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Posts from the Upper East Side Category

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Manhattan CB 8 Votes Against Basic Striped Crosstown Bike Lanes

At CB 8's request, DOT proposed alternative pairings (in blue) to those in its original proposal (in purple). Image: DOT

At CB 8’s request, DOT proposed a menu of six potential crosstown bike lane pairs. Image: DOT

Last night, by a vote of 25-19 with one abstention, Manhattan Community Board 8 voted against DOT’s plan for three pairs of painted crosstown bike lanes on the Upper East Side. Despite four months of deliberations, bike lane opponents managed to achieve their desired outcome last night, sending a strong signal that no bike lane design is too mild to avoid their wrath.

The board was considering a resolution passed by the CB 8 transportation committee in favor of crosstown lanes on 70th/71st, 77th/78th, and 84th/85th. Multiple meetings and several months of absurd wrangling over thermoplastic stripes preceded that vote.

The Upper East Side plan does not remove any parking or car lanes — it just puts lines on the ground to designate space for cycling.

To opponents, this basic safety measure is, for some reason, unsuitable for any street with a school, hospital, church, or other notable institution. Parents and administrators from schools on 84th and 85th Streets in particular have said the presence of bike lanes would, all evidence to the contrary, endanger their students.

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Reason Prevails at the End of Upper East Side Bike Lane Meeting

UES-map

The committee ultimately voted in support of bike lane pairs on 70th/71st, 77th/78th, and 84th/85th. Image: DOT

Bringing some resolution to one of the more absurd bike lane stories in recent memory, last night the Manhattan Community Board 8 transportation committee voted 9-2 in favor of a DOT plan to add three pairs of crosstown bike lanes on the Upper East Side.

First came many protestations about how these bike lane stripes have no place on the neighborhood’s streets. But supporters came out to the sanctuary of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church too, and their comments buoyed the committee.

DOT’s plan removes no parking or car lanes, it just adds some thermoplast to create a bit more order and designate some street space for cycling. Nevertheless, this was the third CB 8 meeting devoted to the project. Given the drawn-out process and histrionics about plain old bike lane stripes, you have to wonder if it would have been any more difficult to advance a more ambitious project, like a 72nd Street protected bike lane.

As with previous meetings, many speakers insisted that specific streets could not possibly accommodate a striped bike lane — the presence of a school, a hospital, a religious institution, or fire station supposedly disqualified these streets. Lenox Hill Hospital on 77th Street, Wagner Middle School on 76th Street, a Citi Bike station on 84th Street — the list was endless.

“It will be an awful story if we have to come back and say a bike rider hit one of our young children,” said one woman, who identified herself as an administrator at St. Ignatius Loyola School. “You really need to think about the children.”

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No Charges for UES Motorist Who Killed Senior While Backing Up to Park

Mary Jo Myszelow was killed by a driver backing up to get a parking spot on Madison Avenue near E. 95th Street. No charges were filed. Image: Google Maps

Mary Jo Myszelow was killed by a driver backing up to get a parking spot on Madison Avenue near E. 95th Street. No charges were filed. Image: Google Maps

Another New York City pedestrian has been killed by a motorist backing up in pursuit of a parking space.

At around 5:50 p.m. on March 26, Mary Jo Myszelow, 76, was crossing Madison Avenue near E. 95th Street, east to west, when she was hit with a 2013 Lincoln sedan. The Post reported that the driver, headed north on Madison, “spotted an available spot” and was backing toward it as Myszelow began to cross the street.

WNBC said Myszelow, who suffered a head injury, was “conscious and alert” at the scene. Reports conflict as to whether she died last Thursday or Friday.

Myszelow lived in Cornwall, in Orange County. An obituary published by the Middletown Times Herald-Record, which gives the date of death as March 31, says she once worked at RCA and the United Nations. “Besides being fluent in Italian, she taught English to children while living in Germany,” the obituary says. “As a world traveler Mary Jo visited China, Tibet, Australia, Turkey, Peru, Italy, France, Spain, Morocco, Mexico and the Galapagos Islands.”

