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Posts from the Manhattan Category


Eyes on the Street: The New East Houston Street

The new "Green Street" plaza west of Avenue A. Photo: David Meyer

The new pedestrian space west of Avenue A is bigger than the old sidewalk (below), but places a fenced off planted area between pedestrians and ground floor retail like Punjabi Deli. Photo: David Meyer

Before construction, the area was part of 1st Street. Pictured here in July 2012. Photo: Google Maps

Before construction, the area was part of East 1st Street. Pictured here in July 2012. Photo: Google Maps

The long-delayed reconstruction of East Houston Street between the Bowery and the FDR Drive is starting to round into form. Though the Department of Design and Construction won’t wrap up the project until next year at the earliest, new medians and pedestrian areas between Avenue A and Chrystie Street are finally complete, and the transition to the First Avenue bike lane is no longer obstructed by construction.

Planning for the project began all the way back in the early 2000s, and it shows. While the East Houston reconstruction includes bigger pedestrian zones and buffered bike lanes — a net improvement — it also dates to an earlier era of city street design, before protected bike lanes and plazas were common elements in DOT’s toolkit.

When construction began in 2010, it was set to finish by 2013. Six years later, the end is only now in sight.

East of Chrystie Street, wider medians that will be planted with trees have been completed along the corridor. At Avenue A, a wider sidewalk and seating area was also recently finished by Punjabi Deli. For some reason, the city placed a fenced-off planted area between the ground floor stores and the seating area, an awkward barrier.

One block to the west, cyclists can bike from Allen Street directly to the First Avenue bike lane again, without having to mix it up with traffic, now that the bike lane is no longer a construction staging area.

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How to Keep Buses Moving on the 14th Street PeopleWay

Passing lanes, spread out stops, off-board fare collection, and at-level boarding could all help keep buses moving on 14th Street. Image: BRT Planning International

This rendering of a potential eastbound BRT stop at 14th Street and Irving Plaza includes a lane for buses to pass each other. Image: BRT Planning International

As the city and MTA consider how to move thousands of L train passengers across Manhattan when the subway line shuts down for Sandy-related repairs, momentum is growing for a 14th Street “PeopleWay” free of private motor vehicles. But with 10,000 passengers during the peak hour in the peak direction, prohibiting cars alone won’t prevent 14th Street from becoming a bus parking lot, according to Annie Weinstock and Walter Hook at BRT Planning International.

Weinstock and Hook say bus stop design will be key to keeping buses moving.  The above image shows their proposed design for a station at 14th Street and Irving Plaza, which they anticipate will be the busiest westbound stop on the corridor. The stop has space for four buses, with a passing lane so buses that have completed their stops don’t get stuck behind those that are still boarding. To make space for passing lanes, the corresponding eastbound stop would be on another block.

A bus with no passengers takes about 18 seconds to pull up to a stop and open and close its doors. With about 85 buses an hour needed to meet the demand created by the L train closure, according to Weinstock and Hook, bus stops will be occupied 25 minutes out of the hour, leading to congestion along the corridor.

Even with passing lanes and effective stop placement, Weinstock and Hook’s analysis shows that buses would be delayed at almost every major intersection. To further improve bus speeds, they suggest at-level boarding and off-board fare collection, ideally with pre-paid fare zones rather than ticket inspectors.

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Gale Brewer Endorses TA’s 14th Street PeopleWay Campaign

In May, Gale Brewer (podium) expressed interest in a bus-only 14th Street at a press conference hosted by Riders Alliance. Photo: David Meyer

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (podium) expressed interest in a bus-only 14th Street at this press conference hosted by Riders Alliance in May. Photo: David Meyer

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer wants to prioritize buses, bikes, and pedestrians on Manhattan’s 14th Street when the L train shuts down for 18 months beginning in January 2019. Brewer signed onto Transportation Alternatives’ “PeopleWay” campaign yesterday after meeting with campaign organizers.

