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Posts from the Upper West Side Category

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New Columbus Avenue Design: Protected Bike Lane By David H. Koch Theater

koch_bike_lane

To provide a better connection to the Ninth Avenue protected bike lane, NYC DOT is now proposing a protected bike lane on Columbus Avenue by Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater. Image: NYC DOT

The Columbus Avenue bike lane will provide a more continuous protected route past Lincoln Center under a revised DOT proposal that got a thumbs up from Manhattan Community Board 7’s transportation committee Tuesday night [PDF].

Currently, there is no physical protection for people biking between 69th Street and 59th Street. An earlier version of the project narrowed the gap to the five blocks between 67th Street and 62nd Street. The new plan calls for a parking protected bike lane south of 64th Street and some additional safety measures leading up to the “bow-tie” at 65th Street, though the three blocks between 67th and 64th will remain exposed to traffic. The project includes a number of pedestrian safety improvements as well.

Below 67th Street, the plan has cyclists merge across a lane of motor vehicle traffic turning left onto 65th Street. New to the proposal is a line of flexible posts between 66th and 65th that will shield cyclists from through traffic. The bike lane continues for one block without separation through the Lincoln Square “bow-tie” before the parking-protected design resumes south of 64th Street.

The expansion of the protected lane got applause from the audience when DOT presented it, reports Transportation Alternatives organizer Tom DeVito. The CB 7 transportation committee voted in favor of the plan 11-0, with committee member Ken Coughlin adding an amendment calling on DOT to more strongly delineate the bike lane through the bow-tie.

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UWS Residents to Brewer: No More Street Safety Obstructionists on CB 7

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, right, speaks with, from left, Mary Beth Kelly, Tom DeVito, and Dana Lerner before her State of the Borough address yesterday. Photo: Stephen Miller

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, right, with Mary Beth Kelly, Tom DeVito, and Dana Lerner before her State of the Borough address yesterday. Photo: Stephen Miller

Will Gale Brewer reappoint noted street safety obstructionist Dan Zweig to Community Board 7? Families of traffic violence victims came to her State of the Borough address yesterday seeking an answer.

Protesters stood outside Columbia University’s Alfred Lerner Hall with signs — “Gale, You Have the Power to Fix CB 7″ and “Lives Matter More Than Parking Spaces” — while handing out flyers to the borough’s politicos as they arrived for the speech.

The advocates, who included Dana Lerner, Mary Beth Kelly, and Sofia Russo — all of whom have lost family members to traffic violence — are asking for new leadership at the CB 7 transportation committee, which has been co-chaired by Zweig and Andrew Albert for at least 15 years. Over the years, Zweig and Albert have blocked or delayed several requests for traffic safety improvements on the neighborhood’s dangerous arterial streets.

Zweig is up for reappointment to the board this year. The decision to keep him on the board or not ultimately rests with Brewer.

On her way into the building, Brewer stopped and talked with the family members. “People are complaining about how nasty you are,” she told them. “I don’t mind meeting with you. I know what you want… We’ll talk. We’ll talk.”

“I’ve been called relentless, but not nasty,” Kelly said after Brewer left.

“She’s been a leader,” Transportation Alternatives Manhattan organizer Tom DeVito said of Brewer. “An elected official can’t make a career of appointing people who have been disappointing communities for decades, and she knows that.”

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UWS Residents Silently Protest Manhattan CB 7 Inaction on Street Safety

[Last night, residents of the Upper West Side staged a silent protest at the general meeting of Manhattan Community Board 7, hoping to get the attention of a board that has repeatedly failed to take action on street redesigns proven to reduce injuries and deaths.

Local residents fighting for street safety improvements find themselves stymied year after year by CB 7 transportation committee chairs Andrew Albert and Dan Zweig, who are appointed to the board by local council members and the borough president. After the protesters left last night, Council Member Helen Rosenthal specifically thanked Albert and Zweig “for helping everything go by so smoothly this year,” referring to redesigns of local streets that the community board delayed acting on until several high-profile deaths made stasis untenable.

Lisa Sladkus, a co-founder of the Upper West Side Streets Renaissance, sent in this record of how street safety advocates have been repeatedly ignored and brushed aside by Zweig and Albert over the last eight years.

– Ben Fried]

Although the Upper West Side of Manhattan is a residential neighborhood, its streets are plagued with out-of-control traffic, resulting in hundreds of injuries and multiple deaths each year. Many of the crashes that occur in our district are preventable. By designing our streets to prioritize people instead of cars and trucks, we could make our neighborhood safer for everyone.

