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Posts from the Washington Heights Category

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Eyes on the Street: Much of the 158th St. Greenway Connector Is Missing

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158th Street looking east toward Riverside Drive.

A utility crew ripped up 158th Street where a two-way bike lane connects to the Hudson River Greenway and hasn’t re-installed the bike lane after patching up the asphalt.

A reader sent us photos of the bikeway, which is supposed to be a green, two-way route between Broadway and the Henry Hudson Parkway, separated from car traffic by plastic posts. A ramp at the western end of the bike lane leads to the greenway.

The bike lane was installed last year as part of a package of bike and pedestrian improvements linking the greenway and the car-free High Bridge.

We asked DOT why this happened and when it would be fixed. DOT said it “is aware of the condition of the bike lane at 158th Street, where utility work was recently done, and are working with the contractor to remedy the situation.”

Without the paint, our tipster said, the bike lane is being used for parking, like it was before the plastic posts were installed.

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Truck Driver Kills Maria Minchala, 63, in Washington Heights Crosswalk

Though it has center islands, Broadway at W. 165th Street, where a driver killed Maria Minchala, is inhospitable to people on foot. Image: Google Maps

Though it has center islands, Broadway at W. 165th Street, where a driver killed Maria Minchala, is inhospitable to people on foot. Eight people were injured in crashes at the intersection in 2015. Image: Google Maps

A truck driver killed a woman in a Washington Heights crosswalk Wednesday night — the second pedestrian fatally struck by New York City motorists yesterday.

Maria Minchala was crossing at Broadway east to west at W. 165th Street, near New York-Presbyterian Hospital, at around 8:45 p.m. when the driver, turning right onto Broadway, struck her with a flatbed truck, according to reports.

From the Daily News:

“She went to church to get her ashes, and then she was on her way to work,” said her distraught son, Manuel Minchala, 36, crying as he spoke. Minchala worked for a private office cleaning company.

“I took the turn real slow, three miles an hour. I never saw her. I felt a bump. It wasn’t right. I pulled over and went back and saw the lady,” said the driver, who didn’t give his name.

“She is a mother of five. She has four grandchildren. We are from Ecuador,” Manuel Minchala said. “She brought us here for a better life. She was a good, hard-working woman.”

The driver’s name was not released by police. Though it appears likely the victim would have been crossing with the right of way, no charges were filed and no tickets were issued as of this afternoon, NYPD told Streetsblog.

Much of Broadway in Upper Manhattan is a chaotic and dangerous mess, with motorists slaloming around double-parked cars. Though Broadway has center islands at W. 165th Street, with five lanes of motor vehicle through-traffic and no bike infrastructure it’s a foreboding crossing to navigate on foot.

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DA Cy Vance Wins Conviction in Washington Heights Hit-and-Run Killing

A driver charged with fatally striking a man in Washington Heights and leaving the scene was sentenced to prison yesterday.

Antonio Ramirez. Image: WNBC

Antonio Ramirez. Image: WNBC

Jesus Fabian pled guilty to evidence tampering in the death of Antonio Ramirez, according to court records and the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.

The crash occurred on Audubon Avenue at W. 176th Street on October 18, 2013, as the victim walked home from the subway at the end of an overnight shift at the restaurant where he worked.

Ramirez, 40, was married with two kids, who were 14 and 9 when their father was killed. In the aftermath of the crash, local electeds noted that speeding is commonplace in the area where Ramirez lived, due in part to its proximity to the George Washington Bridge and the Cross Bronx Expressway.

Video of the crash showed the driver of the vehicle braking after impact, then apparently driving over the victim, according to Vance’s office. No witnesses could identify Fabian as the driver, and the car was not registered in his name, the DA’s office said. But investigators with Vance’s office and NYPD produced sufficient evidence to indict Fabian on charges of leaving the scene and tampering with evidence.

Evidence tampering is a class E felony. Prosecutors sought the maximum sentence of three-and-a-half to seven years, according to Vance’s office. On Thursday, New York State Supreme Court Judge James Burke sentenced Fabian to three to six years.

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NYC Motorists Kill 2 Pedestrians and Critically Injure 2 Others in 3 Days

Giovani Romano was charged with failing to yield for fatally striking Alfiya Djuraeva at 20th Avenue and Bath Avenue in Brooklyn. He was not charged for taking her life. Image: Google Maps

Giovani Romano was charged with failing to yield for fatally striking Alfiya Djuraeva at 20th Avenue and Bath Avenue in Brooklyn. He was not charged for taking her life. Image: Google Maps

In four separate crashes since Thursday, at least two people have been struck and killed while walking, and two others were critically injured.

