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Brewer to DOT: Start Looking Into a Bus-Only 14th Street

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer wants bus-only lanes on 14th Street. Photo: David Meyer

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer wants the city to study making 14th Street car-free so buses can carry the load while the L train is shut down for repairs. Photo: David Meyer

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is calling on DOT to study making 14th Street a bus-only thoroughfare while L train service is disrupted during Sandy-related repairs.

To allow for urgently-needed fixes to the L train tunnel, the MTA is considering either a full shutdown of service between Bedford Avenue and Eighth Avenue for 18 months, or a three-year variation that preserves about 20 percent of current service. At a press event this morning, the Riders Alliance revealed that most L train riders who responded to an online survey prefer to get it over with in 18 months — a position the MTA seems to share.

In either case, said Riders Alliance Deputy Director Nick Sifuentes, the city and the MTA need to take steps to keep people moving: “No matter what the MTA does, a shutdown will profoundly change transportation options for commuters on both sides of the East River.” Sifuentes said survey respondents “called broadly for robust, supplementary bus service in Manhattan and Brooklyn.”

In the survey, respondents suggested bus lanes in both Brooklyn and Manhattan and along the Williamsburg Bridge, as well as a number of other measures, including Citi Bike expansion, more capacity for bicycling on the Williamsburg Bridge, increased service on nearby subway lines, and increased ferry service.

“The shutdown will not be easy, but a robust set of alternatives would reduce the pain,” said Kate Slevin of the Regional Plan Association. “For example, 14th Street could become reserved for buses, pedestrians and bikes, and the Williamsburg Bridge could offer dedicated bike and bus routes. The MTA and DOT need to be bold.”

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To Improve Walking and Biking Across the Harlem River, DOT’s Thinking Big

Some Harlem River Bridge -- including the Madison Avenue Bridge depicted in this image -- may be in line for two-way protected bike infrastructure. Image: DOT

The Madison Avenue Bridge is one of several Harlem River crossings where DOT is considering a protected bikeway. Image: DOT

There are 16 bridges linking Manhattan and the Bronx, but if you walk or bike between the boroughs, safe, convenient routes are still scarce. That could change if DOT follows through on ideas the agency released this spring to improve walking and biking access over the Harlem River bridges [PDF].

Currently, 13 of the 16 bridges along the river have pedestrian access and just five (including the Randall’s Island Connector) have bike paths. The streets and ramps feeding into the bridges are mainly designed for motor vehicle movement and poorly equipped to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe.

Most nearby residents don’t own cars, and the conditions make it especially difficult for them to make short trips between the boroughs. “I know it could be more efficient for people to get to and from the Bronx, as opposed to waiting for the bus,” said Transportation Alternatives’ Sandra Hawkins. “Some of [the bridges] are not easily navigable for walking or cycling.”

After Bronx and Uptown residents called for safer access between the boroughs, DOT launched a series of workshops last summer to gather ideas for its “Harlem River Bridges Access Plan,” which will guide walking and biking improvements on the bridges and the neighborhood streets they connect.

DOT’s final plan is set to be released in the fall, but in March, the agency shared some of the improvements it is considering based on what people have said so far. The projects cover both short-term fixes that can be implemented quickly at low cost, and more time- and resource-intensive capital projects.

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No-Drama CB 3 Transpo Committee Votes for Chrystie Street Protected Lane

The city plans to install a two-way protected bike lane on Chrystie Street in the fall. Image: DOT

DOT’s rendering of the two-way protected bike lane slated for Chrystie Street in the fall.

Last night, Manhattan Community Board 3’s transportation committee unanimously approved DOT’s plan to install a two-way protected bike lane on Chrystie Street [PDF]. The bike lane would run on the east side of Chrystie between Canal and Houston.

Chrystie is an essential connector for the thousands of people who bike over the Manhattan Bridge every day. It’s also completely overrun by double-parked vehicles and gets a lot of truck and bus traffic that makes it stressful to bike on. Last year, 16 cyclists were injured in crashes within the project area.

Last night’s unanimous vote and accompanying DOT presentation took all of 20 minutes, Transportation Alternatives volunteer Brandon Chamberlin told Streetsblog. The committee gave the proposal a conditional thumbs up in March, asking that DOT hold a public forum on the project in coordination with the Sara D Roosevelt Park Coalition. The forum happened on April 12.

Chamberlin said he and one other attendee spoke in favor of the plan. No one spoke against it. “It seems to have been much ado about nothing,” he said of the two-month delay.

