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Posts from the "Kips Bay" Category

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Eyes on the Street: Greenway Link That Burns Up Kips Bay Condo Owners

The 37th Street connector to the East Side Greenway is in, and condo residents are not happy. Photo: Stephen Miller

The 37th Street connector is in, providing a two-way bike link between First Avenue and the East Side Greenway. Photo: Stephen Miller

DOT has striped and painted an important greenway connection on one block of East 37th Street, which received the support of Manhattan Community Board 6 last month. DOT began installing the bike lane this week, and the agency says the full project will be complete by the end of next week.

This short but crucial greenway connection is the object of a lawsuit filed by the board of the Horizon condominiums. Streetsblog has obtained a copy of the complaint [PDF], which features this syntactically tortured passage, referring to a CB 6 transportation committee meeting last month: “DOT’s representative was off putting to questions raised by the Horizon. In addition, bike lobbyists were ostracized and attacked being called stupid and selfish and taunting them for ‘not getting what they wanted’… The meeting was extremely divisive for no good reason.”

CB 6 went on to overwhelmingly support the plan after DOT modified it to accommodate concerns raised by the condo owners. But the condo board insists that a bike lane on their side of the street creates risks for “children, elderly and disabled residents.” Children going to school buses and seniors going to get taxis will have to cross the bike lane, placing everyone in danger, the suit alleges. The horror!

The condo owners are asking the court to stop the bike lane installation, which is almost complete. A court date is scheduled for next week.

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Kips Bay Condo Owners Don’t Want Bike Lane By Their Door, So They’re Suing

Apparently, having this bike lane in front of their building instead of parked cars is too much for condo residents at The Horizon. Image: DOT [PDF]

Lawsuits against bike lanes and bike-share stations have all gone down in flames in New York City courts, but that’s not stopping Kips Bay condo owners from suing NYC DOT over a short, very useful connection linking the East Side Greenway and the First Avenue bike lane.

The bike lane has the backing of local City Council Member Dan Garodnick, and Manhattan Community Board 6 recently voted in favor of it. Even though the plan was modified in response to condo owners’ demands, they are taking it to court. (They are not, however, getting pro bono assistance from Gibson Dunn and Jim Walden.)

The two-way bike lane would run next to the Horizon condominium tower on 37th Street between First Avenue and the East River Greenway. It was first proposed by DOT in May and received support from Manhattan Community Board 6 last month.

Horizon condo owners came out against the bike lane at previous community board meetings in the spring and fall, calling for it to be placed on the south side of the street, where it would be next to — this is important — a different apartment building.

DOT studied that option but concluded it would be more dangerous for people on bikes, who would be exposed to additional conflicts with turning traffic at intersections. Instead, the agency proposed a modified version of the north-side lane that preserves loading zones near the condo entrance. People going to the building’s entrance would exit a vehicle in the drop-off zone and cross the bike lane before getting to the sidewalk.

Condo owners did not come out to the meeting last month when CB 6 overwhelmingly passed a resolution in support of the modified plan. At that meeting, a Garodnick staffer said the council member backed the plan. According to draft meeting minutes [PDF], the board voted 35-3, with three abstentions, in support of the bike lane.

“It seems that people were generally pleased with all the work that went into it,” CB 6 district manager Dan Miner said after the meeting. “It was not a heavily disputed matter.”

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Eyes on the Street: Filling the Gap in the Second Avenue Protected Bike Lane

Crews stripe a new parking lane alongside the existing bike lane on Second Avenue at 21st Street. Photo: Stephen Miller

Two months after a presentation to Manhattan Community Board 6′s transportation committee, and less than one month after the full board voted to support the plan, DOT crews were on Second Avenue today painting new stripes to convert the buffered bike lane in Kips Bay to the parking-protected variety.

Between 23rd and 14th Streets, Second Avenue had four lanes of car traffic sandwiched by a buffered bike lane on the left and a curbside bus lane on the right. Now, the left lane of car traffic has been converted to parking, better protecting southbound cyclists. The new configuration links other segments of protected bikeway on Second Avenue, creating a continuous stretch between 34th Street and 2nd Street.

