but only to ask which NYPD staffer referred us to DOT.

Brooklyn Community Board 8, which endorsed the project that included the islands, was not notified that they would be removed, according to Rob Witherwax, a longtime street safety advocate who serves on the board’s transportation committee. Witherwax said he learned about the changes on Streetsblog.

DOT rarely undertakes street safety projects without the approval of the local community board, but the agency does not always consult boards before removing bike and pedestrian infrastructure.

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DOT, NYPD Remove New Eastern Parkway Ped Islands for Once-a-Year Parade

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The city is removing two pedestrian islands from Eastern Parkway to accommodate the West Indian Day Parade, but the parade has passed three other islands for years, including this one by the Brooklyn Museum. Image: Google Earth

DOT and NYPD are destroying two concrete pedestrian islands the city installed less than a year ago on Eastern Parkway at the request of organizers of next weekend’s West Indian Day Parade, the Post reports.

Instead of making the parade accommodate permanent pedestrian infrastructure, the city is undoing safety measures that protect people 365 days out of the year to accommodate an event on a single day.

The medians — at the intersections of Kingston and Brooklyn Avenues — were installed in December as part of a Safe Routes to Schools plan for Arista Prep Academy and Nursery School and the Oholei Torah yeshiva that was in the works for 10 years [PDF]. The intersection of Kingston and Eastern Parkway is also a Vision Zero priority intersection where seven people were severely injured from 2009 and 2013.

The West Indian Day Parade draws more than a million people to Eastern Parkway every Labor Day. DOT must have been aware of the parade when planning the project.

It’s not clear why the parade is incompatible with the islands, especially since the route has already passed by three concrete pedestrian islands west of Washington Avenue for years. Those islands will not be removed. Parade officials were nevertheless able to convince the city to remove the two new concrete islands.

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Wider Sidewalks Coming to Flushing’s Crowded Main Street

Pedestrians crossing Roosevelt Avenue at Main Street, the location of the Flushing-Main Street subway station, at around noon today. Photo: David Meyer

Foot traffic on Roosevelt Avenue at Main Street, the location of the Flushing-Main Street subway station, at around noon today. Photo: David Meyer

Main Street in Flushing gets more foot traffic than anywhere else in New York after Times Square, but its sidewalks are too narrow to handle all those people. So later this month, the city will begin expanding the sidewalks on four blocks of Main Street, Council Member Peter Koo, DOT, and the Department of Design and Construction announced this afternoon.

Set to begin next Monday, the project will also add a one-block bus lane and high-visibility crosswalks, part of a bottom-up reconstruction of Main Street between 37th Avenue and 40th Road.

This section of Main Street is located at the convergence of the 7 train, the Long Island Railroad, 13 MTA bus routes, and many private bus lines. At any given point in the day, the sidewalks are overflowing with commuters and shoppers, 83 percent of whom arrive by foot or transit, according to DOT.

Council Member Peter Koo (center) spoke this afternoon alongside DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora and DOT Queens Commissioner Nicole Garcia. Photo: David Meyer

Council Member Peter Koo (center) with DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora and DOT Queens Commissioner Nicole Garcia. Photo: David Meyer

Downtown Flushing’s streets are designed primarily to move motor vehicles, however, and people walking on Main Street have to contend with heavy car traffic. In 2015 alone, 28 pedestrians were injured and two were killed along the .9-mile stretch of Main Street between Northern Boulevard and Elder Avenue, according to Vision Zero View.

The $7.8 million reconstruction project will add between two and eight feet of sidewalk space, depending on the location, building on a 2011 project that used paint and flexible bollards to narrow the roadway and expand space for pedestrians. That project led to an 11 percent decline in traffic injuries, according to DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia. Casting the wider sidewalks in concrete, she said, will “deliver on Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero goals.”

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Basic Pedestrian Upgrades Coming to Conduit Blvd, But No Bike Infrastructure

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Four people have been killed while walking on Conduit Boulevard between Atlantic and Sutter since 2008. The DOT plan would reconfigure six locations for improved safety. Map: DOT

Last month, DOT revealed its plan to make Conduit Boulevard less of a barrier between neighborhoods near the southeast Brooklyn-Queens border [PDF]. With better, more frequent pedestrian crossings, the project should make it easier for residents to get from one side of Conduit to the other, but the design doesn’t include any bike infrastructure and leaves much of the high-speed geometry of the street intact.

With few pedestrian crossings, wide travel lanes, and separate east- and westbound roadways divided by a large median, Conduit Boulevard functions a lot like a highway. Until recently, the speed limit was 40 mph — much higher than the 25 mph citywide default — and drivers still exceed it routinely. Since 2008, four pedestrians have been killed in the project area.

Residents of East New York, Cypress Hills, and Ozone Park must contend with those conditions to access transit, parks, and schools in their neighborhoods. Beaten paths on the median attest to the substantial foot traffic despite the lack of crosswalks and high traffic speeds.

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Walking across S Conduit and Pine Street, where there is no pedestrian crossing. Photo: DOT

The DOT project consists of basic safety improvements — adding signalized crossings and sidewalk connections, restricting left turns, and narrowing the most highway-like sections of the roadway. DOT also lowered the speed limit on the corridor to 30 mph in June, bringing it more in line with the citywide 25 mph default limit.

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Electeds Urge DOT to Make Safety Improvements PS 41 Parents Asked For

Elected officials, Community Board 2, and parents and staff at PS41 want a protected bike lane and shorter crossing distances on Seventh Avenue South. Is DOT listening?

Elected officials, Community Board 2, and parents and staff at PS41 want a protected bike lane and shorter crossing distances on Seventh Avenue South. Is DOT listening? Image: PDF

Local, state, and federal electeds are calling on DOT to make long-sought safety improvements in the West Village, including a protected bikeway on Seventh Avenue South.

In a June 30 letter to DOT, City Council Member Corey Johnson, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Assembly Member Deborah Glick, State Senator Brad Hoylman, and U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler asked DOT to act on street safety resolutions passed by Community Board 2 in 2014.

One of those resolutions requested that DOT expand the West Village Slow Zone, installed in 2015, east from Seventh Avenue to Sixth Avenue, with north-south boundaries at W. 11th Street and W. Houston Street. The other called for a redesign of Seventh Avenue South from Canal Street to W. 14th Street, including a protected bike lane, shorter crosswalks, and more pedestrian space [PDF].

The campaign for Seventh Avenue improvements is spearheaded by parents and staff at PS 41, which is located on W. 11th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues.

“As children and their caregivers travel to and from the school, they are too often forced to navigate among speeding cars — conditions that have resulted in both actual hits and near misses,” the letter [PDF] reads. “The same school community would also benefit from a Complete Street redesign of Seventh Avenue, which has the potential to greatly improve pedestrian crossing times and reduce traffic collisions.”

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