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Posts from the Eyes on the Street Category

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Eyes on the Street: Protection for Cyclists on Bruckner Boulevard

DOT crews were out on Bruckner Boulevard yesterday putting in Jersey barriers to protect a new two-way bike lane. The bikeway will run for half a mile between Hunts Point Avenue and Longwood Avenue, the first phase in what should eventually be a link between the Bronx River Greenway and Randall’s Island. For the time being, it will terminate at Longwood, with sharrows pointing to the less-stressful Southern Boulevard.

The bikeway is part of a package of improvements that will help people safely walk and bike between the neighborhoods around Bruckner Boulevard, which many must cross to access the 2, 5, and 6 trains. It’s one of the most dangerous streets in the Bronx: Between 2009 and 2013 there were almost 600 traffic injuries at the five intersections covered by this project [PDF].

The bikeway on Bruckner Boulevard should extend south and connect to Randall’s Island. Image: NYC DOT

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Eyes on the Street: A Better Bikeway Linking the High Bridge to Highbridge

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This parking-protected contraflow bike lane on 170th Street in Highbridge is ready for some green paint. Photo: Ben Fried

Ten days ago, DOT broke ground on a nice set of new bike lanes linking Upper Manhattan to the reopened High Bridge. Meanwhile, bike access improvements on the Bronx side are already pretty far along.

This is the new contraflow bike lane on 170th Street, leading east from the High Bridge. It’s part of a package of bike lanes (and sharrows) linking the High Bridge viaduct to the neighborhood of Highbridge and the waterfront parks to the north.

As built, this short, two-block contraflow bike lane is a step up from the proposal DOT showed the local community board last year [PDF]. It’s protected from traffic by parked cars instead of putting cyclists between the parking lane and moving vehicles.

The rest of the project includes no protected segments but makes good use of contraflow bike lanes to create coherent routes — mostly on low-traffic streets — tying the High Bridge to the existing bike network.

Update: An anonymous tipster sends a more recent photo. Here’s the view looking toward the High Bridge (looks like the stencils went down too soon):

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Eyes on the Street: DOT Installs Missing Speed Hump After Driver Flips Car

After a car crash, some press attention, and pressure from the local council member, DOT finally coordinated with the School Construction Authority to install a long-awaited speed hump on Hull Avenue as part of the Norwood Slow Zone in the Bronx.

The asphalt was poured Wednesday, and markings were striped yesterday, said Elisabeth von Uhl, who lives on the block. Von Uhl began pushing for the speed hump after a driver flipped his vehicle and smashed into parked cars outside her home.

Earlier this month, before the speed hump was installed. Photo: Jay Shuffield

The scene earlier this month. Photo: Jay Shuffield

The speed hump was supposed to be included as part of the Norwood Neighborhood Slow Zone, which was installed more than a year ago, but DOT had been holding off on installation because of adjacent construction at PS 56. “Speed hump installations cannot happen while active construction is in progress,” DOT told Streetsblog earlier this month.

Turns out there’s a way around that.

A week after Streetsblog’s initial report, the Norwood News picked up the story and Council Member Andrew Cohen called on DOT to find a solution. DOT says it worked with the School Construction Authority to install the speed hump, which will remain in place even after school construction finishes.

“The installation of this speed bump is essential for this local street as it is a part of the Norwood Slow Zone and we must ensure the safety of our local residents, as well as the safety of the students who attend the adjacent school,” Cohen told the Norwood News earlier this week. “I would like to thank the DOT and SCA for resolving this issue quickly.”

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Eyes on the Street: Vernon Boulevard Gets Bike Lane Barriers

New concrete barriers are being added to Vernon Boulevard in Queens. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

New concrete barriers are being added to Vernon Boulevard in Queens. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Biking in western Queens is getting a welcome upgrade.

The two-way bike lane on Vernon Boulevard has not had any type of protection from traffic since it was installed in 2013. The lane was frequently obstructed by drivers who used it as a parking spot.

Now, DOT is installing barriers along the bikeway to keep cars out. The project received the most votes on Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer’s participatory budgeting ballot.

Concrete Jersey barriers are going in along much of Vernon Boulevard, while some sections are getting flexible plastic bollards. There will also be short sections without barriers to accommodate turning trucks or to make room for passengers boarding buses.

