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Posts from the Inwood Category


34th Precinct Cracks Down on Drivers Double-Parked in Inwood Bike Lanes

A 34th Precinct officer cites a driver blocking a bike lane on Sherman Avenue in Inwood. Photo: 34th Precinct/Facebook

A 34th Precinct officer cites a driver blocking a bike lane on Sherman Avenue in Inwood. Photo: 34th Precinct/Facebook

When DOT installed new bike lanes on Sherman Avenue in Inwood a few weeks back, it didn’t take long before they were blocked by double-parked drivers.

Sherman is one of many Inwood streets that effectively has four parking lanes. This isn’t good for anyone, as it makes it dangerous to walk and bike, and creates aggravation for drivers — which, in turn, makes it dangerous to walk and bike.

Responding to residents’ complaints, on Friday the 34th Precinct announced a double-parking crackdown. Deputy Inspector Chris Morello, the precinct’s commanding officer, posted photos of officers issuing tickets on Facebook.

Well, you asked for it, and you got it: we had a double parking initiative yesterday in the 34 Pct. Summonses were issued for double parking (particularly in bike lanes) on Broadway, Sherman, Dyckman and Post (these are our most congested and dangerous roadways).

In the past month, we have issued 632 double parking summonses, up 10% from last year. And we have issued a total of 7,711 parking summonses this year. This is all done in an effort to keep traffic moving and keep our residents safe.

Hats off to Deputy Inspector Morello and precinct officers for taking on what is mainly a symptom of dysfunctional curb management. Now if DOT would help out by swapping private car parking for commercial loading zones, traffic would flow more smoothly and Inwood streets would be safer.


DOT to Replace Seaman Ave. Bike Lanes With Wider Bike Lane and Sharrows

DOT says Seaman Avenue isn’t wide enough for bike lanes. Photo: @SheRidesABike

DOT says Seaman Avenue in Inwood isn’t wide enough for bike lanes in both directions. Photo: @SheRidesABike

Last week DOT told Community Board 12 that bike lanes on Seaman Avenue in Inwood, which were wiped out when most of the street was resurfaced in 2014, won’t be coming back on both sides of the street because the old 4-foot wide lanes didn’t comply with agency guidelines. DOT told Streetsblog yesterday that a 5-foot lane will be striped on northbound Seaman while the southbound side will get sharrows.

While the DOT plan isn’t necessarily a downgrade — riding outside the door zone is next to impossible in a 4-foot bike lane — it’s telling that the agency didn’t go with a more ambitious solution. A safer design like protected bike lanes would have to subtract parking or car lanes. With the bike lane-plus-sharrows configuration, the agency can meet its design standards without really changing the status quo on the street.

Seaman Avenue is the only north-south through street in Inwood west of Broadway, making it an important corridor for biking. A marked DOT bike route, Seaman connects the Hudson River Greenway and the Bronx. It’s also a cut-through for toll-shopping drivers avoiding the Henry Hudson Bridge.

A residential street that borders Inwood Hill Park for much of its length, Seaman is within the Inwood Slow Zone. But despite Slow Zone signage, speed humps, and the near-constant presence of children, speeding motorists are common on Seaman. Those who adhere to the 20 mph speed limit can expect to be passed by other drivers. With just 136 summonses issued this year through August, the 34th Precinct doesn’t enforce the speed limit in any meaningful way.

DOT told Streetsblog a wider northbound bike lane will help cyclists traveling uphill from Dyckman Street, at Seaman’s southern end, and that the agency expects the southbound lane to work well with sharrows. A spokesperson said DOT will monitor the new configuration to see if changes are needed.

Double-parked drivers make Seaman an obstacle course for cyclists. Image: Google Maps

Double-parked drivers make Seaman an obstacle course for cyclists. Image: Google Maps

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Eyes on the Street: Cyclists Ride New Hudson Greenway Ramp in Inwood

The new ramp connecting the northern terminus of the Hudson River Greenway to Dyckman Street. Photos: Five Borough Bike Club/Facebook

The new ramp connecting the northern terminus of the Hudson River Greenway to Dyckman Street. Photos: Five Borough Bike Club/Facebook

Cyclists and wheelchair users will soon have improved access to the Hudson River Greenway in Inwood, when the Parks Department officially opens a new ramp connecting the greenway to Dyckman Street.

