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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.

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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…

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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.”

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

Amsterdam_Ave

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.

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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.

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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.

UWS_thin_bike_share

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…

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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…

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NYPD: No ROW Charge for Driver Who Killed Moshe Grun in UWS Crosswalk

A driver turning left fatally struck Moshe Grun as he crossed Broadway at W. 62nd Street, where motorists are required by law to yield to pedestrians. The white arrows represent Grun’s path through the intersection — it is unknown if he was walking east or west — and the red arrow indicates the path of the driver. Image: Google Maps

A driver turning left fatally struck Moshe Grun as he crossed Broadway at W. 62nd Street, where motorists are required by law to yield to pedestrians. The white arrows represent Grun’s path through the intersection — it is unclear if he was walking east or west — and the red arrow indicates the path of the driver. Image: Google Maps

Will NYPD file Right of Way Law charges against a driver who fatally struck Moshe Grun in an Upper West Side crosswalk? A sergeant from the 20th Precinct wouldn’t answer that question, denying Grun had died before deferring to an investigator who was on vacation.

Grun, 59, was crossing Broadway at W. 62nd Street, in the marked crosswalk, when the westbound driver of a commercial van hit him while turning left onto southbound Broadway, according to reports and photos from the scene.

From JP Updates:

FDNY responded to the scene and found Grun trapped under the van. After rescuing him he was transported to St. Luke’s Hospital in cardiac arrest, with serious leg and head injuries.

The crash happened on June 1 at around 7 p.m. Grun died after three days in the hospital, JP Updates reported.

“The man was crossing and the van smashed into him,” a witness told the Daily News.

The News reported that, according to anonymous police sources, Grun was “crossing against the light.” But if the driver had a green light, Grun should have had a walk signal. Photos from the scene show the van in the Broadway crosswalk on the south side of the intersection.

The Post, DNAinfo, and WNBC also reported the crash, and none indicated Grun was violating traffic rules.

Read more…

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CB 7 Committee Asks DOT for Amsterdam Protected Bike Lane “Immediately”

On Tuesday, the Manhattan Community Board 7 transportation committee unanimously passed a resolution asking DOT to immediately install a protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue in the neighborhood.

Will DOT finally tame this street? Photo: Daniel/Flickr

Will DOT finally tame this street? Photo: Daniel/Flickr

DOT has built out a southbound protected bike lane on Columbus Avenue from 110th Street almost to Columbus Circle over the past five years, but the city has not created a parallel route for people biking uptown. With Citi Bike on track to arrive on the Upper West Side this summer, time is running out to build a safe northbound bike route in the neighborhood before a new wave of cyclists hit the streets.

The latest request for a northbound protected bike lane comes more than a year and a half after the board unanimously asked DOT to redesign Amsterdam Avenue. Elected officials and the community board are asking DOT to stop delaying. In April, Council Member Helen Rosenthal called on DOT to install a protected bike lane on Amsterdam.

“CB 7 called for immediate implementation of a northbound protected bike lane,” said committee member Howard Yaruss. The resolution now goes to the CB 7 full board on July 7.

Asked if it is going to come out with a proposal, DOT again told Streetsblog that it is reviewing possible safety enhancements on Amsterdam.

Tuesday’s meeting was marked by hemming and hawing from some board members, including transportation committee co-chairs Andrew Albert and Dan Zweig. The issue of bike lanes didn’t even come up until about two hours into the meeting.

“I was honestly worried that we weren’t ever going to get to talk about street safety,” said Upper West Side resident Willow Stelzer. “The goal was to sideline and delay.”

“At every turn, at every mention of this, the chairs seemed to brush it aside,” said Upper West Side resident Finn Vigeland. “It just seemed like the chairs were not receptive to this issue.”

Read more…

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CB 7 Chair Says Its Street Safety Task Force Isn’t About Street Safety

At the beginning of 2014, drivers killed three people — Cooper Stock, Alexander Shear, and Samantha Lee — on the Upper West Side in a matter of days. Neighbors turned out by the hundreds at vigils for the victims, and came out again to pack meetings demanding action. In response, Community Board 7 formed a street safety task force. More than a year later, there’s little to show for it, and now CB 7 chair Elizabeth Caputo says the task force wasn’t created to tackle street safety issues in the first place.

"." Photo: LinkedIn

“The intent was never to be a street safety task force,” says CB 7 chair Elizabeth Caputo. Photo: LinkedIn

The task force was created a month after Mayor de Blasio unveiled his Vision Zero agenda at an Upper West Side school near where Stock, Shear, and Lee were killed. Led by board member and city planner Ethel Sheffer, it was formed to address “street safety, design, and livability,” according to minutes from March 2014 [PDF]. Sheffer said the group would meet monthly or bi-monthly, reported DNAinfo.

“We want to make it clear that we are working hard on this,” Caputo said at the time.

More than a year later, the task force has stalled, and Caputo says it was never meant to be a street safety task force.

“It was never designed to meet more than a couple times a year,” she told Streetsblog on Tuesday. “It was not, and it was never intended to be, a way to remove safety issues out of [the transportation] committee and onto another committee.”

Longtime transportation committee co-chairs Andrew Albert and Dan Zweig have stood in the way of street safety improvements in the neighborhood since the 1990s.

“The intent was never to be a street safety task force,” Caputo continued. “CB 7 is committed to safety on every committee, and in particular on this one, on transportation.” Next month’s transportation committee meeting, she said, will be devoted to a broad range of bicycle safety and education issues.

One task force member had a very different take on the current situation. “It just sort of disappeared,” he said. “I understood that the goal was supposed to be traffic safety and then I was told it wasn’t traffic safety, but that it was some sort of amorphous design of the community. I don’t know what that means.”

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