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Posts from the Lower East Side Category

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DOT Unveils Plan for a Two-Way Protected Bike Lane on Chrystie Street

DOT plans to install "Jersey barriers" to protecting cyclists turning from Canal Street onto Chrystie Street. The existing design uses sharrows to guide cyclists on Chrystie Street at that location. Image: DOT

The Chrystie Street redesign would place concrete barriers between the bike lane and motor vehicle traffic flying off the Manhattan Bridge. Image: DOT

DOT unveiled its plan for a two-way protected bike lane on Chrystie Street last night [PDF], a project that promises to drastically improve safety and reduce stress for people biking to and from the Manhattan Bridge.

Chrystie Street is one of the most important bike routes in the city. On average, more than 6,200 cyclists ride over the Manhattan Bridge each day from April through October, according to DOT, and Chrystie Street is the key connection between the bridge and the First and Second Avenue protected bike lanes. Last July, DOT counted nearly 3,000 daily cyclists riding on Chrystie Street between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

DOT painted bike lanes on both sides of Chrystie in 2008, but it’s a treacherous ride: Cyclists are often forced to weave in and out of car traffic to avoid illegally parked vehicles. Last year, 16 cyclists and 14 pedestrians were injured within the project area.

Volunteers with Transportation Alternatives have pushed for a redesign of Chrystie for more than a year. In 2015, a design concept for a protected bike lane by Dave “Paco” Abraham won the support of Manhattan Community Board 3 and nearly every elected official who represents the area.

DOT presented its plan for Chrystie to the CB 3 transportation committee last night. It calls for a two-way protected bike lane along Sara D. Roosevelt Park from Canal Street to Houston Street. The two-way path will have a three-foot buffer, and the combined travel lanes for bikes will vary between eight feet and nine feet wide, depending on the total width of the street. To align with the new Chrystie bikeway, the southbound bike lane on Second Avenue will be shifted over to the east side of the street for the two blocks between 2nd Street and Houston.

Including the buffer, the bikeway will vary between 11 and 12 feet wide, depending on the width of the street. Image: DOT

Including the buffer, the bikeway will vary between 11 and 12 feet wide, depending on the width of the street. Image: DOT

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Take a Look at DOT’s Chrystie Street Bike Lane Design

Cyclists traveling to and from Brooklyn via the Manhattan Bridge will soon have a protected bike connection on Chrystie Street. Image: Gothamist/DOT

People biking to and from the Manhattan Bridge will soon have a safer connection on Chrystie Street. Image: NYC DOT

DOT will show its highly-anticipated plan for a protected bike lane on Chrystie Street between Canal Street and 2nd Street to Manhattan Community Board 3 tomorrow, and Gothamist has posted renderings from the presentation.

Chrystie Street is an essential bike connection to and from the Manhattan Bridge, but it can be a hair-raising ride full of dodging and weaving around double-parked vehicles.

Image: Gothamist/DOT

Image: DOT

DOT’s design calls for a two-way parking-protected bike lane on the east side of Chrystie, with a three-foot buffer and nine feet for the bike path itself. It looks very similar to the design pushed last year by street safety advocates. Take a look:

At Canal Street, where motorists come off the bridge onto Chrystie, cyclists would be protected by concrete barriers. Between Rivington and Grand, where the road is narrower, the bike lane will be separated by flexible bollards, not a parking lane. The design of the intersection with Houston Street, where the southbound Second Avenue bike lane feeds into Chrystie Street, is still in development, according to Gothamist.

Gothamist also reports that DOT will soon propose a protected southbound bike lane on Jay Street from the Manhattan Bridge path to Schermerhorn Street.

Tomorrow’s CB 3 meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.

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Streetfilms Shorties: Fix the Dysfunctional Chrystie Street Bike Lane

Back in February, Manhattan Community Board 3 asked DOT to study a protected bike lane for Chrystie Street. Head over there during any rush hour and it’s easy to see why: There are tons of people biking to and from the Manhattan Bridge, but the painted bike lanes on Chrystie are constantly blocked by double-parked cars and buses. Even when you’re not weaving in and out of motor vehicle traffic, you have to keep your eyes peeled for illegal U-turns and drivers crossing the southbound bike lane as they exit garages.

The agency said it would study bike lane upgrades for Chrystie, but gave no timetable. That was in March. Apparently, someone got tired of waiting and set up orange cones on one long block in the beginning of October to keep the bike lane clear. That was all it took to provide a little more security for people biking northbound on Chrystie, and in this short Streetfilm, Clarence makes the case for some simple changes to permanently improve safety on one of the city’s most important bike routes.

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Eyes on the Street: A Flower-Protected Chrystie Street Bike Lane

Bike commuters on Chrystie Street found a pleasant surprise this morning. The street’s northbound bike lane, a busy connector from the Manhattan Bridge that’s usually a favorite of illegally-parked drivers, had received an upgrade: Someone added orange traffic cones, decorated with the occasional sunflower, to keep cars out of the bike lane.

