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Sneckdowns: The Comic Strip

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Clarence Eckerson, Jr. is not the only talented Eckerson in New York. There’s one more winter storm expected to hit the city this weekend, and Gary Eckerson of Bay Ridge (Clarence’s brother), has six panels in anticipation of the occasion. Enjoy.

Word is the Eckersons are searching for an off-Broadway venue to stage “Sneckdowns: The Musical” in winter 2017.

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DOT’s Meeker Ave Safety Project Gets — You Guessed It — Meeker

DOT's updated proposal for Meeker Avenue opts for new neckdowns instead of a closed slip lane at the triangle formed by Metropolitan Avenue, Havemeyer Avenue and N. 5th Street. Image: DOT

DOT’s updated proposal for Meeker Avenue opts for curb extensions instead of a car-free space at the triangle formed by Metropolitan Avenue, Havemeyer Avenue, and N. 5th Street. Image: DOT

DOT has watered down its safety plan for the area around Meeker, Union, and Metropolitan avenues. And for the second time in as many meetings, Brooklyn Community Board 1’s transportation committee could not make quorum last night to vote on the project.

DOT’s plan calls for sidewalk extensions and crosswalks at several intersections where Meeker, Union, and Metropolitan converge. It’s not a “complete street” redesign of the length of Meeker, but it would be a step up for pedestrian safety at these locations. There were three fatalities and more than 90 injuries in the project area between 2009 and 2013.

DOT wants to bring pedestrian safety improvements to this around around Meeker Avenue in North Brooklyn. Image: DOT

Map: DOT

Last night’s presentation included a few modifications from what DOT showed in January. Significantly, the plan no longer calls for pedestrianizing the short segment of North 5th Street between Metropolitan and Havemeyer. Instead, DOT will add neckdowns at three corners.

DOT Project Manager Julio Palleiro said the change was made at the request of the Church of the Annunciation, whose front entrance faces the would-be plaza. The church initially OK’d the car-free space, but came back to DOT after last month’s presentation. “They made a very strong case about elderly folks that need to get up to the front door here, and by having them over here that will add an extra 30 or 40 feet, which is significant for elderly people,” Palleiro said.

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Donovan Richards Wants Safer Conditions at Deadly Rosedale Intersection

Motorists injure dozens of people a year at the Queens intersection where a driver killed 16-year-old Alexa Smith. Image: DOT Vision Zero View

Motorists injure dozens of people a year at the intersection of Conduit Avenue and Francis Lewis Boulevard, where a driver killed 16-year-old Alexa Smith. Image: DOT Vision Zero View

City Council Member Donovan Richards wants DOT to put speed cameras at the Rosedale intersection where a hit-and-run driver killed a teenage girl earlier this month — a request the city may not be able to fulfill due to restrictions imposed by Albany. Richards also urged DOT to make physical improvements to protect people from speeding drivers.

Donovan Richards

Donovan Richards

Alexa Smith, 16, was crossing Conduit Avenue at Francis Lewis Boulevard in the crosswalk just after midnight on February 11 when she was hit by the driver of a vehicle believed to be a dollar van. Her killer did not stop to summon help or render aid. Smith was pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital.

South Conduit Avenue is a high-speed road slicing through RosedaleThe speed limit on the avenue is 40 miles per hour where it crosses Francis Lewis Boulevard. Drivers injure dozens of people every year at the triangle formed by Conduit Avenue, Francis Lewis Boulevard, and 243rd Street, according to DOT crash data.

Locals interviewed after Smith’s death told the press that reckless drivers make crossing the street a life-and-death proposition, a point repeated by Richards at a press event last Friday.

From the Times-Ledger:

Richards said he would call on the Department of Transportation to add speed cameras at the intersection, which would have helped identify the perpetrator of the accident. He said additional pedestrian safety measures have also been suggested to ensure that residents will no longer have to risk their lives to cross this busy intersection.

“As Vision Zero spreads a wider net of pedestrian safety across the city, we also need the Department of Transportation to look at dangerous intersections such as right here at Sunrise and Francis Lewis,” said Richards.

“This is why we need speed cameras to slow drivers down and to hold them accountable for when they break the law. We also need the DOT to look at pedestrian-focused crossing signals that will ensure that they can cross the street without having to worry about frantic drivers trying to beat the light,” he said.

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Eyes on the Street: DIY School Zone Traffic-Calming in Corona

Photos: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Photos: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Today Transportation Alternatives staff and members of Families for Safe Streets are in Albany, asking legislators to allow NYC to install speed enforcement cameras near every school in the city. This example of a crossing guard’s efforts to defend school kids in Queens, courtesy of Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson Jr., is another good illustration of why the state should lift arbitrary enforcement restrictions.

Last week Clarence and son Clarence Eckerson III came upon a DIY neckdown at 104th Street and 41st Avenue, outside P.S. 16 in Corona. Says Clarence:

The crossing guard [pictured] had set up four cones to slow traffic — essentially setting up a temporary gateway treatment on this street! Two cones on either side, narrowing the crossing distance for young people and all other pedestrians.

