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Posts from the Long Island City Category

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After a Car Wreck, Dutch Kills Civic Association Flips Out Over Bike Corral

After a speeding motorist collided with a motorist who failed to stop at a stop sign, the Dutch Kills Civic Association in Long Island City is telling the powers that be how unhappy they are — with a nearby bike corral.

The corral was installed in April at the intersection of 29th Street and 39th Avenue following a request from Dominic Stiller, who owns the corner restaurant Dutch Kills Centraal with his wife, Jean Cawley. Stiller tried to get an endorsement from Queens Community Board 1, but the board, which habitually says “No” to street improvements for walking and biking, voted against it (without quorum) in 2014.

At the same time, locals and City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer have tried for years to get DOT to implement safety measures at 29th Street and 39th Avenue. The site has a history of high-speed collisions. A few months ago an Access-A-Ride driver turned left at the intersection and nearly hit a child.

Last month a speeding driver slammed into another vehicle at the intersection, shown in this video that Cawley sent in. DKCA members took the crash as an opportunity to signal their displeasure with the bicycle parking.

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Ride the New Pulaski Bridge Bikeway With Streetfilms

Today was a milestone for traveling between Brooklyn and Queens: NYC DOT opened the Pulaski Bridge bike path to lots of cheers with a celebratory ride.

Before today, the Pulaski Bridge walking and biking path was dangerously congested, with more pedestrians and cyclists crammed on to its narrow right-of-way every year. The solution? Convert one lane of the roadway to a two-way bike lane, making the original path exclusively for walking. Read up on the project in Streetsblog’s coverage of the grand opening.

If a lane of the Pulaski can be taken from cars and given to active transportation, the same can be done on other bridges. One place I’d love to see NYC DOT tackle next? The insanely crowded bike-pedestrian path on the Brooklyn Bridge is begging for a solution like this.

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The Pulaski Bridge Bikeway Is Open and It’s Magnificent

State Senator Martin Malavé Dilan and City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer lead the pack of DOT officials, electeds and advocates on the Pulaski Bridge protected lane's first official ride. Photo: David Meyer

State Senator Martin Malavé Dilan (front left) and City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer (right) lead the pack. Photo: David Meyer

Pedestrians and cyclists don’t have to settle for scraps of space on the Pulaski Bridge any more. This morning, the bridge’s new two-way protected bikeway officially opened to the public, the culmination of a four-year effort to improve biking and walking access between Greenpoint and Long Island City.

The Pulaski carries thousands of cyclists between Queens and Brooklyn across Newtown Creek each day, according to DOT. For many years, cyclists and pedestrians had to squeeze onto a single narrow path, while motorists zoomed along on six lanes of congestion-free roadway. The Pulaski path became more congested every year as housing and jobs boomed on both sides of the bridge.

Assembly Member Joe Lentol began pushing DOT for the project in late 2012 after meeting with local residents frustrated by the increasingly crowded conditions on the path. The engineering challenge of providing sufficient protection for cyclists on the drawbridge section of the Pulaski proved surmountable, and construction was initially set to conclude by the end of 2014.

Red tape and construction delays pushed the project back more than a year, and the long wait came to an end with today’s grand opening. The project cost $4.9 million and was funded by the city with support from the Federal Highway Administration.

The Pulaski project is the most prominent example of the city repurposing car lanes on a bridge for biking and walking since Transportation Alternatives won the full-time use of a lane on the Queensboro Bridge for pedestrians and cyclists in 2000 (a fight that lasted no less than 22 years).

Other bridges could use similar treatments. The Brooklyn Bridge and Queensboro Bridge both have bike-ped paths that get uncomfortably crowded, and DOT is currently working to improve bike-ped crossings on the Harlem River.

DOT Deputy Commissioner for Transportation Planning Ryan Russo led a group of department officials, advocates, and electeds on an inaugural ride on the bikeway from Long Island City to Greenpoint this morning.

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Streetfilms Flashback: The Bad Old Days of the Pulaski Bridge

Later this morning, officials will cut the ribbon on the long-awaited Pulaski Bridge bikeway. Pretty soon, it will be tough to remember the claustrophobic anxiety of navigating the narrow path — just 8.5 feet wide, and even less at pinch points — that pedestrians and cyclists made do with before today.

So here’s some footage for posterity that Clarence shot in October, 2013. You’ll never have to deal with this again, New York.

