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Posts from the "Greenwich Village" Category

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Eyes on the Street: An Early Look at the Lafayette Protected Bike Lane

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Crews have been making good progress on the Lafayette Street redesign [PDF], the first protected bike lane project installed by the de Blasio administration. As of yesterday, the striping work had progressed from Spring Street up past 4th Street, where Philip Winn of Project for Public Spaces snapped these photos.

The Lafayette Street project will convert the northbound buffered bike lane into a protected lane from Prince to 12th Street. Some intersections will get pedestrian islands between the bike lane and motor vehicle lanes. DOT is really knocking this one out fast — Community Board 2 voted in favor of it less than a month ago. The redesign isn’t complete but people are already making good use of it:

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DOT Passes on Protected Bike Lanes for Tribeca, Gets CB Committee Support

With the exception of the Hudson River Greenway, routes between Tribeca and Greenwich Village can hardly be described as bike-friendly. Cyclists must compete with gridlock near Canal Street and the Holland Tunnel, while wide north-south arteries like Varick Street and Sixth Avenue are daunting roads. DOT is proposing a mix of upgrades between Warren Street and Washington Square, including buffered bike lanes and shared lanes — but nothing that would physically protect cyclists from the often-heavy traffic in this area. The plan received a 6-5 supportive vote from Community Board 1′s Tribeca committee Wednesday night.

DOT's proposed bike route from Washington Square to Warren Street is a mix of bike lanes and sharrows. Image: DOT

The route winds its way through the Village, Soho, and Tribeca [PDF]. Starting from the north, Washington Square would receive curbside green bike lanes on its east and south sides, and shared lane markings on the two-way section of Washington Square North.

West Broadway and LaGuardia Place would receive shared lane markings from Sixth Avenue to W. Third Street. Where LaGuardia Place widens slightly for one block between W. Third and Washington Square South, DOT is proposing bike lanes.

Cyclists on West Broadway looking to continue southbound would be directed to Varick via Broome Street, which would receive a green striped bike lane along the southern curb. However, for the block between Thompson Street and Sixth Avenue, DOT is proposing to add on-street parking along the south side of the street and install sharrows instead of a lane. From Sixth Avenue to Varick Street, Broome Street widens; the street would have curbside parking on both sides and an adjacent bike lane.

The agency is proposing even less for Varick Street, which is often full of traffic bound for the Holland Tunnel and Canal Street. Varick would receive shared lane markings in the leftmost lane from Watts Street to Beach Street, and for the single block between Broome and Watts, Varick would only receive bike route signage.

DOT proposed routing cyclists onto the sidewalk on the east side of Varick at Albert Capsouto Park, to avoid one block of rough cobblestone surface between Canal and Laight Streets. The sidewalk, which is not heavily used, would receive stencils like the ones through City Hall Park, but CB 1 committee members strongly objected to the concept. The resolution supporting the proposal included a request that DOT examine alternatives to the sidewalk route at Albert Capsouto Park, which DOT says it will reconsider.

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Eyes on the Street: Collision Leaves NYU Bus on Greenwich Village Sidewalk

Photo: Philip Winn

A two-vehicle collision left an NYU bus on a Greenwich Village sidewalk this morning, in an NYPD precinct where speed enforcement, for all intents and purposes, is non-existent.

Tipster Philip Winn snapped these photos at Lafayette Street and E. 4th Street at around 9:30 a.m., after the second vehicle, a passenger car, had been towed away. FDNY got the call at 8:26, according to a spokesperson. The NYU bus was on the sidewalk at the northeast corner of the intersection, with windows shattered, according to another witness.

An employee with NYU buses told Winn both drivers were injured. One person was transported to Bellevue Hospital, FDNY said.

Chad Marlow, a member of Community Board 3, wrote to EV Grieve:

“I passed by the NYU bus this morning. Couldn’t get too close because my kids were with me and it didn’t look good. The bus definitely collided pretty violently with a black car (not certain if private or livery). When I passed by there were two fire trucks and at least one ambulance on the scene. It looked like the firefighters were making an effort to pry open the black car.”

Motor vehicles operated on NYC surface streets should never collide with enough force to cause serious injury to vehicle occupants, much less require the jaws of life. Fortunately, this crash that ended with at least one vehicle on a sidewalk apparently did not result in a pedestrian being injured or killed.