In 2007, a group of concerned citizens formed the Upper West Side Streets Renaissance (UWSSR) in an effort to take back our streets. This group worked to educate members of our community on the dangers of walking and biking in our district and pushed the community board to embrace the notion that we have a responsibility to provide a safe living environment for those who work, live, and commute through our district. At every juncture, the leadership of the transportation committee of Community Board 7 was indifferent or outright hostile to the expertise, hard work, and vision that the UWSSR had to offer.

The two co-chairs of the committee, Dan Zweig and Andrew Albert, have stonewalled and sabotaged safety initiative after safety initiative. They have refused to engage or communicate with these community members and have worked to frustrate their efforts to make our streets safer. In doing so, it is our belief that they have also made the Department of Transportation less willing to work in our district. UWSSR brought these concerns to both elected officials and the leadership of CB 7, but the CB 7 tradition that committee chairs hold their seats for life has trumped safety and ethics concerns, and no action has been taken.

These failures to act have led to the continuation of the dangerous street conditions that plague the Upper West Side.

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Citi Bike Expansion Plan Gets Going on the Upper West Side [Updated]

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Participants filled about a dozen tables for two separate hour-long sessions of bike-share station siting exercises last night. Photo: Larissa Zimberoff

A public workshop last night set in motion the planning process for bike-share on the Upper West Side, part of Citi Bike’s phase two expansion that will double the number of stations and reach up to 125th Street by 2017. NYC DOT said the station map for the neighborhood should be finalized sometime this fall but did not give a timeline for implementation.

DOT and Citi Bike staff held the event last night to get feedback from Upper West Side residents and Community Board 7 about where to site new bike-share stations in the neighborhood. Every chair was occupied at both of the one-hour sessions at the Presbyterian Church at 150 West 83rd Street.

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this,” said Joe Robins (Citi Bike member #560) as he sat down at one of the dozen or so tables covered with maps, Sharpies, and colored flags to mark potential bike-share station sites. It was a sentiment many seemed to share.

The question that seemed to preoccupy most participants was: “Will there be a station near my home?” When asked if they would prefer to place stations on the sidewalk, in the roadbed, or in public plazas, most attendees didn’t indicate much of a preference. One gentleman voiced a desire for stations at corners versus mid-block, which has been the typical practice for the current Citi Bike network.

With Citi Bike expanding to the Upper East Side as well, park access and navigating east and west through Central Park was another key concern. While progress has been made on bike access across the park, direct routes are still limited. There will also be no stations in Central Park, consistent with a blanket policy of avoiding station sites inside city parks with evening closures, since Citi Bike stations must operate 24/7.

Another open question is whether NYC DOT will provide a safe northbound bike route on Amsterdam Avenue to pair with the Columbus Avenue protected bike lane. Protected bike lanes on the Upper West Side remain scarcer than in the existing Citi Bike zone, but Community Board 7 has dragged its feet on moving forward with a protected lane for Amsterdam.

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Victims’ Families to Electeds: End the Obstruction of Safe Streets on the UWS

Council Member Mark Levine, Borough President Gale Brewer, and Council Member Helen Rosenthal can decide whether or not to reappoint longtime street safety foe Dan Zweig to Community Board 7. Photos: NYC Council

Years of frustration with the leadership of Manhattan Community Board 7 boiled over at a traffic safety forum on the Upper West Side last night. Twice during the event, neighborhood residents who lost family members to traffic violence called on elected officials not to reappoint Dan Zweig, who has co-chaired CB 7’s transportation committee for at least 15 years and blocked or delayed key street safety proposals.

Last night’s panel included Dana Lerner of Families For Safe Streets, whose son Cooper was killed by a turning cab driver last year. She told the audience she was shocked to learn after her son’s death that there were proposals from neighborhood groups to improve street safety — including for the block where Cooper was killed — that had failed to receive support from the community board. “When I found out about this, I was crushed. I was just crushed. I couldn’t understand,” she said. “All I could think was, if they had — if this had been looked at, might Cooper be alive? I always wonder that.”

After Cooper’s death, DOT implemented a road diet on West End Avenue, including pedestrian islands at the intersection where Cooper was killed. Lerner said neighbors ask her if she’s pleased to see the changes. “I don’t understand why it was my son’s death that made this happen,” she said. “Community Board 7, particularly Dan Zweig, was not receptive to the ideas of the community. And I feel that moving forward, we absolutely have to have people who are willing to listening to the community members.”

Zweig has a long history of stonewalling street safety projects. A redesign of Columbus Avenue added a protected bike lane and pedestrian islands, improving safety for all street users, including a 41 percent drop in pedestrian injuries. But Zweig, who had used parliamentary process to try to block the project, said he doesn’t trust DOT’s numbers and insists the street has become more dangerous.

