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Posts from the Midtown Category

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DOT Will Close Remaining Gaps in First Avenue Protected Bike Lane

DOT plans to replace sharrows on First Avenue between 55th and 59th Streets with a parking-protected bike lane later this year. Image: DOT

DOT plans to replace sharrows on First Avenue between 55th and 59th Streets with a parking-protected bike lane later this year. Image: DOT

Soon there will be a continuous northbound protected bike lane along the length of First Avenue, from Houston Street to the Harlem River. On Monday, the Manhattan Community Board 6 transportation committee voted for DOT’s plan to plug the critical gaps in physical protection near the United Nations and the approach to the Queensboro Bridge [PDF].

From 55th to 59th Streets the First Avenue bike route currently consists of sharrows, and between 47th Street and 48th Street there is no physical protection. The new project would protect those five blocks. At the intersections of 57th Street and 59th Street, cyclists and drivers turning across the bike lane would have separate signal phases to eliminate conflicts.

In addition to creating a safer bike route, the redesign will shorten crossing distances for pedestrians. The sharrows on this part of First Avenue were not keeping people safe. On the four blocks from 55th to 59th, one cyclist and three pedestrians were severely injured, and three pedestrians were killed between 2010 and 2014.

DOT announced its intention to close what was then a 10-block gap in the First Avenue protected lane last May. The project was supposed to happen in two phases in quick succession, starting in the summer. But the first phase was delayed until the fall, and the second phase didn’t get off the ground until this year.

In addition to closing the gap from 55th to 59th, DOT’s plan resolves flaws in the design by United Nations Plaza. Motorists frequently ignore the bike lane between 47th and 48th, which is only separated from traffic by a painted buffer. There were multiple pedestrian and cyclist injuries at those intersections between 2010 and 2014, according to DOT.

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Driver Fails to Yield and Kills 67-Year-Old Yuenei Wu in Midtown

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Livery driver Edip Ozlemis struck and killed Yuenei Wu as she crossed Eighth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan yesterday afternoon. Photo: Google Maps

A livery car driver turning left onto Eighth Avenue from 38th Street struck and killed 67-year-old Yuenei Wu yesterday afternoon. Police charged 39-year-old Edip Ozlemis for failing to yield to a pedestrian, an unclassified misdemeanor.

Witnesses told the Daily News and the Post that Wu was crossing in the crosswalk at 4:31 p.m. when Ozlemis struck her with a Chevy Suburban, pinning her beneath the vehicle.

“After he hit her, he stopped, but then he kept driving because he didn’t realize what had happened. People were yelling for him to stop,” witness James Green told the Post.

A crowd lifted the car off Wu in an attempt to save her. She was unconscious and unresponsive when officers arrived at the scene, according to NYPD. Wu was rushed to Bellevue Hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries.

Under Section 19-190 of the city administrative code, also known as the Right of Way Law,
Ozlemis was charged with misdemeanor failure to yield, which carries a maximum sentence of a $250 fine and 30 days in jail. NYPD’s investigation is ongoing.

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Driver Kills 80-Year-Old in Midtown Precinct That Barely Enforces Speeding

W. 57th Street at Seventh Avenue, where a driver hit and killed 80-year-old Richard Headley. Image: Google Maps

W. 57th Street at Seventh Avenue, where a driver hit and killed 80-year-old Richard Headley. Image: Google Maps

A motorist killed an 80-year-old man walking in a Midtown police precinct that rarely enforces the speed limit. NYPD and District Attorney Cy Vance filed no charges.

Richard Headley was crossing W. 57th Street at Seventh Avenue at around 8 p.m. Sunday when a 23-year-old man, driving eastbound on W. 57th, hit him with an Audi sedan, Gothamist reported.

Inspector John B. Hart, CO of the Midtown North Precinct. Precinct officers ticket a motorist for speeding about once a day, on average.

Inspector John B. Hart, CO of the Midtown North Precinct. Precinct officers ticket a motorist for speeding about once a day, on average.

Anonymous “police and sources” told the Daily News the octogenarian “was not in the crosswalk when he was struck.” As usual, the actions of the motorist who took the victim’s life — how fast he was driving, if he was distracted, how he failed to avoid striking an 80-year-old in the street in front of him — were not addressed.

Headley died in the hospital on Monday. The driver who killed him was not charged criminally and did not receive a traffic ticket.