The ADA-compliant ramp, at the northern terminus of the greenway, was supposed to open a year ago. Until now users had to enter and exit the greenway via a set of stairs on a segment of Riverside Drive that serves as a Henry Hudson Parkway onramp. The new ramp rises from the street in a series of switchbacks.

Though Parks told us the project isn’t quite finished, photos of people using the ramp are popping up on Facebook and Twitter.

With the completion of this project, it’s even more urgent to make Dyckman Street — which connects the east and west side greenways — a safer place to bike and walk. As of July, dozens of people had been injured in crashes on Dyckman this year, according to DOT’s Vision Zero View.

Community Board 12 asked DOT to study a citizen-generated proposal to add a protected bike lane to Dyckman, but the agency hasn’t acted on the plan in the seven years since it first surfaced.

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WE ACT Climate Plan Calls for Better Upper Manhattan Bicycling, Walking

While most of Northern Manhattan escaped the harshest ravages of Hurricane Sandy, there was some flooding along the waterfront, including inside the 148th Street subway station. Next time around, a severe storm could take a different turn and things could be worse for waterfront areas in Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood. WE ACT for Environmental Justice has developed a climate action plan for those neighborhoods — and it includes some recommendations for walking, bicycling, and transit.

The plan proposes more than just new infrastructure to limit the damage of severe weather. Building social capacity to make sure people have access to resources and are able to ride out storms is an important component, as is retrofitting the neighborhoods to reduce their contribution to climate change. Addressing inequality is at the heart of the report’s recommendations, since low-income populations are most at risk from environmental hazards.

“For many communities, the emergency has existed throughout their history,” said Aurash Khawarzad, policy advocacy coordinator at WE ACT. “Climate change just compounds it.”

The report began to take shape after the People’s Climate March in September 2014. “After the People’s Climate March, a lot of people we were working with were really excited about working on climate change,” Khawarzad said.

WE ACT held seven workshops with more than 100 local residents during the first half of 2015. “All these ideas came out of a community-based planning process,” Khawarzad said. “It’s meant to be comprehensive plan.”

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Want Safer Biking and Walking Across the Harlem River? Tell DOT Your Ideas

Residents from the Bronx and Manhattan told DOT last night how they want to improve walking and biking across the Harlem River bridges. It was the second of four Harlem River bridges workshops this month.

Bronx and Upper Manhattan residents had plenty of suggestions for DOT last night. Photo: Stephen Miller

Bronx and Upper Manhattan residents had plenty of suggestions for DOT last night. Photo: Stephen Miller

DOT is looking to improve access at all 16 bridges along the Harlem River, including the soon-to-open Randall’s Island Connector. Streets up to a mile inland on both sides of the river fall within the scope of the project.

“We’re not coming here with a plan,” project manager Alice Friedman told the approximately 15 people at last night’s workshop. “We’re really here to hear from you.”

Attendees last night split into three groups to highlight problem areas and offer suggestions. Most wanted wider paths on the bridges, safer intersections where the bridges touch down, and protected bike paths connecting nearby neighborhoods to the crossings. There were also smaller requests, such as better signage, more lighting, mirrors on blind corners, and improved snow clearance.

Mychal Johnson of South Bronx Unite said he often uses Exterior Street on rides to Mill Pond Park. “This is our safest route,” he said. “And there’s nothing protecting bikes. And there should be.”

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After Fatal Crash, Rodriguez Asks DOT for W. 207th Street Safety Study

Two drivers hit two pedestrians, killing a 24-year-old man, on W. 207th Street at Ninth Avenue in Inwood. Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez has asked DOT to study W. 207th for potential safety measures. Image: Google Maps

Two drivers hit two pedestrians, killing a 24-year-old man, on W. 207th Street at Ninth Avenue in Inwood. Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez has asked DOT to study W. 207th for potential safety measures. Image: Google Maps

City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez wants DOT to study safety improvements for an Inwood street where drivers killed a pedestrian and injured a second victim last night.

