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Posts from the "Washington Heights" Category

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At Long Last, DOT Proposes Bike Lanes for Upper Manhattan

DOT recommends "future study" for bike infrastructure on upper Broadway and the Broadway Bridge, background left.

Responding to years of citizen advocacy and a resolution from Manhattan Community Board 12, DOT has proposed bike lanes for a number of streets in Upper Manhattan.

Most of the lanes, concentrated in Washington Heights [PDF], would be installed next year, after a consultation with CB 12 this fall. One would be protected by parked cars.

The plan also acknowledges but does not set a timetable for the highest priority of local livable streets advocates: a bike route on Dyckman Street to connect the Hudson and Harlem River Greenways, first proposed by Inwood residents in 2008.

Among the proposed bike routes are:

  • W. 177th Street between Broadway and Cabrini Boulevard (2013 installation)
  • Cabrini Boulevard between W. 177th Street and W. 178th Street to the George Washington Bridge (2013 installation)
  • W. 179th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Cabrini Boulevard (179th serves as a motorist access point to the GWB)
  • W. 180th Street between Cabrini Boulevard and Amsterdam Avenue
  • Ft. George Hill between Fairview Avenue and Dyckman Street (parking protected)

The proposal, presented to the CB 12 transportation committee in May, includes two to four miles of lanes on Amsterdam Avenue, possibly interrupted at intersections with “prohibitively high traffic volumes,” and on St. Nicholas Avenue between Fairview Avenue and Broadway.

Read more…

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Daily News Tries Race-Baiting to Gin Up Controversy Over Safer Streets

Is either of these Inwood cyclists invincible in traffic? Ask the Daily News. Photo: Brad Aaron

It’s truly amazing how much work the tabloids put into opposing measures that save lives. Take today’s Daily News, which resorted to race-baiting to gin up controversy over hard-won bike lanes in Upper Manhattan.

Residents of Inwood and Washington Heights have been working for safer neighborhood streets for a long while. My first story on such an effort was published on Streetsblog back in September 2007. A few months later the folks who would eventually form the area’s first known livable streets group proposed separated bike lanes for Dyckman Street.

So for at least six years, my neighbors have waited for Community Board 12 and DOT to come up with a plan for new bike infrastructure, even as DOT whittled away what little exists. Last week, DNAinfo reported that a handful of new bike lanes could finally be coming to Washington Heights (and Fort George — an area south of Dyckman/200th Street which, depending on whom you ask, is part of Inwood).

On cue, the Daily News sent three reporters to get quotes from two people with negative reactions, which the paper presents as evidence that locals are divided. Here’s what reporters Michael Feeney, Stephanie Lacy, and Amber Goodfellow came up with.

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NYPD Rarely Enforces Speed Limit on Deadly Broadway in Upper Manhattan

Twelve pedestrians were killed by motorists in the 33rd and 34th Precincts from 2009 through 2011. Police in those precincts issued a total of 125 speeding summonses in 2011. Image: TSTC

In our Tuesday post on the Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s latest “Most Dangerous Roads for Walking” report, we noted the concentration of pedestrian deaths on Broadway in Washington Heights, where pedestrian islands, protected bike lanes and other safety features are not present above 168th Street.

In addition to engineering, another factor in pedestrian fatalities and injuries is, of course, traffic law enforcement. In the 33rd and 34th Precincts, which cover Washington Heights and Inwood, very few motorists are penalized for reckless driving — even those who cause grievous injury.

Washington Heights is an entrance and exit point for the George Washington Bridge. And with two toll-free bridges connecting Manhattan to the Bronx, and, ergo, Westchester County, Inwood is plagued by cut-through traffic (a problem that could be exacerbated by toll hikes on the Henry Hudson Bridge). We wrote that speed enforcement in the 34th Precinct effectively stopped after the installation of Manhattan’s first “Slow Zone” last October, but there wasn’t much enforcement to speak of before then either.

In 2011, the most recent year covered by the Tri-State report, and the first year in which NYPD made traffic summons and crash data available to the public, the 34th Precinct issued just 17 speeding summonses, and 152 summonses for failure to yield to a pedestrian. To the south, the 33rd Precinct issued 108 summonses for speeding, and 80 summonses for failure to yield, for the entire year.