Before they got the cones, provided by the Parks Department, crossing guards at the school used trash cans to slow turning drivers. Four cones are needed, she said, due to “the speeds some cars go around here.” The 104th Precinct, where P.S. 16 is located, ticketed 702 speeding drivers in all of 2015.

queenscones2

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The DIY Sneckdown and Other Snow-Based Traffic Calming

The Department of Sanitation said yesterday that the city is finally working to clear bike lanes of snow and ice. But five days after Jonas moved on, there’s still plenty of slippery, slushy stuff where people walk and bike on New York City streets.

On the upside, it’s a been a great week for sneckdowns. Here’s another set of photos (plus a video!) of nature’s traffic-calming in action, in NYC and beyond.

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Here They Are: Your First Sneckdowns of Winter 2016

Like much of the East Coast, New York got walloped on Saturday, so the next few days will be prime sneckdown time.

Here’s the season’s first collection of photos from NYC, where “nature’s tracing paper” is outlining street redesign opportunities all over the city.

Thanks to all intrepid sneckdown spotters, and please keep ’em coming.

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Who’s Up for Sneckdowns?

Image: Clarence Eckerson/BBC

Image: Clarence Eckerson/BBC

With Blizzard Mania ’16 reaching a fever pitch up and down the Eastern Seaboard, it looks like we’re in for the first serious sneckdowns of the season.

For the uninitiated, sneckdowns are neckdowns created by driving patterns in melting snow or slush. Sneckdowns highlight excess asphalt that could be repurposed for streetscape improvements to slow motor vehicle traffic and make walking safer.

A little backstory: The sneckdown concept goes back decadesIn 2001, Transportation Alternatives wrote: “[T]he next time someone tells you that you can’t have a neckdown on that corner or this corner because there’s not enough room, show them what happens every year when it snows.” Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson Jr. documented “naturally occurring neckdowns” in 2006, Streetsblog founding editor Aaron Naparstek coined the hashtag in 2013, and the international sneckdown craze was born.

Use the #sneckdown hashtag to share your photos on social media (find tips from Clarence on page 3 of this PDF). If you’d like to see your pics on Streetsblog — wherever you are — please include a location in your tweet or Instagram. We’ll be on the lookout first thing Monday.

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DOT’s Astoria Park Safety Plan Calls for 3 Protected Bike Lanes

DOT wants to turn Shore Boulevard into a one-way street with a protected bike lane. Image: DOT

DOT wants to convert a motor vehicle lane on Shore Boulevard into a two-way protected bike lane [PDF]. Image: DOT

Last June, a hit-and-run driver killed 21-year-old Betty DiBiaso at the intersection of 19th Street and Ditmars Boulevard, next to Astoria Park. The loss of DiBiaso prompted a neighborhood-wide discussion about the need to improve street safety around one of Queens’ most visited parks, and on Tuesday night DOT showed Queens Community Board 2 its proposals for the area [PDF].

Despite all the pedestrian and bike traffic, streets near the park lack basic traffic-calming features and safe access for people walking or biking. Since 2009, more than a hundred people have been injured on streets around the park.

The plan DOT showed Tuesday calls for major changes to sections of Shore Boulevard, 20th Avenue, and Hoyt Avenue, with new two-way protected bike lanes on those streets. Separately, DOT is studying a number of other possible improvements for the area, including daylighting intersections and improving pedestrian crossings around the park’s borders and adding speed bumps by the intersection where DiBiaso was killed.

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Eyes on the Street: Just Another Brush With Death at a Typical NYC Crossing


The design of 29th Street and 39th Avenue in Long Island City is typical of thousands of New York City crossings: an intersection of relatively narrow streets where drivers are allowed to park to the edge of crosswalks with no design elements to force motorists to slow down.

The combination of poor visibility and lack of traffic-calming features leads to crashes like the one in the video, taken Thursday, when an Access-A-Ride driver sped into a crosswalk while turning left and struck a child with a van’s door-mounted mirror. Luckily it appears the child wasn’t seriously hurt.

Jean Cawley, who sent us the video, has written to DOT officials, including Queens DOT Commissioner Nicole Garcia, several times to ask for traffic-calming measures at this intersection and other locations in the area. Cawley also submitted a petition to DOT from residents of Dutch Kills.

Consistent NYPD enforcement wouldn’t hurt either. The 114th Precinct, where the crash in the video occurred, issues an average of just 23 tickets a month to drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians.

Below are images from a two-vehicle collision at the same intersection that sent a cab onto the sidewalk.

“Cars barrel through our streets in a dangerous manner all day, every day,” wrote Cawley in an email to Garcia, with the video and photos attached. “I hope you will help. DOT’s actions may save a life.”

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Manhattan Community Board 9 Votes for Broadway Road Diet

Manhattan Community Board 9 voted last night to approve DOT’s plan for safety improvements along Broadway in West Harlem. The road diet will slim Broadway between 135th Street and 153rd Street from three lanes in each direction to two, widening curbside parking lanes and adding a six foot buffer on either side of the Broadway Malls.

This section of Broadway is a Vision Zero priority corridor, with a high injury rate as well as a high concentration of senior citizens living nearby, who account for four of five pedestrian fatalities since 2007.

The redesign has the support of Council Member Mark Levine. Assembly Member Denny Farrell spoke out against the proposal over the summer but later scaled back his opposition. A well-organized local advocacy campaign by West Harlem residents helped overcome the board’s initial hesitance about the project.

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