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Posts from the "Sidewalks" Category

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DOT Proposes Crosswalk Fix Where Renee Thompson Was Killed

In September, 16-year-old Renee Thompson was walking to the subway after getting off work just after 10 p.m., when, crossing Third Avenue at 60th Street, she was hit and killed by a turning truck driver. Now DOT is proposing shorter crossing distances at the intersection, but  Community Board 8′s transportation committee wants the agency to go further and also look at the dangers pedestrians face just one block away, where drivers jostle along Second Avenue to get on to the Queensboro Bridge.

The plan adds curb extensions to two corners at 60th Street and Third Aveune. Image: DOT

The plan adds curb extensions to two corners at 60th Street and Third Aveune. Image: DOT

The plan [PDF], which adds painted curb extensions and flex-post bollards to the northwest and southwest corners, would shorten crossing distances on Third Avenue from 65 feet to 53 feet, and on 60th Street from 35 feet to 25 feet. It also adds a left-turn lane on Third Avenee and lengthens the existing left-turn lane from 60th Street to Third Avenue, which is heavily used by trucks heading north after exiting the bridge. Both streets are mapped as truck routes.

Sidewalks at the intersection are crowded, and narrowed by enclosed sidewalk cafes, tree pits, and subway entrances on all four corners.

There were 12 pedestrian injuries at the intersection from 2007 to 2011, according to DOT, and in addition to Thompson’s death last September, there was another fatality at the intersection in 2010: Thomas Richards, 67, of Queens Village was in the crosswalk when he was killed by a cab driver who witnesses say was speeding.

A resolution supporting the curb extension at Third Avenue [PDF] passed the committee unanimously last Thursday and now heads to the full board, which is scheduled to meet tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Hunter College.

The resolution also asks DOT to come back within six months with a pedestrian safety plan for the area around the Queensboro Bridge at Second Avenue, an issue CB 8 transportation committee co-chair A. Scott Falk said DOT staff was receptive to.

“We’re very glad that they’re making a proposal for 60th and Third,” Falk told Streetsblog. ”It’s been one of my priorities for the board in 2014 to get real pedestrian improvements around the bridge.”

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Eyes on the Street: NYC Keeps Rolling Out the Bioswales in Queens

Photos: Clarence Eckerson

It’s fair to say that I’ve been geeking out over streetscape improvements in NYC that incorporate plantings to manage stormwater runoff (here, here, and here). These sidewalk expansions are popping up all over the place near my apartment in Jackson Heights.

Recently, I was on Junction Boulevard between the Long Island Expressway and Queens Boulevard and saw some significant street reclamations. Some photos:

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Eyes on the Street: Converting the Sidewalk to Private Parking in the Bronx

Looking to add some extra off-street parking? No problem. Just pave over the sidewalk and fence it in. The handicapped-accessible pedestrian ramp can be your curb cut. Photo: Google Maps

Looking to park at 3059 Bainbridge Avenue in the Bronx? There are plenty of options. The property has a garage, not to mention the free on-street parking. But that wasn’t enough for the owner of this property, who decided to commandeer some of the public sidewalk, pave it over with asphalt, fence it in, and use the handicapped-accessible pedestrian ramp as the curb cut to a personal driveway.

In recent years, there have been a series of complaints and violations registered with the city about the illegal driveway, brought to Streetsblog’s attention by reader Jay Shuffield. In 2006, the Department of Buildings found the the storage of three vehicles at the front of the property to be in violation of parking regulations in a residential district. The property owner — at the time, listed as Maria Aviles-Rodriguez in city records — paid a $480 penalty, but the illegal driveway remained.

In 2008, a complaint was registered with DOB about a fence erected around the illegal driveway, but a violation for work without a permit was dismissed by the Environmental Control Board. Last month, two complaints were registered via 311: A violation was served for illegal parking spaces, and another complaint about an illegal fence was referred to DOT. The agency says it issued a notice of violation.

It seems that paying $480 and putting up with the occasional violation notice from the city is just the cost of doing business when it comes to securing private off-street parking on public space in the Bronx.

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Positively 3rd Street

Did 9th Street in Park Slope formerly have sidewalks as generous as 3rd Street?

Strolling up 3rd Street in Park Slope from 7th Avenue toward Prospect Park, it’s easy to see this is one of the most magnificent streets in what is, let’s face it, one of the prettiest neighborhoods in the city. The homes, built in the late 19th century and often clad in white stone, are set back further. The double flanking of trees lend a calming tone. A bike lane is set along one side of the one-way street.

But what’s most luxurious about this street, if not consciously noticed by its users, are the expansive sidewalks, about 8 paces, which is roughly twice as wide as the sidewalks on surrounding streets. The wide sidewalks on 3rd Street provide room for several people to walk side by side in one direction, without playing the game of dodge a person so common in New York. It’s a strolling street.

If you walk south from 3th Street for just six blocks, you come to a very different sort of street, 9th Street. It’s probably one of the least pleasant streets in the Slope. The sidewalks are narrow. The car portion of the street is wide. A torrent of cars and trucks pour up and down it, making their way to and from the Gowanus Canal, Court Street, and Red Hook. The street has bike lanes on each side, but this is still a chaotic and risky place to cycle, given the trucks and double-parking.

But here’s the thing. Did 9th Street used to be like 3rd Street? My eye, somewhat attuned to urban geography, sees evidence that the answer is yes. Both of the streets, measured by the distance from the homes on each side to each other, are wider than surrounding streets. Both are flanked by particularly elegant townhouses.  I wonder if 9th Street, now so chaotic and workhorse like, used to be a grand strolling street leading up to the prominent entrance to Prospect Park where the statue of General Lafayette awaits you.

What I bet happened is that at some point in the last century the city grabbed some of the width from the sidewalks and setbacks of 9th Street, and gave it over to cars, converting 9th street into a car artery, decidedly unpleasant. I bet the political power of the residents of these beautiful townhouses had reached a nadir, allowing the city to decrease the charm of their street and thus their property values.

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