Jessica Dworkin, 58, was on a push scooter at Sixth Avenue at Houston Street when a tractor-trailer truck driver turned into her path and crushed her in August 2012. After Dworkin’s death, local residents clamored for safety fixes. Now more than two years later, and 18 months after proposing the changes to Manhattan Community Board 2, DOT is putting finishing touches on expansions to pedestrian space and changes to traffic signals in a bid to prevent future tragedies [PDF].Most of the concrete has already been cast, expanding the Houston Street median as it approaches the intersection from the east and enlarging pedestrian space between Houston and Bedford Streets on the west side of the intersection. A new pedestrian island has also been added to divide four lanes of westbound Houston. The changes not only break up Houston Street into shorter, more manageable distances for pedestrians, but also narrow the distance across Sixth Avenue on the south side of the intersection by 25 feet.
Posts from the "Greenwich Village" Category
Last Thursday, CB 2′s transportation committee unanimously passed a resolution asking DOT to study the avenue below 14th Street. CB 4′s transportation committee, covering Chelsea, is likely to take up the request next month.
The push for complete streets on Seventh Avenue began with concerns about intersections on Seventh Avenue South, which runs through the West Village from 11th Street until it becomes Varick Street at the intersection of Clarkson and Carmine. Built along with the IRT subway, the avenue opened in 1919, slashing across the West Village’s diagonal street grid and creating multi-leg intersections that continue to pose a threat to pedestrians.
It’s these intersections that worry a group led by PS 41 principal Kelly Shannon and Heather Campbell, chair of the school’s Parents’ Action Committee. The group had asked DOT to extend the West Village neighborhood slow zone eastward to cover schools between Seventh and Sixth Avenues. After the city rejected that request in July, the parents came back to CB 2′s transportation committee last week, focused on improving safety at multi-leg intersections along Seventh Avenue South.
They presented a complete streets redesign featuring a protected bike lane, pedestrian islands, and a northward extension of the median made out of flexible posts that currently divides traffic on Varick Street approaching the Holland Tunnel [PDF]. The group has also received a letter of support from State Senator Brad Hoylman.
Tonight’s a big night for livable streets events, with community board meetings on proposals for Greenwich Village, the Lower East Side, and Long Island City. Plus, join Streetsblog at ARTCRANK if you’re looking for some fun.
Key community board meetings tonight are:
- Manhattan Community Board 2′s transportation committee will consider a resolution requesting that DOT study complete street treatments for Seventh Avenue South, including protected bike lanes and pedestrian islands. The board has already requested similar changes to Fifth and Sixth Avenues. The effort for Seventh Avenue South grew out of a failed attempt to extend the West Village Slow Zone. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.
- On the East Side, Manhattan Community Board 3′s transportation committee will hear presentations on the Move NY fair tolling plan and a proposal from DOT to tweak the Clinton Street approach to the Williamsburg Bridge, which is used heavily by bicyclists coming to and from Grand Street. The Lower East Side Business Improvement District will also be presenting its proposals for streetscape improvements on Orchard Street. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.
- The general meeting of Queens Community Board 2 will hear a presentation from DOT on planned pedestrian safety improvements in Long Island City, covering the Hunter/Crescent Area Triangle. The plan for this area, between Queens Plaza South and 44th Drive, would convert some streets to two-way travel, enlarge pedestrian islands, and add painted curb extensions. DOT already presented an earlier version of the plan to CB 2′s transportation committee in March [PDF]. The meeting starts at 7 p.m.
Not in the mood for a community board meeting? Join Streetsblog at Brooklyn Brewery tonight for ARTCRANK, a celebration of bike culture featuring hand-made, bike-inspired posters created by New York area artists. Plus, there will be food and drink. Limited edition, signed copied of all posters will be available for sale. Admission is free and Streetsblog will be raffling off accessories from Timbuk2 and Shinola, so come show your support.
In other community board news: On Tuesday evening, Manhattan Community Board 7 voted overwhelmingly in support of the West End Avenue road diet. The plan now includes pedestrian islands at 72nd and 79th Streets, in addition to those already planned at 95th and 97th Streets, according to West Side Rag. Milling and paving on West End Avenue has already begun, and Council Member Helen Rosenthal says the new striping will be complete by the end of October.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”