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Posts from the "Nydia Velazquez" Category

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In Wake of Traffic Fatality Spike, Officials Tout Safer Delancey Street

This morning, elected officials and community leaders unveiled a slate of pedestrian safety improvements to Delancey Street, long ranked as one of the city’s most dangerous places to walk.

Nine people were killed and 742 injured between 2006 and 2010 on Delancey, from the Williamsburg Bridge to the Bowery. In the last six years, there have been 118 pedestrian injuries and six pedestrian fatalities on the corridor, according to DOT.

Local officials cut the ribbon on Delancey Street's pedestrian improvements. Photo: Stephen Miller

The Delancey Street Working Group, convened by State Sen. Daniel Squadron in September 2011, gained new urgency after Dashane Santana, 12, was killed while crossing the busy street in January.

Teresa Pedroza, Dashane’s grandmother, was at today’s press conference, which was convened by DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. Sadik-Khan was joined by State Senator Daniel Squadron, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Rep. Nydia Velázquez, Community Board 3 Chair Gigi Lee and Lower East Side BID executive director Bob Zuckerman.

Delancey Street now has more than 21,000 square feet of new pedestrian space, shorter crossing distances, longer crossing times, new turn restrictions and more consistent lane markings for drivers going to and from the Williamsburg Bridge. Drivers can now access the Williamsburg Bridge via Clinton Street, which also includes a two-way protected bike lane. The improvements were funded through the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program.

Carmen Luna, 60, lives on Clinton Street near its intersection with Delancey, and has lived in the area for most of her life. Her sister was hit by a truck driver while crossing Delancey about two decades ago, she said, and suffered brain damage as a result. Luna welcomed the safety improvements. “This is very important,” she said. “We don’t have enough crossing time.”

Luna also admired the new pedestrian space and seating, which will be maintained by the Lower East Side Business Improvement District.

Traffic enforcement continues to be the missing component for pedestrian safety on Delancey Street. “They don’t do anything,” Luna said of officers directing traffic.

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Brooklyn Greenway Milestone: City Announces Full Implementation Plan

A cross-section envisioned at one point along the greenway. Image: NYC DOT

The Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway started out as a glimmer in the eyes of a few dedicated volunteers 14 years ago. Now it’s a comprehensive city plan to build out a ribbon of parkland from Greenpoint to Sunset Park.

At the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative’s annual benefit yesterday, DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced the release of an implementation plan for the full 14-mile greenway, which will serve as the backbone for car-free biking and walking along the borough’s waterfront. The plan consists of 23 segments that can be fed into the city’s capital construction pipeline.

“This document marks both the end of the planning stage and the start of a new era,” Sadik-Khan said in a statement today.

The backstory of the greenway could some day form a textbook for grassroots livable streets activism. The founders of the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative — Meg Fellerath, Brian McCormick, and Milton Puryear — hatched the idea in 1998. In 2005 their vision took a huge leap forward, when Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez secured a $14 million federal grant for the project. Following NYC DOT’s 2008 decision to adopt the greenway as official policy, the city’s planning and outreach accelerated, with BGI, DOT, and the Regional Plan Association organizing dozens of public workshops over the past few years to map out the greenway route. ”Every step in the process was open and transparent and gave people an opportunity to express their ideas,” said Velazquez last night.

After a day when Republicans in Congress renewed their efforts to eviscerate and belittle programs for biking and walking, Velazquez framed the greenway project as a smart transportation investment. “It’s not only about providing public access, but connecting communities along the waterfront,” she said. “That is providing transportation options, so you can walk or bike, and burn some of those calories.”

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Lower East Side Electeds Come Together for Safer Delancey Street

Extra-wide Delancey Street is one of the most dangerous roads in New York. One pedestrian and one cyclist have already been killed on Delancey this year. Image: Google Street View.

Delancey Street is one of the most dangerous roads in the city. Between 2008 and 2010 alone, 134 pedestrians and cyclists were hit by drivers on Delancey, according to Transportation Alternatives, and two were killed on the street this year.

Last week, Streetsblog reported on a new design for the base of the Williamsburg Bridge which routed cyclists off Delancey and onto calmer side streets. The implication, it seemed, was that the Department of Transportation wasn’t planning to make Delancey safer for cyclists and pedestrians, just less trafficked by them.

Elected officials on the Lower East Side, however, aren’t standing for the deadly status quo. On Monday, State Senator Daniel Squadron convened the first meeting of a new working group meant to improve safety in the area.

“For too long, Delancey has been the scene of far too many tragedies,” said Squadron in a statement. “Our working group is a much-needed step toward ending the cycle of danger. I’m confident that, together, we can find the short-term and long-term solutions to ensure a safe Delancey Street for all types of users.”

Joining Squadron were City Council Member Margaret Chin and representatives from the offices of Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Borough President Scott Stringer, Community Board 3, the Lower East Side Business Improvement District, and Transportation Alternatives. Staff from the Department of Transportation and the NYPD, which would have to implement any safety plan, were also in attendance.

The group will meet monthly to create a set of short-term and long-term changes to improve safety for all users of Delancey. “All solutions are still on the table,” said Squadron spokesperson Amy Spitalnick. In an e-mail, she listed a few possible solutions already being considered: “turning restrictions, stop lines, lengthening medians and crossing times, and a real solution for bikes (understanding that they’ll end up on Delancey no matter what).”

We’ll be reporting on the working group’s recommendations as they develop, but for now, it’s encouraging to see this broad and powerful coalition of elected officials and community leaders commit to a safe Delancey Street. Their statements, collected in a press release, are below:

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