Last Thursday afternoon Giovani Romano hit 56-year-old Alfiya Djuraeva with a Buick while turning left at 20th Avenue and Bath Avenue in Bath Beach, according to the Daily News and WNBC. Djuraeva suffered trauma to her head and torso and died at Lutheran Hospital.

Romano, 74, was issued a desk appearance ticket for failing to yield, but was not charged for the act of killing Alfiya Djuraeva. The crash occurred in the 62nd Precinct and in the City Council district represented by Vincent Gentile.

Early Saturday morning, a BMW driver going the wrong way on 181st Street near Amsterdam Avenue in Washington Heights hit two people and a pickup truck, then fled the scene, the Daily News reported. A male pedestrian, 46, was killed. The second victim, a 46-year-old woman, was hospitalized. The deceased victim’s name was being withheld pending family notification, NYPD told Streetsblog.

Police charged Jonathan Segura, 34, with manslaughter, leaving the scene, and drunk driving, after Segura turned himself in, the News said.

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Trottenberg Announces Plaza Equity Program at Plaza de Las Americas Reveal

Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, and a cast of uptown players marked the opening of Plaza de Las Americas today. Photo: Brad Aaron

Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, and a cast of uptown players marked the opening of Plaza de Las Americas today. Photos: Brad Aaron

Just eight months after the groundbreaking ceremony, officials held a ribbon-cutting this morning at Plaza de Las Americas, an impressive new public space in Washington Heights. Also today, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced a City Hall initiative to assist plazas in neighborhoods without the resources of a major business improvement district.

Plaza de Las Americas reclaims one block of W. 175th Street, between Broadway and Wadsworth Avenue, with 16,000 square feet of pedestrian space. Bookended to the north and south by the United Palace theater and a grocery store, respectively, the plaza comes equipped with electric and water service for vendors. Other amenities include a public restroom, decorative pavers, benches, trees, and a fountain by artist Ester Partegás.

The block has been the site of a farmers market since 1980, and since 1994 vendors have set up on the street to sell household wares, clothes, and other items. Sponsored by the Washington Heights and Inwood Development Corporation, the proposal to make those uses permanent received $5 million in city funds when it was chosen in the first round of the plaza program in 2008. The project was designed and built by DOT and the Department of Design and Construction.

“After years of planning, today we come together to celebrate the location our community has valued for decades transformed into an even better venue,” said City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez in prepared remarks. “La Plaza de Las Americas will be a focal point for the communities of Northern Manhattan and assuredly a boon to local business and our very active street vendors.”

Other electeds on hand included Congressman Charles Rangel, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, Assembly Member Guillermo Linares, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

Trottenberg announced the OneNYC Plaza Equity Program, which will allocate $1.4 million from the city budget to provide maintenance and management assistance to 30 “medium and high need” plaza projects, most of them in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Upper Manhattan. Trottenberg said projects are eligible to receive up to $80,000, along with other assistance, such as organizing and fundraising help, for up to three years. Plazas that lack resources for upkeep can quickly fall out of favor with the public.

Another tidbit: Rodriguez said he’d like to see Plaza de Las Americas extended to St. Nicholas Avenue, two blocks east, as a “gateway” to Washington Heights and Inwood.

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Eyes on the Street: Flex Posts Keep Drivers Out of 158th Street Bike Lane

Photo: Alec Melman

Photo: Alec Melman

Reader Alec Melman sent these before-and-after pics of the bikeway on 158th Street in Manhattan, which is now protected with flex posts. The lane is part of a package of Upper Manhattan bike improvements intended to make biking and walking safer between the Hudson River Greenway and the High Bridge.

As you can see in the photo below, before DOT added the posts the lane was vulnerable to incursion by drivers, many with placards, who commandeered the space for parking. The lane runs beneath a Riverside Drive viaduct where NYPD has a fleet service station.

This is the type of low-cost, high-impact improvement that could also make it safer to ride on streets like Chrystie Street, where safety advocates who call themselves the Transformation Department put traffic cones to keep drivers out.

“Now this actually feels safe to bike on,” Melman wrote.

Photo: Alec Melman

Photo: Alec Melman

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CB 12 Committee Backs Road Diet, Bike Lanes on St. Nicholas Ave

A road diet and bike lanes could come to St. Nicholas Avenue next spring. Photo: Stephen Miller

A road diet and bike lanes could come to St. Nicholas Avenue next spring. Image: DOT [PDF]

A DOT proposal for a road diet and bike lanes St. Nicholas Avenue in Washington Heights got a vote of support last night from the Manhattan Community Board 12 transportation committee. The project could get striped next spring.