The driver who killed Mary Jo Myszelow, whose name was shielded by police, was not charged criminally or issued a traffic ticket. NYPD said Myszelow was crossing in the middle of the block, but state law says “[t]he driver of a vehicle shall not back the same unless such movement can be made with safety.” An NYPD spokesperson told Streetsblog the investigation into the crash was ongoing as of this morning.

Myszelow was the second NYC pedestrian known to have been fatally struck by a driver backing up for a parking spot in the last four weeks. Motorists have killed six pedestrians while driving in reverse on New York City streets since May 2015, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog.

Mary Jo Myszelow was one of at least two pedestrians killed by motorists in the 19th Precinct in March. The crash occurred in Community District 8 — where NIMBYs scream bloody murder at the prospect of minor street safety improvements — and in the City Council district represented by Dan Garodnick.

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Still No Progress on UES Crosstown Bike Lanes at Community Board 8

The surreal world of Upper East Side bike lane meetings took another bizarre turn Wednesday night. DOT has put forward a simple plan for painted crosstown bike lanes in the neighborhood, but instead of breezing through Community Board 8, it’s become a prime example of how even the most basic safety improvements can get bogged down in a series of gripe sessions.

DOT wants to install three new crosstown dedicated bike routes on the Upper East Side [PDF]. Image: DOT

The three pairs of crosstown bike lanes in DOT’s plan. Image: DOT

DOT’s plan would add painted bike lanes on three pairs of crosstown streets: 85th and 84th streets, 78th and 77th streets, and 67th and 68th streets [PDF]. The project removes no parking spaces or car lanes. CB 8 passed a resolution asking DOT to install crosstown bike lanes in the neighborhood in November, but once DOT showed an actual proposal, the NIMBYs came out of the woodwork.

Wednesday’s meeting was no different, according to advocates and committee members in attendance, with a succession of residents and organizations from each affected street arguing why their block could not handle a painted bike lane.

“There were people from each of the streets who were at the meeting and they all said ‘on my street over my dead body,’” said attorney and UES resident Steve Vaccaro. Compared to previous meetings, Vaccaro said, “the anecdotal evidence was even more irrelevant. There were people saying, ‘There’s a thrift shop on our street.’ There were people saying, ‘There are restaurants on our street.’”

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No ROW Charge for Garbage Hauler Who Killed Woman in UES Crosswalk

The driver of a private sanitation truck fatally struck Jodi McGrath at First Avenue and E. 92nd Street. The red arrow indicates the path of the driver, and the white arrow shows the path of the victim. Image: Google Maps

The driver of a private sanitation truck fatally struck Jodi McGrath at First Avenue and E. 92nd Street. The red arrow indicates the path of the driver, and the white arrow shows the path of the victim. Image: Google Maps

A pedestrian was struck and killed by the driver of a private garbage truck on the Upper East Side yesterday. Police determined the driver failed to yield but did not charge him with violating the Right of Way Law.

The crash happened at around 4:30 Tuesday morning. According to reports, Jodi McGrath was crossing First Avenue west to east, in a crosswalk and with the signal, when the driver hit her while turning left onto the avenue from E. 92nd Street, which is one-way eastbound.

McGrath, 55, was conscious and responsive at the scene, Gothamist reported, with injuries to her head, leg, and arm. She later died at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

The driver was a 58-year-old man whose identity was shielded by NYPD. Police summonsed the driver for failure to yield, an NYPD spokesperson told Streetsblog, but crash investigators did not file charges under the Right of Way Law. The law, which made it a misdemeanor for motorists to harm people who are walking and biking with the right of way, is supposed to deter reckless driving while providing a measure of accountability for crashes that injure and kill thousands of New Yorkers a year. It’s been on the books for 19 months, but NYPD and city district attorneys rarely apply it.

Speaking at last week’s Vision Zero Cities conference, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton didn’t know when the Right of Way Law took effect. “Everything new takes a while to get ramped up,” Bratton said.

Private sanitation trucks have the highest pedestrian kill rate of any type of vehicle in NYC, according to “Killed by Automobile,” a landmark 1999 analysis of crash data produced by Charles Komanoff [PDF]. Data tracked by Streetsblog show private trash haulers killed a cyclist and two pedestrians in 2015.

