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Posts from the Williamsburg Category

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Keep L Train Passengers Moving With Great BRT

Full-BRT---Brooklyn-Side

Claiming street space for full-fledged BRT can help L train riders weather the impending Canarsie Tube closure and meet the long-term transit needs of northern Brooklyn better than a waterfront streetcar. Click to enlarge. Map: Sahra Mirbabaee/BRT Planning International

The news that Sandy-related repairs will require closing one or both directions of the L train under the East River (the “Canarsie Tube”) for one to three years has understandably caused panic among the estimated 230,000 daily passengers who rely on it. Businesses in Williamsburg that count on customers from Manhattan are also concerned about a significant downturn in sales. When the Canarsie Tube was shut down on weekends only last spring, it was bad enough for their bottom line, and this will be much worse.

Fixing the Canarsie Tube is imperative, but it doesn’t have to result in a massive disruption that threatens people’s livelihoods. The key to keeping L train passengers moving is to create new, high-capacity bus rapid transit on the streets.

Since the potential closure went public, several ideas have been floated to mitigate the impact. None of them do enough to provide viable transit options for L train riders. Only setting aside street space for high-capacity BRT can give riders a good substitute for the train. This can be done in time for the impending subway closure while also creating long-term improvements that address surface transit needs in northern Brooklyn much better than a waterfront streetcar ever could.

The Inadequacy of Current Proposals

While some L passengers will be able to switch to other subway lines, a huge number will face significant inconveniences. Passengers from Bedford Avenue to Union Square, for example, will face up to three new transfers.

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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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Less Service on the L Train? Wring More Efficiency Out of the Streets

The morning commute on the Williamsburg Bridge on November 1, 2012, when Sandy had knocked out the downtown subway network. Photo: Elizabeth Press

Gothamist dropped a bombshell earlier this week: To repair Sandy-inflicted damage to the L train tubes between Manhattan and Brooklyn, the MTA will have to suspend service through the tunnel for large chunks of time.

The repairs can get done fastest if the MTA halts service around the clock, but that would still last one to two years, according to Ben Kabak at Second Avenue Sagas. The agency can maintain some service by doing the repairs one tube at a time, but that would drag out the process to at least three years.

Either way, we’re talking about a significant hit to transit capacity that will affect hundreds of thousands of people — on peak days there are close to 300,000 trips through the tunnel.

Mayor de Blasio told reporters yesterday that this isn’t the city’s problem since the state runs the MTA. That argument makes sense in many cases, but not this one. Regardless of how the MTA conducts the repairs and adjusts service on other lines, the city will have to play a large role in planning for this shock to NYC’s transportation system.

After Sandy knocked out a huge portion of the city’s downtown subway network, the city and the MTA teamed up to repurpose streets and bridges for high-capacity bus service, including buses that took riders over the Williamsburg Bridge. Some sort of service like that will have to happen again while the L train tunnel is repaired.

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DOT’s Meeker Avenue Safety Plan Is, Well, Meek

DOT unveiled its plan for pedestrian safety improvements along Meeker Avenue in north Brooklyn at last night’s Community Board 1 meeting, but board members and advocates with the “Make Meeker Move” campaign expressed disappointment with DOT’s failure to specifically address the safety of bicycling.

DOT wants to bring pedestrian safety improvements to this around around Meeker Avenue in North Brooklyn. Image: DOT

DOT wants to bring pedestrian safety improvements to this around around Meeker Avenue in North Brooklyn. Image: DOT

This part of Meeker functions as a service road for the BQE. DOT’s proposal [PDF] would improve pedestrian crossings in the area around Meeker, Metropolitan Avenue, and Union Avenue, adding sidewalk extensions at 11 different locations. DOT proposes adding crosswalks at the intersection of Meeker and Union, moving poorly placed entrances to parking lots beneath the highway, and rerouting the Q59 so that it goes directly between Union and Metropolitan without detouring onto Meeker. At the intersection of Metropolitan and North 5th Street, DOT wants to close a slip lane to car traffic to make way for a pedestrian plaza.

Brooklyn safe streets activists have been organizing for a safer Meeker Avenue for the better part of the last year. The mile of Meeker beneath the BQE is a dark and dangerous dividing line between Greenpoint and Williamsburg. Between 2012 and 2014 there were three fatalities and over 100 injuries on the corridor. The project area is just as dangerous, if not more so, with eight fatalities and 90 injuries between 2009 and 2013, according to DOT. Read more…

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Lentol: Safety Improvements Coming to Meeker Avenue in 2016

The intersection with Skillman Avenue is just one of many unsafe crossing along Meeker Avenue in Williamsburg/Greenpoint. Image: Google Maps

The intersection with Skillman Avenue is one of many dangerous crossings along Meeker Avenue in Williamsburg/Greenpoint. Photo: Google Maps

DOT will present safety improvements next month for Meeker Avenue by the BQE in Williamsburg, according to Assembly Member Joe Lentol. The department told Lentol’s office it would bring a proposal to Brooklyn Community Board 1 on January 12.

Meeker Avenue runs under the BQE for a mile between North 6th Street and Vandevoort Avenue, dividing the neighborhood in half and posing risks to pedestrians and cyclists at nearly every corner. In 2014, 21-year-old Marisol Martinez was killed by an MTA bus driver while crossing the street at Union Avenue. In total, there were three fatalities and 104 injuries on Meeker between 2012 and 2014.

In April, Transportation Alternatives launched the Make Meeker Move campaign, calling on DOT to study pedestrian safety improvements and protected bike lanes along the corridor.

