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Posts from the The Bronx Category

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Eyes on the Street: Bike Lane Stripes on Tremont Avenue

This one-block stretch of bike lane between Park Avenue West and Park Avenue East in the Bronx is part of a four-mile route DOT is striping on Tremont Avenue. Photo: Jonathan Rabinowitz

DOT has striped the first pieces of the Bronx’s newest bike route on Tremont Avenue.

The city is putting down bike lanes and sharrows on the 4.1-mile stretch of Tremont Avenue between Cedar Avenue and Boston Road, following a 2014 request from Council Member Ritchie Torres for a cross-town route on Tremont.

A rendering of the bike facilities at Tremont and Park pictured above. Image: DOT

DOT’s design for the block in the top photo.

Reader Jonathan Rabinowitz snapped the photo above of freshly-painted lanes looking west at Park Avenue. Bike lanes have yet to be installed west of Webster Avenue, where the road awaits milling and repaving, he said.

While the new markings aren’t all-ages bike infrastructure, they make a noticeable difference, said Rabinowitz, who bikes on Tremont most mornings.

There’s a pressing safety need for better bike infrastructure here. In September 2015, DOT counted 235 weekday cyclists on Tremont Avenue where it crosses Third Avenue. Tremont is also a DOT-designated Vision Zero priority corridor: From 2010 to 2014, 10 cyclists and 33 pedestrians were killed or severely injured in the project area.

Torres had hoped for protected bike lanes on the route, telling Streetsblog in February that he views this project as a stepping stone to more ambitious efforts. “I see [this project] as a down payment, as laying the foundation for an eventual bike network that spans all of Tremont Avenue,” Torres said.

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Truck Driver Charged With Reckless Driving for Killing Heather Lough at NYBG

A truck driver struck and killed a woman outside the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx last week. He has been charged with reckless driving and failure to yield.

Heather Lough. Photo via YouCaring

Heather Lough. Photo via YouCaring

The victim, 29-year-old Heather Lough, was heading to her job at the botanical garden on the morning of Wednesday, April 27, when Robert Owens, 45, hit her with a commercial box truck, according to NYPD and an online memorial page established to raise funds for Lough’s burial expenses.

The crash happened at around 9:30 a.m. outside NYBG’s Mosholu Gate. Police said Owens drove out of the botanical garden and made a left turn onto Southern Boulevard, striking Lough with the front bumper of the truck on the passenger side. An anonymous tipster told Streetsblog witnesses saw Owens “on his phone” at the time of the collision.

NYPD said Lough was leaving the Metro-North Botanical Garden Station, across the street from the NYBG, when she was struck. It’s not clear if Lough was biking or walking (the tipster said Lough was seen walking her bike), but in either case, she would have had the right of way.

Lough was taken to Jacobi Hospital with head and body trauma. She died on Monday.

Police charged Owens, who lives in Manhattan, with reckless driving. He was also charged under the city’s Right of Way Law. Both offenses are unclassified misdemeanors. The NYPD public information office said the department’s Collision Investigation Squad is still investigating the crash.

A second source who works at NYBG and asked to remain anonymous said the intersection is “very dangerous” and drivers “regularly speed through the light.”

“She was wearing her helmet, followed the signs, and did everything right,” Lough’s memorial page reads. “However, the driver was not paying attention, and ran over her.”

It’s unknown who owns the truck Owens was driving. A botanical garden representative told Streetsblog Owens does not work there.

Read more…

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Peds, Cyclists Fend for Themselves While Parks Department Fixes Bronx Paths

The Pelham Parkway Malls, which are used for walking and biking, are set for resurfacing and reconstruction work that's expected to last for two years.

The fenced-off Pelham Parkway malls at White Plains Road, by the entrance to the Pelham Parkway 2/5 station. Photo: Robert Wright

The Parks Department is making much-needed repairs to the Pelham Parkway malls, but the city has failed to provide good detours for walking and biking paths that are now blocked, creating hazards for pedestrians and cyclists.

The Bronx Times reports that both the north and south sections of the malls are closed off east of White Plains Road, where some people now walk in the roadbed.

The construction project is slated to take at least two years. While the work will improve conditions on paths that were falling apart, it looks like the Parks Department has failed to consider how people walking and biking will get around in the meantime.