Four pedestrians were killed by motorists in the 33rd Precinct between 2009 and 2011, according to Tri-State. In the 34th Precinct, eight pedestrians died in traffic during that period. Injury numbers by precinct are not known, since NYPD did not begin releasing that data until the middle of 2011.

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Ray Kelly’s NYC: No Charges for Driver Who Dragged Woman Under Cab

Emergency responders work to free Amy Fass from beneath a cab, after she was struck at W. 181st Street and Haven Avenue. The driver was not charged. Photo: Andrew Adams

A reader has identified the woman wounded by a cab driver in Upper Manhattan Sunday evening as Amy Fass of Washington Heights. The crash occurred in the 34th Precinct, where officers issued two speeding tickets in the last three months of 2012.

Fass was crossing 181st at Haven Avenue, near her home, at approximately 6:45 p.m. when she was struck as the cab driver appeared to be en route to the West Side Highway. Andrew Adams writes:

Amy, in her late 50s, was in the crosswalk when a driver of a SUV taxi struck her and drug her approximately 40 feet before he stopped when pedestrians screamed at him to do so. She was pinned underneath the taxi until emergency services responded to rescue her.

Another witness posted this account on a neighborhood parent list:

I saw when she was trapped under the taxi on Haven Ave. where it leads to the West Side Highway. The cab must have been speeding downhill on 181st. She lives on Haven in the building next to the highway entrance. My impression was that she was very badly hurt.

A third witness, James Ribas, told the Post: ”I saw a cabby going real fast. He didn’t know he hit her.”

Fass was conscious at the scene, but at some point went into cardiac and respiratory arrest, according to an FDNY spokesperson. She was considered “not likely” to die when transported to Lincoln Hospital.

Adams heard from a family member today that Fass remains hospitalized. Her release date is uncertain, but she will require physical rehabilitation, the family member said.

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Gas Station Gridlock Snares Buses, NYPD Resources in Washington Heights

A line for gas occupied one lane of Broadway for blocks, and created gridlock on several more. Photos: Brad Aaron

If yellow cabs and livery cabs can’t get gas, that’s a problem, especially when train service is limited and buses are packed. But many of the cars in this line, which clogged one lane of Broadway from 168th to 174th Street in Washington Heights this afternoon, were private vehicles.

An M3 tries to merge onto Broadway north of 168th Street.

I counted 11 NYPD personnel, including auxiliary officers and TEAs, assigned to this mess. In addition to occupying a traffic lane — most drivers were parked, engines off — the line kept buses from moving and forced passengers to wade into the street to board.

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Upper Manhattan Assembly Candidates Square Off on Transit Issues

Three candidates vying for the 72nd State Assembly District seat, representing parts of Washington Heights and Inwood, discussed transit issues and the state of MTA service last night at a forum sponsored by WE ACT for Environmental Justice and Transport Workers Union Local 100.

Three of the four Democratic candidates for the 72nd Assembly district attended last night's forum.

As the forum progressed, key differences emerged on congestion pricing and other issues, even as the candidates often dodged the questions asked of them.

There are four candidates running in this Democratic primary, which will be held on Thursday, September 13. Mayra S. Linares, Gabriela Rosa and Ruben Vargas came to last night’s forum. Melanie Hidalgo declined due to scheduling conflicts.

Asked how they would improve bus service, only Linares had a response that addressed the topic. She said that she supports more Select Bus Service and that gains in bus speed are worth the possible inconvenience of having to move parked cars out of rush hour bus lanes.

Dedicating new revenue for the MTA by enacting congestion pricing got a mixed reaction from the candidates.

Linares opposes pricing. “There’s too many of us who drive back and forth,” she said. “If we add another toll, you can imagine it would go up — and go up again.”

After asking the moderators for a definition of congestion pricing, Rosa voiced support for the concept. Vargas took a more cautious approach. “If you are driving downtown, it’s chaos. What the congestion price would do is motivate people to use mass transit,” he said. Noting that he opposes tolls on Upper Manhattan bridges, Vargas said, “I would support a reasonable congestion price.”

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Parks Department: Greenway Bridge Rehab Depends on Amtrak Schedule

We have a few bits of news on the upcoming closure and rehab of the bike-ped bridge that connects the Hudson River Greenway to Washington Heights and the George Washington Bridge.

