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Posts from the Red Hook Category


The Next Brooklyn Bike-Share Expansion Will Be the Thinnest Part of Citi Bike


Citi Bike is coming to the neighborhoods west of Prospect Park, but the stations won’t be spaced conveniently close together. Map via NYC DOT. Click to enlarge.

DOT unveiled its latest Citi Bike expansion map last week, and the stations look significantly more spread out than stations in the rest of the system.

Spread-out stations are a problem for bike-share users because people have to walk farther to make trips, and that costs time. The National Association of City Transportation Officials recommends 28 stations per square mile — and the city’s contract with Citi Bike operator Motivate stipulates the same metric — but NYC DOT has been thinning out stations in its expansion zones. The city wants to cover the geographic area described in the bike-share contract, while Motivate doesn’t want to supply more than the 378 additional stations it’s required to. The result is a less effective system for everyone.

With 62 stations covering the 3.1 square miles of Brooklyn Community Board 6 — which includes Red Hook, Park Slope, and everything in between — the station density works out to 20 per square mile. As Citi Bike expands into Upper Manhattan, western Queens, and more of Brooklyn by 2017, these are the station densities New Yorkers can expect in the absence of a new strategy from DOT and/or Motivate.

DOT officials told the CB 6 committee that more stations can be added after the initial rollout. But it could be a long time before those gaps get filled in. When the current round of expansion wraps up in 2017, there will be a lot of ground to cover with infill stations plus huge pressure to keep expanding outward.

Ironically, the one thing Citi Bike had going for it consistently from the very beginning — a convenient network where a station was always a short walk away — is deteriorating just as everything else comes together. Citi Bike is finally on the rebound thanks to a thorough overhaul of its equipment and software. How long will the good times last if every expansion fails to deliver the convenience bike-share users have come to expect?


Temporary Red Hook Greenway Plan Looks Better Than the Permanent One


Currently, plans call for ditching an interim on-street two-way bike lane in Red Hook once a waterfront greenway is built, but there’s no reason DOT couldn’t keep the interim design. Image: NYC DOT

Eventually, New York City intends to build a biking and walking path along the Red Hook waterfront, one link in the longer Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. It’s going to be several years before that project gets built, so in the meantime DOT plans to make streets a few blocks inland safer for biking and walking. The question is, why not keep the safer, multi-modal surface streets after the permanent project wraps up?

Last night, DOT presented the interim plan [PDF] to the Brooklyn Community Board 6 transportation committee, which voted for it unanimously. The plan would reconstruct bumpy Ferris Street and Beard Street and make room for a two-way curbside bike lane and green infrastructure features. But the long-term plan for the greenway currently calls for moving the bikeway to the waterfront and putting a parking lane back on the street.

Currently, Ferris and Beard are in such poor condition that there is no sidewalk on large sections of each street, which impedes walking. The shoddy pavement and lack of bike lanes also prevent cyclists from comfortably accessing nearby Valentino Pier. The interim treatment will address both problems, and some people at the meeting last night questioned why the on-street bikeway is slated to be removed once the permanent greenway is built.

“I think that having an interim design is an appeasement to people who are worried about parking,” said committee member Bahij Chancey.

Read more…


Citi Bike Could Expand to 86th Street This Summer

It looks like that Phase II expansion might itself come in phases, starting later this summer. Image: Citi Bike

That Phase II expansion looks like it will start this summer. Image: Citi Bike

It looks like some parts of Manhattan north of 59th Street could be getting Citi Bike sooner than previously expected.

At a town hall hosted by Council Member Helen Rosenthal last week, DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione said Citi Bike would expand to 86th Street by August or September, and to 110th Street “probably in March,” reports West Side Rag. Citi Bike had previously announced its intent to extend the service area to about 130th Street by the end of 2017. Last week’s meeting revealed the timetable for phasing in that expansion.

Manhattanites will have a chance to look over the final bike-share station map starting this week, following public meetings earlier this year. The Community Board 8 transportation committee, which covers the Upper East Side, is meeting Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. The CB 7 transportation committee, covering the Upper West Side, is scheduled to meet next Tuesday, May 12, at 7 p.m.

Expansion in Brooklyn — part of Citi Bike’s plan to grow from 6,000-bike system to 12,000 bikes — is set to come in phases, too, though there is no specific timetable yet.