Earlier this year, DOT agreed to study upgrades to the Chrystie Street bike lanes after Community Board 3 and a united front of local elected officials asked for fixes. CB 3 is still waiting for DOT to come back with a plan.

This morning’s pop-up protected bike lane was the work of the “Transformation Dept.” Photos were first posted under the @NYC_DOTr handle on Twitter. The project, covering two blocks between Grand and Delancey streets, had a budget of $516 to purchase 25 cones and about a dozen flowers. It took four people less than 20 minutes to install, said a Transformation Dept. representative who asked to remain anonymous.

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Eyes on the Street: Clinton Street’s New Bikeway

The bikeway isn't complete yet, but it's already getting used. Photo: Stephen Miller

The bikeway isn’t complete yet, but it’s already getting used. Photo: Stephen Miller

A new two-way bikeway is under construction to provide a connection between the Williamsburg Bridge and the East River Greenway.

The route along Clinton Street extends the existing two-way protected bike lane between Delancey and Grand an additional five blocks to South Street, where it connects to the waterfront bike path beneath the FDR Drive.

The waterfront greenway, which runs along South Street, will also be getting an upgrade: concrete barriers to protect greenway users from cars and trucks. DOT says the installation schedule for this component of the project is still being determined.

Cinton Street is getting a two-way bikeway and painted curb extensions. Image: DOT [PDF]

Clinton Street is getting a two-way bikeway and painted curb extensions. Image: DOT [PDF]

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NYC Replaces a Parking Crater With Parking-Free Housing and Retail

One of Manhattan’s few remaining parking craters is going to be filled in with housing and retail — all without any car storage, despite the city government’s belief that the site called for up to 500 parking spots. Call it “Parking Sanity.”

The project, called Essex Crossing, is on the Lower East Side. It replaces surface lots formerly known as the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, or SPURA, which were cleared decades ago and formed a parking crater engulfing multiple city blocks. The development will add 1,000 apartments (including 500 subsidized units), park space, a grocery store, a public market, and other retail.

Earlier this year, the developers decided to drop parking from the project entirely, even though the city pushed for up to 500 parking spaces — above and beyond the parking maximums that would normally be allowed under the zoning code.

The city, which initiated the project before selecting the developer, saw off-street parking as an elixir to help the project go down smoothly with the neighborhood. But it was not economical to build that much parking, and the developer eventually chose to eliminate parking entirely because site limitations would have placed the garage in a problematic location.

Streetsblog and Streetfilms recently sat down with Council Member Margaret Chin, who represents the area. Chin has advocated for the city to replace parking garages with affordable housing in her district, and she thinks things will be just fine without parking in the new development. As she says, people have plenty of other options for getting around.

Construction on the first phase of the development is set to begin this summer.

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United Front of Electeds Join CB 3 to Ask for Protected Bikeway on Chrystie

Advocates’ design concept for a two-way protected bike lane on Chrystie Street. Streetmix by Dave “Paco” Abraham

A week after Manhattan Community Board 3 unanimously approved a resolution asking for a protected bike lane and pedestrian islands on Chrystie Street, elected officials representing the area — from the city, state, and federal levels — sent a letter to DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione asking her to follow through [PDF].

The letter is signed by Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, State Senator Daniel Squadron, Assembly Member Sheldon Silver, Borough President Gale Brewer, and Council Member Margaret Chin. (The only elected officials representing the area who aren’t included are the state’s two U.S. Senators and the mayor himself.)

“We believe it is important to take into account the concerns of the local community board when it speaks so strongly,” they write. “We ask DOT to study this area quickly, work closely with the community on any next steps, and keep our offices informed.”

DOT says it will examine whether changes requested for Chrystie Street, such as a two-way protected bike lane, are feasible. The agency does not yet have a timetable for the study.

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Manhattan CB 3 Asks DOT for Protected Bikeway on Chrystie Street

In a unanimous 35-0 vote last night, Manhattan Community Board 3, which covers Chinatown and the Lower East Side, asked DOT to study a two-way protected bikeway for Chrystie Street, an important link to the Manhattan Bridge bike path.

This doesn’t cut it, says CB 3. Photo: Justin Pollock

The vote follows months of dialogue between bike advocates and community groups, and comes on the heels of a unanimous vote supporting the plan by the CB 3 transportation committee earlier this month.

The plan, which would replace faded bike lanes with a protected bikeway alongside Sara D. Roosevelt Park, is receiving consideration now because the bumpy street is scheduled for milling and paving, offering an opportunity to refresh its layout. “We are looking to resurface the road this year, so we will come back to the community once a design is put together,” DOT Manhattan Liaison Colleen Chattergoon said at the transportation committee meeting.

“The community board has spoken,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron spokesperson Danny Weisfeld, “and it’s important for the DOT to follow up on the request.”

