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Posts from the "Sunnyside" Category

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Eyes on the Street: Tweet Us Your Pics of Sidewalk-Hogging Businesses

Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Clarence shot the above photo of a common sight in NYC: car-oriented businesses that illegally commandeer sidewalks, forcing pedestrians to walk around parked cars or pushing people into the street. He writes:

I just snapped these photos of a brand new curb extension in Sunnyside, on 37th Street and Queens Boulevard, and a car dealership is already using it for car storage, blocking the sidewalk and ramp for disabled access. In Sunnyside DOT has been doing quite a few curb extensions to make a better pedestrian environment, so it’s really appalling that car dealership is using this.

The business in this case is LT Motors, which loves the new sidewalk space so much the dealership is advertising it.

Is this Chevy Suburban priced to move off the sidewalk?

Is this Chevy Suburban priced to move off the sidewalk?

This is a pervasive problem, and one the city should address.

Earlier this week Doug Gordon of Brooklyn Spoke called for tweets of sidewalk parking photos, and we’re going to piggyback on that meme. Post your pics of sidewalk-hogging businesses on Twitter with the hashtag #sidewalkhogs, and we’ll highlight the most egregious examples next week. Winners will receive a Streetfilms DVD. Be sure to include as much location info as possible in your tweets.

As for LT Motors, a spokesperson for local City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer writes: “We have reached out to the NYPD on this. They will be stepping up enforcement to address the pedestrian safety hazards.”

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Eyes on the Street: New Bike Connection Over Sunnyside Yard

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Looks like DOT crews are making progress on the neighborhood bike plan for Sunnyside and Long Island City that Queens Community Board 2 approved last year. Clarence took this photo of the new bike lane on the 39th Street bridge over the Sunnyside rail yard. He says it got striped a couple of weeks ago.

The connection over the rail yard is one of the better parts of the plan [PDF], which relies heavily on sharrows to create a more cohesive network of bike routes in the neighborhood. With the construction of the Pulaski Bridge bikeway set to create a much more comfortable connection between southwest Queens and northern Brooklyn later this year, there’s probably going to be a surge in biking on these local streets.

If you’ve been using the new bike lane on 39th Street, tell us in the comments how it’s been going.

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Plaza Upgrades Planned Beneath Train Viaduct on Queens Blvd in Sunnyside

Roberto Buscarsi plays during Make Music New York at 40th Street and Queens Boulevard. The parking in the background will remain, but space beneath the elevated 7 train in Sunnyside is set for some plaza improvements. Photo courtesy Sunnyside Shines BID

Roberto Buscarsi plays during Make Music New York at 40th Street and Queens Boulevard. The parking in the background will remain, but space beneath the elevated 7 train in Sunnyside is set for some plaza improvements. Photo courtesy Sunnyside Shines BID

The parking-flanked space in the middle of Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside, beneath the vaulted elevated train viaduct at 40th and 46th Streets, today looks more forgotten than fun. The Sunnyside Shines BID is hoping to change that, and their plan to upgrade the pedestrian space was recently accepted by NYC DOT’s pedestrian plaza program.

While these two plazas will not reclaim any space from motor vehicles, they will turn the area from a drab concrete zone into a more inviting place to sit. The spaces are already busy with pedestrians walking to the subway and across Queens Boulevard, which Tri-State Transportation Campaign ranks as the borough’s third most-dangerous street for pedestrians.

“They’re already plaza-like. They’re closed off to car traffic,” Sunnyside Shines BID executive director Rachel Thieme said of the spaces. “Through the plaza program, we are going to get things like planters and benches.” The location at 40th Street will be called Lowery Plaza, and the space at 46th Street will be called Bliss Plaza, Thieme said, referencing historic street names in the neighborhood.

The BID has already hosted some events in the pedestrian zones, including concerts as part of Make Music New York. “No one’s ever utilized these spaces before in any kind of active way, that we’re aware of,” Thieme said. “People really responded well to that concept.”

Sunnyside Shines applied to the plaza program last year, gathering 13 letters of support from elected officials, business owners, and community groups. The BID received word from DOT a couple of weeks ago that both applications had been accepted.

Read more…

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Boy, 5, Among Three NYC Pedestrians Killed by Drivers This Weekend

Three New York City pedestrians, including a young child, were killed by motorists over the weekend. Two of the crashes were hit-and-runs.

Kyrillos Gendy was killed, and his mother and sister were injured, by a hit-and-run driver in Staten Island. A suspect was charged with leaving the scene of the crash, but not for killing Kyrillos or hurting his mom and sister, and was freed on bail.

