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Posts from the South Bronx Category

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Protected Bike Lanes Will Connect South Bronx to Randall’s Island

DOT is creating two new protected bike routes linking the Randall's Island Connector with the Mott Haven and Port Morris neighborhoods. Image: DOT

DOT is creating protected bike routes linking the Randall’s Island Connector to Mott Haven and Port Morris. Image: DOT

Last fall, the city opened a direct car-free connection between the South Bronx and Randall’s Island. The Randall’s Island Connector provides convenient access to acres of parks and ballfields and — via the 103rd Street footbridge — Manhattan. But the truck-heavy industrial streets that lead to it still leave a lot to be desired. A new NYC DOT project would create bicycle links between the Connector and 138th Street [PDF].

The DOT project calls for protected bike lanes linking the Connector to streets on each side of the Bruckner Expressway, which divides Mott Haven to the west from the more industrial Port Morris to the east. The plan draws heavily from ideas put forward last summer by The Haven Project [PDF], an initiative of the New York Restoration Project. Bronx Community Board 1’s municipal services committee voted unanimously for it on Monday.

Segments of two-way protected bike lanes on Willow Avenue, 133rd Street, St. Ann’s Avenue, as well as a very short piece of 138th Street, would converge at Willow and 133rd, where the bike route to the Connector entrance at 132nd Street would follow a short jog on the sidewalk. For the most part the bikeways will be nine or ten feet wide with three-foot buffers, but on one block of 133rd the bi-directional lane will only be eight feet wide, including the buffer.

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A two-way bikeway on Willow Avenue, above, will draw cyclists to a route with less industrial truck traffic than parallel Walnut Avenue, below.

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Image: Google Maps

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Sheridan Expressway Removal Gets $97 Million Boost in State Budget

In 2013, the city recommended converting the Sheridan Expressway to a surface road. Photo: Stephen Miller

In 2013, the city recommended converting the Sheridan Expressway to a surface road. Photo: Stephen Miller

Last week’s Albany budget deal includes $97 million for decommissioning the Sheridan Expressway and transforming it into a surface boulevard.

The Sheridan, a short Robert Moses-era highway connecting the Bruckner and Cross-Bronx expressways, cuts South Bronx neighborhoods off from the Bronx River waterfront and its growing network of parks and greenways. Community groups have been advocating for the removal of the Sheridan for almost two decades under the umbrella of the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance (SBRWA).

The campaign has gone through many ups and downs in the past few years, and there’s still work to do to ensure that New York State DOT moves forward with the project, but with this allocation of state funds the teardown is closer to fruition than ever.

After the state DOT rejected a complete teardown in July 2010, activists refocused their efforts at the city level. That fall, four city agencies were awarded a $1.5 million TIGER grant from U.S. DOT to study how the highway removal might work. (At the time, current NYC Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg was a high-ranking federal DOT official closely involved with TIGER.)

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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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No Bike Lanes for Grand Concourse South of 158th Street — For Now

DOT plans to signficiantly expand pedestrian space at 153rd Street, where the Grand Concourse runs along Franz Sigel Park and Cardinal Hayes High School. Image: DOT

DOT plans to expand pedestrian space at the Grand Concourse and 153rd Street, alongside Franz Sigel Park and Cardinal Hayes High School. Image: DOT

DOT’s redesign of the Grand Concourse below 158th Street includes pedestrian safety measures and traffic calming treatments but no bike lanes. The agency says this stretch of the Concourse could get bike lanes in a future capital project, but it’s not clear how long the Bronx will have to wait for that.

This is shaping up to be a big year for the Grand Concourse. Transportation Alternatives’ “Complete the Concourse” campaign to redesign the street has collected almost 2,000 signatures and won the backing of council members Andy Cohen and Ritchie Torres. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has called for better bike infrastructure on the Concourse. A full reconstruction is slated to begin as part of the de Blasio administration’s “Vision Zero Great Streets” initiative.

So far, DOT has indicated that the buffered bike lanes north of 162nd Street will be “upgraded” — presumably to protected lanes. South of 162nd Street, where the Grand Concourse is narrower and there are no bike lanes, has been more of a question mark.