A study conducted by doctors and researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center found that 6 percent of pedestrians injured by motorists were struck while on a sidewalk. No fewer than three NYC pedestrians have died at the hands of curb-jumping motorists in recent weeks, with many more known injured. Just days ago a motorist hit up to 10 people on a sidewalk in East Flatbush, leaving four in critical condition, including a 2-year-old child who was reported brain dead. Curb-jumping drivers have recently inflicted serious injuries upon seniors in Manhattan and Queens.

Photo: Philip Winn

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Tonight: CB 2 Seeks Changes to Sixth and Houston Following Deadly Crash

The transportation committee of Manhattan Community Board 2 is looking for input on how to improve safety at Sixth Avenue and Houston Street, the intersection where Jessica Dworkin was killed by a truck driver two weeks ago.

“Everything’s open,” says committee chair Shirley Secunda, “from street geometry to police enforcement and investigation to current regulations as well as need for new regulations.”

Dworkin was riding a foot-propelled scooter west on Houston Street around 9 a.m. on August 27 when she was caught by the rear wheels of a flatbed semi as the driver turned right from Houston onto Sixth. The trucker was cited for careless driving.

“There has been a tremendous outpouring of grief from the community, in no small part because we have all had our own near-misses at that crossing,” says Ian Dutton, a former CB 2 member who was a neighbor of Dworkin’s. “I have adult, fully-abled friends who refuse to cross on that specific crosswalk because of aggressive, speeding drivers.”

Dworkin was the second person to die at Sixth and Houston in recent memory. Five years ago this month, 28-year-old Hope Miller was killed by a truck driver as she crossed Houston on her way to an acting class.

The committee may also address bridge tolls and truck size regulations, Secunda said. Since he was traveling east to west, there is speculation that the driver may have cut through the city to avoid the westbound toll on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. The truck that killed Dworkin appeared to exceed 55 feet, the maximum length allowed on surface streets without a permit, and the cab was missing required front-mounted crossover mirrors.

Committee recommendations would be presented as resolutions to the full board, and if approved would be directed to city agencies and electeds.

“I’m also going to ask that the board take a firm stand on the NYPD policy of immediately declaring ‘no criminality’ when the details are far from clear,” says Dutton, “that the board fully endorse the package of bills including the Crash Investigation Reform Act, and ask Chris Quinn’s rep why the speaker has yet to voice her opinion.”

Tonight’s meeting will be held at the Church of Our Lady of Pompei, 25 Carmine St., Father Demo Hall, at 6:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend and participate.

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Quinn Deal Reduces Parking — and Housing — at St. Vincent’s Site

A birds-eye view of the St. Vincent's site redevelopment. Under a deal struck by Christine Quinn's office, the number of parking spaces at the site will be reduced by a third. Image: Rudin Management via DNAinfo

Responding to requests from the community board and advocacy groups, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn did what neither the City Planning Commission nor Borough President Scott Stringer would: reduce the excessive number of parking spaces planned for the Rudin family’s redevelopment of the St. Vincent’s Hospital site.

Originally, Rudin proposed building 152 spaces for 450 luxury apartments. That far exceeded the parking maximums in the Village, which would have allowed only 98 spaces. The local community board unanimously recommended that no garage be built at the site, noting that the entrance would be the fourth on a single block, unprecedented for the area. If parking had to be built, they said, there certainly shouldn’t be any more than allowed by law.

Afterward the community board weighed in, however, officials still supported the Rudin bid for extra parking spaces. Stringer, relying on Rudin’s environmental analysis, argued that without spaces of their own, the development’s residents would put too much pressure on nearby parking garages, even though they would not fill them. Then the City Planning Commission approved the special permit needed to build the extra parking, even though the developers failed to show that they needed to exceed the city’s parking maximums.

Final approval for any zoning change has to go through the City Council. In this case, Christine Quinn, both the Speaker and the local representative, could dictate the outcome. The project was seen as a political challenge for Quinn as she runs for mayor, forcing her to placate both her traditional political base in the Village and the big real estate interests she has courted more recently.

As part of a deal struck Wednesday, the number of parking spaces at the new development will drop from 152 to 95. The number of apartments will also be lowered, however, from 450 to 350, while the total square footage will remain the same. Even with the decrease in housing units, the parking ratio for the project falls from 34 percent to 27 percent. But the smaller parking ratio is still more than allowed for regular developments in the Village.

A spokesperson for Quinn’s office said the parking reduction came in response to the community board’s request but did not speak to Quinn’s position on parking policy more generally.

