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Posts from the The Bronx Category

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NYC Motorists Killed Four People Walking and Biking This Weekend

Po Chu Ng was killed on Sixth Avenue by a driver in an SUV with TLC plates as she crossed the street with the right of way. The driver was not charged. Image: Google Maps

Po Chu Ng was killed on Sixth Avenue by a driver in an SUV with TLC plates as she crossed the street with the right of way. The driver was not charged. Image: Google Maps

New York City motorists killed four people walking and biking this weekend. One of the victims was struck in a Midtown crosswalk while crossing with the right of way, but NYPD and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance haven’t filed charges against the driver.

Po Chu Ng was crossing Sixth Avenue at W. 30th Street at approximately 5:15 Saturday afternoon when a driver struck her with a GMC SUV while turning left onto the avenue, the Daily News and Gothamist reported.

Ng, 52, was pronounced dead at Bellevue Hospital. The driver was a 27-year-old man. WABC reporter CeFaan Kim tweeted a photo showing that the SUV had Taxi and Limousine Commission plates. A Daily News photo shows the SUV sitting in the crosswalk with a pool of blood on the street in front of it.

An NYPD spokesperson told Streetsblog Ng was crossing Sixth Avenue on the north side of the intersection, west to east, in the crosswalk with the pedestrian signal “in her favor.” But as of this afternoon, the driver, whose name was not released, did not face charges under the Right of Way Law. The spokesperson said the crash is still being investigated.

As part of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, in 2014 NYC adopted the Right of Way Law, which penalizes motorists for harming pedestrians and cyclists who are following traffic rules, and Cooper’s Law, which gives the TLC a mechanism to revoke the TLC licenses of cab drivers who kill people who are walking and biking with the right of way. NYPD enforcement of the Right of Way Law remains inconsistent, and the TLC does not use Cooper’s Law, in part because police and district attorneys rarely file charges after a serious crash.

Three of this weekend’s fatal crashes were hit-and-runs, prompting Transportation Alternatives to call on state lawmakers to act this week to toughen penalties against drivers who flee crash scenes.

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First Look at DOT’s Concept for Better Grand Concourse Bike Lanes

Image: DOT

DOT plans to realign the Grand Concourse service road bike lanes along the medians, then cast them in concrete. Image: DOT

In February, DOT said it would upgrade the bike lanes on the Grand Concourse service roads, and last night the agency showed what it has in mind for the mile-long stretch between 166th Street and 175th Street [PDF].

The first step will be to shift the bike lanes to run along the median instead of the parking lane, reducing conflicts between cyclists and drivers accessing the curb. Later, the bike lanes will be rebuilt at sidewalk grade to provide physical separation from motor vehicles. The timeline for implementing the changes remains uncertain.

The city is currently reconstructing the Grand Concourse from the sewers on up between 161st Street and Fordham Road, a four-phase capital project. Last night’s presentation was an update from DOT on the second phase (covering 166th to 171st) and third phase (171st to 175th) to Bronx Community Board 4’s municipal services committee.

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Car-Free “Boogie on the Boulevard” Opens Up the Grand Concourse for Play

The temporary play field on the Grand Concourse’s main roadway during Sunday’s Boogie on the Boulevard. Photo: @ahtway

Sunday marked the first car-free “Boogie on the Boulevard” of 2016, and for a few hours on a few blocks, the center lanes of the Grand Concourse were full of people.

From May through August this year, on the last Sunday of each month, a few blocks of the Concourse north of 162nd Street will be a car-free gathering space from noon to 4 p.m., continuing a tradition that extends back to the early 1990s. This Sunday, the three blocks from 162nd to 165th were opened up — and the event may extend up to 167th Street later in the summer. The first incarnation of the event stretched three and half miles but was shut down by Mayor Giuliani in 1996.

Still, “Boogie on the Boulevard” shows how the Grand Concourse can do much more than move traffic. Those four car-free hours featured musical performances, games for kids, and group yoga. Volunteers from Transportation Alternatives’ Bronx Committee were also on hand to rally support for the “Complete the Concourse” campaign, which aims to slow car speeds, create safer pedestrian crossings, and add protected bike lanes along the entire length of the Concourse from 138th Street to Mosholu Parkway.

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To Improve Walking and Biking Across the Harlem River, DOT’s Thinking Big

Some Harlem River Bridge -- including the Madison Avenue Bridge depicted in this image -- may be in line for two-way protected bike infrastructure. Image: DOT

The Madison Avenue Bridge is one of several Harlem River crossings where DOT is considering a protected bikeway. Image: DOT

There are 16 bridges linking Manhattan and the Bronx, but if you walk or bike between the boroughs, safe, convenient routes are still scarce. That could change if DOT follows through on ideas the agency released this spring to improve walking and biking access over the Harlem River bridges [PDF].

Currently, 13 of the 16 bridges along the river have pedestrian access and just five (including the Randall’s Island Connector) have bike paths. The streets and ramps feeding into the bridges are mainly designed for motor vehicle movement and poorly equipped to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe.

Most nearby residents don’t own cars, and the conditions make it especially difficult for them to make short trips between the boroughs. “I know it could be more efficient for people to get to and from the Bronx, as opposed to waiting for the bus,” said Transportation Alternatives’ Sandra Hawkins. “Some of [the bridges] are not easily navigable for walking or cycling.”

After Bronx and Uptown residents called for safer access between the boroughs, DOT launched a series of workshops last summer to gather ideas for its “Harlem River Bridges Access Plan,” which will guide walking and biking improvements on the bridges and the neighborhood streets they connect.

DOT’s final plan is set to be released in the fall, but in March, the agency shared some of the improvements it is considering based on what people have said so far. The projects cover both short-term fixes that can be implemented quickly at low cost, and more time- and resource-intensive capital projects.

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Driver Kills Toddler in the Bronx as NYPD and the Press Declare “Accident”

E. 164th Street and Gerard Avenue, where a driver killed a 3-year-old this morning. Image: Google Maps

E. 164th Street and Gerard Avenue, where a driver killed a 3-year-old this morning. Image: Google Maps

Update: WPIX identified the victim as Mariam Dansoko. WPIX and other outlets are reporting that the driver, a 21-year-old man, was turning left from Gerard Avenue onto E. 164th Street when he hit her.

A driver killed a 3-year-old girl in the Bronx this morning. NYPD filed no charges and almost immediately told the press the crash was an “accident.”

An NYPD spokesperson told Streetsblog the victim “was walking behind her mom” at E. 164th Street and Gerard Avenue, not far from Yankee Stadium, when she was hit by the driver of a black Nissan.

The crash occurred at around 8 a.m. The police spokesperson had no details on who had the right of way. The driver was not charged criminally and was not issued a traffic ticket.

Media reports said the victim’s mother was pushing a stroller with a second child inside. They were not reported to be injured.

Details are still scarce, but the Post, the Daily News, and WABC all repeated information from the police concerning the actions of the child and her mother, while downplaying or ignoring the role of the driver who took the child’s life.

“The little girl tried to keep up, but was struck by a driver,” the Post said.

“The collision appeared to be an accident, police said,” read the News.

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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.

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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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