Rehabilitating the Pelham Parkway malls, which run east-west from Bronx Park to Stillwell Avenue, has been a priority of Bronx Community Board 11 for many years. The current $1.35 million capital project, between Boston Road and Wallace Avenue, is the first of three phases of reconstruction expected to cost around $8 million.

“The intent for this project is to reconstruct the Malls providing a safe, attractive recreational space for pedestrians, cyclists and runners,” a Parks Department spokesperson told Streetsblog.

Construction began last month and is slated to finish in March 2018. Barebones information on the project is on the department’s website, and “signs are clearly posted to inform the public of this closure,” according to the Parks spokesperson.

Signs marking the closure don’t seem to be enough, though. Joe Menta of the Pelham Parkway Preservation Alliance told the Bronx Times that people are walking in the roadbeds next to the malls, where many drivers are coming or going from the high-speed Bronx River Parkway. Without a clearly delineated construction detour, there’s also one less decent option for east-west cycling in the central Bronx.

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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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Hit-and-Run Drivers Killed Three Victims in Four Hours on Sunday [Updated]


Fatal Park Slope hit and run by Gothamist

Correction: Park Slope Stoop reports that the Park Slope victim was walking, not riding a bike. The copy in this post has been altered accordingly.

Hit-and-run drivers killed three New York City pedestrians within a few hours on Sunday.

Jose Contreras, 63, was struck by the driver of a black SUV as he crossed Webster Avenue at E. 175th Street, near the Cross Bronx Expressway, at approximately 1:30 a.m., according to the Times and WABC.

A hit-and-run driver killed Jose Contreras on Webster Avenue in the Bronx. Photo via WPIX

A hit-and-run driver killed Jose Contreras on Webster Avenue in the Bronx. Photo via WPIX

WABC reports:

Contreras was celebrating his sister’s 80th birthday and pulled over his car, his family said. He was going back in to check on his family because they were taking awhile to get out of the catering hall, and was crossing the street when he was hit.

“I left my father in the car, and I figured that’s where he would be when I came back out,” Joseph Contreras, the victim’s son, told the Post. “But when I came back out, he was in the middle of the street, laying in his own blood.”

Contreras died at Saint Barnabas Hospital.

At around 4:40 a.m., 48-year-old Besik Shengelia was retrieving items from his SUV on 111th Street near 109th Avenue in South Ozone Park when he was struck by a driver who left the scene. The make and model of the vehicle that hit Shengelia is unknown. He was pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital.

WABC, which reported that Shengelia worked for Uber, spoke with witnesses, including a woman who stopped other drivers from running over Shengelia after he was hit.

“It’s a shame that people was driving by and nobody stopped. National Grid saw me stopping traffic, and they came and helped us,” says [Sonia] Ramirez.

“The street does have a problem late at night with people speeding up and down the street, basically, and something needs to change around here,” eyewitness David Moore says.

The Post reported that Shengelia was “a former commander of the Georgian navy during the country’s 2008 war with Russia” who moved to the city with his family.

About 20 minutes after Shengelia was struck, the driver of a Nissan Altima ran a red light and hit a pedestrian in Park Slope.

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DOT Adds Welcome Chunk of Pedestrian Space to Bronx Broadway Hellscape

New sidewalk space at Broadway and W. 231st Street, to the right of the subway steps. Photos: Brad Aaron

New sidewalk space at Broadway and W. 231st Street, to the right of the 1 train steps. Photos: Brad Aaron

DOT reclaimed a nice chunk of space for pedestrians on a corner of Broadway in the Bronx, bringing some relief to an area that’s otherwise deplorable for New Yorkers who walk and bike.

The curb on the northwest corner of Broadway at W. 231st Street in Kingsbridge, beneath the elevated 1 train, was once lined with parked cars. Years ago the city added a pedestrian island a few feet off the curb, shortening the crossing distance and giving people waiting for the Bx9 a place to stand other than in the street.

Last fall DOT filled in the gap between the curb and the pedestrian island. Now the sidewalk is contiguous, extending from the old curb line to the 1 train stanchion. In total, the new space is roughly two car widths wide and four car lengths long.

Waiting for the Bx9 is not as dehumanizing as it once was.

Waiting for the Bx9 is not as dehumanizing as it once was.