New stations in Bed-Stuy, Greenpoint, and Williamsburg are expected to come online first, by the end of this year. DNAinfo reported last week that DOT staff say the first significant group of stations south of Atlantic Avenue will be added west of Fourth Avenue, before covering Park Slope, Prospect Heights, and parts of Crown Heights and Prospect Lefferts Gardens.


City Planning Department Suggests Safer Streets, Better Buses for Red Hook

The Department of City Planning is recommending making Hamilton Avenue beneath the Gowanus Expressway more pedestrian friendly. Image: DCP

The Department of City Planning recommends making Hamilton Avenue beneath the Gowanus Expressway more pedestrian friendly. Image: DCP

Cut off from the rest of the borough by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and lacking direct subway access, Red Hook can feel like an isolated part of Brooklyn. A study from the Department of City Planning, released last November, calls for expanded pedestrian space, new bus service to Manhattan, and bicycle and pedestrian safety fixes throughout the neighborhood.

A common complaint from Red Hook residents is that there aren’t enough transit connections to the area. Mostly beyond the reach of the F and G trains, the neighborhood is served only by the B57 and B61 buses. Nevertheless, most people depend on transit: Three-quarters of households in the neighborhood are car-free, compared to 55 percent citywide, and 61 percent of residents commute by train or bus.

Transit improvements have been difficult to secure. DOT studied and rejected a streetcar to Red Hook in 2011. While ferries have proven politically popular, especially warm-weather shuttles to IKEA operated by New York Waterway, DCP pointed to the 2011 Comprehensive Citywide Ferry Study, currently being updated, which found expanded ferry service to require too much subsidy to be feasible.

DCP is more receptive to the idea of a direct bus connection to Manhattan via the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. The agency says the extension of the M22, which runs between Battery Park City and Corlears Hook, just south of the Williamsburg Bridge, is a “viable option” that requires more study from the MTA. An alternative could be a peak-period shuttle, though DCP does not prefer this limited option.

The report’s recommendations aren’t limited to transit. Bicycling and street safety feature prominently, as well.

Read more…


311 Is a Joke: NYPD Ignores Bike Lane-Blocking Big Rigs in Red Hook

In the space of a few hours this afternoon, one cyclist’s experience, chronicled in real time on Twitter, summed up NYPD’s indifference to keeping bike lanes clear of motor vehicles.

At 8:00 this morning, Anna Zivarts encountered a flatbed tractor-trailer parked in the two-way Imlay/Summit Street bike lane in Red Hook. When that truck and a second rig were still blocking the lane four hours later, Zivarts tweeted photos.

Prompted by a response from DOT on Twitter, at 2:15 p.m. Zivarts filed a complaint on the 311 web site. (There is no “vehicle blocking bike lane” option on the 311 site, so DOT advised her to select “double parked blocking traffic.”) An hour later, Zivarts received an emailed response that read: “The Police Department responded to the complaint and determined that police action was not necessary.”

When she checked the street minutes later, however, the trucks were still parked in the bike lane. “Why bother?” tweeted Zivarts.

Though this isn’t one of NYC’s most hectic streets, in the video, taken by Zivarts, you can see the truck is forcing cyclists into an oncoming lane around a corner, where visibility is poor.

Apparently that’s not something the police care to prevent.

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Will DA Ken Thompson Investigate Killing of 14-Year-Old Nicholas Soto?

Following the vehicular killing of 14-year-old Nicholas Soto in Red Hook Monday morning, anonymous police sources were quick to blame the victim, though the crash happened near a school bus and sent Soto through the air, witnesses said. According to press accounts, NYPD won’t say if the driver who struck Soto was speeding through an area of Red Hook where drivers routinely endanger lives. Meanwhile, the local precinct community council is scheduled to meet tonight.

Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson. Image: ##

Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson. Image: NY1

Soto was crossing at the corner of Lorraine Street and Hicks Street at around 7 a.m. when the unnamed driver, apparently westbound on Lorraine, slammed into him with a BMW sedan.

Photos from the scene show extensive damage to the right side of the car. The front fender was dented, the hood separated from the headlight bezel, and the windshield nearly punched through. Witnesses say Soto was hit with such force that he was propelled away from the street and over a nearby fence.

From the Post:

“He came running through here, too busy, trying to catch the [school] bus,” said Edward Austin, 54, who witnessed the tragic accident.

