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Posts from the Hell’s Kitchen Category


Eyes on the Street: Bike Corrals Protect Ninth Avenue Bike Lane

A new bike corral on 9th Avenue, between 39th and 40th Streets. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Bike parking corrals adjacent to a protected bike lane — a first for New York City, and perhaps the nation — have been installed along Ninth Avenue in Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen. Check out these pics from Clarence, snapped on Thursday.

First requested by Community Board 4 in fall 2011, and receiving a supportive 11-0 committee vote in February, the corrals provide 18 bike racks along the “floating” parking lane the between the bicycle lane and general traffic lanes.

At the request of the community board, sidewalk bike racks on blocks that are receiving bike corrals will be removed.

A pedestrian island and bike corral on 9th Avenue at 36th Street. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Casa di Isacco restaurant is maintaining a four-rack corral between 39th and 40th Streets, Pomodoro restaurant is maintaining a seven-rack corral between 38th and 39th Streets, and Ora Thai Cuisine is maintaining a seven-rack corral by a pedestrian island between 35th and 36th Streets.

In the words of Streetsblog reader Eric McClure: Is there a higher form of bike lane than the bike-parking-protected bike lane?

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No Charges Filed as Six Are Killed by NYC Drivers in Seven Days

A Brooklyn woman who was struck by a truck driver in Red Hook Wednesday was the latest victim among six city pedestrian and cyclist fatalities in the last week.

Lillian Cruz, hit by the driver of a tractor-trailer in Red Hook Wednesday, was at least the fifth pedestrian killed by a city motorist since Ray Kelly announced changes to the NYPD crash investigation squad. Image: News12 via Gothamist

At approximately 6:40 a.m. yesterday, Lillian Cruz, 60, was crossing Hamilton Avenue at Court Street when the signal changed and the driver of a tractor-trailer, westbound on Hamilton and stopped at the light, accelerated and ran her over, according to NYPD.

Cruz, of Bushwick, died at the scene. The driver was summonsed for failure to exercise due care.

Cruz was at least the second pedestrian killed by a semi truck driver in the last two weeks, following the February 28 death of 6-year-old Amar Diarrassouba. Tractor-trailer drivers have killed at least three other pedestrians on city streets since last August, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog. The victims include Ignacio Cubano, Ken Baker, and Jessica Dworkin.

Many of the trucks involved in these fatal collisions are too long to be operated on surface streets without a permit. Despite recent deaths, the presence of trucks in areas that should normally be off-limits has not been a focus of NYPD or the media.

The type of collision that killed Cruz is supposed to be prevented by crossover mirrors, which allow drivers of large trucks to see directly in front of them. It is not known whether the truck was equipped with the mirrors. Trucks registered outside New York are exempt from the mirror requirement.

Monday evening at around 8 p.m., 75-year-old Roberto Baez was struck by the driver of a Nissan in the Bronx. Baez was crossing Soundview Avenue mid-block near Taylor Avenue when he was killed, a police spokesperson said. No summonses were issued.

Monday morning, 16-year-old Tenzin Drudak was among several people hit by a curb-jumping motorist near LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City. Drudak was killed and four others were injured. NYPD told the media the driver was speeding and reaching for a carton of milk when the crash occurred. Nevertheless, no charges were filed.

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CB 4 Still Pushing DOT for Time to Cross Deadly Hell’s Kitchen Intersections

Shu Ying Liu was killed by a driver turning right at Ninth Avenue and 41st Street. Community Board 4 asked DOT for exclusive pedestrian crossing time here in 2008. Image: Google Maps

Manhattan Community Board 4 has renewed its call for safety improvements at the Hell’s Kitchen crossing where an elderly woman was killed by a driver last week. The request comes five years after a resolution that asked for exclusive crossing time for pedestrians at the deadly intersection, and is the latest episode in a years-long, and largely futile, campaign by neighborhood residents for split phase signals.

Shu Ying Liu, 69, was struck by a dump truck driver on the morning of February 5 as the driver made a right turn from Ninth Avenue to 41st Street, according to reports. Jack Montelbano, of Bayonne, was later arrested for leaving the scene.