The full board will take up the project at its monthly meeting on May 24. DOT has previously indicated the the project would be implemented in the fall.

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DOT and MTA Unveil Plan for Select Bus Service on 23rd Street

m23_design

Image: NYC DOT

About 15,000 daily passengers on the M23 will get faster trips starting this fall under the plan from NYC and the MTA for Select Bus Service on 23rd Street. Last night the agencies revealed their preliminary plan for M23 SBS, which calls for bus lanes on most of 23rd Street and off-board fare collection [PDF], to the Manhattan Community Board 5 transportation committee, which voted for it unanimously.

Most M23 passengers board close to the eastern or western edges of Manhattan. The route provides connections to eight subway lines, the PATH train, and 14 other bus routes — but it is currently one of the city’s slowest buses. The two agencies found that M23 buses are stopped in traffic or at a bus stop 51 percent of the time, and are “crawling” at speeds under 2.5 mph another seven percent of the time.

To bypass congestion, the bus lanes will run from Ninth Avenue to Second Avenue on the eastbound side and from midblock between First and Second to Eighth Avenue on the westbound side. DOT expects the lanes to be camera enforced, but buses won’t get priority at traffic signals “due to the complexity of Manhattan’s traffic signal system,” according to an agency spokesperson.

As on other SBS routes, pre-paid fares will speed up the process of boarding at stops. The project would eliminate one redundant local stop — at Fifth Avenue — that is barely 400 feet from the Broadway stop, which will remain.

On most of the street, the bus lanes will be “offset” from the curb, running between a parking lane and a general traffic lane, and in effect from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. On narrower sections, however, the bus lane will run curbside. The curbside bus lanes will not be in effect from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to allow for commercial loading and parking midday.

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Tonight: Final Round of Harlem River Bridge Workshops Gets Started

Image: DOT

The city is wrapping up a year-long study of pedestrian and bicycle access to 16 Harlem River bridges [PDF]. Image: DOT

We have some late additions to the Streetsblog calendar. At 6:30 p.m. today at the Rio II Gallery on Riverside Drive, DOT will hold the first of four community workshops as part of the third and final phase of preparation for the Harlem River Bridges Access Plan, set to be released this spring.

Last year, responding to uptown advocates, DOT launched a series of workshops to collect ideas about how to improve walking and biking access to 16 bridges that link Manhattan and the Bronx. Currently, 13 of those bridges have some sort of pedestrian crossing while only five (including the Randall’s Island Connector) have bikeways [PDF]. The approaches to most of the bridges are dangerous and intimidating for people walking and biking, though DOT has started to make progress in some areas.

Earlier workshops addressed current conditions on the bridges and looked at potential redesigns. In this final round, DOT will show data and ideas it’s collected so far, asking for a final round of feedback before drafting the final plan.

Meetings today and tomorrow will address the bridges south of the Macombs Dam Bridge, while next week’s events will address the bridges to the north. See the Streetsblog calendar for times and locations for each workshop.

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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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DOT to Unveil Plans for Chrystie Street Bike Lane Upgrade Next Week [Updated]

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Advocates’ concept for a two-way protected bike lane on Chrystie Street, from 2015. DOT will bring the agency’s plans to Manhattan CB 3 next Tuesday. Streetmix by Dave “Paco” Abraham

On Tuesday the Manhattan Community Board 3 transportation committee will get the first look at a plan for a two-way protected bike lane on Chrystie Street from Canal to Houston.

Chrystie is a key connection to the Manhattan Bridge but biking on it always involves dodging double-parked cars, trucks, and buses. Last year several local elected officials signed on to advocates’ campaign for a two-way protected bike lane on Chrystie, and DOT’s presentation comes about a year after CB 3 asked DOT for a protected bikeway.

The CB 3 agenda item is the first sure indication that DOT is going with a two-way protected lane. Tuesday’s meeting is set for 6:30 p.m.

Also next week: The Manhattan Community Board 6 transportation committee will discuss a “proposed enhancement of existing Second Avenue bicycle lane” between 34th Street and 59th Street. It’s not clear what the terms of the discussion will be, but replacing the sharrows on those 25 blocks with a protected lane would be a huge step forward for the Manhattan bike network. Together with a protected bike lane between 105th Street and 68th Street slated for later this year, it would close most of the 70-block gap on Second Avenue.

The Monday meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Mark your calendars.

Correction: An earlier version of this post said that CB 6 will hear from DOT about upgrading the Second Avenue bike lane. Instead, the meeting Monday will be an internal community board discussion, not a presentation from DOT.