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CB 3 Committee Asks DOT for Protected Bikeway on Chrystie Street

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Advocates’ concept for a two-way protected bike lane on Chrystie Street. Streetmix by Dave “Paco” Abraham

The community board covering the Lower East Side and Chinatown is set to ask DOT to transform the Chrystie Street bike lane from barely visible stripes blocked by double-parked cars into a two-way protected bikeway along Sara D. Roosevelt Park, connecting the Manhattan Bridge with the Second Avenue protected bike lane.

The transportation committee of Manhattan Community Board 3 voted unanimously Wednesday night to ask for the upgrades on the recommendation of Dave “Paco” Abraham and other Transportation Alternatives volunteers, who presented the idea last month [PDF]. The request is moving ahead now because Chrystie Street is scheduled for milling and paving this year, providing an opportunity to redesign the street.

DOT staff at Wednesday’s meeting welcomed the resolution. “We are looking to resurface the road this year, so we will come back to the community once a design is put together,” DOT Manhattan Liaison Colleen Chattergoon said.

At the southern end of Chrystie Street, the city is planning to rebuild the Manhattan Bridge bike path landing to include a pedestrian-friendly plaza space next to the bikeway. At Chrystie’s northern end, advocates hope a two-way bikeway on the east side of the street can eliminate the need for southbound cyclists on Second Avenue to maneuver across multiple lanes of car traffic in order to continue southbound.

Believe it or not, there’s a bike lane here. Photo: Google Street View via Brooklyn Spoke

Between Canal and Houston, the two-way bikeway would only cross automobile traffic at Grand and Delancey Streets, since other cross streets in the neighborhood form “T” intersections and do not continue through the park. The two-way bikeway alignment could also create opportunities for pedestrian islands on the crowded street.

The redesign request is supported by the Sara D. Roosevelt Park Coalition. Kathleen Webster, the group’s president, asked the committee to make sure the resolution noted the senior centers, schools, elderly population, and high pedestrian volumes in the area, including a senior center within the park itself. CB 3 District Manager Susan Stetzer asked the committee to request that DOT conduct community visioning sessions to inform the final design. Both requests were added to the resolution.

The resolution now goes to the full board, which meets on February 24 at 6:30 p.m. at P.S. 124, 40 Division Street.

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Attention EDC: Big Development Projects Don’t Need Parking After All

Just one of Essex Crossing’s nine sites could have handled a parking garage pushed by EDC. Instead, the developer and members of the project’s advisory group decided against adding more traffic to Delancey Street. Image: Essex Crossing

During the Bloomberg administration, city officials spearheading a giant Lower East Side mixed-use development larded it up with parking above and beyond what’s normally allowed in Manhattan. Now, the company in charge of building the project says it’s going to go parking-free, and is hosting a public meeting on its plan tonight. This could be a huge victory for Lower East Siders who want more housing but not more traffic and dirtier air, and it should be a lesson for the NYC Economic Development Corporation with far-reaching consequences.

The story of Essex Crossing, formerly known as the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, or SPURA, goes back decades, but the latest chapter began a few years ago when the Bloomberg administration restarted the development process for long-dormant parcels near the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge. EDC hashed out a development proposal with neighborhood groups and Community Board 3 before securing permits from the City Planning Commission and selecting a developer to build the project.

EDC pushed for 500 parking spaces, replacing 400 surface parking spots and adding another 100 for good measure. Parking, you may have heard, is an obsession of car owners at community board meetings. To keep this constituency from going ballistic about its plans, EDC almost always proposes a net increase in the number of parking spots at its development sites, usually above what zoning requires or allows.

More parking leads to more cars clogging already-congested roads, but most community boards and elected officials eat up EDC’s parking-saturated plans in the mistaken belief that tons of off-street parking will make it easier for car owners to find free on-street spaces.

Early versions of Essex Crossing, which spans nine city blocks above the confluence of four subway lines, included a 356-space municipal garage on Ludlow Street. To keep that cheap parking intact, the project’s boundaries were redrawn in 2012 to avoid building over the garage. (Council Member Margaret Chin has since asked Mayor de Blasio to replace the garage with affordable housing.)

The nine parcels that remained in the six-acre plan included parking lots with 400 public spaces. The development’s environmental impact statement estimated that it would need a maximum of 257 spaces, and the city’s zoning code allowed no more than 345 spots. In the end, EDC got the City Planning Commission to sign off on a 500-car garage, above and beyond what zoning would normally allow for the project, which will consist of retail and commercial uses and 1,000 new housing units.

Soon after, EDC selected Delancey Street Associates LLC, a joint venture of L+M Development Partners, BFC Partners, and Taconic Investment Partners, to build the project. Earlier this month, the developer revealed that while it had permission to build a 500-space garage, the final project will be built entirely without parking, just like most of the rest of the neighborhood. To repeat, the government wanted to build 500 parking spaces, but now that the project has been handed off to the developer, the parking garages are gone.

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