We’ll have a full report from the grand opening and a new video from Clarence later today.

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Eyes on the Street: Pulaski Bridge Bikeway Looks Ready for a Ribbon-Cutting

Update: A DOT spokesperson tells Streetsblog that while finishing touches are being made, cyclists should follow the posted signage, which directs them to the shared pedestrian-bike path on the west side of the bridge. The new protected lane will be “unveiled” later this week.

It hasn’t officially opened, but you can ride on DOT’s long-awaited Pulaski Bridge bike lane linking northern Brooklyn and western Queens. Word is that a ribbon-cutting is set for the end of this week.

Over the weekend, Twitter and the Streetsblog inbox lit up with alerts that the path is rideable, though there are still cones and signs at both ends marking the bike lane as closed.

The Pulaski project has been in the works since 2012, when Assembly Member Joe Lentol requested that DOT explore the possibility of converting a car lane to a protected bike path so pedestrians and cyclists could have some breathing room instead of sharing a narrow, cramped pathway. The bikeway advanced in fits and starts since then, and after some delays it’s finally here, separated from car traffic by concrete barriers and a metal fence.

It’s not every day that part of a six-lane bridge gets repurposed from motor vehicle traffic to make room for biking and walking. The Pulaski bikeway points the way forward for bigger crossings like the Queensboro Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge where cyclists and pedestrians are an afterthought, jammed together on paths without enough space to move comfortably. We’ll have a full report when the new path officially opens.

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11th Street Should Be a Great Bike Connection for Western Queens

Both designs proposed for the foot of the Pulaski Bridge route cyclists east down 49th Avenue. Image: DDC/DOT/Parsons

The proposals for the foot of the Pulaski Bridge don’t include an intuitive connection to 11th Street. Image: DDC/DOT/Parsons

With the Pulaski Bridge bikeway set to open this spring and Long Island City streets in line for a total rebuild, DOT has a rare opportunity to improve the western Queens bike network. One of the most important connections in the neighborhood is 11th Street, which forms the most convenient path between the Pulaski and the Queensboro Bridge/Queens Plaza. So far, though, DOT’s design options for 11th Street come up short.

11th Street is the most desirable route for cyclists hoping to get to the Queensboro Bridge. Image: Google Maps

11th Street is the most direct route between the Queensboro Bridge and the Pulaski Bridge. Image: Google Maps

Earlier this month, DOT and DDC presented potential street redesigns for Long Island City. None of the options for 11th Street included a protected bike lane, even though several blocks of the street are wide enough to add one easily. Nor do the proposals for the foot of the Pulaski Bridge include an intuitive bike connection to 11th.

Instead, the city’s design for the foot of the bridge only creates a good bike connection to 49th Avenue and Vernon Boulevard, which runs by the waterfront. A better connection to Vernon will be helpful, but a safe and convenient link to 11th Street is needed as well. The easiest path from the Pulaski to the Queensboro Bridge and the Queens Plaza bike path runs through 11th Street.

At around 70 feet wide, curb-to-curb, 11th Street has enough room for a protected bike lane. But DOT’s current proposals for 11th Street add pedestrian space via an extended east sidewalk or an expanded concrete median and don’t call for protected bike lanes.

A protected bike lane on this stretch would make walking and biking safer. On other streets with protected bike lanes, pedestrian injuries have fallen 22 percent, according to DOT.

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DOT: Pulaski Bridge Bikeway Will Open By End of April

pulaski_fence

The steel fence will extend over the drawbridge section of the Pulaski, protecting the new bikeway. Photo: Jon Orcutt

Construction of the Pulaski Bridge bike path is slated to finish at the end of April, according to a DOT spokesperson. As DOT’s bridge division puts together the finishing touches, specifics of the new design are coming to light, including how the bike lane will negotiate the drawbridge section of the Pulaski.

On most of the bridge, the bike lane will be separated from motor vehicle traffic by concrete barriers. The concrete transitions to metal railings near the drawbridge section. Currently, there is no railing on the drawbridge itself, but DOT says that’s coming soon.

