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Posts from the "Manhattan Bridge" Category

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Concrete Truck Plows Into Canal Street Sidewalk, Injuring Eight

Canal_St_accident_11Nov09.jpgPhoto: Matt Hogan.
Eight people were injured this afternoon after a concrete truck careened into the sidewalk on the one-block diagonal linking Canal Street to the Bowery.

Vehicles exiting the Manhattan Bridge have turned this block, often teeming with people waiting for the Fung Wah Bus, into a constant danger zone. Here's what an employee at the jewelry store across the street told the Tribeca Trib:

"Ever since I was a kid, trucks come flying off the bridge," he said. "It’s at least three or four times a year, this happens, and it’s always these trucks. They fly right off that thing like there’s no tomorrow."

After 10 years at the store, John said he no longer ventures across the intersection for his lunch for fear of becoming the next casualty.

Update: Reader Matt Hogan informs us that the truck bed was packed with what looked like 50-pound bags of cement at the time of the crash. The rear of the vehicle is outfitted with an apparatus for mixing and pouring out concrete.

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Streetfilms: The Sands Street Bike Path, a New Kind of Bridge Approach

Chalk up more bikeway innovation to the folks at the NYC Department of Transportation. Nearly complete, the Sands Street approach to the Manhattan Bridge is now safer and more enjoyable thanks to a New York City first: a center-median, two-way protected bike path. The facility is a perfect solution to counter the dangers posed by a tangle of roads and highway on-ramps that burden the area. Dramatic before-and-afters tell the delicious story.

We'll also take you back into the archives to April 2005, when, following a severe injury to Transportation Alternatives' Noah Budnick, advocates held a passionate rally asking Mayor Bloomberg to not only improve bike access to the Manhattan Bridge, but to all East River bridges. Four years later, there's much to be proud of. As DOT Assistant Commissioner for Traffic Management Ryan Russo points out, back in 2005 about 800 cyclists used the bridge daily. In 2009, those numbers have soared to over 2,600. That gives us a serious case of happiness.

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Double-Parkers Gravitate Into Sands Street Bike Path

sands_street.jpgTime Warner sets up an operation in the Sands Street bike path. Photo: Gothamist.
Cyclists riding across the Manhattan Bridge have had about a month to try out the new Sands Street bike path, and based on the reviews so far, two major kinks are marring an otherwise sterling project. First, motorists, especially delivery vehicles, can't resist using the mountable section from Navy to Gold as a double-parking zone. And second, the two-phase crossing from the Sands Street path to the Manhattan Bridge path encourages cyclists to make some risky diagonal movements.

A well-placed source tells us that DOT is working with the post office and delivery companies to keep the mountable bike lane clear, and that the agency is considering the addition of a direct crosswalk between the Sands Street path and the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge path.

"We are working on ways to properly guide cyclists safely from the end of the Sands Street path to the start of the Manhattan Bridge path," a DOT spokesperson said when we asked for confirmation.

The project isn't finished yet, so it's still in the adjustment period. But without any bollards from Navy to Gold, it's going to take constant enforcement to keep that block clear for cyclists. As Gothamist noted last week, it's a very short trip from the bike path to the Brooklyn tow pound.

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What’s Happening to the Manhattan Bridge Bike Path at Canal Street?

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Cyclists who've crossed the Manhattan Bridge this summer should be familiar with this sight. It's the construction project at the foot of the bike path on the Manhattan side. This is the view from Canal and Chrystie.

We've been trying to find out exactly what's going on here, but so far the answers from DOT have been pretty vague. Here's what we know:

  • DOT is installing "access control improvements" on both sides of the Manhattan Bridge bicycle path and pedestrian path. A notice sent to local community boards last month says the project will prevent "unauthorized vehicle access" and "enhance safety" for pedestrians and cyclists. We later learned that this refers to the installation of bollards. So far, so good.
  • A reader reports that construction workers said they were shaving down the turning radius for vehicles at this corner. This is where drivers exiting the bridge turn right on to Canal Street. If this project gives drivers more space to make that turn, they'll take the curve faster right before crossing the path of cyclists exiting and entering the bridge. (Check after the jump for a shot of that intersection.) DOT's press office has neither confirmed nor denied that the finished project will include a turn designed for faster car speeds.
  • This is a "high-security" project and DOT won't release renderings or plans. The work, which is being carried out by the Army Corps of Engineers, will last until January.

When all is said and done, will this project encourage higher vehicle speeds at one of the most critical points in the city's bike network? Maybe that's the kind of thing the progressive elements within DOT won't allow to happen. One would certainly hope so.

You'd also think the new DOT wouldn't try to improve safety on Pelham Parkway in the Bronx by taking a few pages from the 1960s-era "forgiving highway" approach to street design. But they are.

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DOT: Sands Street Bike Path Not Quite Finished

sands_street_map.jpgThe Sands Street path runs from Navy Street to the foot of the Manhattan Bridge at Jay Street.
This afternoon the DOT press office emailed a brief reply to our query about potential safety enhancements to the recently opened Sands Street bike path. They say some details of the path, which is rideable for cyclists, are in progress:

This project is still ongoing. As we continue to implement the improvements, we will be certain to make any adjustments necessary to facilitate bikers getting to and from the bridge.

The question we sent was specifically about the traffic signal at Jay and Sands, and whether an exclusive phase for cyclists might be added. Seems like they're still evaluating the options.

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The Sands Street Shuffle

sands_street_entrance.jpgAn evening commuter enters the Sands Street bike path at Jay Street, after descending from the Manhattan Bridge.

