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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.”

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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.

Read more…

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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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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.