“To get through 18 months without the L train, we’ll need to move people along 14th Street like never before,” she said in a statement. “We need the DOT and MTA to conduct studies and get more community feedback before we’ll know what the best plan is, but some form of 14th Street PeopleWay has to be part of the solution.”

The shutdown will leave hundreds of thousands of daily L train commuters in need of reliable and fast alternatives. Buses running on dedicated lanes between Williamsburg and Manhattan are the most efficient way to accomplish that goal. Brewer previously called on DOT to study the concept of a “bus-only” 14th Street ahead of the shutdown.

PeopleWay advocates have not yet proposed a specific design for prioritizing buses, pedestrians, and bikes on the corridor, and Brewer’s statement stops short of calling for an entirely car-free 14th Street. In September and October, TA will host a series of public workshops to collect input for a more detailed plan, according to TA Organizing Director Tom DeVito.

TA volunteers and organizers spent the summer drumming up support for the PeopleWay concept. Brewer joins Council Member Corey Johnson, who represents the corridor from Fifth Avenue to the Hudson River, as well as Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez, in supporting the proposal. Council members Rosie Mendez and Dan Garodnick, who also represent parts of 14th Street, have yet to sign on.

The city and MTA will not be able to meet shutdown-induced demand unless they reallocate street space to people on buses and bikes. While DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg has said “all options are on the table,” Mayor de Blasio has been cold to the PeopleWay concept. Appearing on WNYC in July, the mayor was reluctant to endorse a car-free 14th Street, calling it a “big decision…given how important 14th Street is.”


Checking in With People Cycling on the New Sixth Ave Protected Bike Lane

The Sixth Avenue protected bike lane was installed last month. Photo: David Meyer

The Sixth Avenue protected bike lane at 20th Street. All photos: David Meyer

The Sixth Avenue protected bike lane is just about finished between 8th Street and 33rd Street, except for the pedestrian islands. The redesign is still in that awkward transitional phase where people are figuring out how to use it, so today Streetsblog checked in with a few of the thousands of people who bike Sixth Avenue daily to see how the change is coming.

“I think it’s great! I think they should keep making more,” Jesus Andrade said as he waited for the light to cross 26th Street. “I think this [design] is the best way because the cars shield us from the traffic.”

The old painted bike lane on Sixth Avenue was frequently blocked by double-parked drivers, pushing cyclists into the street’s treacherous motor vehicle traffic. Wide crossing distances made the street exceedingly dangerous for pedestrians too. Between 2009 and 2013, 27 pedestrians and 10 cyclists were severely injured in the project area, according to DOT.

In addition to a parking-protected bike lane, the project includes 33 new concrete pedestrians islands that have yet to be installed.

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Quick Hits on Citi Bike Expansion and Manhattan Bike Lane Upgrades

Yesterday Citi Bike began its 2016 expansion, bringing new stations to Manhattan up to 110th Street and Brooklyn west of Prospect Park. We’ve got a few updates to share that didn’t make it into our earlier post on the expansion and the bike lane upgrades DOT is implementing in the new service area.

Expansion details

Citi Bike is adding 139 new stations to its network in NYC, not 121 as Streetsblog reported yesterday. Of the new stations, Citi Bike says 40 are infill stations (located either in areas that were already served by Citi Bike or in expansion zones that were slated for sparser station density in earlier versions of the plan).

In concert with the expansion, Citi Bike is offering $25 off annual memberships through August 31.

Amsterdam Avenue bike lane update

We checked in with DOT about the bike lane upgrades in the expanded bike-share service area. The Amsterdam Avenue protected bike lane between 72nd Street and 110th Street is largely complete, the agency said. Still to come are concrete pedestrian islands and changes to traffic signals, which the agency said will wrap up in early 2017, pending the completion of a separate capital project underway on the route.

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Maloney: Use L Train Shutdown to “Upgrade Our Bus Service”

New York City should use the impending L train shutdown to make long-term improvements to bus service, U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney said at a public forum last night.

Carolyn Maloney

Carolyn Maloney

To repair the Sandy-damaged L train tunnel under the East River, the MTA will either close the subway line west of Williamsburg entirely for 18 months or run it at 20 percent capacity for three years. A decision is expected in the next few months, but in either scenario, hundreds of thousands of people will need other ways to get around.