Two drivers struck two men, ages 24 and 35, as they attempted to cross W. 207th Street near Ninth Avenue at around 10:27 p.m. The victims entered the street “outside the crosswalk,” saw vehicle traffic approaching, and were trying to run back to the curb when they were hit by a driver traveling westbound in a Ford SUV, according to NYPD and published reports. The victims were thrown into the eastbound lane and were hit by a second driver in a Toyota sedan.

The 24-year-old victim died and the second victim was hospitalized in serious condition. As of this afternoon, NYPD was withholding the name of the deceased pedestrian pending family notification.

The NYPD public information office had no information on driver speed, a key factor in the severity of the crash. Police said both drivers passed sobriety tests and no charges were filed. The drivers’ names were not released.

Anonymous police sources blamed the victims in the press, telling the Daily News they “bolted across W. 207 St. outside the crosswalk,” while exculpating the SUV driver. “The driver of the vehicle hit the brakes, but couldn’t stop in time,” cops told WCBS.

The crash occurred in the 34th Precinct, where local officers issue around 13 speeding summonses a month.

The intersection of W. 207th Street and Ninth Avenue is wide and hazardous. This stretch of W. 207th Street is often clogged with honking drivers headed to and from the Bronx via the University Heights Bridge. According to the city’s Vision Zero map, three pedestrians were injured at W. 207th and Ninth in 2015 as of the end of May, in addition to nine motor vehicle occupants — an indication that drivers are colliding at high speeds.

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DOT, CB 12 Hold Firm as Cranks Attack Fort George Hill Bike Lane

Some residents of Fort George Hill were upset by a new protected bike lane. Image: DOT [PDF]

Fort George Hill co-op owners had a freak-out over a new protected bike lane at a Manhattan Community Board 12 transportation committee meeting Monday evening.

The bike lane, installed earlier this year to provide a safe two-way connection between Washington Heights and Inwood, was among a handful of streets CB 12 suggested to DOT for bike lanes in 2012. The agency came back with a proposal for Fort George Hill last year, and received the board’s sign-off before installing it this spring. Installation is still underway.

That didn’t keep some residents of Fort George Hill co-op buildings from getting upset about the change. About 25 people packed Monday’s meeting to show their displeasure. “How come we didn’t have an open meeting with the buildings before this thing was built?” asked Paul J. Hintersteiner, president of the co-op board at 17 Fort George Hill. “Nobody knew anything about it until it happened.”

Things escalated from there, with some residents yelling at DOT staff and demanding that the bike lane be removed.

“They don’t care about anybody in the neighborhood. They care about putting in the bike lanes,” said Abraham Jacob, 58, who didn’t like the street redesign because his car gets snowed in during the winter. (The bike lane was installed this spring.) “When the winter comes, I don’t like to take the subway. I don’t take the subway. I haven’t taken the subway since I graduated high school in 1974,” he said. “So I have the choice of either taking the subway or losing my job. So where’s DOT’s concern on that?”

The audience applauded in support. “Thank you,” said CB 12 member Jim Berlin.

DOT and most CB 12 members tried to take the verbal abuse in stride. “We understand that it is a very upsetting situation for the residents there,” replied committee chair Yahaira Alonzo. “Going back to the way it was is not an option.”

Some spoke in support of the changes. Fort George Hill residents Sergiy Nosulya and Jonathan Rabinowitz spoke separately about how grateful they they are to be able to ride bikes down the hill legally and without heading straight into oncoming car traffic.

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Will the Parks Department Let Another Sinkhole Swallow the Greenway?

Photos: Ed Boyak

Photos: Ed Boyak

Remember the sinkhole in the Hudson River Greenway that took almost a year for the Parks Department to fix? Now there’s another one.

Streetsblog reader Ed Boyak alerted us and Parks to the new hole, located a few hundred yards south of Dyckman Street. Boyak said it opened up last week.

“There has been a wide depression collecting dirt in this spot for the past few years,” Boyak said in an email. “The now open hole is four to five inches in diameter and appears to be hollow underneath.”

The new hole is nowhere near the size of the Washington Heights crater that formed in 2013, but there is a discernible outline of how it could spread if it isn’t repaired.