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Upper East Side Bike Lane Meeting, or Surreal Performance Art?

If you ever go to an Upper East Side community board meeting about bike lanes, bring some popcorn.

Last night, the Manhattan Community Board 8 transportation committee called the bluff of crosstown bike lane opponents. After a parade of people spoke against DOT’s plan to stripe bike lanes on their blocks, even though they support the general concept of bike lanes, the committee asked DOT to explore bike lanes on as many east-west streets as possible. This would spread the “burden” of bike lanes equally.

DOT wants to install three new crosstown dedicated bike routes on the Upper East Side [PDF]. Image: DOT

How many school children will die if DOT stripes crosstown bike lanes on the Upper East Side? Map: DOT

DOT’s plan calls for three pairs of east-west painted bike lanes: on 85th and 84th streets, 78th and 77th streets, and 67th and 68th streets [PDF]. The only change on these streets would be the addition of some thermoplast to delineate space for cycling. After ruling out bolder ideas like a protected lane on 72nd Street, DOT’s proposal is as tame as you can get, with no impact on motor vehicle lanes or parking.

Nevertheless, the mere thought that more people might bike on these crosstown streets was too much for some people to bear.

For nearly two hours, a succession of building managers, block association presidents, school administrators, and even a hospital liaison ticked off their reasons why a simple painted bike lane won’t work on the streets where they live and work.

Denise Goodman, manager of community affairs at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, which is located on 67th Street between First and York, spoke on behalf of her hospital. “We are partners with the DOT, we support these bikes lanes, but really this is the wrong street,” she said. Later in the meeting, a number of administrators, staff, and parents from St. Ignatius Loyola School on 84th Street, including an assistant principal, claimed more bike traffic would put young students in jeopardy.

In one of the night’s more surreal moments, DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione had to allay these fears. “We have been installing bike lanes for many years and we have not had instances of collisions with school children,” she said.

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Vance Drops Right of Way Charge Against Truck Driver Who Killed Senior

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance dropped a Right of Way Law charge against a truck driver who killed a senior on the Upper East Side.

On the afternoon of October 10, 2014, Victor Hernandez hit 86-year-old Peter Romano with a Coca-Cola truck while making a right turn at the corner of Third Avenue and E. 96th Street, according to reports.

“The driver wanted to keep going, people had to tell him to stop,” witness Edwin Rios, told the Post. “People were yelling please stop, please stop.”

Police said Romano was in the crosswalk and was crossing with the signal. On October 11, the NYPD Highway Division announced that the driver was arrested for failing to yield.

Vance’s office conducted a 15-month investigation of the crash. Last week, prosecutors dropped their case against Hernandez without taking it to trial.

According to Vance’s office, prosecutors said in court that Hernandez was not using his phone at the time of the crash and was not impaired. Prosecutors told the court that Hernandez stopped at the light and that several people crossed in front of his truck before he proceeded to turn.

In explaining their decision to drop the case, prosecutors said they believed Hernandez’s visibility was hindered due to the truck’s design and because the victim was 5’5” tall. Prosecutors noted that Hernandez did not leave the scene, and said they could not conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that he was not exercising due care when he ran over Romano.

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What’s Next for 6th Ave Protected Bike Lane and Crosstown Routes on UES

At the request of community advocates, DOT wants to install three new crosstown dedicated bike routes on the Upper East Side. Image: DOT

DOT’s plan calls for three painted crosstown bike lane pairs on the Upper East Side [PDF]. Image: DOT

Two Manhattan bike projects went before community boards last night. The CB 8 transportation committee heard from DOT about the agency’s plan for crosstown bike lanes on the Upper East Side, and CB 4 endorsed the protected lane on Sixth Avenue, which DOT plans to install in the fall.

The crosstown painted lanes would span the width of the Upper East Side, providing safer east-west access for a neighborhood that currently has only one bike lane pair — 90th and 91st streets. The new bike lane pairs are East 67th and 68th streets between Fifth and York, 77th and 78th Streets between Fifth and John Jay Park, and 84th and 85th Streets between Fifth and East End. After the eastern termini at Cherokee Place and East End Avenue, shared lanes will guide cyclists to parks and the East River Esplanade greenway.

