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Posts from the "Inwood" Category

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Upper Manhattan Poised to Get Its First Protected Bike Lane

Image: NYC DOT

Image: NYC DOT

DOT will install Upper Manhattan’s first protected bike lane this summer, pending an endorsement from Community Board 12.

The parking-protected lane would run north-south on Fort George Hill, which is one-way southbound for drivers, between Fairview Avenue and Dyckman Street/Nagle Avenue. Its installation would be part of a slate of new bike facilities and refurbishments planned for Washington Heights and Inwood [PDF], which DOT initially revealed last spring. DNAinfo reports that DOT brought the plans back before the CB 12 transportation committee on Monday.

In addition, DOT would add crosstown bike lanes to W. 177th Street between Haven Avenue and Amsterdam Avenue, and W. 180th Street between Cabrini Boulevard and Amsterdam.

On Amsterdam, DOT plans to implement a four-to-three-lane road diet and add painted bike lanes from W. 162nd Street to W. 173rd Street and W. 186th Street to W. 190th Street.

Last year, DOT said the Amsterdam bike lanes may be interrupted where there are “prohibitively high traffic volumes.” The updated plan proposes sharrows on Amsterdam between W. 173rd Street and W. 186th Street — past the George Washington Bridge — and north of W. 190th Street until Amsterdam becomes Fort George Avenue. Lanes would pick up on Fort George Avenue as it curves south, ending at W. 193rd Street. (DNAinfo has mapped the proposed changes.)

“Officials said the presentation Monday represents just the first phase of implementation, with plans for more lanes to be revealed in the fall,” DNAinfo reports.

“We got a half-mile of protected lanes. It’s a start.” said Brad Conover of Bike Upper Manhattan. “We’re happy.”

“These are substantial transitional improvements,” added Kimberly Kinchen, who runs the NYC Bike Train, a social bike communing organization. “These are a step in the right direction, but I do hope we can see more protected lanes uptown.”

Work could be completed in or around July if CB 12 gives the okay.

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Eyes on the Street: Rehab of Inwood’s 215th Step-Street Finally Underway

Photo: Brad Aaron

Photo: Brad Aaron

After years of delays, work began today to rebuild the 215th Step-Street in Inwood.

These stairs, which technically serve as a car-free street, connect residential blocks in northwest Inwood with shops on Broadway, and they are a link for commuters headed to the 1 train. The step-street is quite steep, with cracked stairs and broken lamps. The city has done a decent job patching the steps as needed, but there’s only so much that can be done in its current state. In 2007 a woman tripped on a hole in the stairs, cutting her legs and face. Several steps had begun to crumble again during the recent cold snap.

In the fall of 2011, the Department of Design and Construction told Streetsblog the stairs would be rehabbed in the summer of 2013. Before that, the timeline called for a 2009 finish date — and before that, Inwood residents were told it would be done in 2005.

DNAinfo reported last July that a contract had been awarded, and now it looks like the wait is over. By 7:30 this morning, crews had cordoned off a segment of the stairs to start work. In addition to new steps, the design will include tracks for bikes to be wheeled up and down the stairs.

Construction is expected to take 17 months, according to DNAinfo, and DDC says the steps will remain open for use throughout.

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CB 12 Endorses Pedestrian Improvements for Broadway at Dyckman in Inwood

Left turn bans and added pedestrian space proposed for Broadway, Dyckman Street and Riverside Drive. Image: DOT. Click to enlarge

Manhattan Community Board 12 last night endorsed proposed improvements to a hazardous Broadway intersection in Inwood.

At Broadway at Dyckman/200th Street and Riverside Drive, pedestrians currently must negotiate long crossings while watching for drivers coming from different directions simultaneously. There were 128 crashes at the intersection from 2010 to 2012, according to DOT, resulting in injuries to three cyclists, five pedestrians, and 10 vehicle occupants. Thirty-five pedestrians and cyclists were injured there between 1996 and 2009, according to Transportation Alternatives’ CrashStat.

To shorten crossing distances and eliminate some conflicts between pedestrians and turning drivers, DOT will implement turn bans, signalization tweaks, new signage, and enhancements to pedestrian space. CB 12′s Elizabeth Lorris-Ritter tells Streetsblog that a resolution in support of the proposed fixes cleared the full board Tuesday with little opposition. Based on the timetable presented to the board’s transportation committee earlier this month, DOT should begin work next March.