Jennifer Hoppa, administrator for parks in Upper Manhattan, said in an email Wednesday that Parks Department staff were on their way inspect the hole. But there was no commitment to fix it.

“One of the many challenges to the site of course is mobilization given that there are stairs to that area and for full repair at a minimum we would need to arrange for a highway lane closure,” wrote Hoppa.

The Hudson River Greenway is the trunk line for bike commuting on the west side of Manhattan. In May the Parks Department and DOT closed sections of the greenway without notice — a routine practice that lengthens commutes and can force cyclists and other users onto streets that aren’t as safe for biking and walking.

The Parks Department didn’t repair the Washington Heights sinkhole for at least 11 months, allowing it to spread most of the width of the greenway.

“I fear the thought of dealing with another six-foot wide hole for the next year or two,” said Boyak.

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Upper Manhattan’s First Protected Bike Lane Goes Green [Updated]

Photos: Jonathan Rabinowitz

Photos: Jonathan Rabinowitz

Update: The Manhattan Community Board 12 transportation committee will consider an agenda item tonight that would call on DOT to remove the Fort George Hill bike lane. Yes, really. The meeting will be held at the Isabella Geriatric Center, 515 Audobon Avenue, at 7 p.m.

Here are more photos from reader Jonathan Rabinowitz of Upper Manhattan’s first protected bike lane, on Fort George Hill, now with fresh green paint. Rabinowitz took these shots on Saturday.

Fort George Hill is a one-way street that skirts the western border of Harlem River Park, connecting Dyckman Street in Inwood with Fairview Avenue to the south. The lane will give cyclists a north-south route between Inwood and Washington Heights by allotting 11 feet of the 60-foot-wide street to a bi-directional bike lane, plus a painted buffer between the lane and angled car parking.

DOT plans indicated the bike lane would be eight feet wide with a three-foot buffer, but Rabinowitz tells us the green swath is itself 11 feet across. In addition to the new paint, the parking spots have bumpers to keep drivers out of the lane.

As we reported in April, having a protected bi-directional lane means southbound cyclists traveling uphill won’t have to contend with motorists passing them from behind, and the easy downhill will be a legal option for biking toward Dyckman Street.


DOT Proposes Road Diets for Two Uptown Avenues

Two dangerous uptown avenues could get road diets and bike lanes this summer under a DOT plan presented to the Manhattan Community Board 12 transportation committee on Monday [PDF]. A plan for Sherman Avenue received the committee’s support, while a design for St. Nicholas Avenue is headed for at least one more month of review.

Map: DOT [PDF]

The CB 12 transportation committee backs a plan for Sherman Avenue but wants more time to consider an identical proposal for St. Nicholas Avenue. Map: DOT [PDF]

There were 25 serious injuries on the 1.2 miles of St. Nicholas Avenue between 169th and 193rd streets from 2009 to 2013, according to DOT, putting it in the most dangerous third of Manhattan streets. Five intersections — at 175th, 177th, 178th, 181st, and 185th streets — are more dangerous than 90 percent of the borough’s intersections.

On Sherman, there were seven serious injuries and two fatalities from 2009 to 2013, according to DOT. Two of its intersections, at Academy and Dyckman streets, ranked in the top 10 percent of Manhattan’s most dangerous intersections.

Sherman and St. Nicholas are both 60 feet wide. Each would receive a road diet replacing two car lanes in each direction with one car lane plus a center turn lane and a striped bike lane. CB 12 had asked for bike lanes in the area in 2012. The projects do not include concrete pedestrian islands, though DOT says they could be added at a later date.

The biggest changes would come to the intersection of Sherman Avenue and Broadway, where the slip lane from northbound Broadway onto Sherman would be replaced by an super-sized curb extension that forces drivers to slow down when turning (see below). A median pedestrian island would be added on Sherman, and an existing triangle island on the north side of the intersection would be enlarged. DOT says pedestrian crossing distances will be shortened by 38 percent, from 118 to 73 feet.

“People didn’t really have issues with the proposal for Sherman,” said Liz Ritter, who attended the meeting and sits on the board but not the transportation committee. “It looks like that’s totally going to work out.”

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