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Posts from the Upper West Side Category


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…

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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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Upper West Siders to DOT: Citi Bike Stations Need to Be Closer Together

DOT is planning 39 bike-share stations between 59th and 107th streets. Map: DOT [PDF]

DOT is planning 39 bike-share stations between 62nd and 107th streets. Click to enlarge. Map: DOT [PDF]

Citi Bike is coming to the Upper West Side, but the expansion map DOT revealed last night has big gaps between stations. Like the map for the Upper East Side, the UWS plan calls for fewer stations per square mile than the current Citi Bike service area.

Both neighborhoods are among the densest residential areas in the city and have major destinations like hospitals and museums. If stations are too few and far between, the system will be poorly-equipped to provide good service.

At a meeting of the Manhattan Community Board 7 transportation committee last night, DOT showed the draft map for 39 bike-share stations between 62nd and 107th streets [PDF 1, 2], the product of a public planning process that stretches back several years.

Nearly 200 people showed up. While there was no shortage of Rabinowitz-esque opposition to “commercialization” and the loss of free on-street parking, most people were eager for bike-share’s arrival.

“We recognize that every parking space is needed and valued by the community,” said DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione. “But listen, there’s a trade-off. This is a great amenity and a great asset for the community.” The crowd then erupted in booming applause.

Several audience members told DOT they wanted stations spaced closer together, and closer to major destinations. “I don’t think this is going to be enough bikes to satisfy the need,” said Pamela Margolin, who lives on West 81st Street across from the Museum of Natural History. “We need to have enough bikes to make it work. I don’t think those two stations [near the museum] are going to be enough.”

Read more…


Citi Bike Could Expand to 86th Street This Summer

It looks like that Phase II expansion might itself come in phases, starting later this summer. Image: Citi Bike

That Phase II expansion looks like it will start this summer. Image: Citi Bike

It looks like some parts of Manhattan north of 59th Street could be getting Citi Bike sooner than previously expected.

At a town hall hosted by Council Member Helen Rosenthal last week, DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione said Citi Bike would expand to 86th Street by August or September, and to 110th Street “probably in March,” reports West Side Rag. Citi Bike had previously announced its intent to extend the service area to about 130th Street by the end of 2017. Last week’s meeting revealed the timetable for phasing in that expansion.

Manhattanites will have a chance to look over the final bike-share station map starting this week, following public meetings earlier this year. The Community Board 8 transportation committee, which covers the Upper East Side, is meeting Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. The CB 7 transportation committee, covering the Upper West Side, is scheduled to meet next Tuesday, May 12, at 7 p.m.

Expansion in Brooklyn — part of Citi Bike’s plan to grow from 6,000-bike system to 12,000 bikes — is set to come in phases, too, though there is no specific timetable yet.

New stations in Bed-Stuy, Greenpoint, and Williamsburg are expected to come online first, by the end of this year. DNAinfo reported last week that DOT staff say the first significant group of stations south of Atlantic Avenue will be added west of Fourth Avenue, before covering Park Slope, Prospect Heights, and parts of Crown Heights and Prospect Lefferts Gardens.


Helen Rosenthal Won’t Say Why She Reappointed Street Safety Foe to CB 7

Members of Families For Safe Streets asked Council Member Helen Rosenthal at a town hall meeting last night why she reappointed street safety foe and longtime Community Board 7 transportation committee co-chair Dan Zweig. But Rosenthal refused to answer questions from Upper West Siders who have lost loved ones to traffic violence.

Joan Dean, left, lost her grandson Sammy Cohen Eckstein in a traffic crash. Mary Beth Kelly, right, lost her partner Dr. Carl Henry Nacht. Both live on the Upper West Side and asked Council Member Helen Rosenthal about why she reappointed a street safety foe to Community Board 7. Photo: Emily Frost/DNAinfo

Joan Dean, left, lost her grandson Sammy Cohen Eckstein in a traffic crash. Mary Beth Kelly, right, lost her partner Dr. Carl Henry Nacht. Both live on the Upper West Side and had questions for Council Member Helen Rosenthal at a town hall last night. Photo: Emily Frost/DNAinfo

Zweig has spent years stonewalling street safety plans, particularly community requests to remake the Upper West Side’s most heavily-traveled streets with pedestrian islands and protected bike lanes. Zweig was appointed to the board multiple times by Council Member Inez Dickens. After a City Council redistricting moved his home into the district of Council Member Mark Levine, advocates saw an opportunity for change at CB 7.