The board also approved a resolution endorsing changes to Broadway at Nagle and Bennett Avenues, south of Dyckman Street, Lorris-Ritter said.

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CB 12 Committee Endorses Ped Improvements at Chaotic Inwood Intersection

Left turn bans and added pedestrian space proposed for Broadway, Dyckman Street and Riverside Drive. Image: DOT. Click to enlarge

Long-awaited improvements to a hazardous Broadway crossing in Inwood could be implemented next year, if Community Board 12 passes a resolution that cleared the board’s transportation committee this week.

The committee and around 50 residents gathered Monday night to hear DOT’s proposals for the intersection of Broadway, Dyckman/200th Street and Riverside Drive [PDF], where pedestrians must negotiate long crosswalks and signals that force them to look out for drivers coming from different directions simultaneously. In addition to local traffic, the intersection is consistently clogged by motorists headed to and from the West Side Highway and those who drive through Inwood to avoid tolls on the Henry Hudson Bridge.

There were 128 crashes at the intersection from 2010 to 2012, DOT said, resulting in injuries to three cyclists, five pedestrians, and 10 vehicle occupants. Thirty-five pedestrians and cyclists were injured there between 1996 and 2009, according to Transportation Alternatives’ CrashStat.

DOT’s suggested remedy is a relatively simple mix of turn bans, signalization tweaks, new signage, and enhancements to pedestrian space. DOT would prohibit left turns from northbound Broadway onto Dyckman and Riverside, left turns from Dyckman to southbound Broadway, left turns from southbound Broadway to Dyckman, and U-turns from Riverside to Dyckman. DOT proposes to add paint or concrete to two pedestrian islands on the west side of the intersection, and to extend the curb on the southeast corner. These alterations would shorten crossing distances and eliminate conflicts between pedestrians and turning drivers at the west and south crosswalks.

Currently pedestrians must look out for motorists approaching from different directions simultaneously. Photo: DOT

Alternate routes for motorists would be marked with new signage. DOT staff said peak hour counts showed that the impact on residential streets, where auto traffic would be directed, would be minimal. Still, objections to the plan centered mostly on diverting traffic to narrower streets that are lined with apartment buildings.

Several locals said the plan should take into account the overwhelming number of drivers who are drawn to the area by La Marina, a restaurant and nightclub at the west end of Dyckman Street that offers valet parking. Maria Luna, former CB 12 chair and current board member, and resident Bryan Davis yelled for a while about how the turn bans would make it more difficult to drive in the neighborhood, especially since Broadway is usually lined with double-parked vehicles.

DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione said longer green signals for Broadway and Riverside traffic would mean less congestion on Broadway. DOT staff and committee member Elizabeth Lorris-Ritter also noted that the plan is intended to address pedestrian safety at the intersection, and won’t solve all of the area’s traffic problems.

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At Long Last, DOT Proposes Bike Lanes for Upper Manhattan

DOT recommends "future study" for bike infrastructure on upper Broadway and the Broadway Bridge, background left.

Responding to years of citizen advocacy and a resolution from Manhattan Community Board 12, DOT has proposed bike lanes for a number of streets in Upper Manhattan.

Most of the lanes, concentrated in Washington Heights [PDF], would be installed next year, after a consultation with CB 12 this fall. One would be protected by parked cars.

The plan also acknowledges but does not set a timetable for the highest priority of local livable streets advocates: a bike route on Dyckman Street to connect the Hudson and Harlem River Greenways, first proposed by Inwood residents in 2008.

Among the proposed bike routes are:

  • W. 177th Street between Broadway and Cabrini Boulevard (2013 installation)
  • Cabrini Boulevard between W. 177th Street and W. 178th Street to the George Washington Bridge (2013 installation)
  • W. 179th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Cabrini Boulevard (179th serves as a motorist access point to the GWB)
  • W. 180th Street between Cabrini Boulevard and Amsterdam Avenue
  • Ft. George Hill between Fairview Avenue and Dyckman Street (parking protected)

The proposal, presented to the CB 12 transportation committee in May, includes two to four miles of lanes on Amsterdam Avenue, possibly interrupted at intersections with “prohibitively high traffic volumes,” and on St. Nicholas Avenue between Fairview Avenue and Broadway.