Austin said the boy was looking at the bus when [he] ran into the intersection and failed to see the car coming from the opposite direction.

“The car came down, he was moving too damn fast,” he continued, referring to the driver. “The poor kid was bleeding through his eyes.”

“We’re losing our kids out here because [drivers] think this is a damn highway,” Alfredo Otero, a local, told the Post. “This is not the first,” said another resident. “I seen three or four people get hit out here.”

Soto’s family and other residents of Red Hook Houses East, where the victim lived, told DNAinfo the corner of Lorraine and Hicks is “notoriously dangerous.”

Eddie Soto, Nicholas’ father, said his son’s death reflected the community’s need for safer streets.

“It’s not only about my son,” Soto said. “It’s about everyone else.”

“The driver of the BMW remained on scene and and was issued a summons for having his windows tinted illegally,” the Post reported. “Police would not say if the driver was speeding.”

It’s unusual for a New York City district attorney to charge a sober motorist who remains at the scene for killing, but it does happen. In January, Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson charged a driver with manslaughter for the death of a second driver in a crash that apparently did not involve alcohol. Last year Thompson’s predecessor Charles Hynes filed assault and homicide charges against the driver who killed 9-year-old pedestrian Lucian Merryweather and injured his younger brother, though the top charge was later downgraded to homicide. (In New York State, criminally negligent homicide is a class E felony, the least severe felony category.)

Unlike states where specific charges are prescribed for vehicular crimes, New York traffic law is highly subjective, and convictions normally depend on a prosecutor’s ability to convince a jury of a motorists’s state of mind. The probability of a serious charge after a fatal crash seems to increase when the driver’s actions are especially brazen. It must also be noted that some DAs are more aggressive than others when it comes to prosecuting vehicular crimes.

Read more…


NYPD Fails to Charge Driver Who Killed a Child in Red Hook This Morning

Witnesses say a driver hit 14-year-old Nicholas Soto with enough force to throw him away from the street and over a nearby fence. NYPD filed no charges. Image: Google Maps

Witnesses say a driver hit 14-year-old Nicholas Soto with enough force to throw him away from the street and over a nearby fence. NYPD filed no charges. Image: Google Maps

A motorist killed a teenager in Red Hook this morning.

Nicholas Soto, 14, was crossing Lorraine Street at Hicks Street at around 7:00 when the driver of a BMW sedan slammed into him.

From WNBC:

Witnesses said the force of the impact flung the boy up in the air and over a fence.

Millie Mendez said the sound of the boy being hit was so loud she thought two cars had collided. When she realized it was a boy, not a car, that had been hit, she said she couldn’t believe it.

“He was bleeding everywhere,” Mendez said.

Mendez and others told WNBC speeding is a problem in the area. “The cars come like they’re on a thruway,” Mendez said. “They need a light, speed bump, they need something on this corner because this is dangerous right here,” said resident Edward Ulsalston.

Photos from the scene show the BMW with front end damage and a cracked windshield, signs that the victim was thrown onto the hood. Though photos and witness accounts point to driver speed as a factor, police told WNBC that “No criminality is suspected.”

Daily News reporter Rocco Parascandola, meanwhile, cited an unnamed police source who blamed the victim.

A 14-year-old racing to catch a school bus was struck and killed by a car in Brooklyn Monday morning, police said.

Nicholas Soto was rushing across Hicks St. at Lorraine St. just before 7 a.m. when he was struck by a 2004 BMW heading west on Lorraine.

Nicholas, who lived nearby, died a short time later at Methodist Hospital.

The driver remained at the scene and will not likely be charged.

A police source said the teen’s vision may have been partially obstructed by his hoodie.

“It appears to be a tragic accident,” the source said.

Read more…


One-Way Gap in Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway Set to Be Closed This Fall

The Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway is planned to run along the inside edge of a Port Authority lot in Red Hook. Negotiations between DOT and the Port Authority have delayed this short section until the fall. Image: DOT

Construction continues on the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway along Van Brunt Street, with a two-way buffered bike lane extending the greenway south through Red Hook striped recently, but there’s a conspicuous gap in the route that won’t be filled until at least this fall.