Levine opposed Zweig’s nomination to the board and did not reappoint him. Borough President Gale Brewer also told advocates that she would not reappoint Zweig, according to Mary Beth Kelly of Families For Safe Streets. A list of community board appointments released earlier this month indicated Amsterdam Avenue bike lane supporter Helen Rosenthal reached outside her district to recommend Zweig, and Brewer approved the nomination.

“She says she supports safe streets, but then she makes appointments like this,” said street safety advocate Lisa Sladkus. “She went out of her way to reappoint him.”

“It really felt like somewhere along the line, some deal was made,” Kelly said. “I don’t know for sure what went on behind closed doors.”

With Zweig keeping his seat at CB 7, board chair Elizabeth Caputo must decide whether to reappoint Zweig and Andrew Albert as co-chairs of the transportation committee, a post they have occupied for years.

Under their tenure, the board spent years in hours-long meetings over protected bike lanes on southbound Columbus Avenue. While CB 7 ultimately supported the bike lanes, much of the delay and division came from Albert and Zweig, who employ stalling tactics on many bicycle-related projects.

Zweig has repeatedly said he doesn’t believe DOT crash and traffic flow data. He once attempted to scuttle protected bike lanes on Amsterdam Avenue by amending a resolution supporting them, requesting concrete curb extensions that would preclude protected bike lanes in the future. The amendment was defeated, and the board went on to vote unanimously in favor of asking DOT to study protected bike lanes.

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Helen Rosenthal Asks DOT to Install Protected Bike Lane on Amsterdam Ave

Council Member Helen Rosenthal has come out strongly for a protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue, sending a letter to DOT this week asking for a plan to calm traffic and provide a northbound complement to the Columbus Avenue bike lane.

Council Member Helen Rosenthal. Photo: NYC Council

Upper West Side Council Member Helen Rosenthal. Photo: NYC Council

“We need to make Amsterdam Avenue safer for families, and that’s just what this street redesign would do. I’ve seen it work on Columbus Avenue,” Rosenthal told Streetsblog yesterday. “It’s something that’s important to me, for my district.”

What prompted the letter? “It’s something that I knew I wanted to do from comments I’ve heard throughout the years from residents along Amsterdam Avenue,” said Rosenthal, whose district stretches from 54th Street to 96th Street on the West Side. She was especially inspired by the recent release of an anti-reckless driving video from Families for Safe Streets and the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

Street safety advocates have spent years trying to bring protected bike lanes and pedestrian islands to Amsterdam Avenue.

Although DOT installed (and then expanded) a bike lane on Columbus Avenue in recent years, with another extension proposed earlier this year near Lincoln Center, Amsterdam Avenue remains unchanged.

Any street redesign plan must be sent to the community board for advisory review. The hitch: DOT is reluctant to act without community board support and CB 7 has a track record of stalling when it comes time to implement protected bike lanes. In particular, procedural maneuvering by its two longtime transportation committee chairs, Andrew Albert and Dan Zweig, has led to a pattern of stasis and inaction.

Rosenthal, herself a former CB 7 chair, now recommends board members for appointment as a council member. She is confident that CB 7 will quickly support a protected bike lane plan.

“At the end of the day, the community board is advisory. I’m always interested in hearing from the community board. They always have insights, kernels of truth. I’m sure they’ll have some idea of tweaking DOT’s plan,” Rosenthal said. “I’m sure they’ll have some tweaks here and there, but I’m sure this will sail through.”

Updated 2:58 p.m.: DOT says it is “reviewing possible safety enhancements” on Amsterdam Avenue and will work with Rosenthal and CB 7 to discuss next steps.

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