The bike lanes will connect with newly-installed bike lanes near the High Bridge in Washington Heights, and to a two-way protected bike lane on Fort George Hill, which has survived attacks from nearby co-op residents.

The proposal, which would cover a little more than a mile of St. Nicholas between 169th and 193rd streets, would bring the avenue from two car lanes in each direction to one, with bike lanes, center turn lanes and, in a potential second phase, pedestrian islands [PDF].

The rate of people killed or seriously injured on this stretch of St. Nicholas is more dangerous than two-thirds of Manhattan streets, according to DOT. There were 25 severe injuries, including 18 pedestrians and 2 bicyclists, between 2009 and 2013, and a total 404 of injuries during the same period.

Intersections at 175th, 177th, 178th, 181st and 185th streets rank in the most dangerous ten percent of Manhattan intersections. These are also intersections with high foot traffic — people outnumber motor vehicles during rush hours.

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CB 12: Proposed Building on Top of 1 Train Is Too Big, Needs More Parking

X marks the spot of the 1 train entrance below a proposed apartment building on Broadway in Washington Heights, which CB 12 says needs more than 50 parking spots. Image via DNAinfo

X marks the spot of the 1 train entrance under a proposed apartment building that CB 12 says needs more than 50 parking spaces. Image via DNAinfo

Community Board 12 members voted against a proposal for a new apartment building in Washington Heights, to be built on top of the 1 train, in part because they want the developers to build more parking, according to DNAinfo coverage of the Wednesday meeting.

HAP Investment Developers wants to build a 16-story, 241-unit residential building at 4452 Broadway, with 50 parking spots to be accessed through a garage entrance on Fairview Avenue. Most residential buildings in Washington Heights and Inwood top out at six to eight stories, and the company needs a zoning variance to allow for additional height.

From DNAinfo:

Members of the Land Use committee voted unanimously to oppose HAP’s request for the zoning changes, citing the height of the building, the lack of parking and the potential impact on the character of the neighborhood.

The building would sit on top of the Broadway entrance to the 191st Street 1 train station, and would be served by several bus routes. It’s apparently lost on CB 12 members that the board serves an area where parking is not a concern for most people, given that only 25 percent of households own cars.

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WE ACT Climate Plan Calls for Better Upper Manhattan Bicycling, Walking

While most of Northern Manhattan escaped the harshest ravages of Hurricane Sandy, there was some flooding along the waterfront, including inside the 148th Street subway station. Next time around, a severe storm could take a different turn and things could be worse for waterfront areas in Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood. WE ACT for Environmental Justice has developed a climate action plan for those neighborhoods — and it includes some recommendations for walking, bicycling, and transit.

The plan proposes more than just new infrastructure to limit the damage of severe weather. Building social capacity to make sure people have access to resources and are able to ride out storms is an important component, as is retrofitting the neighborhoods to reduce their contribution to climate change. Addressing inequality is at the heart of the report’s recommendations, since low-income populations are most at risk from environmental hazards.

“For many communities, the emergency has existed throughout their history,” said Aurash Khawarzad, policy advocacy coordinator at WE ACT. “Climate change just compounds it.”

The report began to take shape after the People’s Climate March in September 2014. “After the People’s Climate March, a lot of people we were working with were really excited about working on climate change,” Khawarzad said.

WE ACT held seven workshops with more than 100 local residents during the first half of 2015. “All these ideas came out of a community-based planning process,” Khawarzad said. “It’s meant to be comprehensive plan.”

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Eyes on the Street: The 158th Street Connector

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The paint is down on what will be a short two-way bike lane on 158th Street in Washington Heights, part of a package of DOT improvements [PDF] to make biking and walking safer between the Hudson River Greenway and the recently reopened High Bridge linking Upper Manhattan to the Bronx. This segment runs between the Henry Hudson Parkway and Broadway.

A Washington Heights resident sent in the view looking west toward a Riverside Drive viaduct (a greenway ramp is on the other side of the viaduct). The finished bike lane will be separated from car traffic with flexible posts. A companion bike lane on 170th Street is also in progress.

While this particular segment may not be on the route, if you want to check out the state of these uptown bike improvements in a low-stress, all-ages setting, Kidical Mass will be riding from 137th to the High Bridge this Saturday at 10 a.m.

Here’s a look at this block before, courtesy of Google:

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