The next month, Lentol sent a letter to DOT requesting a pedestrian crossing where Skillman Avenue intersects with Meeker. DOT’s response indicates that the agency is looking primarily at ways to shorten crossing distances:

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Eyes on the Street: Williamsburg’s “Lively,” “Beautiful” New Garage Wall

Photo: Stephen Miller

Such a lively streetscape on Hewes Street. Photo: Stephen Miller

An apartment building in Williamsburg perfectly illustrates how parking minimums in New York’s zoning code make the city’s streets and sidewalks worse.

Last year, a joint venture of Alex. Brown Realty and Largo Investments finished construction on a 33-unit rental project at 281 Union Avenue in Williamsburg. The seven-story building, roughly the same size as its neighbors, has something those older buildings don’t: 17 parking spaces. While we don’t know for certain whether parking minimums were the deciding factor behind that number, the amount of parking is just enough to meet the zoning code’s requirements.

From an urban design perspective, city buildings don’t get much worse. The lot, shaped like a triangle with one corner lopped off, is bounded on all sides by public streets. In other words, there’s nowhere to hide the parking.

So the developers turned the entire first floor into a caged-in parking garage, with the curb cut on Union Avenue instead of either of the side streets. While there are some plantings along Union Avenue to try and spruce things up, the result is a bleak streetscape. Instead of walking by an apartment building, people walk past grating that masks a parking garage.

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Citi Bike Expansion Rolling Along — See the Latest Map

A wave of new Citi Bike stations from Long Island City to Bed Stuy have come online in the past few weeks. Stations in grey are not yet installed or offline.

Well, that was quick. Just over two weeks after cutting the ribbon on the first of 91 new stations, Citi Bike’s expansion into Long Island City, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and Bedford-Stuyvesant is approaching the finish line.

Nearly two-thirds of the stations are installed and running, with the job scheduled to be complete by the end of the month. Crews have been working from north to south. Work is mostly done on stations in Long Island City, Greenpoint, and Williamsburg, though a few un-installed locations remain in those neighborhoods. Bed-Stuy should see the bulk of the action in the coming week or two.

Expansion in Manhattan as far north as 86th Street is scheduled for this fall. Planned future phases will extend to Harlem, Crown Heights, and other Brooklyn neighborhoods. Council Member Brad Lander says Citi Bike is coming to Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Gowanus, Park Slope, and Red Hook next year.

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Kent Avenue: A Bikeway for All Ages

While Clarence was out this weekend taping Right of Way install a memorial to victims of traffic violence, he also got this footage of the Kent Avenue bike lane in Williamsburg. Where else but a protected bike lane will you ever see so many kids biking on the street in NYC?

Not that long ago, Kent Avenue was a high-speed truck route where only the bravest souls ventured forth on a bicycle. Today it’s a low-speed neighborhood street and one of the most important bike transportation links in the city.

NYC DOT’s 2009 redesign of Kent Avenue added a two-way protected bike lane while converting motor vehicle traffic to one-way flow. For fast-growing waterfront neighborhoods that don’t have great walking access to the subway, the bikeway is a transportation lifeline.

Note that many shots in Clarence’s video show a temporary design that preserves the continuity of the bike lane and walkway on a block that’s been narrowed by construction. The whole Kent Avenue bikeway is an intermediary step on the way to a permanent Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, running from Greenpoint to Sunset Park.

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Eyes on the Street: Drivers Retake the Kent Avenue Bike Lane

DOT reconfigured the southern part of the Kent Avenue bike lane this spring, but that hasn’t stopped drivers from taking over the lane and the sidewalk for personal parking.

A reader took this photo earlier today. He writes:

I bike from LIC to Clinton Hill every morning and use the Kent Ave bike path. Luckily there was an upstanding citizen already on the phone with 311. This obstruction was particularly dangerous because it was forcing bikes into oncoming traffic. It wasn’t just one car either, it was six.

Part of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway route, this stretch of Kent Avenue was given a road diet after a hit-and-run driver killed two people at Wilson Street in March 2013. Parking in the bike lane was a chronic issue before the redesign, and drivers continued to use it after the lane was painted. Then plastic posts went in, but at this point it’s clear this problem is not going away without an upgraded physical barrier or NYPD enforcement.

This section of Kent is on the border of the 88th and 90th Precincts. We’ve asked NYPD if the department is enforcing parking laws there.

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Eyes on the Street: A Super-Sized Pedestrian Island on Bushwick Avenue

Bushwick Avenue used to widen at Seigel Street, making it difficult to cross. Now, there is a super-sized pedestrian island giving safer passage between a school and a library. Photos: Google Maps (above), Stephen Miller (below)

Bushwick Avenue used to be difficult to cross at Seigel Street. Now, there is a super-sized pedestrian island between a school and a library. Photos: Google Maps (above), Stephen Miller (below)

Once an extra-wide asphalt expanse, a section of Bushwick Avenue has been reclaimed by the addition of a pedestrian island. The new public space, which makes it easier to cross between Brooklyn Latin School and the Bushwick Library, is joined by smaller changes to an adjacent stretch of Bushwick Avenue installed this spring and summer.

After securing support from Brooklyn Community Boards 1 [PDF] and 4 [PDFlast fall, DOT began installation in April. The plan was developed in response to requests from the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, a power base for former Kings County Democratic Party chairman Vito Lopez, and the Graham Avenue Business Improvement District.

BID executive director Betty M. Cooney is happy with most of the changes, but not the pedestrian island. “We did not ask for that,” she said. Instead, the BID had suggested using the extra asphalt for a left turn lane. “I don’t know what their thinking is,” she said of the pedestrian island. “There’s a library there. There’s a school there. It probably makes it safer, but all they had to do was put in a turn lane.”

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