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DOT Lincoln Square Plan Leaves Cyclists Knotted in Dangerous Bowtie Traffic

A DOT safety plan for streets near the Lincoln Square bowtie focuses mostly on pedestrians while leaving cyclists to mix it up with cars and trucks for five blocks near the complex crossing. The proposal, which includes expanded sidewalks, additional crosswalks, new turn restrictions, and a few bike lane upgrades, could be on the ground as soon as next summer.

A DOT proposal would nibble around the edges of the Lincoln Square bowtie to make this wide-open expanse more pedestrian-friendly. Photo: DOT

A DOT proposal would nibble around the edges of the Lincoln Square bowtie to make this wide-open expanse more pedestrian-friendly. Photo: DOT [PDF]

The plan [PDF], developed after a community workshop in June, was presented last night to dozens of Upper West Side residents who crowded into the Manhattan Community Board 7 transportation committee meeting. While the proposals were generally well-received, many in attendance urged the city to do more, particularly for people on bikes. DOT staff were not receptive to extending the protected path through the intersection but said they will adjust the plan based on feedback, with hopes of securing a supportive vote from the board in January. Implementation would then be scheduled for sometime next year.

The intersection, where Columbus Avenue crosses Broadway and 65th Street, ranks as one of the borough’s most dangerous, according to crash data from 2008 to 2012. It is in the top five percent of Manhattan intersections for the number of people killed or seriously injured in traffic.

DOT’s proposal aims to reduce conflicts between drivers and pedestrians with turn restrictions and sidewalk extensions at key locations to create shorter, more direct crosswalks. The agency is also proposing to lengthen median tips and expand pedestrian islands in the bowtie. In places where it cannot use concrete due to drainage issues, DOT proposes adding pedestrian space with paint and plastic bollards.

One of the biggest changes: DOT is proposing a ban on drivers making a shallow left turn from southbound Columbus onto Broadway. The agency would add new crosswalks spanning Broadway on both sides of Columbus. With the turn ban, pedestrians and cyclists should not have to worry about drivers — except MTA buses, which are exempt from the restriction — cutting across their paths at dangerous angles.

Immediately south of the bowtie, DOT is proposing a ban on left turns from southbound Broadway onto eastbound 64th. This would allow the agency to fill the existing cut across the Broadway mall with a concrete pedestrian area. A smaller concrete curb extension would be installed on the west side of this intersection, at the northern tip of triangle-shaped Dante Park. A new crosswalk would also run across Broadway to the north side of 64th Street.

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Tonight: Support Pedestrian Safety Fixes for Lincoln Square Bowtie

Lincoln Square is a dangerous spot for pedestrians. Will opposition from a local BID stop safety fixes in their tracks? Photo: DOT

Lincoln Square, where Broadway crosses Columbus Avenue on the Upper West Side, is a dangerous intersection for walking, but the local BID has a history of opposing safety improvements. Photo: DOT

The city is scheduled to unveil proposed safety improvements this evening for the busy, complex intersection where Columbus Avenue meets Broadway, known as the Lincoln Square bowtie. With the design changes going before the Community Board 7 transportation committee tonight, nearby residents and advocates have started a petition to support the proposal, countering expected opposition from the surrounding Lincoln Square Business Improvement District.

According to crash data collected by NYPD, there have been 13 traffic injuries at intersections on Broadway between 64th and 66th Streets so far this year, including seven pedestrian injuries and three cyclist injuries. A nearby intersection was the site of a fatal crash in 2012: 78-year-old Shirley Shea was crossing 67th Street and Columbus Avenue when a turning school bus driver struck her, inflicting mortal injuries.

Susan Shea-Klot, Shea’s daughter, wrote to Streetsblog last year and described the aftermath of the collision. The crash caused brain trauma and eventually left Shea unable to speak, kept alive by a ventilator and a feeding tube before she died. Shea-Klot expressed frustration that there were no meaningful consequences or changes after her mother’s death:

The police completed the investigation and issued a report which stated that the driver claimed not to have seen my mother in the crosswalk. No charges were filed against the driver by anyone… Buses should not be permitted to make right turns when pedestrians are crossing. Why can’t we put people first; when did the rights of the automotive vehicle and its drivers usurp those of the more plentiful pedestrians? We in this city should be ashamed of ourselves and our acceptance of this nonsensical status quo. Enough!

In June, DOT hosted a workshop with Community Board 7 to gather ideas for pedestrian safety improvements near the bowtie. Sources who have been briefed on DOT’s plan say it includes turn restrictions, expanded pedestrian islands, and striped bike lane markings on Columbus Avenue.