The barriers, which are in the process of being installed this week, aim to fix problems like this. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

The barriers, which are in the process of being installed this week, aim to fix problems like this. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Two other sections of Vernon Boulevard that won’t receive barriers are the gaps in the bikeway at Queensbridge Park and Rainey Park. With curbside parking along the park edges, cyclists either have to shift to sharrows on Vernon Boulevard or use more circuitous waterfront paths in the parks.

Installation of the barriers is currently underway and expected to wrap soon.

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South Bronx Greenway Takes Shape on Food Center Drive

Planting is underway on the latest segment of the South Bronx Greenway on Food Center Drive. Photo: Angela Tovar/Sustainable South Bronx

Crews tend planter beds on the latest segment of the South Bronx Greenway on Food Center Drive, set to open this fall. Photo: Angela Tovar/Sustainable South Bronx

A decade in the making, the South Bronx Greenway segment along Food Center Drive in Hunts Point is almost complete. The loop, which will provide a protected path along a busy truck route past some of the region’s largest food and beverage distributors, is set to open this fall.

First proposed by the city in the 2005 Hunts Point Vision Plan, the greenway along Food Center Drive will provide a safe link between residential areas of Hunts Point and the neighborhood’s waterfront parks.

Currently, Food Center Drive has three lanes in each direction divided by a concrete median. A 2004 traffic study by the city found that 70 percent of truck traffic on the loop moves counter-clockwise, so the street will become one-way under the new design, with both sides of the median carrying counter-clockwise traffic. The project also removes one car lane on the outer loop to make way for the greenway.

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The bikeway on Food Center Drive will help link the residential areas of Hunts Point to its waterfront parks. Map: EDC

One-way operation enables the elimination of left turns across the greenway. The change, which has been under discussion for years, entailed mapping Food Center Drive as a city street and receiving approvals through the city’s land use review process, including from the borough president and the local community board.

Some businesses along Food Center Drive, however, launched a last-ditch effort to stop the one-way change at last week’s Bronx Community Board 2 economic development committee meeting.

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Eyes on the Street: Green Bike Lanes on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge

Biking between Greenpoint and Woodside is getting less hairy. DOT crews have painted buffered bike lanes on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, a project that was first proposed five years ago.

Under the old design, speeding on the four-lane bridge was a big problem. The 2010 version of the redesign would have trimmed it to two motor vehicle lanes plus bike lanes, but to win over local trucking interests, the final design maintains two Queens-bound motor lanes.

Clarence shares this helmet-cam footage of a trip from Queens to Brooklyn on the new bike lane (sped up by a factor of two).

Meanwhile, one Newtown Creek crossing to the west, DOT crews are getting started on survey work for the much-anticipated Pulaski Bridge bikeway, reports Transportation Alternatives organizer Luke Ohlson:

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DOT Replaces a Block of the Fifth Avenue Bike Lane With Sharrows

Bye bye, bike lane. Hello, sharrows in a turn lane. Photo: Stephen Miller

Bye bye, bike lane. Hello, sharrows in a turn lane. Photo: Stephen Miller

DOT’s recent design tweaks to Eighth Street have come with an unwelcome change on Fifth Avenue. As the Fifth Avenue bike lane approaches Eighth Street, it now morphs into sharrows that overlap with a turning lane for motorists. The dedicated space for cycling is gone, and the new design is incompatible with the protected bike lane that advocates and the local community board have called for on Fifth Avenue.

While the southern end of Fifth Avenue doesn’t carry much car traffic, as the street approaches its terminus at Washington Square Park, many drivers turn left onto eastbound Eighth Street. The left-side bike lane was sacrificed to make way for a new design to handle this turning traffic.

The intent of the design is to separate the turning motorists from people crossing Eighth Street, who now have “a split-phase leading pedestrian interval,” giving them a head start before drivers receive a flashing yellow turn arrow. But it also calls for cyclists to do a non-intuitive merging movement around turning drivers, including many MTA buses and tour buses. Since bus drivers swing right before making tight left turns, the bike stencils direct cyclists to take a path that could conflict with the path of buses.