According to DOT’s seasonally-adjusted counts, weekday motor vehicle traffic between 14th and 15th Streets dropped significantly from 2011 to 2013: Traffic volumes are down 11.8 percent during the morning rush, 23.1 percent midday, and 15.3 percent during the evening’s busiest hour. The agency predicted that converting a general traffic lane to parking would not significantly affect traffic flow on this section of the avenue.

The existing buffered bike lane has been a hotbed of double parking. Like other parking-protected bike lanes, this new stretch will probably see a bit of a learning curve: Some drivers early this afternoon, looking at the new parking signs, decided to park in the bike lane instead of the newly-striped floating lane right next to them.

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Progress for Safer Streets From Queens and Manhattan Community Boards

Last night, the full board of Manhattan Community Board 6 passed a resolution in support of a DOT plan that would fill in a gap between two sections of Second Avenue’s protected bike lane by replacing a car travel lane with parking from 23rd Street to 14th Street. Across the East River, Queens CB 1′s transportation committee was receptive to community requests for traffic calming on 21st Street in Astoria and Long Island City, asking advocates to come back with more specific requests.

If CB 1 requests a study from DOT, 21st Street in Astoria, seen above at 37th Avenue, could become safer for pedestrians. Photo: Google Maps

The CB 6 vote was surprisingly close. Although official numbers from the board will not be available until next week, reports from last night’s meeting indicate that the tally was 15-10, with two abstentions, meaning the plan was just three votes away from deadlock.

Although the plan adds parking and would not significantly affect traffic flow, according to DOT, a source said that there was resistance among some board members to a bike-related proposal or anything that might slow down travel times on the avenue. In the end, the resolution passed, and the buffered bike lane will be converted to a protected lane. Streetsblog has asked DOT when the project will be implemented; we’ll let you know if we hear anything back. Update: DOT says “implementation is scheduled to begin at the end of this month.”

In Astoria, Queens CB 1′s transportation committee was very receptive to a presentation by volunteers from Transportation Alternatives, Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens, Mount Carmel Church, Ravenswood Senior Center and Queensview Co-Op. The groups are asking for shared lane markings for bicyclists and better crosswalks and intersections for pedestrians.

“We got really strong support,” volunteer Juliana Roberts-Dubovsky said. “They recognize that it’s a dangerous street.” Although the committee did not pass any resolutions last night, it asked the TA volunteers and their neighborhood partners to come back with more specific proposals and requests before the board approaches DOT.

“Transportation Alternatives is going to come back, and then the motion will be presented to the full board,” district manager Lucille Hartmann said, adding that while the volunteers will meet again with the committee, the resolution will only go before the full board. “The consensus was that this area requires some changes,” Hartmann said. “The board will support the work that Transportation Alternatives is doing.”

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Tonight: Kips Bay and Astoria Community Boards Consider Complete Streets

There are two community board meetings tonight on complete streets plans in Manhattan and Queens.

21st Street in Astoria and Long Island City could become friendlier to cyclists and pedestrians if CB 1 takes action. Photo: DNA

The full board of Manhattan CB 6 is considering a resolution, passed by its transportation committee on Monday, to support a DOT plan to fill in a gap on the Second Avenue protected bike lane. Currently, the avenue from 23rd Street to 14th Street has a buffered bike lane, while sections to the north and south are protected by a lane of parked cars. DOT’s plan would remove a car travel lane and replace it with parking.

The public is invited to give brief comments to the full board tonight before it takes up the resolution. CB 6 has a history of slow progress on livable streets, so encouragement from users of the Second Avenue bike lane could help make the difference tonight. The meeting starts at 7:00 p.m. at 550 First Avenue.

In Astoria and Long Island City, Transportation Alternatives volunteers have been gathering signatures for a petition to Queens CB 1 asking the board to request a redesign of 21st Street to include shared lane markings for cyclists and safety improvements for pedestrians. If the board requests a redesign, DOT says it will consider it.

