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Posts from the Inwood Category

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After 8 Years, DOT Finally Has a Bike Plan for Dyckman St. CB 12: Not So Fast.

DOT's plan would put painted bike lanes on Dyckman Street between Broadway and Nagle Avenue and a two protected lane between Nagle and 10th Avenue. Image: DOT

DOT’s plan calls for painted bike lanes on Dyckman Street between Broadway and Nagle Avenue and a two-way protected lane between Nagle and 10th Avenue. Image: DOT

Eight years after uptown advocates first called for a bike connection across Inwood, linking greenways along the Hudson River and the Harlem River, DOT has a bike lane plan for Dyckman Street.

Between Broadway and Nagle Avenue, the redesign would convert the current four-lane design into DOT’s standard road diet template — a general traffic lane and a five-foot-wide un-protected bike lane in each direction, plus a painted median and center turn lanes. Between Nagle Avenue and Tenth Avenue, where there are already buffered bike lanes, the project would add a nine-foot two-way protected bike lane with a three-foot buffer along the north side of Harlem River Park.

While the plan falls short of the fully-protected connection advocates wanted, it’s a big improvement on a street that currently lacks space for cycling.

Washington Heights resident Jonathan Rabinowitz, who has pushed for a bikeable Dyckman Street for several years, said the project will provide a useful link to other recent bike network improvements in the neighborhood. “For someone who is going typically [north-south] like myself, even this minimal on-street bike lane approach is a benefit because it creates a space on those two blocks to connect Fort George Hill with Sherman Avenue,” he said.

In addition to the road diet and bike lanes, the project includes new median islands at Vermilyea and Post Avenues and a large painted curb extension and new crosswalk at the intersection with Tenth Avenue.

On June 6, DOT presented the Dyckman Street project to the Manhattan Community Board 12 transportation committee [PDF]. Instead of supporting the plan, the committee asked DOT to hold a workshop on the proposal and the overall transportation needs of the area. But neighborhood residents have already waited eight years for safer cycling on Dyckman.

The Dyckman project has gone through an interminable public process. In 2008, after months of local advocacy, CB 12 passed a resolution requesting a DOT feasibility study of a Dyckman protected bike lane. Then, in 2011 and again in 2012, the board requested bike lane upgrades. But now that a DOT plan has finally materialized, the committee wants to delay implementation with more meetings.

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Seaman Ave. Has a Bike Lane and Sharrows, But It’s Still a Speedway

… and looking north, where the northbound bike lane turns to sharrows. Driver 1 is backing down the street for parking. Driver 2 is about to make a U turn. Photos: Brad Aaron

Seaman Avenue and W. 215th St., looking north, where the northbound bike lane turns to sharrows. Driver 1 is backing down the street for parking. Driver 2 is about to make a U turn.

The thermoplast is down on the new northbound Seaman Avenue bike lane — but it’s really a bike lane and sharrows. Unless DOT makes a bolder move and puts a protected bike lane next to Inwood Hill Park, not much is going to change on this important Upper Manhattan bike route

I’ve written about this project, which took almost two years to complete, many times now, so here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: DOT replaced two narrow bike lanes on Seaman, Inwood’s only north-south through-street west of Broadway, with a northbound bike lane and southbound sharrows. DOT’s rationale for one bike lane was the street isn’t wide enough for two standard-width lanes — though the new design retained two lanes for parked vehicles. The reason for putting the lane on the northbound side of the street, DOT said, was to provide more room for slower cyclists going uphill from Dyckman Street, at Seaman’s southern end.

But as it turns out, the northbound lane converts to sharrows at W. 215th Street, one block before Seaman terminates at W. 218th, probably because the street narrows there. I looked back through my correspondence with DOT and there was no mention of the northbound bike lane ending before the street does.

As noted in prior posts, the current design does not address the major obstacles to biking on Seaman. As shown in these photos, taken yesterday, drivers are already double-parking on the barely-dry thermoplast. Cyclists will be forced to weave around them, just as before. As far as speed is concerned, motorists aren’t taking cues from the fresh markings. On her walk to the train just after dawn today, my wife texted to let me know that “Seaman [was] a speedway this morning.”