“Ms. Shu Ying Liu lived on 54th Street in Hell’s Kitchen,” wrote Christine Berthet, of CB 4 and CHEKPEDS, in an email to Streetsblog. “She used to be the managing editor of a large magazine in China. According to both her attorney and her son, she was an optimist, cheerful with an outgoing personality.”

“She was doing research in healthy food, healthy living and was coaching and teaching her children to live a healthy life. Her son would talk to her once or twice weekly and relied on her for advice on health.”

In early 2008, a resolution adopted by CB 4 said that a recent reconfiguration of the intersection of Ninth and 41st, which sees heavy traffic from New Jersey-bound cars, trucks, and buses, posed a danger to pedestrians. The board asked for “emergency interim measures,” including a neckdown on 41st Street, to reduce crossing distance, and a shift in location for the crosswalk on the south side of the intersection, to increase pedestrian visibility.

Finally, the resolution stated: “On the west side, install a turn arrow red signal to give pedestrians a dedicated phase to cross safely.” If the crash that killed Liu occurred as described by the media, with adequate exclusive crossing time it’s less likely she would have been in the driver’s path.

“This issue is not new — there have already been 46 injuries and two fatalities in recent years at this corner,” reads a letter from CB 4, sent to DOT yesterday [PDF]. “The time has come to tackle this issue with urgency.”

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Shu Ying Liu, 69, Killed by Hit-and-Run Truck Driver in Hell’s Kitchen

The driver of a private dump truck accused of killing an elderly woman in Hell’s Kitchen Tuesday has been charged with leaving the scene.

Shu Ying Liu, 69, was crossing 41st Street at Ninth Avenue at around 10:00 a.m. yesterday when she was hit by Jack Montelbano, who was making a right turn from Ninth to 41st, according to reports. The Times reported that Montelbano, of Bayonne, was alerted to the collision by witnesses but continued driving. He was tracked down in New Jersey and brought back to the city by police, who questioned and arrested him.

Liu, who lived on West 54th St., was pronounced dead at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt.

If Montelbano were versed on New York traffic law, he could have saved himself a lot of trouble. Minus the presence of intoxicants, deadly reckless driving is rarely prosecuted in New York, and assuming he possesses a valid license and was sober at the time of the crash, the odds that Montelbano would have been allowed on his way after a cursory NYPD investigation are close to 100 percent.

Even now, though indications are that Liu had a walk signal, at this point Montelbano reportedly faces no charges for killing her. (The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance was not ready to confirm charges at this writing.) If he pleads not guilty to leaving the scene, and goes to trial, there’s a chance he’ll walk away with nothing more than a bill for attorney fees.

This fatal crash occurred in the 10th Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Deputy Inspector Elisa Cokkinos, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 10th Precinct council meetings happen at 7 p.m. on the last Wednesday of the month at the precinct, 230 West 20th St. Call 212-741-8226 for information.

The City Council district where Shu Ying Liu was killed is represented by Speaker Christine Quinn, who has yet to take a position on NYPD crash investigation reforms. To encourage Quinn to take action to improve street safety in her district and citywide, contact her at 212-564-7757 or @ChrisCQuinn.

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Proposal for New Park Near Lincoln Tunnel Endorsed by CB 4


A community-driven proposal to create a new public space on a street near the Lincoln Tunnel was endorsed by Manhattan Community Board 4 Wednesday.

The plan, as reported by DNAinfo in December, is to convert three lane-widths of leftover asphalt on Dyer Avenue between 34th and 35th Streets into a park. That stretch of Dyer currently has three lanes for vehicle traffic exiting the tunnel and one lane for inbound vehicles. The Port Authority, which owns the street, plans to eliminate one of the outbound lanes. A coalition of neighborhood groups, including the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association and CHEKPEDS, envisions a park on the east side of Dyer, encompassing about 7,200 square feet.

DNAinfo reports that last night CB 4 voted unanimously to recommend the plan to the Port Authority.