CB 1 has been downright hostile to livable streets in the past, so demonstrating local support for a complete streets design on 21st Street is important. The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at 45-02 Ditmars Boulevard (the entrance is on the 46th Street side). If a resolution passes committee, it will go to the full board, which is scheduled to meet on October 15.

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DOT Proposes Filling the Gap in Second Avenue Protected Bike Lane

The gap in the Second Avenue protected bike lane, from 23rd Street to 14th Street, would be filled under a plan before Community Board 6. Image: DOT

If you ride on the Second Avenue protected bike lane through Kips Bay, you know it can get a little hairy on the way downtown: The section between 23rd Street and 14th Street has no physical protection. On this stretch, the barrier of parked cars yields to a narrow painted buffer, creating an opportunity for illegal parking and offering minimal separation from speeding drivers. Under a DOT plan [PDF], that gap could be filled to create a continuous protected bike lane from 34th Street to 2nd Street.

The plan calls for adding a parking lane to this stretch of Second Avenue, creating protection for the bike lane as well as space for painted pedestrian islands. At intersections where drivers turn left, it includes mixing zones where turning drivers cross the bike lane. Parked cars would take the place of one lane of moving traffic, dropping the number of general traffic lanes from four to three, which matches the configuration south of 14th Street. The Select Bus Service lane on the west side of the avenue would not be affected.

Why the change? Motor vehicle volumes on this stretch of Second Avenue have fallen dramatically in recent years, according to a presentation NYC DOT gave last week to the Community Board 6 transportation committee, and the agency says the new configuration fits the current level of car traffic.

From 2011 to 2013, DOT’s seasonally-adjusted motor vehicle counts between 14th and 15th Streets have shown big drops in mid-week traffic: volumes are down 11.8 percent during the morning rush, 23.1 percent midday, and 15.3 percent during the evening’s busiest hour.

In a sign that car-centric metrics still count at DOT, the presentation notes that the avenue’s “Level of Service” — which measures driver delay – would remain a “B” under the new configuration if traffic volumes hold steady.

DOT presented the proposal to CB 6′s transportation committee on September 9, and committee members requested a walk-through with DOT. The committee is scheduled to meet again on October 7, and the full board meeting is scheduled for October 9. While CB 6 generally supported the redesign of First and Second Avenues in 2010 and 2012, the transportation committee has a record of dragging its feet on these votes.
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Eyes on the Street: Driver Careens Onto Kips Bay Sidewalk, Smashes Store

The remains of a crash scene at 2nd Avenue and 23rd Street after a vehicle was removed from the sidewalk by FDNY. Photo: ddartley/Flickr

Yesterday at approximately 6:00 p.m., the driver of a silver Volkswagen involved in a two-car crash barreled onto the sidewalk at the southeast corner of Second Avenue and 23rd Street, crashing into the front door of a Duane Reade pharmacy. FDNY tells Streetsblog that two people were transported to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition. Witnesses report that the injured were vehicle occupants, not pedestrians.

Video from Streetsblog reader ddartley shows another driver leaving the scene in a dented silver Infiniti SUV after speaking with police. Streetsblog has asked NYPD for more information about the crash; we’ll let you know if we get an update. More images of the scene are available from photographer Ethan Kavet.

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Developer J.D. Carlisle Yanks Support for Kips Bay Plaza, Killing Project

A two-block pedestrian plaza for a Second Avenue service road in Kips Bay, which was on track for implementation this summer, has been indefinitely delayed after adjacent property owner J.D. Carlisle sent a letter to DOT last week saying that it opposed the project.

Developer J.D. Carlisle once supported a neighborhood association's application to DOT's plaza program, but no longer. In response, DOT has halted work on the plaza. Image: Kips Bay Neighborhood Alliance

DOT, which had hosted two public design workshops for the plaza, says it will not proceed without the support of Carlisle, which owns a two-block retail complex adjacent to the plaza site.

“It was obviously a disappointment, to say the least,” said Erica Rand Silverman, a board member of Kips Bay Neighborhood Alliance, which was the plaza’s sponsor. “We’ve been working on the plaza for a couple years. In that time, Carlisle has been really, really supportive.”

