Skip to content

Posts from the Upper West Side Category


24th Precinct CO: We’re Making Streets Safer by Cracking Down on Cyclists

An Upper West Side NYPD precinct where motorists killed six pedestrians and cyclists in 2014 says it’s reducing injuries by cracking down on people riding bikes.

Captain Marlon O. Larin, commanding officer of the 24th Precinct.

Captain Marlon O. Larin, commanding officer of the 24th Precinct.

The 24th Precinct is where drivers fatally struck Cooper Stock, Alexander Shear, Samantha Lee, and Jean Chambers, prompting a public outcry that, coupled with the launch of Vision Zero, raised the profile of traffic violence as a citywide issue.

Though data show that motorist behavior is the main factor in most serious crashes, this week Captain Marlon O. Larin, the precinct’s commanding officer, credited a drop in injuries to an August cyclist ticket blitz.

DNAinfo reports:

In August, officers from the 24th Precinct handed out 135 summonses to cyclists for violating bicycle laws — such as running red lights, cycling the wrong way and riding on a sidewalk — up from 52 citations during the same period last year, police said.

That vigilance is paying off, with 12 injuries from collisions involving a bike or a car last month, compared to 20 during the same period last year, according to the precinct.

When bicyclists run red lights, they could get seriously injured and are putting themselves in “unnecessary harm,” said 24th Precinct Capt. Marlon Larin at a meeting Wednesday.

“I don’t think bicyclists should be able to [run] a red light. A car’s going to win,” he said.

Given the small sample, I asked data analyst Charles Komanoff about Larin’s claim.

“A drop to 12 from 20 for a single 30-day period is almost certainly random fluctuation rather than evidence of a statistically significant trend,” Komanoff said via email. “So we would need to see at least several months of data. And it would need to be correlated/connected geographically with the increase in summonses, given the distances covered by the precinct.”

According to the DNAinfo story, Larin also indicated that enforcement in the 24th Precinct is at least in part based on anecdotes, rather than data.

Read more…


Is DOT Setting Up the Amsterdam Avenue Bike Lane to Fail?

Up until a few years ago, when neighborhood residents approached DOT about redesigning a street for greater safety, they expected to get shot down by the agency’s top engineers. In 2004, one former DOT official summed up the department’s attitude as, “We will do pedestrian safety, but only when it doesn’t come at the expense of the flow of traffic.”

DOT Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo (top) is sounding a lot like CB 7 bike lane opponent Dan Zweig (bottom). Photos: Stephen Miller

DOT Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo (top) is sounding a lot like CB 7 bike lane opponent Dan Zweig (bottom). Photos: Stephen Miller

DOT has changed since then — there’s a greater recognition that moving cars should not take precedence over safety, economic vitality, and the efficient movement of people. But there are signs the agency is slipping back into old habits.

A test of the department’s commitment to safer street design is imminent on the Upper West Side, where persistent advocacy by local residents finally convinced DOT to develop a plan for a protected bike lane and pedestrian islands on Amsterdam Avenue. DOT is expected to present the plan to Community Board 7 in the near future. The trouble is, agency officials are talking as if they’ll frame the project as a choice between safety and traffic flow. That would be a page out of the old DOT playbook and a huge step backward.

When Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said DOT will come out with a plan for Amsterdam Avenue this fall, she added some caveats. “Amsterdam Avenue is challenging… Just the way the traffic moves and the configuration of the roadway do make it a more challenging road to redesign [than Columbus Avenue],” she said. “But we’re going to come up with some plans and we’re going to lay them out for the community board and for everyone who’s interested.”

Then at a press event late last month, DOT Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo spoke candidly with me about how he views the politics of expanding the city’s bike network. At one point the conversation turned to the Upper West Side, where the agency had to be cajoled into proposing better bike lanes at the bowtie intersection of Broadway and Columbus Avenue last year. Russo defended the absence of bike lanes in DOT’s road diet plan for West End Avenue, saying they wouldn’t have been supported by residents of “green awning buildings” and local Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

I asked Russo why, in that case, Rosenthal is backing a protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue. “I don’t know. She hasn’t seen the numbers yet,” he said with a laugh. What numbers? “Our analysis,” he replied. “We’re going to bring it to the community board and explain to people what the implications are, like the commissioner said.”