The Municipal Art Society, which advocated against allowing excess parking at the St. Vincent’s site, applauded the change. “Normally, the Council is reluctant to step in,” said MAS Director of Planning Raju Mann. “Hopefully, this signals some indication on the part of the Speaker’s office that this is an issue they care about and are willing to make changes on high-profile developments for.”

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Spot the Celebrity Bike-Share Planner

One of these bike-share workshop participants is the star of this classic Streetfilm.

It was another evening of hands-on bike-share station planning at Manhattan Community Board 2 last night, as New Yorkers hunched over maps of SoHo and Greenwich Village, marking the best places to site bike-share kiosks.

If you live or work in the bike-share service area, you really ought to mark your calendar for the station planning meeting in your neck of the woods. There’s something very gratifying about the process that NYC DOT and Alta Bikeshare have put together for people to rate different sites. Each time you put a sticker on the map, you’re shaping the bike-share system in a small but tangible way.

The other thing is that you never know who else will show up. Last night, former Talking Heads frontman and one-time Summer Streets spokesperson David Byrne was in the house, marking up a map. If the pattern holds, it looks like Jay-Z will be on hand for the Manhattan CB 6 workshop later this month, and John Franco and John Starks might turn up at Brooklyn CB 2.

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City Planning Commission OKs Excess St. Vincent’s Parking

A rendering of the Rudin family plans for new condos at the site of St. Vincent's Hospital. Rudin wants to include 152 parking spaces, while the community board wants zero. Image: Rudin via WSJ.

The City Planning Commission approved a Rudin family request to build 50 percent more parking than allowed at the site of the former St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village. The commission’s unanimous approval came last Monday despite opposition to the parking garage from the local community board and evidence that Rudin hadn’t met the city’s own requirements for granting exemptions to parking maximums.

The advisory recommendations supposedly guiding the commission had been split over the garage. Community Board 2 urged that no garage be allowed at all, as the entrance would be the fourth on a single residential block of West 12th Street. Borough President Scott Stringer, however, approved of the Rudin request to build 152 parking spaces, rather than the 98 the developers would be allowed under the city’s parking maximums.

Additionally, the commission’s report suggests that all community members who testified on the issue of the parking garage at its public hearing opposed the extra parking spaces. “A number of speakers in opposition stated a concern for the proposed garage on 12th Street,” reads the report [PDF]. “These speakers said that the requested special permit to increase the size of the garage should be denied.”

Regardless of those recommendations, it’s debatable whether Rudin was even eligible for a special permit to exceed the parking maximums. To get such a permit, developers need to show that there isn’t enough available parking in the area to meet the projected demand from project residents.

Calculations performed by both Streetsblog and the Municipal Art Society show that wasn’t the case in the Village. “When the residential units are expected to be built there will be 740 available overnight spaces and 154 available weekday midday spaces within a quarter mile radius of the site,” wrote MAS in testimony submitted to the City Planning Commission [PDF]. “This is more than enough spaces to accommodate the 137 cars that the applicant is estimating will result from the addition of 450 new housing units.”

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Will City Planning Commission Uphold Parking Maximums at St. Vincent’s?

A rendering of the Rudin family plans for new condos at the site of St. Vincent's Hospital. Rudin wants to include 152 parking spaces, far more than allowed under zoning. The community board, meanwhile, asked for no parking to be built. Image: Rudin via WSJ

The sides are lining up for and against the oversized parking garage that the Rudin family wants to build for its luxury apartments at the former St. Vincent’s Hospital site in Greenwich Village. Supporting the request to exceed Manhattan’s parking maximums is Borough President Scott Stringer. Opposing it are the community board and the urban planning advocates at the Municipal Art Society. Next month, the City Planning Commission will decide whether to ignore its own guidelines and grant a special permit raising the maximums for the Rudins.

The Rudins want to build 152 parking spaces for a 450 unit development. They are only allowed 98 by law. To get more, they need a special permit from the City Planning Commission.

Community Board 2 took a particularly strong anti-parking position, requesting that no parking at all be allowed in the development. The board’s official resolution [PDF] lists a number of reasons for opposing the garage, from the creation of a fourth curb cut on a single block, to the safety of the many pedestrians walking through the neighborhood and the desire not to induce more traffic on downtown’s congested streets. “Fewer people are driving in New York City,” states the resolution. “There’s an increase in use of alternative transportation modes and the encouragement of this approach (e.g. through bike share), which CB 2 supports.” New parking lots aren’t part of the community board’s vision for the neighborhood.