Carlisle provided financial support for maintenance of a three-month demonstration plaza over the summer, Silverman said.

The demo plaza relied on temporary materials from DOT and programming from KBNA. The result apparently left a bad impression and confused some local residents about what a final plaza would look like. ”We did the best we could with the resources we were given,” Silverman said. “We got our tables, but not our chairs. We got our umbrellas, but two weeks before the plaza closed.”

Despite the problems with the summer installation and opposition from some residents of nearby Kips Bay Towers, KBNA collected 1,200 signatures in favor of the plaza by January. Design workshops in January and March moved forward, gathering feedback on the design.

But behind the scenes, J.D. Carlisle was souring on the project. On March 19, the company sent a letter to DOT [PDF] saying that it “staunchly opposed” the plaza, as did its two largest tenants, an AMC Loews movie theater and a Fairway supermarket.

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Curb-Jumping Drivers Kill Women in Manhattan and Brooklyn; No Charges

Luck, not law enforcement, is practically all that protects NYC pedestrians from reckless drivers. Photo: Post

Two pedestrians have been killed by curb-jumping drivers since Friday in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

On Friday evening at approximately 5:40, Martha Atwater was struck by the driver of a Honda truck after she stepped out of Bagel Cafe at the corner of Clinton Street and Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn Heights. The unidentified motorist was traveling north on Clinton Street when he “lost control” of the vehicle, mounted the sidewalk, and pinned Atwater against the building, according to reports. From the Post:

“She just came in to buy cookies. She looked happy, she was smiling,” said the cafe manager, Alauddin Shipun.

“She walked out. I heard a big bang and she was gone. Someone was trying to lift her head up and asking her, ‘Are you OK? Are you OK?’”

The 53-year-old driver may have lost consciousness because of diabetes, a police source said.

He remained at the scene and has not been charged.

An ABC report says Atwater was conscious while pinned underneath the vehicle, and that a UPS man called her family from her cell phone. She was pronounced dead at Long Island College Hospital.

Atwater, 48, was an Emmy-winning writer and producer of children’s television shows. She was married and had two young daughters. ”The problem I have now is that I have two children,” said her husband, Tom Wallack. “One is 12 and the other is 16. They need support.”

Sunday morning at around 1:50 a collision between a cab driver and another motorist sent the cab onto the curb on Third Avenue at E. 27th Street in Kips Bay, fatally striking a woman as she stood on the sidewalk. From the Post:

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Details on Fatal Midwood Crash Don’t Mesh With NYPD Victim-Blaming

Avenue O, looking east, with E. 7th Street indicated by the marker in the background. Police say Sara Mishik, 15, stepped between parked cars into the path of the driver who killed her, but NYPD also says she was crossing from north to south (left to right) when she was struck. Image: Google Maps

The driver of a Ford van killed a 15-year-old girl in Midwood Tuesday. It was the second crash in which a child has died in city traffic in less than a week, and at least the fourth time a motorist has killed a pedestrian in the course of six days.

Sara Kishik was crossing Avenue O near E. 7th Street, a residential area where homes line both sides of the street, at approximately 2:50 p.m. when she was struck, according to reports. NY1 says the van was a “private ambulette.” A bystander told DNAinfo that Kishik was thrown into the air upon impact.

A witness, who only gave his name as Vinny, 52, said that the girl was crossing midblock when she was struck by the van, catapulting her into the air.

“She went into the air and hit her head on the ground,” he said.

If the witness account is accurate, it’s a sign the driver may have been speeding. In addition, multiple reports indicate the driver was eastbound on Avenue O, and that Kishik was crossing from north to south. If that is the case, she would have been at least halfway across the street when she was hit, having already crossed the westbound lane. It is impossible to imagine an attentive driver traveling at 30 mph or less on a clear afternoon failing to see a 15-year-old crossing the street directly in front of him.

Nevertheless, NYPD immediately assigned blame to the deceased victim. The Daily News says that according to police Kishik “stepped in the road from between two parked cars.” Within hours, NYPD issued its standard “No criminality suspected” statement to the press.

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