The implication is that DOT expects Rosenthal and CB 7’s support to wither after the agency presents its plan. And if DOT trots out traffic models that predict carmageddon when Amsterdam has a protected bike lane and one less car lane, the agency will certainly be leading the conversation in that direction.

Read more…


Citi Bike Arrives on the Upper East Side and Upper West Side

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer at the first Citi Bike station on the Upper East Side. Photo: NYC DOT

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer at the first Citi Bike station on the Upper East Side. Photo: NYC DOT

Citi Bike has begun its expansion to the Upper East Side and Upper West Side.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Council Member Ben Kallos, DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione, DOT Deputy Commissioner for Policy Michael Replogle and Citi Bike General Manager Jules Flynn celebrated the first Citi Bike station on the Upper East Side with a photo-op this morning at 67th Street and Lexington Avenue.

As of this afternoon, stations have also been installed on the Upper West Side at 63rd and Broadway and along Central Park West at 68th and 72nd streets. In the coming weeks, a total of 47 stations will be installed as far north as 86th Street. Next year, 31 additional stations will bring Citi Bike as far north as W. 110th Street and E. 96th Street.

While the latest expansion is exciting, the station density on the Upper East and Upper West sides is lower than both the existing Citi Bike service area and DOT’s own density targets. This makes bike-share less convenient, potentially hampering ridership in two of the city’s densest neighborhoods. At this morning’s event, Daily News transit reporter Dan Rivoli asked about station density, and Kallos said he would welcome additional bike-share stations in the neighborhood.

Most stations in Citi Bike’s latest round of expansion have already been installed in Long Island City, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and Bed-Stuy. Expansion will continue next year, with stations in Harlem, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, and Red Hook by the end of 2017.

New York isn’t the only city in the area getting bike-share stations: The first of 35 Jersey City bike-share was installed today.


Reappointed by Rosenthal, Dan Zweig Already Trashing Amsterdam Ave Plan

Bike lane opponent Dan Zweig is at it again. The longtime Manhattan Community Board 7 transportation committee co-chair was quoted in a Post article trashing the Amsterdam Avenue bike lane before DOT even presents its design, set to be released in September or October.

Dan Zweig is speaking out against a safer Amsterdam Avenue after Council Member Helen Rosenthal reappointed him to Manhattan Community Board 7.

Dan Zweig is speaking out against a safer Amsterdam Avenue after Council Member Helen Rosenthal reappointed him to Manhattan Community Board 7.

“There is very heavy traffic [on Amsterdam] and it is a truck route,” Zweig told the Post. “We don’t know if Amsterdam Avenue can accommodate a bike lane.”

Though Zweig preemptively denounced the Amsterdam Avenue bike lane, he voted for a resolution asking DOT to study it. Zweig voted for the resolution only after language was added urging DOT to consider alternative routes.

Zweig’s position contradicts that of Council Member Helen Rosenthal, who unambiguously supports a protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue. Yet shortly after coming out in favor of the bike lane last spring, Rosenthal reappointed Zweig, a longtime bike lane foe who lives outside her district, to CB 7.

With the reappointment, Rosenthal kept Zweig in a position to thwart safety projects on the Upper West Side. DOT almost always gives de facto veto power over its street safety projects to appointed community boards.

Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg says working with community board appointees is one of the highlights of her job. “Particularly as we’ve done our Vision Zero projects,” she said in April, “one thing that’s been really gratifying is… we’ve gotten a lot of support and very caring and well-educated people on the community boards that want to partner with us on these projects.”

While other CB 7 members have worked with DOT, even actual safety statistics don’t seem to sway Zweig from his anti-bike lane position. He refused to accept DOT numbers showing a decrease in crashes after the Columbus Avenue bike lane was installed because one of the “before” years had a high number of collisions. He asked DOT to throw out that year of data.