On the western side, all three routes terminate at Central Park. A 72nd Street bike lane could feed into the only major on-street bike path that cuts directly across the park, but DOT is not pursuing that.

Last night’s presentation to CB 8 was met with the typical NIMBY response, which NY1 previewed a few weeks ago. According to bike lane supporters who attended, opponents’ arguments focused on reasons why one street or another would not work for the lanes. But Council Member Ben Kallos spoke out in favor of the proposal and vehemently defended the need to ensure cyclists’ safety in the neighborhood. No vote was held, and DOT will present again next month.

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DOT Proposes Complete Street for Second Ave Above 68th Street

second_ave_complete

DOT plans to add a protected bike lane and bus lane to Second Avenue north of 68th Street. Image: DOT

With the conclusion of Second Avenue Subway construction on the horizon, DOT is preparing to move forward with a 2010 plan to add a bus lane and protected bike lane to Second Avenue on the Upper East Side. The project will close a gap in the Second Avenue bus lane and extend the protected bike lane on the avenue from 105th Street to 68th Street. Construction should begin this summer if the MTA meets its schedule for restoring the street.

The plan, which DOT presented to the Manhattan Community Board 8 transportation committee yesterday, promises to create a much safer neighborhood street and nearly 60 blocks of continuous protected bike lane stretching from East Harlem to the UES, but between 68th Street and the Queensboro Bridge, the bike lane will give way to sharrows. For now, DOT has no proposal to extend the Second Avenue protected lane to 34th Street and close a dangerous gap remains in the east side bike network.

After subway construction no longer impedes the surface of Second Avenue, DOT will paint a bus lane for M15 Select Bus Service, filling a gap between 105th Street and 60th Street. Like other M15 bus lanes, these will be enforced from 7 to 10 a.m. and from 2 to 7 p.m. Midday and in the evening, the bus lane will be used for metered parking, and overnight it will be free parking.

The new protected bike lane segment will run from 105th to 68th, though there will be a one-block gap in protection between 69th Street and 70th Street to accommodate a wider sidewalk and new subway entrance. Intersections with one-way streets where car traffic turns across the bike lane will get the “mixing zone” treatment, while at two-way streets, signals will give cyclists and pedestrians a head start on left-turning drivers. At other crossings, pedestrian islands will be installed between the bike lane and car traffic.

From 68th Street to the Queensboro Bridge, a “transitional design” will only add sharrows, providing no protection where traffic becomes most intense. DOT Acting Director of Bicycle and Greenway Programs Ted Wright said at last night’s meeting that a protected lane was too much to tackle in this project since congestion on Second Avenue is so severe, but that a future project could extend the protection.

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DOT Has Ruled Out a Crosstown Bike Lane on 72nd Street [Updated]

DOT is studying routes for crosstown bike lanes on the Upper East Side, but it looks like 72nd Street, which could provide a seamless route across Central Park, won’t be one of them.

With the arrival of Citi Bike, neighborhood advocates have been pressing DOT to add more crosstown bike connections on the Upper East Side, which currently has only a single east-west pair on 90th Street and 91st Street. During a recent “street scan” to assess potential bike routes, 72nd Street was one of three options that volunteers with TA and Bike New York considered.

The transportation committee chairs of Manhattan Community Board 8 revealed at a meeting last night that DOT has ruled out 72nd Street as an option, according to a resident who attended. (Streetsblog has asked DOT to confirm.) They delivered the news to about two dozen people who had just testified against the specter of making 72nd Street safe for biking. A change.org petition had been circulating before the meeting in opposition to “the 72nd Street bike path.”

Neighborhood resident Joe Enoch was among the smaller group of people who testified in favor of a bikeway on 72nd Street. “When I tried to explain that 72nd Street might make sense because it’s a natural connection to Central Park and the West Side, there was literally a chorus of boos and then my time was up,” he told Streetsblog via email. “I was literally booed off the stage at a community board meeting.” One woman shouted “Boloney!” at him, he said, and later apologized.

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