Last month, the long-awaited Sands Street bike path officially opened, giving cyclists a much safer connection to the Brooklyn side of the Manhattan Bridge. From what I can tell so far, everyone loves the new protected space between Jay and Gold, which separates bike traffic from all the trucks and cars accelerating onto the BQE. If you bike over the bridge from Fort Greene or points east and south, it's a huge improvement. And once the Carlton Avenue Bridge reopens, this path should be an attractive approach to an even bigger swath of Brooklyn bike commuters.

We've received a few emails from readers who think the path would be safer with a few not-so-dramatic changes, and it will be interesting to see if DOT tweaks the Sands Street approach to address these concerns. One trouble spot: At the intersection where the Sands Street path meets the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge, cyclists have to cross against southbound traffic on Jay Street and eastbound traffic on Sands. Many are doing it in one fell swoop, making a diagonal movement that can be pretty dangerous.

Here's my attempt at a triptych showing what this looks like as a cyclist exits the bridge. The curb cut you see in the third frame is the entrance to the Sands Street protected path:

sands_street_triptych.jpg

Some readers might get on the cyclist's case here for crossing against one of the lights, but I think this behavior is going to be pretty common as long as cyclists are asked to wait through two signal phases and make two separate crossings.

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Today: Celebrate a Livable Streets Milestone With TA

3765874380_b534b07592.jpgWorkers add markings to the Sands Street lane. Photo: brooklynbybike/Flickr
Later today, Transportation Alternatives will mark the completion of a major Brooklyn livable streets improvement -- a protected bike lane on the Sands Street approach to the Manhattan Bridge.

Sands Street is where, in 2005, TA Senior Policy Advisor Noah Budnick was seriously injured after hitting a pothole. Reads a TA media release:

In the years that followed, cycling in New York City has seen some massive improvements, including the nation's first on-street traffic-separated bike lane and the installation of hundreds of new bike-parking spots. Concurrently, the number of city cyclists increased 80 percent with the number of daily Manhattan Bridge bike-commuters soaring from 829 to 2,232.

Noah helped make many of these improvements happen and nowhere is that more apparent than on the stretch of Sands Street that connects Navy Street with Jay Street.

DOT and DDC personnel will be on hand, as will Council Member Tish James. The event begins at 6:30 at the Manhattan Bridge and Sands Street and will culminate in a ride along the new path, followed by a gathering at nearby Recycle-a-Bicycle in DUMBO.

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Status Report: Sands Street Bike Path Ready Next Week

sands_st_paved.jpgYou're not really supposed to do this yet, but next week the bridge approach on Sands Street should officially open.

There's a fresh coat of asphalt on the Sands Street bike path, and guys on the construction crew say this long-awaited approach to the Brooklyn side of the Manhattan Bridge should officially open for riding next week. Still to come: pavement markings and fencing.

Streetsblog's offices are just a short walk away on Water Street, and I figure it's not often that you get to show a piece of heavy duty bike infrastructure round into form, so here are a few more pictures showing the progress since last week. To appreciate how much this project will improve commutes for cyclists, check out the "before" pictures from last September.

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Eyes on the Street: Sands Street Bike Path Almost Rideable

sands_street01.jpgSoon, you won't have to ride in car traffic on the Sands Street approach to the Manhattan Bridge.

The long-awaited Sands Street bike path, a protected approach to the Brooklyn side of the Manhattan Bridge which took a few years longer than expected to go through New York City's construction bureaucracy, looks tantalizingly close to completion these days. It's not there yet, but you can start to picture how this critical addition to the city's bike network will appear when finished. The Department of Design and Construction tells us the whole thing should be paved by the end of the week, weather permitting, and the path should officially open to cyclists next week, after some fencing is added.

Above is the view looking toward the bridge entrance from the north side. Here's how it looked last September:

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More pics after the jump.

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Manhattan Bridge Bike Path Mired for Years in Construction Bureaucracy

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Construction of the Sands Street bike path was promised to begin in 2006...

The slow pace of safety improvements for downtown Brooklyn streets became tragically apparent earlier this month when eight-year-old Alexander Toulouse was killed by a postal truck on Livingston Street. A $5 million traffic calming project for the area, unveiled in 2007, is not the only livable streets initiative to suffer delays. The Sands Street bike path, a physically protected approach to the Manhattan Bridge, has languished behind schedule for years, held up in the city's construction bureaucracy. The project serves as a prime illustration that livable streets hinge not just on DOT, but on other, more obscure city agencies as well.

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...here's how Sands Street looks today.

In April 2005, Noah Budnick of Transportation Alternatives was riding on Sands Street, after exiting the Manhattan Bridge, and crashed on a dangerous stretch where cyclists often have to contend with deeply pock-marked pavement and cars accelerating onto the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. He sustained severe head trauma, requiring hospitalization and a prolonged recovery.

noahbudnickbridge.jpgTwo years earlier, Budnick had joined other Brooklyn bike advocates in calling on the Department of Transportation to improve the safety of the very same bridge approach. Borough President Marty Markowitz and City Council member David Yassky pledged support (right). DOT, under the leadership of commissioner Iris Weinshall at the time, did announce plans for a protected bike path on Sands Street -- two months after Budnick's crash. Construction would start in 2006, the agency said.

This June marked the third anniversary of that announcement, and construction on the Sands Street bike path has still not begun. (A contractor is slated to begin work in October.) Last year, a new team took the reins at DOT and dramatically accelerated the pace of bike improvements. But getting this critical safety measure through the different stages of government approval has been slow as molasses. Why?

Capital projects like Sands Street are carried out by the city's Department of Design and Construction, which works with contractors to see DOT's designs through to completion.

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