Headley was killed in the Midtown North/18th Precinct, where officers ticketed 80 drivers for speeding this year as of March. The precinct issued just 183 speeding summonses in 2015.

Motorists have killed at least three people walking in the Midtown North Precinct since last August, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog. Crash data mapped by the city show Midtown North ranks among the worst precincts in terms of density of traffic injuries.

If you’d like to voice your concerns about traffic violence to Inspector John B. Hart, commanding officer of Midtown North, the precinct community council meets on the third Tuesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. at the station house, 306 W. 54th Street. Call 212-767-8447 for information.

Richard Headley was killed in the City Council district represented by Dan Garodnick.

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DOT Will Fill in Most of the Second Avenue Bike Lane Gap in Midtown

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The current bike route on Second Avenue goes under these delivery trucks. Image: Google Street View

DOT will present plans this spring to fill most, but not all, of the remaining gaps in the north-south protected bike lanes on the East Side of Manhattan. Significantly, DOT intends to create a physically protected bike lane on Second Avenue between 59th Street and 43rd Street. Combined with the bike lane extension coming to the Upper East Side after surface work on the Second Avenue Subway wraps up, the project would close most of the remaining gaps on the avenue but leave the approaches to the Queensboro Bridge and the Queens Midtown Tunnel exposed.

DOT Manhattan community liaison Colleen Chattergoon shared the news with the Community Board 6 transportation committee last night. The remaining gaps, she said, will be addressed in future projects but not this year. Chattergoon also said that DOT expects Select Bus Service on 23rd Street to launch later in 2016.

Since putting in protected bike lanes on First and Second south of 34th Street in 2010, the city has added segments in East Harlem, the Upper East Side, and Midtown piece by piece — leaving the most traffic-choked blocks for last. As of now, from Houston Street to 125th the only gaps in protection on the First Avenue bike lane are between 47th and 48th streets (it’s a curbside buffered lane for that block) and between 56th and 59th streets (currently sharrows). Both of those gaps are in line to be protected later this year, said Chattergoon, with DOT expecting to present a plan in May or June.

The Second Avenue bike route has the bigger gap, with no protection between 105th Street and 34th Street. In January, Manhattan CB 8 endorsed DOT’s plan to install a parking-protected lane on Second Avenue above 68th Street after subway construction is finished. The project DOT will present in the spring will call for a protected lane between 59th and 43rd. That would leave two significant gaps — one leading up to the Queensboro Bridge and another leading up to the tunnel. DOT intends to fill those gaps at some point, the only question is when.

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“Plaza 33” Will Return This Year, But a Ped-Friendly 32nd Street Won’t

“Plaza 33,” the temporary public space that opened up the eastern end of 33rd Street between Seventh Avenue and Eighth Avenue for a few months last year, will be back in August and this time there are no plans to remove it once the weather turns colder.

The other pedestrian improvement by Penn Station that real estate giant Vornado funded last year — the 32nd Street sidewalk extension — will not be back, however. Both projects were managed by Vornado with DOT’s approval.

Last night, representatives from the company showed a joint meeting of the Community Board 5 transportation and parks committees their plan to bring back Plaza 33. The 32nd Street project, which opened up space for people on a cramped walking route between Sixth Avenue and Penn Station, may get revived in the future, but Vornado said complaints about the removal of loading zones have tabled it for now.

The plaza on 33rd Street increases continuous pedestrian space on 7th Avenue by half. Image: Vornado Reality Trust

The plaza on 33rd Street (the green area) is coming back in August. Image: Vornado Reality Trust

While there are no plans to remove the plaza once it returns, DOT wants to observe it year-round before committing to a permanent build-out, which would require a multi-year capital investment.

“Part of what DOT wants to see is ‘How does this work?’” Vornado Senior VP for Development Marc Ricks told committee members. “And although they are not positioning this as a pilot, they are positioning that it’s back and it’s here to stay, the city always reserves the right to say something’s not working.”

DOT may also implement split-phase signals at the intersections of Seventh Avenue with 33rd Street and 31st Street, so pedestrians never have the walk signal at the same time that turning drivers have a green light. That decision is due to traffic concerns more than safety — DOT found that those intersections had more vehicle delay while Plaza 33 was in place.

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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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Charges Reduced in Manhattan Hit-and-Run Death of Charity Hicks

Scene of the Midtown crash that killed Charity Hicks. Image: WNBC

Scene of the Midtown crash that killed Charity Hicks. Image: WNBC

Charges have been reduced against a driver who allegedly killed a woman on a Manhattan sidewalk and fled the scene.