There is still money to be raised, and the board wants “at least two” public feedback sessions. But organizers are upbeat — and with good reason, especially considering that the idea for the park came about only a few months ago.

“We’ve made a tremendous amount of progress so far,” said Jeffrey Peyser, who’s part of the effort to create the park.

“We’ve done outreach for corporate sponsorship to fund the initial aspects of the park and are working on getting matching grant programs.”

Meta Brunzema, an architect who helped create the initial design for the park, said that despite its tiny size, the green space would include new trees, seating areas and other amenities.

“Our group’s intent was really to make this a park for everybody — for seniors, for people with disabilities, for young people, for old people,” she said.

“The goal here is to make a real park.”


Wild, Wild West Side Has Its Own Vigilante Traffic Cop

You’ve got to already be a little bit crazy to choose to drive into Midtown for work each day (as the record-breaking ridership numbers on the PATH train attest). Sitting in traffic, dodging the even crazier driver next to you — perhaps the only thing worse than driving near the Lincoln Tunnel is trying to walk safely along those traffic-clogged streets.

Last Thursday, evening rush hour congestion caused one tunnel-bound commuter to finally snap. This driver, captured on video by Animal New York, decided she’d waited long enough to get out of Manhattan and took actions into her own hands. She got out of her car, walked into the middle of Eleventh Avenue and W. 43rd Street, and did her best impression of a traffic cop. One key difference: She waved cars through in just one direction — hers.

It’s impressive as a work of urban anthropology — look at that deference other drivers show to the trappings of authority — but even more so as a case study in psychology. This is your brain on traffic.

The city has the power to make this neighborhood, which is becoming an increasingly residential community, a little less exhaust-addled. The Lincoln Tunnel is already tolled (and last year’s sizable toll hike helped drive people toward transit), but there’s another way to do it, through parking policy. Every time the city lets a little piece of Midtown and the West Side get  gobbled up by automobile storage, it becomes that much more appealing and affordable for drivers to try and squeeze through the Lincoln Tunnel (and during the evening, when there is no Lincoln Tunnel bus lane, that much slower for transit riders thrown into mixed traffic).

In just the first five months of 2008, before the real estate market fell apart, the city approved special permits for 500 new parking spaces in Hell’s Kitchen alone. Now, the city wants to allow more parking to be built in the Theater District. If nothing else, it’s a good way of encouraging more vigilante traffic cops.


Eyes on the Street: Lines Forming for Ninth Ave Protected Bike Lane

Photo: Hilda Cohen

Construction on Midtown protected bike lanes continues apace. Reader Hilda Cohen sends in the above shot from Ninth Avenue, where she says “contractors are out marking lines between 47th and 39th.”

“Traffic was already moving smoother,” writes Hilda.

Photo: Andrew Neidhardt

On Twitter, @andrewneidhardt posted this photo of Ninth at 38th.

Regular Streetsblog readers may know that I don’t ride a bike. While the pedestrian safety benefits are often overlooked, as one who walks the city I am much more likely to linger, shop and eat in places where the sidewalk is bounded by a bike lane. I doubt I’m the only one.

Exciting stuff. Keep ’em coming, folks.


CB 4 Wins Sidewalk Expansions, Bike Corrals For West Side Bike Lanes

Bike traffic on the Eighth Avenue protected bike lane. Photo: BicyclesOnly/Flickr

One of the year’s most exciting street safety projects is on track to get better. Thanks to a recent set of recommendations from Community Board 4, the extension of the protected bike lanes on Eighth and Ninth Avenues will include additional sidewalk expansions and on-street bike parking. Though DOT didn’t adopt all of the board’s ideas — most notably, the agency is leaving a gap in the physical protection for cyclists in front of the Port Authority Bus Terminal — on the West Side, the community board’s requests are helping to build a better bike lane.

The Eighth and Ninth Avenue project, which will extended protected bike lanes from the low 30s to 42nd Street this spring and then up to 59th Street in the fall, was first approved by CB 4 last October. The chaotic Midtown streets badly need the redesign: Between 2005 and 2011, 14 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes on these blocks. In addition to the new bike and pedestrian infrastructure, the project is expected to improve safety by narrowing each travel lane by two feet.