“We don’t invent new methodologies,” replied Josh Benson, who was then DOT’s bicycle and pedestrian director. “To just pick one year and eliminate it, that’s just not what we do.”

There is a key difference between the Amsterdam and Columbus plans. While the Columbus lane simply narrowed that avenue’s three car lanes, adding a protected bike lane to Amsterdam will require removing one of its four car lanes. This has the potential to impact DOT’s models of how quickly it can move car traffic on the uptown corridor.

The members of Community Board 7 have repeatedly voted in favor of adding protected bike lanes and pedestrian safety improvements to Columbus and Amsterdam avenues. But it looks like its leadership is gearing up to yet again oppose safer streets.


Trottenberg: DOT Will Soon Propose Amsterdam Avenue Bike Lane

DOT will release a long-awaited proposal for a bike lane and other traffic calming measures on Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side this September or October, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show this morning.

DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg says her agency will propose a bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue in the next couple months. Photo: NYC DOT/Flickr

Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg says DOT will propose a bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue in the next couple months. Photo: NYC DOT/Flickr

The announcement comes after years of requests from local advocates and Manhattan Community Board 7 for a northbound pair to the southbound protected bike lane on Columbus Avenue. Council members Helen Rosenthal and Mark Levine, who represent the area, have also backed a protected bike lane on Amsterdam, which was recently repaved. Citi Bike will expand to the Upper West Side this fall.

“Amsterdam Avenue is challenging… Just the way the traffic moves and the configuration of the roadway do make it a more challenging road to redesign [than Columbus],” Trottenberg said. “But we’re going to come up with some plans and we’re going to lay them out for the community board and for everyone who’s interested.”

The wide-ranging interview also discussed a proposal from Assembly Member Aravella Simotas for a car-free Shore Boulevard in Astoria Park (“We are taking a look at it,” Trottenberg said) and the redesign of Queens Boulevard, which she called one of DOT’s “marquee” projects. Noting the new bike lanes on Queens Boulevard, Lehrer said callers are often “more afraid of the bicycles, because they seem to go every which way, than they are of the cars.”

Much of the interview was driven by Lehrer’s focus on congestion and bikes.

“Is there an upside to congestion?” he asked Trottenberg. “Like, is traffic congestion good for Vision Zero, because you want cars to go slower in general?”

“They’re really two separate issues, and I understand why people put them together,” Trottenberg said, before explaining the difference between making sure free-flowing traffic moves at a safe speed and combatting gridlock in the Central Business District, which is attracting fewer cars each day even as congestion has worsened.

Cruising by Uber drivers and other growing for-hire services is a likely cause of the additional congestion, Trottenberg said, and she acknowledged other factors, such as deliveries. The city will study CBD congestion after backing away from legislation to cap the number of cars operated by Uber.

“How about the bikes as a factor?” Lehrer asked.

Read more…


Levine to DOT: The Time Is Now for Amsterdam Avenue Protected Bike Lane

City Council Member Mark Levine sent a letter today urging Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg to put a protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue.

Council Member Mark Levine

Levine’s district encompasses much of the Upper West Side north of W. 95th Street. Calling on DOT to act, he pointed to unsafe conditions on Amsterdam, attendant wrong-way cycling on the Columbus Avenue southbound protected lane, and the pending arrival of Citi Bike.

Levine wrote:

This bike lane is especially timely considering the upcoming expansion of the Citi Bike program. Thirty-­nine Citi Bike docking stations are set to arrive in the area by the end of August. NYPD data also reveals that Amsterdam Avenue is one of the most dangerous streets in the neighborhood, second only to Broadway. This northbound street is frequently utilized by tourist buses and large trucks, in addition to the smaller vehicles that already use this vital artery. Many constituents who live in the area have reported feeling afraid when biking, citing the number of trucks, drivers, and people making deliveries. Unfortunately, the heavy vehicular traffic is causing many riders to ride against traffic, heading north on the southbound lane on Columbus Avenue, and further endangering riders and pedestrians.

