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Posts from the Midtown Category

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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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NYC Drivers Killed at Least 16 People on Sidewalks and in Buildings in 2015

A woman who was struck by an unattended taxi in December died from her injuries this week. The driver was not charged by NYPD or Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.

Suhuyn Park, 22, and her 21-year-old boyfriend were walking at W. 51st Street and Eighth Avenue at around 8:30 p.m. on December 30 when a yellow cab, a Toyota minivan, rolled onto the sidewalk and struck them both, according to DNAinfo. The cab came to a stop after it hit another taxi.

From the Post:

The 67-year-old cabdriver had gotten out of the car to help his passenger to the sidewalk when the vehicle suddenly started rolling, cops said.

Park, who lived in South Korea, died Monday at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Her boyfriend was treated for injuries and released.

No charges were filed. NYPD told the Daily News police “do not believe criminal activity played a role in the tragic accident.”

In 2009 a van left idling by a commercial driver killed toddlers Hayley Ng and Diego Martinez on a sidewalk in Chinatown. That driver was not charged by NYPD or former Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau. A state law named after Hayley and Diego created the offense of careless driving, but as is the case with the city’s Right of Way Law, adopted in 2014, NYPD barely uses it.

Park was the 16th person known to have been killed by a New York City motorist on a sidewalk or inside a building in 2015. There were five such fatalities in 2014, according to crash data tracked by Streetsblog. Two of the 13 drivers involved in last year’s crashes were charged for taking a life.

At least one other person died as a result of motorist negligence over the holiday break. On Christmas Eve the driver of a commercial van struck and killed a 77-year-old woman at E. 21st Street and Gravesend Neck Road in Sheepshead Bay, according to the Daily News. Police charged Zafrom Ghafoor with careless driving and failure to yield.

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Video: Festival of Fake Police Lights Takes Over Sixth Avenue [Updated]


Bucky Turco
of ANIMAL fame took this video of what looks like a Lubavitcher Hanukkah parade in Midtown Saturday night. The video was shot on Sixth Avenue at 23rd Street shortly after 8 p.m.

“There were dozens and dozens of cars, most of which had their license plates covered,” Turco said via email. “It went on for minutes.”

As you can see in the video, men are corking traffic in SUVs equipped with police lights and sirens. One of the men blasts a Rumbler-type siren when Turco tries to get video of his license plate, which was taped over.

We called the NYPD public information office to ask if the department authorized the caravan, and if people who aren’t police are allowed to disrupt traffic and have vehicles with lights and sirens. We were directed to send an email, which is NYPD’s way of saying “Go away.”

Correction: A representative of Crown Heights Shomrim, Mendy Hershkop, contacted us to say that contrary to Streetsblog’s speculation in the initial version of this post, his group was not involved in this event and never engages in traffic control. “I don’t do it for this reason,” he said. “Blocking off streets isn’t what we’re trained for.” He attributed the actions in this video to Crown Heights Shmira, a separate group.

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What Protected Bike Lanes on Midtown Cross Streets Might Look Like

dc_1st_street

The 1st Street bike lane by Union Station in Washington, DC, via Streetfilms

We reported yesterday that DOT is exploring the potential for crosstown protected bike lanes in Midtown. Currently, the painted crosstown bike lanes on Midtown cross streets tend to get blocked by cars. Here’s how one reader put it:

My main complaint as a crosstown cyclist in midtown during the workday are streets that are so calm that nothing moves, but are also so packed that you can’t even filter through. There are two types of (one-way) streets in midtown: those with two traffic lanes, and those with one; both with two parking lanes… The result is that it’s impossible to filter through stopped vehicles in the two-lane streets and it is faster to walk on the sidewalk (I wouldn’t bike on it!).

So how might a protected bike lane work on streets that are narrower than the wide avenues where most of the protected bike infrastructure in NYC has been added? In Manhattan, the main example is the parking-protected bike lane on Grand Street, first installed in 2008. But you don’t need a whole parking lane of street width to protect a bike lane.

Readers pointed out that a concrete curb can do the trick just fine. There’s a great example of this treatment on 1st Street by Union Station in DC, which Clarence Eckerson recently highlighted with a short Streetfilm.

Another reader shared this example from Vancouver:

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DOT Exploring Better Crosstown Bike Lanes for Midtown

The bike lane on 39th Street is no match for westbound traffic. Image: Google Street View

DOT is exploring options for better crosstown bike connections in the city’s busiest neighborhood, according to a letter from DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione to Community Board 4.

The letter says DOT is “currently exploring the potential for protected bike lanes in Midtown Manhattan” and that “large vehicle volumes, curbside access needs and network connectivity are challenges faced in designing this type of bicycle facility in this area of the city.”

Forgione’s message came in response to a letter sent more than a year ago by CB 4 Chair Christine Berthet and the co-chairs of the transportation committee, who requested that DOT study the potential for protected bike lanes on crosstown streets ranging from 23rd Street to 42nd Street.

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6 Manhattan Electeds Ask DOT for Complete Streets on Fifth and Sixth Ave

DOT has put out a plan to add a protected bike lane on Sixth Avenue from 14th Street to 33rd Street [PDF], and Manhattan electeds want more. A letter from State Senator Brad Hoylman and five other representatives calls for a more thorough complete street redesign along all of Sixth Avenue and Fifth Avenue from Greenwich Village to Central Park.

In addition to Hoylman, Assembly members Deborah Glick and Richard Gottfried, City Council members Dan Garodnick and Corey Johnson, and Borough President Gale Brewer signed on to the letter to DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione, calling on the department “to take necessary steps to study and implement Complete Streets infrastructure on Fifth and Sixth Avenues as swiftly as possible.”

Members of both Community Board 4 and Community Board 5 have asked DOT for a bolder design in its Sixth Avenue plan. Since green lights were lengthened on Sixth Avenue in Midtown in conjunction with the pedestrianization of several blocks of Broadway a few years ago (signal time was basically reallocated from Broadway to Sixth, increasing average vehicle speeds [PDF]), it should be possible to repurpose a full traffic lane relatively painlessly. But the current plan does not include raised concrete pedestrian refuges, wider sidewalks, or bus lanes, and the bike lane is not as spacious as it should be:

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CB 5 Committee to DOT: You Oughta Take a Traffic Lane Outta Sixth Avenue

The DOT proposal for Sixth Avenue adds a protected bike lane but doesn’t remove any motor vehicle lanes. Image: NYC DOT

Like their counterparts at Community Board 4, members of the Manhattan Community Board 5 transportation committee think DOT’s proposed redesign of Sixth Avenue isn’t bold enough. Unlike CB 4, the committee voted for the plan anyway in a unanimous decision last night.

The proposal would add a protected bike lane from 14th Street to 33rd Street, narrowing the avenue’s four motor vehicle lanes without eliminating any [PDF]. Committee members were concerned that the plan won’t slow traffic and lacks various treatments that would better protect pedestrians, like wider sidewalks and raised concrete islands.

“This seems to me to prioritize traffic over pedestrians,” said committee chair Alan Miles.

DOT’s Ted Wright said other community boards are not as eager for more drastic changes. “I wish more community boards were asking for radical things,” he said.

“We ask every time you come here,” Miles quipped. “You’re always concerned about parking spaces.”

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