An earlier version of the plan, presented to Manhattan Community Board 2 last November, added the turn lane but kept the bike lane [PDF].

DOT says it will finish markings and signal work by the end of the month.

More than a year ago, DOT committed to studying protected bike lanes on Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue, in response to local elected officials and community boards, but hasn’t produced anything since then.

This section of Fifth Avenue, with its low volume of traffic, would be an ideal location to begin building out protected lanes on these important north-south streets. With its corner sidewalk extensions, however, the new intersection design won’t work with a protected bike lane:

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The new intersection design at Fifth Avenue and Eighth Street is incompatible with a protected bike lane on Fifth.

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Eyes on the Street: The Case of the Missing Bike Lanes

The Driggs Avenue bike lane. Photo: Stephen Miller

The missing Driggs Avenue bike lane. Photo: Stephen Miller

The streets have been repaved. Lane striping, crosswalks, and stop bars have been added back. But there’s something missing from two streets in DOT’s bike network: bike lanes.

In Williamsburg, Driggs Avenue has been repaved — but you would never know it’s a key bike connection from the Williamsburg Bridge. The street has all its stripes back except the bike lane markings.

In Lower Manhattan, Lafayette Street between Canal and Chambers was also recently repaved. Markings were added back, but so far not the buffered bike lane. Instead, many motorists are now using what should be the bike lane space as a driving lane.

DOT did not respond to a query about why the bike lanes are taking longer to paint than the rest of the street markings.

The Lafayette Street bike lane. Photo: Steve Vaccaro/Twitter

Lafayette Street, which feeds directly to the Brooklyn Bridge path and is lined with Citi Bike stations, is wide enough for a protected bike lane. North of Prince Street, Lafayette already has a protected lane: When DOT repaved that section last year, it upgraded the bike lane. DOT said it didn’t take advantage of this year’s repaving to upgrade the other section of Lafayette because it would have had to go before the community board for a significant street redesign.

It seems DOT has limited how much it uses road resurfacing to improve street design and safety. Converting a striped bike lane into a buffered bike lane? Easy. Converting a buffered bike lane into a protected bike lane? Apparently that’s too tough.

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Upper Manhattan’s First Protected Bike Lane Goes Green [Updated]

Photos: Jonathan Rabinowitz

Photos: Jonathan Rabinowitz

Update: The Manhattan Community Board 12 transportation committee will consider an agenda item tonight that would call on DOT to remove the Fort George Hill bike lane. Yes, really. The meeting will be held at the Isabella Geriatric Center, 515 Audobon Avenue, at 7 p.m.

Here are more photos from reader Jonathan Rabinowitz of Upper Manhattan’s first protected bike lane, on Fort George Hill, now with fresh green paint. Rabinowitz took these shots on Saturday.

Fort George Hill is a one-way street that skirts the western border of Harlem River Park, connecting Dyckman Street in Inwood with Fairview Avenue to the south. The lane will give cyclists a north-south route between Inwood and Washington Heights by allotting 11 feet of the 60-foot-wide street to a bi-directional bike lane, plus a painted buffer between the lane and angled car parking.

DOT plans indicated the bike lane would be eight feet wide with a three-foot buffer, but Rabinowitz tells us the green swath is itself 11 feet across. In addition to the new paint, the parking spots have bumpers to keep drivers out of the lane.

As we reported in April, having a protected bi-directional lane means southbound cyclists traveling uphill won’t have to contend with motorists passing them from behind, and the easy downhill will be a legal option for biking toward Dyckman Street.

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Eyes on the Street: This Year’s First “Street Seats” Have Begun to Sprout

Photo: NYC DOT/Twitter

A Street Seat on Duane Street was installed this week. Photo: NYC DOT/Twitter

It’s Street Seats season — the time of year when curbside seating replaces parking to reclaim some space for people, at least for the summer.

Street Seats are installed by DOT. The seats, which fold up at night, are maintained by an adjacent sponsoring business and are open to the public. DOT received 22 applications for Street Seats this year, the most in the program’s six-year history, and approved 13 locations in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.

Some seats have already been installed, with more coming in the next few weeks, before they will be removed in November.

Photos: Charles Komanoff

Before and after on Duane Street. Photos: Charles Komanoff

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