On Wednesday, DOT presented a safety plan for the Concourse between 138th Street and 158th Street to Bronx Community Board 4 [PDF]. The project will not reconstruct the street, relying on low-cost techniques to repurpose space for pedestrians.

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Envisioning a “Complete Concourse” South of 162nd Street

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What the southern portion of the Grand Concourse could look like with curbside bus lanes and median bikeway. Rendering: Street Plans Collaborative/Carly Clark via Transportation Alternatives

Will DOT go big with its redesign of the Grand Concourse? Last week the agency said it will “replace and upgrade existing bike lanes” on the Concourse, which gives an indication of what’s in store north of 162nd Street, but not to the south, where the street has no bike lanes.

Transportation Alternatives’ “Complete the Concourse” campaign is calling for bus lanes, protected bike lanes, and pedestrian safety measures to improve transit and reduce the startling death toll on the Grand Concourse, which is one of the most dangerous streets in the greater New York region. So far nearly 1,900 people have signed the petition. Council members Ritchie Torres and Andy Cohen have joined the campaign, and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. recently called for better bike infrastructure on the Concourse.

The Concourse is the type of street that needs a major overhaul to achieve the city’s Vision Zero goal of eliminating traffic deaths. Last year, in its “Vision Zero Investment” report [PDF], TA released a design concept for the southern stretch of the Concourse that envisions curbside bus lanes and a median bikeway (above).

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The Randall’s Island Connector Is Finally Here


This spring, the Highbridge re-opened between the Bronx and Manhattan, the first car-free crossing linking the two boroughs. Now the second one in less than a year is open with the debut of the Randall’s Island Connector. The project has been in the pipeline for what seems like forever, and on Saturday it opened to the delight of many South Bronx residents.

The connector provides a direct and easy link between the developing South Bronx greenway network and Randall’s Island, with its athletic fields, picnic tables, miles of beautiful greenways, and stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. From Randall’s Island, you can bike or walk to the big island via the 103rd Street footbridge.

Advance apologies for some of the sound. When the winds are gusting over 30 mph and you are below an Amtrak train trestle, well, those aren’t ideal conditions. But kudos to the hundreds of people who showed up on a cold and blustery fall morning to celebrate the occasion.

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Randall’s Island Connector to Open This Weekend

The Randall’s Island Connector, in the works for decades, will provide a direct link between the island and the South Bronx. Photo: Stephen Miller

The Randall’s Island Connector is set to open this weekend.

A greenway link between the island and the South Bronx, the connector has been on the agenda of advocates and electeds since the early 1990s. The project will provide a grade-level crossing over Bronx Kill from E. 132nd Street in Port Morris, under an Amtrak bridge, allowing people to get to the island on foot and by bike without having to contend with the Triboro Bridge.

The connector was built by the city’s Economic Development Corporation. According to South Bronx Unite and the web site Welcome 2 the Bronx a grand opening with a ribbon-cutting is scheduled for Saturday.

There will be a celebratory ride starting at 10 a.m. and the ceremony is set for 11. Details here.

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Eyes on the Street: Randall’s Island Connector to Open in “Coming Weeks”

The Randall’s Island Connector is still fenced off, but not for long. EDC says an opening date will be scheduled “in the coming weeks.” Photo: Stephen Miller

The Randall’s Island Connector, a greenway link between the South Bronx and Randall’s Island, is almost complete. Bronxites are anticipating a ribbon-cutting any day now from the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which is building the project.

The new path crosses the Bronx Kill, a narrow waterway separating Randall’s Island from the Bronx. Without it, the only way to bike or walk from the Bronx to Randall’s Island is over narrow paths on the Triborough Bridge that include stairs, sharp curves, and a steep ascent to bridge level.

In contrast, the connector will provide a flat, direct crossing from E. 132nd Street in Port Morris to 330 acres of public parks and greenways on Randall’s Island.

Construction crews are currently finishing up handrail installations and minor fencing work, EDC says, before the city schedules a grand opening.