The bridge is a crucial car-free link for commuters and other users, but Northern Manhattan parks administrator Jennifer Hoppa tells us that the Parks Department does not have user counts specific to the bridge itself.

Also, though the bridge is owned by Parks, the city will have to access Amtrak property to do the work. It is not yet clear how long the project will take — discussions among members of Community Board 12 reportedly suggested a time frame of 18 months to two years — but Hoppa says construction must be coordinated to minimize Amtrak service disruptions.

The city and Amtrak are still in talks regarding bridge design and construction logistics, according to Hoppa. The project start date and alternate route for bridge users are still to be determined.

The new bridge is one of several PlaNYC improvements coming to Washington Heights and Inwood.

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Another Ambulette Driver Runs Over a Child; Second in Four Days

Another child has been struck by an ambulette driver, this time in Manhattan.

At approximately 3:04 p.m. Tuesday, a 12-year-old boy was hit by a westbound Ford van, driven by a 24-year-old, on W. 165th Street at Amsterdam Avenue in Washington Heights, according to NYPD. The victim was taken to Columbia Presbyterian in serious condition. Police did not have an update on his condition as of Wednesday afternoon.

DNAinfo reported on Tuesday that the child may be a student at the Manhattan Middle School for Scientific Inquiry on W. 164th Street, one block south of the crash site.

Tuesday’s crash was the second in less than a week involving children and ambulettes. Last Friday, 3-year-old Kevin Rodriguez was run over and killed by an ambulette driver in front of his parents in Coney Island. Police issued the standard “No criminality suspected” statement in each case.

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Parks Dept: Timeline and Detour Route Uncertain for Greenway Bridge Rehab

Photo: jag9889/Flickr. Used with permission.

A city Parks Department official says plans are not yet finalized for work on a bridge that connects the Hudson River Greenway to Washington Heights and the George Washington Bridge.

“The bridge is being reconstructed,” wrote Jennifer Hoppa, administrator of parks for Northern Manhattan, in an email. According to Hoppa, the department is still hammering out legalities with Amtrak. “Therefore I don’t anticipate that construction will begin in the fall,” she wrote.

The bridge rehab is one of a number of PlaNYC improvements slated for Washington Heights and Inwood. While it’s unclear at this point how long the project will take, Streetsblog reader and Heights resident Lars Klove told Streetsblog that recent discussions among members of Community Board 12 suggested a timeline of 18 months to two years.

As for commuters and other users who rely on the bridge, wrote Hoppa, “An alternate route will need to be identified for the construction duration.”

Hoppa is looking into user counts for the bridge. We’ll post those numbers here when we get them.

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Reader Report: Parks to Close Upper Manhattan Greenway Link for Two Years

Markings for directions from the Greenway to Washington Heights and the George Washington Bridge. Circled is the bridge that will reportedly be closed in the fall. See a photo of the bridge here.

We have word that a major bike-ped link to the Hudson River Greenway in Northern Manhattan will be out of commission later this year.

Long-time Streetsblog reader (and sometime contributor) Lars Klove was at a meeting this week where NYC Parks Department officials informed Community Board 12 that a bridge over the Amtrak tracks connecting the Greenway to Washington Heights and the George Washington Bridge will be closed in the fall for nearly two years.

In addition to runners, cyclists and others who use the bridge to access the GWB, uptown commuters rely on it as a safe route to and from the Greenway.

“I take the Greenway downtown every day and back to and from my office,” says Katharine Van Itallie, Klove’s wife. “Anyone not able to go over the Amtrak bridge would have to go down Riverside Drive or Ft. Washington Avenue to the next entrance ramp at 155th Street. It’s MUCH more dangerous, obviously, mixing it up with cars hurrying to get to work or to get home.”

There is a lesser-known path to the Greenway, a narrow unlit trail through the woods to the south of the GWB, which Van Itallie describes as “scary,” though it could conceivably be improved as a safe alternative route.

Streetsblog has messages in with the Parks Department and Community Board 12 concerning the bridge and its reported closure.

Editor’s note: This story originally stated that Parks Department personnel at the CB 12 meeting were dismissive of providing a “safe alternative route” between the Greenway and Washington Heights. In fact, discussions of an alternate route referred to another Greenway construction project planned near the George Washington Bridge. Further, remarks characterized as dismissive were made by a CB 12 member, not an employee of the Parks Department. Streetsblog is researching the second Greenway project.