While the community board wholeheartedly endorsed the project, it had a number of recommendations to make Eighth and Ninth Avenues even better places for walking and biking. Some of those have been incorporated into the project and are now set to become a reality.

In three locations, pedestrians packed into cramped Midtown sidewalks are going to get a little bit of breathing room. Sidewalk extensions will be added to the west side of Eighth Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets, the northeast corner of Ninth and 41st, and the southwest corner of Eighth and 57th, according to a draft of letter from the board to DOT, which the board shared with Streetsblog.

Even more sidewalk space could be cleared up by adding on-street bike racks in former parking spaces, or bike corrals. Believing that bicycles locked to poles and scaffolding were taking away too much pedestrian space, the board requested the corrals last fall. DOT said that the bike parking could be installed in 2013 (though the board wants them now), and would most likely be placed next to bike-share stations. The city’s first bike corral was just installed last summer.

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Excitement at First Bike-Share Workshop, Especially for Stations in the Street

People who live and work in Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen hard at work identifying where they'd like to see bike-share stations. Photo: Noah Kazis

Residents of Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea packed into a room last night to discuss the more than 50 bike-share stations planned to open in their neighborhoods this summer. No one was there to complain — this crowd was there to roll up their sleeves and get to work.

I sat in with a table of nine, where participants uniformly supported bike-share and overwhelmingly believed that the stations should go in parking spaces rather than on crowded Midtown sidewalks. With little disagreement over those broader questions, they dove right into a table-sized map of the area, picking out sites that would and wouldn’t work well for stations.

The workshop, sponsored by Community Board 4, local elected officials and NYC DOT, kicked off with brief overviews from DOT staff of how bike-share works. Streetsblog has already covered most of that, but there were a few new tidbits of information. The Bronx, Queens and Staten Island will each have a small, satellite bike-share system, for example, opening a bit later than the core service area in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Annual members, who would mostly be residents, might also get to take the bikes out longer without paying a surcharge than the tourists purchasing daily or weekly passes.

Everyone at the table I observed was excited to see bike-share come to their neighborhood, so long as the stations are mainly placed in the street. Photo: Noah Kazis

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The Upside of Cuomo’s Convention Center Plan: Urbanism on the West Side

Most of the Javits Center site is devoted to a single superblock that divides Hell's Kitchen from the waterfront. Image: Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association

After Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address last week, Streetsblog looked a little closer at the governor’s plan to build the nation’s largest convention center at the Aqueduct racino in Ozone Park, Queens. Counting on a huge convention center near JFK airport to deliver economic development seemed like a dubious proposition, but the other side of the plan — converting the Javits Center site on the West Side of Manhattan into a mixed-use neighborhood — has a lot to recommend it.

The Javits Center, built in the 1980s, controls 18 acres on the far West Side, from 33rd Street to 40th Street. Most of the site is an enormous superblock occupied by the main convention center building. The only cross street that provides access to the waterfront and Hudson River Park is 34th Street. (39th Street, while not part of the main building, is barricaded off to serve the facility’s needs.)

The Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association proposes an integrated street grid with housing, parks, and a mix of other uses at the Javits Center site.

“You look down the street and all you see is a black wall,” said Meta Brunzema, an architect and professor at the Pratt Institute who chairs the planning committee of the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association. “It’s very difficult for the community to have waterfront access.” Meanwhile, the area around Javits never caught on as a retail environment, said Brunzema, because the convention center is empty 100 days out of the year.

Cuomo’s plan to redevelop the Javits site using “the Battery Park City model” — presumably by offering long-term leases piece-by-piece to different developers, working from a set of planning guidelines — could create a cohesive district on the western edge of the neighborhood and finally reconnect city streets to the waterfront. “It’s really important that the Javits site be an extension of urban fabric, with a critical mass of residences, commercial uses, cultural facilities, and parks,” said Brunzema, noting that Hell’s Kitchen is also divided by bulky, traffic-choked approaches to the Lincoln Tunnel. “The neighborhood is completely fragmented.”

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