At around 8:25 p.m. Friday, Kyrillos Gendy, 5, his mother and sister were struck by a hit-and-run driver in a Mercedes-Benz sedan in Dongan Hills. From the Times:

Just before he hit the family, at 8:25 p.m., the police said, the driver turned left out of the parking lot of the Diddle Dee Dairy and Deli at 1334 Richmond Road.

“Eyewitnesses say he did stop first, looked both ways,” Mr. [Adam] Gendy said, “and then hit all three of them in one shot.”

Kyrillos was killed. His sister, Gabriella, 7, and their mother, 35-year-old Erieny Thomas, were hospitalized and later released, reports said. On Saturday, John Sanjurjo, 33, accompanied by a lawyer, turned himself in to police, according to reports. From the Daily News:

Sanjurjo’s 2013 Mercedes-Benz 350 matched the vehicle description, including dents in the hood from the impact, a law enforcement source said.

The force of the impact sent Kyrillos flying through the air.

Bits of scattered food that Kyrillos’ family was carrying were found on the car, the source said.

According to reports and online court records, Sanjurjo was charged with one count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, and two counts of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury. He is free on $50,000 bond. Kyrillos’ funeral was held Sunday.

The crash that killed Kyrillos Gendy and injured his mother and sister occurred in the 122nd Precinct, in the City Council district represented by James Oddo.

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New Bike Routes on Tap for Long Island City and Sunnyside

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Routes marked in purple are set to receive a combination of shared lane markings and bike lanes. Image: DOT

Western Queens is set to receive a slate of street safety and bicycle network improvements. The projects will add shared lane markings and bike lanes to neighborhood streets, improve connections to the Astoria waterfront and Greenpoint, and address pedestrian safety at the site of a fatal curb-jumping crash. The progress comes after more than a year of work between DOT and Community Board 2, and coincides with Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer’s push for bike-share expansion to Long Island City and Sunnyside.

In March 2012, the community board and DOT hosted public meetings to gather feedback about where bike lanes were most needed in the area. A few months later, DOT came back with a proposal and sent out a survey asking about preferences for future bike lane plans.

The final proposal [PDF], which does not remove any parking, includes more shared lane markings than dedicated bike lanes, but does provide key connections between the Pulaski Bridge, Queens Plaza, Hunters Point, and Sunnyside. Buffered bike lanes will be installed on 49th Avenue from the Pulaski Bridge to 21st Avenue, and on the 39th Avenue bridge from Skillman Avenue to Northern Boulevard. Bike lanes will be striped on 49th and 51st Avenues, as well as sections of 11th Street and 11th Place. Shared lanes will be installed on 11th Street, 39th Street, Skillman Avenue, 47th Avenue, and 50th Avenue.

Community Board 2′s transportation committee voted to support the plan on June 18, according to committee member Evan O’Neil, and requested that DOT continue to examine a handful of intersections where board members had concerns about conflicts between drivers and cyclists. The lane markings are scheduled to be installed by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, a separate DOT proposal [PDF 1, 2] would convert the existing buffered bike lanes on Vernon Boulevard to a two-way protected bike lane along most of the street’s western edge from 46th Avenue in Long Island City to 30th Drive in Astoria. The project would be a significant step toward a greenway-style waterfront route for Queens, but it would not provide a direct, continuous protected bikeway.

To restore some parking spaces removed when the Vernon Boulevard lanes were installed in 2008, the plan calls for shared lanes along Queensbridge Park and Rainey Park, which both have shared-use paths that hug the waterfront and would connect to the protected bike lane on Vernon. Cyclists looking for a direct route would be directed to shared lanes on those blocks.

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Van Bramer on Queens Bike-Share: “Not Just Waiting For It… Pushing For It”

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer and his constituents rallied on the steps of City Hall today, calling on DOT to expand bike-share to western Queens. Photo: Stephen Miller

At a rally this afternoon on the steps of City Hall, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer called for the city’s bike-share program to be expanded to western Queens as quickly as possible.

This isn’t the first time Van Bramer – already a Citi Bike member – has pushed for bike-share. When the program was announced, he pressed the city to expand it to include Queens, and 11 stations in Long Island City were added to the bike-share map. DOT has said that those stations will be installed by the end of this year, though Van Bramer said he’s heard they could be installed as early as September. “Both of those are unacceptable,” he said, saying that his district could use the bikes now. “We’re not just waiting for it, we’re pushing for it.”

