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Posts from the Manhattan Bridge Category


Video: 400+ Cyclists Per Hour on the Manhattan Bridge

New York Post columnist Steve Cuozzo, proponent of birther-style conspiracy theories about the growth of cycling in New York, might want to check out this YouTube clip that NYC DOT posted earlier this week, along with other information on how it conducts bike counts. It’s a time-lapse video of cyclists on the Brooklyn approach to the Manhattan Bridge during the morning rush last May. Real people riding real bikes — see for yourself, Steve.

Last year, the city counted 2,984 cyclists per day on the Manhattan Bridge, compared to 2,606 in 2009 and 2,210 in 2008, the last full year before the Sands Street bike path was built. Those counts come from averaging the number of cyclists using the bridge between 7 a.m and 7 p.m. on six days between April and October. Back in 2005 (when the city got its numbers from a single day’s observation instead of six, making comparisons to today somewhat indirect), 829 cyclists were counted on the Manhattan Bridge [PDF].

After the jump, bonus time-lapse footage from Tracy Collins, showing bike and car traffic over the Vanderbilt rail yard on Sixth Avenue in Brooklyn last August. By my count there are about 30 bikes and 80 motor vehicles headed toward Park Slope over the course of about 30 light cycles:

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Canal Street Report Recommends Wider Sidewalks, Smarter Parking

The only thing more congested than Canal Street might be Canal Street's sidewalks. Photo: via Flickr.

The only thing more congested than Canal Street might be Canal Street's sidewalks. Photo: Bertrand Duperrin via Flickr

Canal Street, to put it mildly, is due for a makeover. The street is clogged with traffic from the Holland Tunnel and the un-tolled Manhattan Bridge. Pedestrians jostle for space on the packed sidewalks, and they’re especially at risk of getting hit by a car, according to the city’s Pedestrian Safety Study.

Fortunately, the funds are in place for an eventual reconstruction and re-imagination of the street, thanks to federal World Trade Center emergency relief aid. To help determine how to design Canal Street, which must strike a balance between serving the local community and the regional transportation system, NYMTC, the region’s metropolitan planning organization, has been engaged in a nearly decade-long process of studying the area and drawing up recommendations for the corridor.

In a report released last Thursday [PDF], NYMTC recommends making Canal Street friendlier for pedestrians by adding significant amounts of sidewalk space. But larger changes, in particular the creation of a carpool lane in the Holland Tunnel, weren’t included. According to the NYMTC report, NYCDOT has agreed to use the recommendations to inform its plans, though a DOT spokesperson said only that the agency was reviewing the findings.

The Canal Area Transportation Study process began in 2002, and the first phase ended with some relatively small improvements to the area, like high-visibility crosswalks, new signage, and temporary improvements near Allen Street. Since 2005, the second, larger-scale phase of the study has been underway, bringing together all the regional transportation agencies as well as others with a stake in the project.

The NYMTC team studied a wide array of congestion-busting ideas for the corridor. Some, like two-way tolling on the Verrazano Bridge or congestion pricing, were dismissed because they required legislative approvals well outside the project’s scope. Transit expansions, like bringing the PATH train north from the World Trade Center or building light rail on Canal, were rejected as too costly. Some ideas were nixed because they lacked community support or because they conflicted with New York City’s Street Design Manual. Other ambitious proposals, like keeping traffic off side streets including Pell, Doyers, Mosco, and Mulberry, were referred to the appropriate agency for further study.

What’s left still has a lot to like.

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Manhattan Bridge Rehab Plans Pose Challenges for Bike-Ped Safety

Manhattan_Bridge_Bikeway_Closed.pngDOT needs to make a strong safety plan for the year when construction will take place above the Manhattan Bridge bikeway. Image: NYCDOT
The cables holding up the Manhattan Bridge need to be replaced, one of the final stages in a massive rehabilitation that began all the way back in 1982. The cable project will run through 2013, and for cyclists and pedestrians, the major challenges will come at the end of this year, when construction starts above the bikeway. The current plans from NYCDOT's bridge division could put cyclists in danger when they reach the Manhattan end of the bridge, unless some additional precautions are taken. 

The Manhattan Bridge is held up by four major cables and hundreds of suspenders connecting the cables and the bridge deck; the cables need repairing and the suspenders will be replaced. Work on the two cables toward the center of the bridge -- "B" and "C" on the above diagram -- will disrupt some vehicular lanes but won't affect the bike or pedestrian paths. 

Additionally, repairs along the southernmost cable, over the walkway, shouldn't be too disruptive. At a presentation to Brooklyn Community Board 2 [PDF], DOT reported a plan to cover the path with protective sheds under any active construction. The walkway would be a bit cramped, as the sheds are only three feet wide, but people could walk or bike across the bridge as normal.

However, when the northern cable is under construction -- a job that's expected to take almost a full year to complete -- both pedestrians and cyclists could see their trips disrupted. The sheds aren't wide enough for bikes to pass each other, so DOT is considering rerouting cyclists to what is normally the pedestrian side and putting pedestrians under sheds on the bike side. That could pose a number of problems for the city's second-most popular bike route over the East River. 


Streetfilms Shorties: The Manhattan Bridge Turns 100

The Manhattan Bridge officially opened on December 31, 1909. While its 100-year anniversary came and went with little fanfare a few months ago, city officials paid respects today.

At the ceremony, Clarence caught up with Gridlock Sam Schwartz, who heads the NYC Bridge Centennial Commission. In this clip Schwartz describes the nearly catastrophic deterioration of the bridge, which prompted a massive rehab that began in the 1980s and is just now concluding.

You'll definitely want to pause and take a close look at the 1:01 mark for a reminder of just how easy motorists have it today compared to 100 years ago.

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Turn Out Tonight to Talk Street Safety With Brooklyn CB 2

A quick note about tonight's meeting on motorist-cyclist relations put on by Brooklyn Community Board 2. "Sharing the Road, Sharing the Responsibility" -- a panel discussion with NYCDOT, NYPD, Transportation Alternatives, and AAA -- is an important one for cyclists to attend.

This community district includes the approaches to the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. If you ride those bridges, you'll want to turn out for what promises to be a substantive discussion of street safety. We hear that the panel will field written questions from audience members. Here's where to go to speak up:

6:00 pm
St. Francis College - Founders Hall
180 Remsen St. (bet. Court & Clinton Sts.)
(2/3/4/5/M/R to Borough Hall)


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.