Levine’s letter [PDF] follows an endorsement from local Council Member Helen Rosenthal and a Community Board 7 resolution asking DOT to “immediately” add “pedestrian refuges, curb extensions, signal timing, and a protected northbound bike lane” to Amsterdam — the board’s third such action in six years. Still, Mayor de Blasio’s DOT remains noncommittal.

Right now Amsterdam Avenue is getting a fresh coat of asphalt from 79th to 93rd street. As Ben Fried reported yesterday, unless DOT acts now, it will be too late to add a protected lane before Citi Bike comes to the Upper West Side in the fall, leaving a lot of new cyclists without a safe option for northbound travel in the neighborhood.

“I have been encouraged by the progress of the Department of Transportation in implementing various Vision Zero safety measures,” said Levine. “I now urge DOT to move expeditiously toward creating a northbound bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue, which is consistent with our shared commitment to making our streets safer for all.”


Attn DOT: Amsterdam Avenue Is Begging for a Protected Bike Lane


DOT is in the process of repaving Amsterdam Avenue from 79th Street to 93rd Street. Here’s the scene at 84th Street yesterday afternoon, courtesy of Community Board 7 member Ken Coughlin. Think there’s enough space for a protected bike lane? Nine feet is all you need.

Amsterdam is one of the big voids in the Manhattan bike network. Since 2010 there’s been a southbound protected bike lane on the Upper West Side (Columbus Avenue), but no protected route for cyclists heading uptown. With four lanes of one-way motor vehicle traffic, Amsterdam also has a higher rate of traffic injuries than other northbound streets in the neighborhood.

Local Council Member Helen Rosenthal endorsed a protected lane for Amsterdam this spring, and earlier this month Community Board 7 voted 34-5 in favor of a resolution asking DOT to “immediately” outfit Amsterdam with “pedestrian refuges, curb extensions, signal timing, and a protected northbound bike lane.” That was the third time in the last six years that CB 7 had formally requested action on Amsterdam, but DOT said only that it would continue to study the street.

Unless DOT stuns the world and restripes the freshly paved Amsterdam with a protected lane, it’s already too late to get one in the ground before bike-share expands to the Upper West Side this fall. A lot of new cyclists will have no safe, comfortable northbound option in the neighborhood.

Time is also running short to get a project in the pipeline for 2016. DOT will have to commit to a redesign in the next few months to be in a position to implement an Amsterdam Avenue protected bike lane next year.


The Trouble With Citi Bike Above 59th Is Station Density, Not the Timeline

The timetable for Citi Bike expansion on the UWS isn’t a problem. The real trouble is that after all the planned stations go in, neighborhoods will still have gaps in their bike-share networks (the orange discs). Map: Transportation Alternatives

For some reason, the timeline for phasing in the Citi Bike expansion in Manhattan is getting covered as a minor scandal, even though officials are sticking to the schedule they revealed months ago. The real problem with the bike-share expansion plan is the thinned-out station network, which is, unfortunately, getting buried by the faux story about a delayed roll-out.

The West Side Rag came out with the first headline about the Upper West Side getting “only 21 of 39” stations this year. The Post ran with the same angle, and Curbed picked up the Post story.

Just so we’re clear: The timetable announced last week is essentially the same as the timetable announced in May — the bike-share service area will extend to 86th Street this year, and up to 110th Street next spring. (The West Side Rag reported as much at the time.) Further expansion is slated for 2017.

There’s been no “reduction” in stations for the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, just some confusion because not all the stations on DOT’s neighborhood bike-share maps will get installed until spring.

Meanwhile, the real story about how the city is flubbing the bike-share expansion is getting overlooked (except on Curbed). As we’ve reported, DOT is trying to spread out bike-share stations too thinly, which threatens to impede the quality of bike-share service in the expansion zone, making it less reliable and more expensive to operate.