Maloney’s district encompasses both sides of the river. Speaking after an MTA presentation on the project to a joint meeting of Manhattan community boards 3 and 6, she said her Brooklyn constituents have made it clear they need answers as soon as possible.

“We can sort of grab this time to upgrade our bus service, which always needs to happen,” Maloney told the room. “A lot of times when you start a service, it never ends, you know, we hold onto it. You’ll get 30,000 people doing it every day, it’ll be impossible for them to cut it.”

More efficient bus service along 14th Street will be needed to make up for the loss of the L train. It would also help the tens of thousands of people who already ride buses in sluggish 14th Street traffic. Last week, Transportation Alternatives and the Riders Alliance launched a campaign to turn the corridor into a car-free “PeopleWay” dedicated solely to buses, biking, and walking.

MTA reps last night said that signal priority and dedicated bus lanes will be essential to keeping people moving, but that the city — not the transit authority — has the final say on the design of the street.

When TA volunteer Willow Stelzer asked about making 14th Street off-limits to private motor vehicles, New York City Transit Vice President for Government and Community Relations Lois Tendler said that MTA is working on a traffic study in cooperation with NYC DOT.

“I think there is a recognition that we all have to think bold,” Tendler said. “If, you know, out of lemons you make lemonade, 14th Street could be a very interesting proposition for the whole city.”


Why No Charges From Cy Vance for Hit-and-Run Killing of Noah Goldstein?

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance's office declined to comment on the hit-and-run death of Noah Goldstein.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s office declined to comment on its investigation of the hit-and-run death of Noah Goldstein.

Nearly two weeks have passed since a sanitation truck driver struck and killed 21-year-old Noah Goldstein near Columbus Circle and left the scene. The driver has been identified, yet police and Manhattan DA Cy Vance have filed no charges. The truck operator who killed Goldstein is free to keep driving on NYC streets.

NYPD and Vance say an investigation is ongoing but otherwise offered no explanation for the lack of charges when Streetsblog asked for an update on the case today.

Police found Goldstein lying in the crosswalk at Broadway and West 61st Street at around 3:15 a.m. the morning of June 18, a Saturday. The driver was not on the scene when police arrived but was later identified. NYPD confirmed to Streetsblog this morning that the driver works for a private sanitation firm.

At Tuesday night’s 20th Precinct Community Council meeting, Captain Levon Holley said the driver “may not have known that he struck an individual” and that investigators are “not pursuing any criminal charges at this time,” the West Side Rag reported. “Evidence points to it being an accident due to the fact that it was a garbage truck,” he said.

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NYC Needs a Car-Free 14th Street When the L Closes — And When It Returns

In 2019, the L train west of Williamsburg will be shut down so the MTA can repair Sandy-related damage to subway tunnels under the East River. Hundreds of thousands of people will have to find other ways to get around, and there’s no conceivable way to do that without dedicating a lot of street space to buses, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

Enter the “PeopleWay,” Transportation Alternatives’ concept for a 14th Street solely for transit, cycling, and walking. Yesterday staff and volunteers with TA and the Riders Alliance were out at Union Square making the case for the PeopleWay and gathering signatures for an overhaul of the street. The campaign calls for improvements to be made permanent after the L resumes full service.

Even with a fully functional L train, bus service on 14th Street carries more than 32,000 weekday trips. Car traffic slows them down and leads to unreliable service. Sidewalks are too crowded. Biking without protection next to cabs, trucks, and buses is terrifying.

Now add L train riders to the mix. On a typical day, 50,000 passengers make L train trips that start and end along 14th Street. Another 230,000 ride between Brooklyn and 14th Street. To help all these people get around without the train, optimizing 14th Street for the most spatially efficient modes of travel isn’t a choice so much as a necessity.

TA estimates that a redesign with dedicated bus lanes, protected bike lanes, and more pedestrian space can double the capacity of 14th Street.

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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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