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Mark-Viverito’s East Harlem Plan Recommends Tossing Parking Minimums

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito greets constituents in her East Harlem district, which is slated for upzoning as part of the mayor's plan to increase the city's affordable housing stock. Image: William Alatriste

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito greets constituents in her East Harlem district, which is slated for upzoning as part of the mayor’s plan to increase the city’s affordable housing stock. Photo: William Alatriste

Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito has released an “East Harlem Neighborhood Plan” to guide the city’s rezoning of the community, and one of the recommendations is the elimination of parking minimums.

The 138-page plan [PDF] was developed over the past 10 months as a joint project of Mark-Viverito, Community Board 11, Borough President Gale Brewer, and the grassroots social justice group Community Voices Heard. Among its recommendations, the plan calls for “increased density in select places to create more affordable housing and spaces for jobs” and that “any potential rezoning should eliminate minimum parking requirements.”

The parking minimum recommendation is unequivocal and would apply to all housing, not just subsidized housing like the de Blasio administration’s citywide “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” plan. ZQA only eliminates minimum parking requirements for affordable and senior housing development within the so-called “transit zone” — areas that are, generally speaking, a short walk from high-capacity transit.

Mark-Viverito hasn’t taken a position on the parking reforms in ZQA, and her office declined multiple inquiries from Streetsblog on the topic. The City Council is fractured on the issue, but the East Harlem plan indicates that the speaker supports the idea that mandatory car storage is less important than maximizing housing options.

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What’s Up With the Short Raised Bike Lane By Times Square?

Yes, there is now a short segment of raised bike lane on Seventh Avenue at Times Square. TransitCenter’s Jon Orcutt tweeted the picture above last month.

The Department of Design and Construction, which is building the permanent pedestrian plazas and other street improvements at Times Square, has so far only put down the raised lane between 46th Street and 45th Street. It’s supposed to be part of a short detour for cyclists using the Broadway bike lane to bypass the pedestrian plazas.

We checked in with DDC about the project, and a spokesperson directed us to DOT. DOT said more is coming. The finished product will provide a contraflow protected lane from Broadway to Seventh on 47th Street. From there cyclists would be directed to the eastern side of Seventh, and for the block between 47th Street and 46th Street there would only be sharrows. Then the raised lane will extend from 46th to 42nd, and the detour will conclude with sharrows on 42nd Street from Seventh to Broadway.

Bike lanes were not in the original design for the permanent plaza project but were added later in the process at the request of DOT, according to a spokesperson from the Times Square Alliance. Raised bike lanes are unusual in NYC but there are a few precedents, like the block of Sands Street between Navy and Gold near the Manhattan Bridge.

I checked in on the progress along Seventh Avenue recently and there was some construction going on south of 46th Street, where the rest of the raised lane is supposed to be built.

DDC’s online database of capital projects list an April 14 completion date for the plaza construction, but judging by the current conditions it will likely finish later than that.

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What’s Next for 6th Ave Protected Bike Lane and Crosstown Routes on UES

At the request of community advocates, DOT wants to install three new crosstown dedicated bike routes on the Upper East Side. Image: DOT

DOT’s plan calls for three painted crosstown bike lane pairs on the Upper East Side [PDF]. Image: DOT

Two Manhattan bike projects went before community boards last night. The CB 8 transportation committee heard from DOT about the agency’s plan for crosstown bike lanes on the Upper East Side, and CB 4 endorsed the protected lane on Sixth Avenue, which DOT plans to install in the fall.

The crosstown painted lanes would span the width of the Upper East Side, providing safer east-west access for a neighborhood that currently has only one bike lane pair — 90th and 91st streets. The new bike lane pairs are East 67th and 68th streets between Fifth and York, 77th and 78th Streets between Fifth and John Jay Park, and 84th and 85th Streets between Fifth and East End. After the eastern termini at Cherokee Place and East End Avenue, shared lanes will guide cyclists to parks and the East River Esplanade greenway.

On the western side, all three routes terminate at Central Park. A 72nd Street bike lane could feed into the only major on-street bike path that cuts directly across the park, but DOT is not pursuing that.

Last night’s presentation to CB 8 was met with the typical NIMBY response, which NY1 previewed a few weeks ago. According to bike lane supporters who attended, opponents’ arguments focused on reasons why one street or another would not work for the lanes. But Council Member Ben Kallos spoke out in favor of the proposal and vehemently defended the need to ensure cyclists’ safety in the neighborhood. No vote was held, and DOT will present again next month.

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