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Eyes on the Street: Outlines Appear for Seaman Avenue Bike Lane, Sharrows

DOT is replacing two 4-foot bike lanes on Seaman Avenue with one 5-foot bike lane and sharrows. Photos: Brad Aaron

DOT is replacing two 4-foot bike lanes on Seaman Avenue with one 5-foot bike lane and sharrows because, according to DOT, the street isn’t wide enough for two standard-width bike lanes. Photos: Brad Aaron

Preliminary markings for a bike lane and sharrows appeared on Seaman Avenue in Inwood yesterday, nearly two years after DOT resurfaced the street.

Seaman Avenue runs from Dyckman/200th Street to W. 218th Street. The only north-south through street in Inwood west of Broadway, Seaman serves as a bike connection between the Hudson River Greenway and the Bronx, in addition to being a key neighborhood biking corridor.

Seaman is also a cut-through for Bronx and Westchester motorists looking to avoid the toll on the Henry Hudson Bridge. It has a few speed humps, and it’s within the Inwood Slow Zone, but those measures do little to keep drivers from speeding past the apartment buildings, parks, schools, and churches that line Seaman from end to end. The 34th Precinct, which issued just 266 speeding tickets in 2015, is a non-factor when it comes to slowing drivers down. Double-parking is probably more common than speeding and seems to get even less attention, enforcement-wise.

All things considered, Seaman Avenue seemed ripe for a change. The street’s old 4-foot wide bike lanes were removed when DOT repaved in the summer of 2014, and were not replaced when the city put down new crosswalks and other markings. DOT informed Community Board 12 last September of its plans to install a northbound 5-foot bike lane and replace the southbound bike lane with sharrows. Though Seaman will retain two lanes for parked vehicles, DOT says it isn’t wide enough to have bike lanes in both directions.

Last year DOT told Streetsblog the agency will monitor the new configuration to see if adjustments are necessary. If DOT is ever willing to challenge the status quo, Seaman could become a much better street for biking and walking, with a protected bikeway next to Inwood Hill Park.

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Eyes on the Street: The New 215th Step-Street Officially Opens Today

The 215th Step-Street, looking west from Broadway. Photos: Brad Aaron

The new 215th Step-Street, looking west from Broadway. Photos: Brad Aaron

Over a decade after the project’s first expected delivery date, the reconstruction of Inwood’s 215th Step-Street is complete.

West 215th Street crosses the width of Manhattan island’s northernmost neighborhood, from Inwood Hill Park to the Harlem River. Between Park Terrace East and Broadway, W. 215 is a step-street — one of many car-free street segments in Upper Manhattan and other parts of the city — connecting Broadway shops, buses, and the 1 train with residential blocks to the west.

Inwood history blogger Cole Thompson traced the origin of the double-wide staircase to 1915, when Broadway was paved with cobblestones and “the automobile was still a relatively new contraption.”

By the late 20th century, the long, steep staircase was in sad shape. Resident requests to renovate the stairs date at least as far back as the 1990s, and the city once pledged to get the work done by 2005. For years afterward, however, the step-street continued to deteriorate, requiring periodic repairs as locals contended with ice patches and busted street lamps. In 2007 a woman was injured when she tripped on a hole in the stairs.

The stairway in 2008.

The stairway in 2008.

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Eyes on the Street: Safer Crossing Shaping Up at Broadway and Sherman

Drivers must make slower turns from Broadway onto Sherman Avenue after DOT eliminated a slip lane, now covered with epoxy, in the foreground. Photo: Brad Aaron

Drivers must make slower turns from Broadway onto Sherman Avenue after DOT eliminated a slip lane, now covered with epoxy, in the foreground. Photo: Brad Aaron

Earlier this year DOT put Inwood’s Sherman Avenue on a road diet, reducing the number of lanes for motor vehicles and adding bike lanes along the length of the street, from Broadway to 10th Avenue. That plan included a redesign of the intersection of Sherman at Broadway that now looks close to complete.

The most significant change is at the southeast corner. There, DOT converted a slip lane into pedestrian space using epoxy and gravel. Before, people trying to get to and from Broadway on the south side of Sherman had to cross both the slip lane and Elwood Street, which intersects Sherman a few feet east of Broadway. Now the slip lane crossing is gone, and drivers have a tighter right turn from Broadway onto Sherman, forcing them to slow down.

DOT also reversed the flow of traffic on Elwood from southward to northward, so people crossing the street don’t have to look over their shoulders for turning drivers.

The Broadway-Sherman slip lane before the redesign. Image: Google Maps

The Broadway-Sherman slip lane before the redesign. Image: Google Maps

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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.

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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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