Funding for those initial stations has reportedly been secured, but not for an expansion to 10,000 bikes and beyond. When Streetsblog asked Van Bramer if he would be interested in using his discretionary funds for bike-share in his district, he deferred to DOT. “At this point, fundraising for the program has been the task of Janette Sadik-Khan,” he said. “She has my cell.”

While Citi Bike is still working to resolve technical problems, including station outages, Van Bramer remains focused on expansion. “We understand that with any program this size, there are going to be kinks at the beginning of it and those need to be worked out,” he said.

A roster of community leaders spoke after Van Bramer at today’s rally, including Helen Ho of Recycle-A-Bicycle, which works with more than 1,000 youth on bicycle maintenance, repair, and education. “We’d love for the families of our students to join them,” she said, adding that Citi Bike has hired two of the program’s students to help operate bike-share.

“Queens residents aren’t alone,” said Caroline Samponaro of Transportation Alternatives, adding that TA has heard from residents in Ditmas Park, East Harlem, the Bronx, and Staten Island who want bike-share in their neighborhoods. Yesterday, AM New York spoke with Council Member Stephen Levin and the district managers of Brooklyn Community Board 7, which covers Sunset Park and Windsor Terrace, and Staten Island CB 1 — all of whom said residents are constantly asking for bike-share to be expanded.

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Queens Residents Press for Safety Fix at Car-Choked Sunnyside Intersection

Two cyclists heading northeast on Greenpoint Avenue cross Borden Avenue. One path is legal but conflicts with turning cars; the other is illegal but avoids these conflicts. Video: Jessame Hannus

Greenpoint Avenue has long been a dangerous connection between Queens and Brooklyn. The intersection with Borden Avenue in Sunnyside, where it crosses the Long Island Expressway, is often overrun with drivers heading toward an LIE onramp or exiting the highway so they can get to Manhattan via the free Queensboro Bridge. The waves of traffic make crossing Borden a dangerous mess for people trying to walk or bike around their neighborhood.

“It can be a pretty daunting intersection at the best of times,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who has lobbied for safety fixes.

In April 2012, a bike rider was struck and killed by a livery cab driver at the intersection, and months later another cyclist was killed in a hit-and-run just blocks away. The deaths spurred action from Queens residents who had long worried about traveling through the area. Steve Scofield and four other volunteers recorded conditions and behavior at the intersection, ultimately producing a list of recommendations to improve street safety. On December 18, they presented their findings to Queens Community Board 2′s transportation committee.

The group suggested adding lane markings on eastbound Greenpoint Avenue to mark where turning and through traffic should go. Currently, “it’s kind of a free for all,” Scofield said.

The group also proposed adding a dedicated left turn signal from westbound Greenpoint to eastbound Borden, as well as adding a leading signal for cyclists and pedestrians headed eastbound on Greenpoint, to give them a jump start on drivers turning to access the expressway. Currently, many cyclists heading east on Greenpoint Avenue illegally ride on the sidewalk on the other side of the street because they feel unsafe on the road, said Jessame Hannus, who presented with Scofield.

The problems at this intersection are also a symptom of the city’s lack of a coherent road pricing system. Much of the traffic is due to drivers using local streets as a shortcut between the Long Island Expressway and the Queensboro Bridge, instead of staying on the highway and paying a toll at the Queens-Midtown Tunnel. Consistent tolls on the East River crossings would cut down on the traffic, Scofield noted. He often sees the intersection of Borden and Greenpoint gridlocked while traffic flows freely underneath on the expressway to the tunnel.

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New Survey Asks: Where Should Western Queens Get Bike Lanes Next?

After DOT met with community members, the first round of new bike lanes for Long Island City and Sunnyside will go before Community Board 2 this fall. A new survey asks where they should go next. Map: DOT

With the first phase of new bike lanes set to go before Community Board 2 this fall before being installed in the spring, DOT has a new survey asking western Queens cyclists where they’d like to see bike lanes come next.

The survey is the latest step in months of outreach and feedback with members of Community Board 2, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer and western Queens residents.

“Our district has a special responsibility to ensure safe cycling,” said CB 2 transportation committee member Evan O’Neil, “since we are the access point to the Queensboro Bridge.”

Dana Frankel, district services manager for the Long Island City Partnership, was also supportive of the new bike lanes planned for the neighborhood. “We’re excited that bike-share is coming to LIC,” she said. “The bike lanes will help make our streets safer.” She also mentioned that the area’s first StreetRack bike corral at MoMA PS1 has been well-used. “We are happy to help connect property owners and institutions who may want StreetRacks with DOT,” Frankel said.

