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Posts from the Upper West Side Category


CB 7 Members, Upper West Siders Back Amsterdam Ave Protected Bikeway

Image: DOT

The room was packed last night for DOT’s long-awaited plan for a protected bike lane and pedestrian islands on Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side [PDF], with about 120 people turning out at the Manhattan Community Board 7 transportation committee meeting. Most residents and committee members praised the plan, though no vote was held. DOT says it could implement the redesign between 72nd Street and 110th Street as soon as next spring.

The plan calls for a protected bike lane on the left side of the street, as well as pedestrian islands and various left turn treatments, including dedicated bike signals and motor vehicle turn bays at 79th Street, 86th Street and 96th Street. One motor vehicle lane and about 25 percent of the corridor’s on-street parking spaces would be repurposed.

With four motor vehicle moving lanes, Amsterdam is not designed like a neighborhood street. There were 513 traffic injuries, including 36 severe injuries, and two fatalities on the street between 2009 and 2013. When it’s not rush hour, 59 percent of drivers exceed the speed limit. Local residents have mobilized for many years to get the city to improve safety on Amsterdam. In July, CB 7 voted for the third time in six years to request action from the city on a protected bike lane on the street.

Despite those votes, transportation committee co-chairs Dan Zweig and Andrew Albert have consistently tried to stall street safety initiatives. At last night’s meeting, Zweig and Albert stayed mostly quiet while their fellow committee members expressed strong support for DOT’s redesign.

Six of the nine committee members expressed support for the proposal. “If we’re going to achieve Vision Zero, we need a new vision for our streets, and I think this takes us a long way there,” said committee member Ken Coughlin, urging DOT to move swiftly on the proposal. “If the health department came to us and there was an epidemic and they said, ‘Well we have this vaccine that’s going to stop it,’ why would they wait three or four months to implement it?”

Read more…


DOT Will Present Amsterdam Ave Protected Bike Lane Design Tonight


Image: NYC DOT

It’s happening: At tonight’s Community Board 7 transportation committee meeting, NYC DOT will present plans for a northbound protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side.

The first phase of the project calls for a protected bike lane and pedestrian refuges from 72nd Street to 110th Street, which could be implemented as soon as next spring, according to a DOT press release. A second phase south of 72nd Street would follow.

The design will convert one motor vehicle travel lane to a protected bike lane, with pedestrian refuges and dedicated space for left-turning vehicles on some blocks. At intersections with major streets, split signal phases will separate bicycle and pedestrian traffic from turning drivers. At other intersections, the design calls for the “mixing zone” treatment, where bicyclists merge with turning drivers.

The proposal also adjusts commercial parking regulations on the east side of Amsterdam to cut down on double parking.

With bike traffic on Amsterdam growing rapidly and Citi Bike expanding to the Upper West Side, DOT sees significant potential for bike trips to replace thousands of short cab trips in the neighborhood.

Council members Helen Rosenthal and Mark Levine, who’ve previously called on DOT to make Amsterdam safer, both expressed thanks for the proposal in the agency’s announcement.

This is a milestone in a very long and hard-fought neighborhood advocacy campaign for safe streets. You can help the redesign get to the next phase at tonight’s meeting, which starts at 6:30 p.m at the Redeemer Church, 150 West 83rd Street.

Streetsblog will have more coverage tomorrow.


Upper West Siders Call on DOT to Make Amsterdam Avenue a Complete Street

Next week — November 10 to be precise — DOT is expected to present a proposal to redesign Amsterdam Avenue for greater safety. The redesign is a long time coming. This summer marked the third time in the past six years that Manhattan Community Board 7 has asked DOT for a protected bike lane on Amsterdam.

On Halloween, neighborhood residents rallied with Transportation Alternatives for a “complete street” design of the avenue, with pedestrian islands and a protected bike lane. Until something changes, Amsterdam remains one of the most dangerous streets on the Upper West Side, with high rates of speeding and injuries.

The two local City Council members, Helen Rosenthal and Mark Levine, have called on DOT to implement a protected bike lane on Amsterdam. You’ll see them in this footage of the rally captured by TA’s Luke Ohlson.

“This street you’re looking at right here represents cutting edge, state-of-the-art design principles from about a half century ago,” Levine said at the rally. “We know today that we can build streetscapes that balance the needs of motorists, of mass transit riders, of pedestrians, of bicyclists, of the disabled.”


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.