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DOT: Grand Concourse Project to “Replace and Upgrade Existing Bike Lanes”

A cyclist was killed last year at the intersection of Grand Concourse and 158th Street, pictured, where there is currently no dedicate bike infrastructure. Photo: Google Maps

A cyclist was killed last year at the intersection of the Grand Concourse and 158th Street, above, where there is currently no bike infrastructure. Photo: Google Maps

With Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz calling for better bike infrastructure on the Grand Concourse, there’s some serious political momentum to make this major north-south thoroughfare a safer street. How far will DOT take it?

The Grand Concourse is one of DOT’s Vision Zero “Great Streets” projects slated for capital improvements in the next few years. Currently, it has buffered bike lanes on the service roads above 162nd Street but no bike infrastructure south of that.

That’s a problem: A sizable chunk of cyclist injuries on the Grand Concourse in 2015 occurred below 162nd Street, including one fatality at 158th Street by Franz Sigel Park.

An agency spokesperson provided the following statement when Streetsblog asked if the Grand Concourse would be redesigned with a protected bike lane:

DOT plans to replace and upgrade the existing bike lanes as part of the ongoing capital reconstruction of the Grand Concourse. We expect to present proposals for the next phases of Capital Reconstruction to local stakeholders and Community Boards in the Spring.

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Epileptic Cab Driver on Trial for Murder for Bronx Sidewalk Killings

Tierre Clark and Kadeem Brown were on a Grand Concourse sidewalk when they were run over and killed by Emilio Garcia.

Tierre Clark and Kadeem Brown were on a Grand Concourse sidewalk when they were run over and killed by Emilio Garcia.

The driver of a green cab who killed a child and a man on a Bronx sidewalk last year was charged with murder.

The Bronx district attorney’s office said Emilio Garcia was not taking his epilepsy medication when he fatally struck 4-year-old Tierre Clark and 25-year-old Kadeem Brown on the Grand Concourse at E. 170th Street on March 20, 2015.

Press accounts published after the crash said Clark injured two other people. One of the injured victims was reportedly a 55-year-old man. The other was Sanequa Howe, Tierre’s mother, who suffered bone fractures.

“When we are waiting for the bus, she gave me a kiss and she was dancing around, she never saw it coming,” Howe told WABC.

Gothamist reported that, according to the DA’s office, Garcia was aware of his epilepsy and had been in another crash, causing injuries to a second driver, four months before Tierre and Brown were killed.

The DA’s office told Streetsblog last October that Garcia was charged with manslaughter and homicide. According to court records, current charges against Garcia are two counts of murder, one count of assault (a class D felony), two counts of negligent homicide (a class E felony), and one misdemeanor count of reckless endangerment.

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Bronx Beep Ruben Diaz Jr. Calls for Better Bikeway on Grand Concourse

The Grand Concourse has bike lanes above 162nd Street, but they’re often blocked by double-parked cars. Image via Google Maps

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. wants better bike infrastructure on the Grand Concourse.

In his “State of the Borough” speech on Thursday, Diaz said a bike lane on the Concourse is among his 2016 policy goals. “We’ve made improvements to the Grand Concourse, and we will bring a dedicated bike lane to this iconic roadway,” Diaz said.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.

The Grand Concourse extends about five miles from the southwestern tip of the borough to Mosholu Parkway. Below 162nd Street there are no bike lanes. Last year a cyclist was killed crossing the Concourse by Franz Sigel Park at 158th Street.

Above 162nd Street the Concourse has a central roadway and service roads. The service roads have buffered bike lanes next to curbside parking, but they’re faded and prone to blockage by double-parked cars. Converting those bike lanes to a Queens Boulevard-style design should be a relatively simple matter.

DOT is expected to put forward a redesign of the Grand Concourse soon. It is one of four “Vision Zero Great Streets” slated to receive a combined $250 million in capital improvements over the next few years.

Transportation Alternatives’ Bronx Activist Committee has been pushing for a “complete street” redesign of the Grand Concourse, organizing monthly “Complete the Concourse” rides and winning the support of council members Ritchie Torres and Andy Cohen. With Diaz on board for improved bike infrastructure, political support is aligning nicely.

Diaz spokesperson John DeSio confirmed that he has decided to support safety improvements on the Grand Concourse, and that the ball is in DOT’s court to move forward with a proposal. “A lot of the Grand Concourse doesn’t [have bike lanes] and we want to make sure we have a safe and consistent means to cycle up the Grand Concourse,” he said.