EDC wouldn’t give an exact opening date — but it should be soon. “As we put the finishing touches on the Randall’s Island Connector and schedule a grand opening event in the coming weeks, we are excited for the many opportunities that this neighborhood asset will provide for the community,” an agency spokesperson said.

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Want Safer Biking and Walking Across the Harlem River? Tell DOT Your Ideas

Residents from the Bronx and Manhattan told DOT last night how they want to improve walking and biking across the Harlem River bridges. It was the second of four Harlem River bridges workshops this month.

Bronx and Upper Manhattan residents had plenty of suggestions for DOT last night. Photo: Stephen Miller

Bronx and Upper Manhattan residents had plenty of suggestions for DOT last night. Photo: Stephen Miller

DOT is looking to improve access at all 16 bridges along the Harlem River, including the soon-to-open Randall’s Island Connector. Streets up to a mile inland on both sides of the river fall within the scope of the project.

“We’re not coming here with a plan,” project manager Alice Friedman told the approximately 15 people at last night’s workshop. “We’re really here to hear from you.”

Attendees last night split into three groups to highlight problem areas and offer suggestions. Most wanted wider paths on the bridges, safer intersections where the bridges touch down, and protected bike paths connecting nearby neighborhoods to the crossings. There were also smaller requests, such as better signage, more lighting, mirrors on blind corners, and improved snow clearance.

Mychal Johnson of South Bronx Unite said he often uses Exterior Street on rides to Mill Pond Park. “This is our safest route,” he said. “And there’s nothing protecting bikes. And there should be.”

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DOT Drops Buffer From Bronx Bike Lanes Under Vision Zero Safety Plan

Think buffered bike lanes are a stepping stone to protected paths? Not on Prospect Avenue in the Bronx, where DOT is proposing to remove buffers and add turn lanes. Image: DOT [PDF]

On Prospect Avenue in the Bronx, DOT is proposing to remove bike lane buffers and add turn lanes. Image: DOT [PDF]

DOT is downgrading buffered bike lanes as part of a street safety project on 1.3 miles of Prospect Avenue in the Bronx, a Vision Zero priority corridor. While the street appears to have enough room for protected bike lanes while maintaining the current motor vehicle lanes, DOT instead opted to narrow the bike lanes, remove the buffers, and devote space to a center median and left turn lanes.

The project [PDF] also redesigns two intersections to provide more space for pedestrians and slow down turning drivers. At Rev. James A. Polite Avenue, DOT is closing a “slip lane” that drivers use as a shortcut to avoid the traffic signal at 167th Street. The change will add three parking spaces. DOT is also installing painted curb extensions at Avenue St. John and Dawson Street.

Prospect Avenue (in purple) is a Vision Zero priority corridor. Image: DOT

Prospect Avenue (in purple) is a Vision Zero priority corridor. Image: DOT

The biggest changes, however, are for Prospect Avenue itself, where DOT is removing painted buffers from the street’s bike lanes to make room for a striped median and left-turn lanes. Concrete pedestrian islands will be installed at 152nd, 155th, 162nd, 165th, and Jennings streets.

In its presentation, DOT says that “existing buffered bike lanes encourage double parking” and that removing buffers “improves bike lane design” by making the lane “less susceptible to double parking.” Drivers also often use the bike lane to pass turning vehicles on the right, DOT said.

DOT has already made similar changes to a short section of Prospect Avenue, between Freeman Street and Boston Road, after a repaving project last summer.

Streetsblog asked DOT if it collected before-and-after data to see if removing bike lane buffers on Prospect Avenue has actually reduced double-parking. We also asked if the agency considered upgrading the buffered bike lanes to protected lanes, which could also have included pedestrian islands, instead of removing the buffers, but the agency did not reply to those questions.

From Jennings Street to E. 149th Street, there were 16 serious injuries, including 12 pedestrians and four motor vehicle occupants, between 2009 and 2013, according to DOT. During that period, one person, a motor vehicle occupant, died in a crash on Prospect Avenue. Six bicyclists were injured, none seriously.

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