Read more…

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Daily News Tries Race-Baiting to Gin Up Controversy Over Safer Streets

Is either of these Inwood cyclists invincible in traffic? Ask the Daily News. Photo: Brad Aaron

It’s truly amazing how much work the tabloids put into opposing measures that save lives. Take today’s Daily News, which resorted to race-baiting to gin up controversy over hard-won bike lanes in Upper Manhattan.

Residents of Inwood and Washington Heights have been working for safer neighborhood streets for a long while. My first story on such an effort was published on Streetsblog back in September 2007. A few months later the folks who would eventually form the area’s first known livable streets group proposed separated bike lanes for Dyckman Street.

So for at least six years, my neighbors have waited for Community Board 12 and DOT to come up with a plan for new bike infrastructure, even as DOT whittled away what little exists. Last week, DNAinfo reported that a handful of new bike lanes could finally be coming to Washington Heights (and Fort George — an area south of Dyckman/200th Street which, depending on whom you ask, is part of Inwood).

On cue, the Daily News sent three reporters to get quotes from two people with negative reactions, which the paper presents as evidence that locals are divided. Here’s what reporters Michael Feeney, Stephanie Lacy, and Amber Goodfellow came up with.

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NYPD Rarely Enforces Speed Limit on Deadly Broadway in Upper Manhattan

Twelve pedestrians were killed by motorists in the 33rd and 34th Precincts from 2009 through 2011. Police in those precincts issued a total of 125 speeding summonses in 2011. Image: TSTC

In our Tuesday post on the Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s latest “Most Dangerous Roads for Walking” report, we noted the concentration of pedestrian deaths on Broadway in Washington Heights, where pedestrian islands, protected bike lanes and other safety features are not present above 168th Street.

In addition to engineering, another factor in pedestrian fatalities and injuries is, of course, traffic law enforcement. In the 33rd and 34th Precincts, which cover Washington Heights and Inwood, very few motorists are penalized for reckless driving — even those who cause grievous injury.

Washington Heights is an entrance and exit point for the George Washington Bridge. And with two toll-free bridges connecting Manhattan to the Bronx, and, ergo, Westchester County, Inwood is plagued by cut-through traffic (a problem that could be exacerbated by toll hikes on the Henry Hudson Bridge). We wrote that speed enforcement in the 34th Precinct effectively stopped after the installation of Manhattan’s first “Slow Zone” last October, but there wasn’t much enforcement to speak of before then either.

In 2011, the most recent year covered by the Tri-State report, and the first year in which NYPD made traffic summons and crash data available to the public, the 34th Precinct issued just 17 speeding summonses, and 152 summonses for failure to yield to a pedestrian. To the south, the 33rd Precinct issued 108 summonses for speeding, and 80 summonses for failure to yield, for the entire year.

Four pedestrians were killed by motorists in the 33rd Precinct between 2009 and 2011, according to Tri-State. In the 34th Precinct, eight pedestrians died in traffic during that period. Injury numbers by precinct are not known, since NYPD did not begin releasing that data until the middle of 2011.

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34th Precinct Ceases Speed Enforcement After Inwood Slow Zone Goes In

Here’s another example of how James Vacca and Jessica Lappin, if they’re serious about street safety, targeted the wrong agency for a public scolding yesterday.

The 34th Precinct issued 50 tickets in the nine months before DOT installed a Slow Zone in Inwood, and two tickets in the three months after. Photo: Brad Aaron

In September, DOT completed the installation of Manhattan’s first 20-mph “Slow Zone,” between Dyckman and W. 218th Streets west of Broadway, in Inwood. This Slow Zone was requested by my neighbors and approved by Community Board 12. Within its boundaries are two parks, several churches and schools, and at least one daycare center — and of course the homes of thousands of people who want to walk and bike their neighborhood without fear of being harmed by speeding motorists.

Before the Slow Zone was completed, the 34th Precinct, which covers all of Inwood and part of Washington Heights, had issued a total of 50 speeding citations in 2012. In the three months after the speed humps and Slow Zone markings went in, and the speed limit in Inwood west of Broadway was lowered to 20 mph, the precinct handed out two speeding tickets. In November and December, not one driver was cited for speeding by the officers of the 34th Precinct.