On May 31, 2014, Thomas Shanley drove a Dodge SUV onto the curb on 10th Avenue near W. 34th Street, striking a pole that fell on Charity Hicks, according to a criminal court complaint and Gothamist. Hicks, who lived in Detroit and was in the city for a conference, suffered injuries to her head and chest. She died weeks later. A second pedestrian was also injured.

Charity Hicks. Photo via Gothamist

Charity Hicks. Photo via Gothamist

The criminal court complaint said video reviewed by NYPD showed the SUV driver “swerve across two lanes of traffic and onto the sidewalk” on 10th Avenue. Shanley’s cell phone, which was recovered at the scene, indicated that the user was sending a text message at the time of the collision, according to the complaint.

Investigators found Shanley, who fled the scene on foot, in New Jersey and arrested him in August 2014, the Daily News reported. He was on parole at the time of the crash.

District Attorney Cy Vance initially charged Shanley with manslaughter and felony leaving the scene — class C and D felonies, respectively. However, the current charges against him are (class D) felony leaving the scene, criminally negligent homicide (a class E felony), and leaving the scene of an incident without reporting (a class A misdemeanor). Vance’s office declined comment on why the manslaughter charge was dismissed, as the case remains open.

In New York City, motorists accused in deadly hit-and-run crashes usually face a top charge of leaving the scene — assuming they are prosecuted at all — and are rarely charged for taking a life. So though the top charge in this case was reduced to felony leaving the scene, it’s noteworthy that Vance elected to pursue a homicide charge and succeeded in securing an indictment.

Class D felonies carry a maximum penalty of seven years in prison. Shanley is expected to go to trial in March. He has been in jail since pleading not guilty in January 2015, court records say.

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CB 4 Transpo Committee Endorses Sixth Ave Protected Lane

A rendering from DOT's November proposal for a protected bike lane on Sixth Avenue. The plan now includes raised pedestrian medians. Image: NYC DOT

A rendering from DOT’s November proposal for a protected bike lane on Sixth Avenue. The plan now includes raised pedestrian medians. Image: NYC DOT

DOT is set to move forward with a protected bike lane on Sixth Avenue from 8th Street to 33rd Street after members of the Community Board 4 transportation committee gave the project a thumbs-up last night.

In November, the committee declined to support the proposal because members felt the new design did not do enough to protect pedestrians and cyclists. Of particular concern was the lack of raised concrete pedestrian islands and split-phase signals, which give cyclists and pedestrians dedicated time to cross streets without conflicts with turning traffic. Since then, CB 2 and CB 5 committees both endorsed the plan.

Last night, committee members reiterated many of their concerns but ultimately voted to endorse the plan.

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Shutting the Midtown Stables Won’t Do Zilch for Manhattan Traffic

Mayor de Blasio’s newest rationale for his deal to shutter the horse-carriage stables in the West 50s is that it will alleviate traffic congestion in Midtown. At an MLK Day event yesterday in Brooklyn, the mayor told reporters:

The value we’re getting here for the people is to address the congestion issue, again when the horses are coming from the West Side to Central Park, to address the congestion issue along all the routes that the horse carriages ply, to address the safety issue, because there have been a number of crashes. I think it’s a good long-term investment to get the horses off the streets.

Subtracting a few horses won’t help. Photo: Kevin Coles/Flickr

Yet carriage traffic on the streets between the stables and Central Park now makes up such a tiny share of overall vehicle travel that eliminating it would barely register on the traffic meter. There are a mere 68 carriages, and each travels around five miles a day (that figure assumes that each carriage makes one to two 3.2-mile round trips daily between its stable and the park). Total daily carriage-miles traveled, or CMT, is around 340 miles.

By comparison, cars, taxis, trucks and buses rack up 3.3 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) each weekday in the Manhattan Central Business District. Against that figure, the 340 miles of CMT are just one part in 10,000.

That ratio would shrink by three if we limit the comparison to Midtown, which occupies the northernmost one-third of the CBD. We could also charge each horse carriage with several times the traffic impact of a taxicab or car, due to larger size and lesser maneuverability. But even accounting for those factors, shutting down horse-carriage traffic still leaves in place the equivalent of at least 999 of every 1,000 vehicles on Midtown streets.

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