More stories about the real problem, instead of the imaginary one, could make a big difference for bike-share going forward.


DOT Finalizes Weak Bike-Share Station Maps for Manhattan Expansion [Updated]

DOT’s bike-share expansion maps for the Upper West Side and Upper East Side are now final, and they’re not any better than the draft maps that showed a thinned-out network of stations for some of the city’s densest neighborhoods.


The orange discs represent areas that would have bike-share stations in a well-designed network but don’t in DOT’s plan for the Upper West Side. Map: Transportation Alternatives

The final maps shift a handful of stations around but don’t add any (here’s the UWS final and draft map, and here’s the final and draft map for the UES).

That’s a problem. In each neighborhood, the planned bike-share network falls about 10 to 12 stations shy of the 28-stations-per-square-mile density recommended by the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

The likely result will be a more frustrating experience for bike-share users above 59th Street, and fewer subscribers than a densely-sited network would generate. If this is how DOT is going to handle station siting in the rest of the bike-share expansion zone, it will spell trouble for the whole system.

As Streetsblog reported earlier this month, the thinned-out bike-share network in these expansion zones arises from a dispute between DOT and Motivate, the company that operates Citi Bike. DOT wants the next wave of bike-share to reach all the neighborhoods that were promised as part of the “phase 2” expansion, but Motivate doesn’t want to supply the number of stations needed to attain effective density throughout that area.

While Motivate supplies stations, the company can’t install any without permission from DOT. So far, though, DOT appears to be refraining from using this leverage to get more stations out of Motivate. Unless something gives, New York is going to be left with a subpar bike-share network not just on the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, but throughout the expansion zone, which is supposed reach Harlem, western Queens, and several more Brooklyn neighborhoods by 2017.

Helen Rosenthal represents the Upper West Side in the City Council, and Ben Kallos represents the Upper East Side. The council members could make a difference by telling DOT they want an effective neighborhood bike-share network for their constituents. Neither office, however, has replied to Streetsblog’s requests for comment.

Streetsblog has a request in with DOT about what might prompt the agency to beef up the bike-share networks in these neighborhoods. We’ll update this post if we hear back.

Update, 6:50 p.m.: DOT sent the following statement about the system expansion and bike-share network density…

Read more…


All Eyes on DOT After CB 7 Endorses Amsterdam Ave Protected Bike Lane

Will the third time be the charm? Manhattan Community Board 7 has overwhelmingly voted — again — to ask the city for a northbound protected bike lane as part of a redesign of Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side. DOT will have to move forward on a redesign very soon to get a complement to the southbound protected bike lane on Columbus Avenue in place by the time Citi Bike debuts in the neighborhood, which is expected sometime later this year.

It's time to act, DOT. Photo: birdfarm/Flickr

It’s time for DOT to act. Photo: birdfarm/Flickr

Last night, in a 34-5 vote with one abstention, the full board passed a resolution calling on DOT to “immediately” install safety improvements including “pedestrian refuges, curb extensions, signal timing, and a protected northbound bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue.” If for some reason DOT determines that a northbound bike lane isn’t feasible on Amsterdam, CB 7 is asking the agency to install a northbound lane elsewhere in the neighborhood [PDF].

The CB 7 transportation committee unanimously endorsed the request last month.

Last night’s vote was actually the board’s third request for a northbound protected bike lane. CB 7 first asked DOT to design protected bike lanes for Amsterdam in 2009. But during years of haggling with CB 7 transportation committee leadership over the installation of a protected bike lane on Columbus Avenue, plans for Amsterdam stalled. The community board approved another resolution at the end of 2013 asking DOT to “study” a protected bike lane for Amsterdam, a vote that prompted no visible action from the agency.

The pressure on DOT to act from local advocates, officials, and now the community board is intensifying. Council Member Helen Rosenthal endorsed a protected bike lane on Amsterdam in April, and now the board has said loud and clear that a protected bike lane on Amsterdam is a priority.

Read more…