We have asked NYPD how many speeding tickets, if any, were issued on Inwood surface streets by the Highway Patrol in October, November, and December, but have yet to hear back.

Vacca has endorsed a 20 mph speed limit for all of New York City. He understands that speed kills. He is also surely aware of the proverbial three “E”s of traffic safety: education, engineering, and enforcement. While DOT has succeeded in educating the public on the concept — there are more applications than DOT can handle — and the engineering cues are impossible to miss, to achieve its full potential the Slow Zone program needs NYPD to provide enforcement. Under Ray Kelly, however, NYPD has demonstrated little to no interest in doing its part to help make streets safer, whether the task is enforcing speed limits or holding dangerous drivers accountable.

The fact is no city agency is doing more to reduce traffic deaths and injuries than NYC DOT. If anything, thanks to lax enforcement by police and electeds who prefer grandstanding to governing, NYPD and the City Council have made it more difficult for DOT to do its job.

If Vacca and Lappin have any doubts about which department has failed to hold up its end of the deal on matters of street safety, I have a Slow Zone to show them.

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Why Does DOT Keep Taking Away Inwood Bike Infrastructure?

Bike lanes on W. 218th Street in Inwood have been replaced by sharrows. An image of the former street layout appears below. Photo: Brad Aaron

A short stretch of bike lanes in Inwood has gone the way of the disappearing bike shelter, further reducing the neighborhood’s scarce cycling infrastructure.

West 218th Street, Manhattan’s northernmost cross street to extend west of Broadway, connects Broadway and Inwood Hill Park, and delineates the southern border of the Columbia University Baker Field complex. It is part of a marked and mapped bike route for cyclists headed to and from Van Cortlandt Park, in the Bronx. Not long ago, the four blocks of W. 218th west of Broadway had bike lanes. When the street was repaved recently, the lanes were replaced by sharrows.

Said a DOT spokesperson, in an email to Streetsblog: “Following a resurfacing project on that street, DOT updated the markings to reflect current design standards, which don’t allow for a five-foot bike lane on a street that width.”

The efficacy of sharrows is a topic of debate. But if a street is deemed too narrow for bike lanes, yet wide enough for two lanes of parked cars, the issue isn’t a shortage of asphalt – it’s the decision to prioritize free curbside parking over safe space for cycling. This in a neighborhood that has few bike lanes as it is, and where DOT has responded to residents’ desire for more bike infrastructure by nipping away at what little exists.

Much is made of securing the blessing of community boards before bike infrastructure can be added, but this is not the case when bike infrastructure is removed or downgraded. We know DOT did not ask Community Board 12 before repossessing Inwood’s lone bike shelter. We asked DOT, twice, if CB 12 was consulted on the decision to remove the bike lanes from West 218th Street. We’re still waiting for an answer.

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Upper Manhattan Assembly Candidates Square Off on Transit Issues

Three candidates vying for the 72nd State Assembly District seat, representing parts of Washington Heights and Inwood, discussed transit issues and the state of MTA service last night at a forum sponsored by WE ACT for Environmental Justice and Transport Workers Union Local 100.

Three of the four Democratic candidates for the 72nd Assembly district attended last night's forum.

As the forum progressed, key differences emerged on congestion pricing and other issues, even as the candidates often dodged the questions asked of them.

There are four candidates running in this Democratic primary, which will be held on Thursday, September 13. Mayra S. Linares, Gabriela Rosa and Ruben Vargas came to last night’s forum. Melanie Hidalgo declined due to scheduling conflicts.

Asked how they would improve bus service, only Linares had a response that addressed the topic. She said that she supports more Select Bus Service and that gains in bus speed are worth the possible inconvenience of having to move parked cars out of rush hour bus lanes.

Dedicating new revenue for the MTA by enacting congestion pricing got a mixed reaction from the candidates.

Linares opposes pricing. “There’s too many of us who drive back and forth,” she said. “If we add another toll, you can imagine it would go up — and go up again.”

After asking the moderators for a definition of congestion pricing, Rosa voiced support for the concept. Vargas took a more cautious approach. “If you are driving downtown, it’s chaos. What the congestion price would do is motivate people to use mass transit,” he said. Noting that he opposes tolls on Upper Manhattan bridges, Vargas said, “I would support a reasonable congestion price.”

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