TransitCenter’s Jon Orcutt tweeted pictures of the new railings yesterday:

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Take a Look at What’s on the Table for Long Island City Streets

"Option 2" for the Pulaski Bridge gateway, right, would provide pedestrians and cyclists more space and safer crossings. Image: DDC/DOT/Parsons

“Option 2” for the Pulaski Bridge gateway, right, would expand pedestrian space and create a two-way bike connection to Vernon Boulevard on 49th Avenue. Image: DDC/DOT/Parsons

Every street in Long Island City is in line for a top-to-bottom reconstruction, and as part of the project DOT and the Department of Design and Construction are proposing several improvements for walking and biking. Here’s the presentation the agencies gave to Queens Community Board 2 earlier this month, showing the preliminary redesigns. The project covers several streets and intersections, and some of the options on the table go a lot farther than others to make walking and biking safer.

With the Queensboro Bridge to the north and the Midtown Tunnel and Pulaski Bridge to the south, Long Island City is plagued by car and truck traffic. The neighborhood’s population is growing rapidly, but its streets still suffer from wide car lanes, excessive speeding, and chaotic intersections that make for a poor walking and biking environment.

DOT and DDC are looking to address these shortcomings at several places. In many cases, the city showed different design options for each location, some clearly preferable to others. Overall, there’s a lot more to like if the city follows through on the more ambitious designs.

At the foot of the Pulaski Bridge, one option would create a much better connection to Vernon Boulevard by adding a two-way bike lane on 49th Avenue. It would also make a short block of 48th Street car-free to create a more continuous walking environment. But another option includes neither of those improvements.

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Total L.I.C. Street Rebuild to Include Safety Overhauls for Key Intersections

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer alongside the DDC and DOT Commissioners this morning. Photo: David Meyer

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer alongside DDC Commissioner Feniosky Pena-Mora (to the left) and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg (on the right) this morning. Photo: David Meyer

The streets of Long Island City are getting a total rebuild, and as part of the project four major intersections along Jackson Avenue and Vernon Boulevard will get redesigned for greater safety.

Many other intersections could get curb extensions or other traffic-calming treatments as part of the $38.47 million neighborhood-wide street reconstruction. Speaking this morning at the foot of the Pulaski Bridge, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer said DOT will prioritize four intersections: 21st Street and Jackson Avenue, 23rd Street and Jackson Avenue, Vernon Boulevard and Jackson Avenue, and Vernon Boulevard and 44th Drive.

Jackson and 11th Street, a complex multi-leg intersection that pedestrians and cyclists have to navigate to get to the Pulaski Bridge, will also be improved. Once the Pulaski Bridge bikeway opens this spring, there will be a lot more room for walking and biking, and the approach on the Queens side could use an upgrade.

Long Island City’s population is on track to soar as new development hits the market. But sandwiched by the Queensboro Bridge to the north and the Pulaski Bridge and Midtown Tunnel to the south, the neighborhood is often overrun by car and truck traffic, creating an unpleasant and unsafe environment for pedestrians.

In December, Van Bramer, DDC, and DOT hosted a public workshop where local residents and business owners overwhelmingly cited Vernon Boulevard and Jackson Avenue as streets in need of safety improvements. Jackson Avenue feeds into the Pulaski and is the site of several popular attractions, including MOMA P.S. 1, but has few safe crosswalks. In 2015 alone, 31 people were injured on Jackson Avenue within the project boundaries.

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Eyes on the Street: Just Another Brush With Death at a Typical NYC Crossing


The design of 29th Street and 39th Avenue in Long Island City is typical of thousands of New York City crossings: an intersection of relatively narrow streets where drivers are allowed to park to the edge of crosswalks with no design elements to force motorists to slow down.

The combination of poor visibility and lack of traffic-calming features leads to crashes like the one in the video, taken Thursday, when an Access-A-Ride driver sped into a crosswalk while turning left and struck a child with a van’s door-mounted mirror. Luckily it appears the child wasn’t seriously hurt.

Jean Cawley, who sent us the video, has written to DOT officials, including Queens DOT Commissioner Nicole Garcia, several times to ask for traffic-calming measures at this intersection and other locations in the area. Cawley also submitted a petition to DOT from residents of Dutch Kills.

Consistent NYPD enforcement wouldn’t hurt either. The 114th Precinct, where the crash in the video occurred, issues an average of just 23 tickets a month to drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians.

Below are images from a two-vehicle collision at the same intersection that sent a cab onto the sidewalk.

“Cars barrel through our streets in a dangerous manner all day, every day,” wrote Cawley in an email to Garcia, with the video and photos attached. “I hope you will help. DOT’s actions may save a life.”

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