Missing link: This two-way bike path on Conover Street is supposed to continue through the fenced-off lot in the background. Photo: Stephen Miller

Reader Anna Zivarts flagged the problem with this short video and set of photos showing how southbound cyclists on Imlay Street find that the two-way bike lane suddenly ends at Verona Street, giving them the option to backtrack, divert to a cobblestone street, ride on a narrow sidewalk, or ride against traffic for two blocks before rejoining the new bike lane on Conover Street.

Why the gap? As shown in this DOT presentation from February [PDF], the missing link is supposed to be bridged by a bike path that jumps off the street and runs along the edge of a Port Authority truck storage yard, but it appears negotiations between the Port Authority and DOT didn’t wrap up before the on-street section was striped.

“The permanent greenway route along the Basin is expected to be completed in the fall,” DOT spokesperson Nicholas Mosquera said in an e-mail. In the meantime, he said, DOT will be installing temporary bike route indicators on the sidewalk. This stretch of sidewalk, while not heavily used by pedestrians, isn’t especially wide, and on a recent visit was blocked by companies that were unloading trucks.

“We continue to work with the Port Authority and other agencies to implement the portion along Atlantic Basin,” Mosquera said. Streetsblog has inquired with the Port Authority, but is still awaiting a response.


No Charges Filed as Six Are Killed by NYC Drivers in Seven Days

A Brooklyn woman who was struck by a truck driver in Red Hook Wednesday was the latest victim among six city pedestrian and cyclist fatalities in the last week.

Lillian Cruz, hit by the driver of a tractor-trailer in Red Hook Wednesday, was at least the fifth pedestrian killed by a city motorist since Ray Kelly announced changes to the NYPD crash investigation squad. Image: News12 via Gothamist

At approximately 6:40 a.m. yesterday, Lillian Cruz, 60, was crossing Hamilton Avenue at Court Street when the signal changed and the driver of a tractor-trailer, westbound on Hamilton and stopped at the light, accelerated and ran her over, according to NYPD.

Cruz, of Bushwick, died at the scene. The driver was summonsed for failure to exercise due care.

Cruz was at least the second pedestrian killed by a semi truck driver in the last two weeks, following the February 28 death of 6-year-old Amar Diarrassouba. Tractor-trailer drivers have killed at least three other pedestrians on city streets since last August, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog. The victims include Ignacio Cubano, Ken Baker, and Jessica Dworkin.

Many of the trucks involved in these fatal collisions are too long to be operated on surface streets without a permit. Despite recent deaths, the presence of trucks in areas that should normally be off-limits has not been a focus of NYPD or the media.

The type of collision that killed Cruz is supposed to be prevented by crossover mirrors, which allow drivers of large trucks to see directly in front of them. It is not known whether the truck was equipped with the mirrors. Trucks registered outside New York are exempt from the mirror requirement.

Monday evening at around 8 p.m., 75-year-old Roberto Baez was struck by the driver of a Nissan in the Bronx. Baez was crossing Soundview Avenue mid-block near Taylor Avenue when he was killed, a police spokesperson said. No summonses were issued.

Monday morning, 16-year-old Tenzin Drudak was among several people hit by a curb-jumping motorist near LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City. Drudak was killed and four others were injured. NYPD told the media the driver was speeding and reaching for a carton of milk when the crash occurred. Nevertheless, no charges were filed.

Read more…


CB 6 Committee Votes for PARK Smart Zone, Brooklyn Greenway Extension

Image: NYC DOT

Last night, the transportation committee of Brooklyn Community Board 6 voted unanimously in favor of a new PARK Smart zone for Atlantic Avenue, Smith Street, and Court Street, and for a Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway segment connecting Van Brunt Street to Valentino Pier in Red Hook.

The new PARK Smart zone, which Stephen covered earlier this week, works differently than PARK Smart in Greenwich Village and Park Slope, where on-street parking rates rise when demand is highest. NYC DOT’s proposal for Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill is to have rates rise progressively after the first half hour. The goal is to reduce traffic by discouraging long-term parking and all-day meter feeding in curbside spaces that should be turning over frequently. Brooklyn CB 2’s transportation committee voted for the plan on Tuesday.

DOT also presented plans for a Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway segment that would loop out to Valentino Pier from Van Brunt Street. We have a request in with DOT for last night’s presentation (Update: Here it is), but in the meantime, below is a map of this part of the greenway from DOT’s implementation plan [PDF]. It looks like the segment that the CB 6 committee voted for last night includes capital projects 12, 13, and 14 (not 14a), or parts thereof:

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