“The proposals that are being brought back to the community right now are a result of that workshop that happened in June,” said Transportation Alternatives Manhattan organizer Tom DeVito. “These are community-originated ideas, and it’s time that changes are made to that mess of an intersection.”

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Eyes on the Street: Why Pedestrian Islands Belong at More NYC Intersections

Photo: Julie Margolies via West Side Rag

Last night, a driver hit a newly-installed pedestrian island at the same crossing where Cooper Stock was killed earlier this year. The driver told police she didn’t see it. Photo: Julie Margolies via West Side Rag

Here’s a reminder of why the city can’t roll out street design changes fast enough. Last night, a driver turning left through the crosswalk from West 97th Street to West End Avenue struck a bollard on a pedestrian island that had been installed just days before. According to West Side Rag, the woman told police that she did not see the bollard before driving into it.

Last night’s crash occurred at the same crossing where 9-year-old Cooper Stock was struck and killed in January, also by a driver making a left turn through the crosswalk.

The pedestrian island was installed this month as part of a road diet DOT proposed in the wake of Cooper’s death and a nearly-identical crash in which a turning driver killed Jean Chambers in the crosswalk at 95th Street this July. The city carved out space for the pedestrian refuge by reducing the number of car lanes on the street.

The concrete island is actually the exception, not the rule, along the revamped West End Avenue. The road diet consists mostly of paint, which channels but does not restrict drivers’ movement. The plan was initially criticized for including pedestrian islands at only 95th and 97th Streets, where fatalities had occurred. DOT later modified the plan and increased that number to four intersections along the 35-block avenue.

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Maximum Penalty for Cab Driver Who Killed Cooper Stock: 15 Days and $750

The cab driver who killed 9-year-old Cooper Stock last January was charged this month with failure to exercise due care, a traffic infraction that carries a maximum 15-day jail sentence and a small fine.

Cooper Stock. Photo: Barron Lerner via ##http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/24/treat-reckless-driving-like-drunk-driving/##New York Times##

Cooper Stock. Photo: Barron Lerner via New York Times

According to court records and the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, an arrest warrant was issued for Koffi Komlani on October 1. He was arraigned in criminal court on October 7, pled not guilty, and was released on his own recognizance.

Here’s how the Daily News described the latest developments in the case, in a story that ran today:

The cabbie who hit and killed 9-year-old Cooper Stock, as the child crossed the street with his father, has been charged in the boy’s death, the Daily News has learned.

Driver Koffi Komlani was arrested Oct. 8 and charged with failure to exercise due care by the Manhattan district attorney, sources said Thursday.

It’s common for the tabloids to make it seem as if law enforcers are seeing justice done for victims of traffic violence when, in actuality, the motorist in question faces relatively mild consequences. The Daily News story looks like another example.

Failure to exercise due care is a violation of VTL 1146 — Hayley and Diego’s Law. Though Komlani was arraigned in criminal court, this is a traffic violation, not a criminal offense. Drivers summonsed for careless driving are subject to jail time of up to 15 days, fines of up to $750, a license suspension of up to six months, and a mandatory drivers’ ed course. These are maximum penalties. The minimum is no penalty at all.

Prosecutors with Vance’s office told Cooper’s family last spring that they would not be filing criminal charges against Komlani.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission opted not to renew Komlani’s probationary hack license when it expired in July. Vance’s office said the judge suspended his drivers license pending the outcome of the case. Komlani’s next court appearance is scheduled for December.

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Eyes on the Street: West End Avenue Gets Its Road Diet

West End Avenue at 85th Street. Photo: John Simpson

West End Avenue at 85th Street. Photo: John Simpson

After Cooper Stock and Jean Chambers were killed in West End Avenue crosswalks by turning drivers earlier this year, DOT unveiled a 35-block road diet for the dangerous Upper West Side street. Now, the plan is on the ground, and pedestrian islands are set to be installed within a month.

The redesign is a standard four- to three-lane road diet, slimming from two lanes in each direction to one lane per direction with center turn lanes. Bike lanes not included.

Streetsblog reader John Simpson sent in photos of the new street design on the ground between 85th and 86th Streets. The repaving and striping appears to be mostly complete.

Concrete pedestrian refuge islands are planned for 72nd, 79th, 95th, and 97th Streets. On Tuesday, DOT staff told the Manhattan Community Board 7 transportation committee that islands will be installed at 95th and 97th Streets “within the month,” reports Emily Frost at DNAinfo. Islands at 72nd and 79th were added to the plan after complaints that the project didn’t include enough of them. Update: DOT says a pedestrian island at 72nd Street will be installed next year, while neckdowns will be built at 79th Street in the coming months as part of a Safe Routes to School program.

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