The Municipal Art Society, meanwhile, has called attention to Rudin’s funny math. As Streetsblog previously reported, to get a special permit, the developers need to show that there isn’t enough parking in the area to meet the demand generated by the project. In the Village, that’s just not the case. “When the residential units are expected to be built there will be 740 available overnight spaces and 154 available weekday midday spaces within a quarter mile radius of the site,” wrote MAS in testimony submitted to the City Planning Commission [PDF]. “This is more than enough spaces to accommodate the 137 cars that the applicant is estimating will result from the addition of 450 new housing units.”

Rudin attempted to claim that many of those available spaces shouldn’t count, since they’re meant to be used only by the residents of the buildings they’re attached to, but Streetsblog and MAS each scouted the area and found that almost all of the nearby garages allow non-residents to park.

“In order to reduce the amount of traffic on West 12th Street, which is primarily a residential street; the number of proposed parking spaces should be reduced,” recommended MAS.

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Manhattan CB 2 Votes Unanimously for Hudson Street Bike Lane Upgrade

Double parking and worn out markings plague the Hudson Street bike lane.

The full board of Manhattan Community Board 2 voted unanimously last Thursday night to endorse a community-generated plan to convert the buffered bike lane on Hudson Street to a parking-protected lane.

The new protected lane would extend the protected Eighth Avenue bike lane down to Canal Street and the Ninth Avenue bike lane to Bleecker Street.

The Hudson Street bike lane is one of the oldest buffered bike lanes in the city, and its faded stripes are often blocked by double-parked vehicles. The lane is wide enough that it could be upgraded to a protected bikeway without removing a travel lane. Parking would only need to be eliminated to install pedestrian refuge islands, popular among local residents, and mixing zones at intersections.

The resolution asks DOT to return to the community board with a plan to upgrade the lane.

“This is a common-sense conversion — it’s low-hanging fruit for DOT,” said Ian Dutton, one of two community board members who developed the proposal. “Because the buffered lane is already there, though it’s worn-away to the point of being almost invisible, there will be hardly any consequences for drivers — only shorter crossings for pedestrians, a greener and narrower-appearing street to calm traffic, and a far safer and comfortable cycling experience, maximizing the west-side bicycle corridors on Eighth and Ninth Avenues.”

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Village Residents Fight to Keep Fourth Parking Garage Off Single Block

A rendering of the Rudin family plans for new condos at the site of St. Vincent's Hospital. Rudin wants to include 152 parking spaces, far more than allowed under the zoning or wanted by the community. Image: Rudin via WSJ.

Last year, due to protracted financial difficulties, St. Vincent’s in Greenwich Village closed its doors after 150 years, one-and-a-half centuries that saw the hospital play a major role treating victims of the AIDS crisis and the 9/11 attacks. Though many in the neighborhood hoped to see a full-service hospital remain in the Village, a plan eventually emerged to turn the landmark O’Toole building west of Seventh Avenue into an emergency room and outpatient surgery center, while the hospital buildings east of Seventh would be sold to the Rudin family and redeveloped as luxury apartments.

Though the basic shape of the site appears to have taken shape, the details remain hotly contested. In particular, the Rudin request to build a 152-space underground garage.

The garage would be the fourth to front the block of W. 12th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. “This would just add another garage, which would mean more traffic,” explained Community Board 2 transportation committee chair Shirley Secunda. ”It would also mean another encumbrance on pedestrian access, because you’d have another curb cut.”

That would be completely out of step with the pedestrian-oriented design and character of downtown, said former transportation committee vice-chair Ian Dutton. “As far as we know, there aren’t any blocks that have four parking garages anywhere below 14th Street,” said Dutton. “This is completely unprecedented.”

Neither the community nor Rudin wants to put the garage entrance on 11th Street, where drivers would exit next to an elementary school.

The project’s environmental impact statement [PDF] shows that, to access the new garage, 33 vehicles would cross the sidewalk in the peak hour of both morning and evening travel. The EIS claims that level of traffic won’t adversely affect pedestrian flow, despite an extra car crossing the busy Village sidewalk every other minute for two hours a day.

Fewer cars would need to cross the sidewalk if Rudin were willing to abide by the city’s zoning code. Under current regulations, residential developments in Manhattan are only permitted to build one parking space for every five apartments. Rudin wants to build up to 450 units, according to Rudin Executive Vice President John Gilbert, as well as a small amount of commercial space. But under the parking maximums in place, the developer would only be allowed to build 98 parking spaces. If Rudin builds fewer apartments, as may still happen, that would only reduce the number of spaces allowed.

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