The first round of bike lanes, which will bring nearly 10 lane miles to Long Island City and Sunnyside, were identified at community meetings with DOT in March and July [PDF]. They include critical connections such as 11th Street between the Pulaski Bridge and Queens Plaza South; 39th Street between Northern Boulevard and Greenpoint Avenue; and Skillman and 47th Avenues in Sunnyside.

The first phase will not include Greenpoint Avenue itself, which community members identified at a March workshop as their top priority for bike lanes. Greenpoint Avenue has a dangerous history: In July, a cyclist was killed in a hit-and-run near 39th Place, after a cyclist was killed in April at the intersection with Borden Avenue. Bike lanes on Greenpoint Avenue would connect to the avenue’s bridge across Newtown Creek. DOT had proposed buffered bike lanes on the bridge, but backed off in the face of opposition from nearby companies that operate trucks across the span. The proposal has not seen much public progress since.

“Long term, it’s pretty clear that protected lanes like the excellent new infrastructure on Queens Plaza North should be the standard,” O’Neil said. However, the bike lane projects being considered by DOT are restricted by the department’s promise not to eliminate any parking.

The online survey will help DOT identify phase two projects for next year, as part of a four-year plan for bike lane expansion in the area.

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DOT Plans Nine Miles of Bike Lanes For LIC, Sunnyside, With More to Come

New bike lanes would be installed next spring along the routes marked with green dotted lines, and could be added along the routes marked in blue in subsequent years. Click here for a larger image.

Bike lane mileage in Long Island City and Sunnyside, Queens, is set to double next year, under a preliminary plan from the Department of Transportation, with significant expansions to follow in subsequent years. The nine miles of new routes — along 11th Street, Skillman Avenue, 47th Avenue and 39th Street — were selected in a community planning process convened earlier this year by Community Board 2 and City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer.

Queens’ disjointed street grid poses a particular challenge for cyclists. With relatively few streets that provide a through route from neighborhood to neighborhood, cyclists often find themselves on the same handful of wide, busy streets with the most dangerous automobile traffic. In this plan, DOT is making room for cyclists on those in-demand routes. “These are major routes,” said CB 2 member Emilia Crotty. “They cut all the way through the neighborhood.” 11th, for example, feeds into the Pulaski Bridge. Additionally, new bike lanes will extend down into Hunters Point on the smaller streets of 2nd Street, and 50th and 51st Avenues.

The very busiest path, however, will remain free of bike infrastructure. DOT deemed Queens Boulevard to have traffic volumes too high to allow a bike lane, according to the Queens Chronicle, despite community interest in putting a lane there.

The Department of Transportation is still developing the designs for the new bike lanes, which could be painted lanes, sharrows, or even — in the case of the 39th Street bridge over the Sunnyside rail yards — placed on the sidewalk. “I know that members of the community will push for the most robust designs possible,” said Crotty.

The design options will be constrained by DOT’s commitment to avoid eliminating on-street parking with these bike lane projects. These will not be protected bike routes.

DOT is currently collecting additional traffic data in the neighborhood and should have a proposal before the community board by the fall. If approved, the bike lanes would be built next spring.

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Hit-and-Run Killing Is Second Cyclist Fatality on Greenpoint Ave Since April

The aftermath of a fatal hit-and-run crash on Sunnyside's Greenpoint Avenue. Photo: William C Lopez/New York Post

A motorist struck and killed a cyclist in Sunnyside Queens last night, then fled the scene, according to the NYPD. The cyclist, a 37-year-old Hispanic man whose name is being withheld until his family can be notified, died at the scene.

Witnesses told the New York Post that the driver was “flying by at an amazing speed” and swerving, almost hitting other pedestrians and vehicles as well.

A police spokesperson said both the motorist and cyclist were traveling eastbound on Greenpoint Avenue near 39th Place at the time of the crash. “It seems like he was sideswiped,” he said. An investigation into the crash is ongoing and no arrests have been made yet.

In April, another cyclist was killed just six blocks away, at the intersection of Borden Avenue and Greenpoint Avenue.

This fatal crash occurred in the 108th Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Captain Donald Powers, the commanding officer, head to the next precinct community council meeting. The 108th Precinct council meetings happen at 7 p.m. on the last Tuesday of the month at Sunnyside Community Services, 43-31 39th Street. Call the precinct at 718-784-5411 for information.