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Posts from the Eyes on the Street Category

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Eyes on the Street: Pulaski Bridge Bikeway Looks Ready for a Ribbon-Cutting

Update: A DOT spokesperson tells Streetsblog that while finishing touches are being made, cyclists should follow the posted signage, which directs them to the shared pedestrian-bike path on the west side of the bridge. The new protected lane will be “unveiled” later this week.

It hasn’t officially opened, but you can ride on DOT’s long-awaited Pulaski Bridge bike lane linking northern Brooklyn and western Queens. Word is that a ribbon-cutting is set for the end of this week.

Over the weekend, Twitter and the Streetsblog inbox lit up with alerts that the path is rideable, though there are still cones and signs at both ends marking the bike lane as closed.

The Pulaski project has been in the works since 2012, when Assembly Member Joe Lentol requested that DOT explore the possibility of converting a car lane to a protected bike path so pedestrians and cyclists could have some breathing room instead of sharing a narrow, cramped pathway. The bikeway advanced in fits and starts since then, and after some delays it’s finally here, separated from car traffic by concrete barriers and a metal fence.

It’s not every day that part of a six-lane bridge gets repurposed from motor vehicle traffic to make room for biking and walking. The Pulaski bikeway points the way forward for bigger crossings like the Queensboro Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge where cyclists and pedestrians are an afterthought, jammed together on paths without enough space to move comfortably. We’ll have a full report when the new path officially opens.

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Seaman Ave. Has a Bike Lane and Sharrows, But It’s Still a Speedway

… and looking north, where the northbound bike lane turns to sharrows. Driver 1 is backing down the street for parking. Driver 2 is about to make a U turn. Photos: Brad Aaron

Seaman Avenue and W. 215th St., looking north, where the northbound bike lane turns to sharrows. Driver 1 is backing down the street for parking. Driver 2 is about to make a U turn.

The thermoplast is down on the new northbound Seaman Avenue bike lane — but it’s really a bike lane and sharrows. Unless DOT makes a bolder move and puts a protected bike lane next to Inwood Hill Park, not much is going to change on this important Upper Manhattan bike route

I’ve written about this project, which took almost two years to complete, many times now, so here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: DOT replaced two narrow bike lanes on Seaman, Inwood’s only north-south through-street west of Broadway, with a northbound bike lane and southbound sharrows. DOT’s rationale for one bike lane was the street isn’t wide enough for two standard-width lanes — though the new design retained two lanes for parked vehicles. The reason for putting the lane on the northbound side of the street, DOT said, was to provide more room for slower cyclists going uphill from Dyckman Street, at Seaman’s southern end.

But as it turns out, the northbound lane converts to sharrows at W. 215th Street, one block before Seaman terminates at W. 218th, probably because the street narrows there. I looked back through my correspondence with DOT and there was no mention of the northbound bike lane ending before the street does.

As noted in prior posts, the current design does not address the major obstacles to biking on Seaman. As shown in these photos, taken yesterday, drivers are already double-parking on the barely-dry thermoplast. Cyclists will be forced to weave around them, just as before. As far as speed is concerned, motorists aren’t taking cues from the fresh markings. On her walk to the train just after dawn today, my wife texted to let me know that “Seaman [was] a speedway this morning.”

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Eyes on the Street: Lafayette Street Gets Its Bike Lane Back

Not quite Kermit, but the Lafayette Street bike lane is looking quite fresh. Photo: David Meyer

The Lafayette Street bike lane is looking quite fresh. Photo: David Meyer

One of New York City’s most faded bike lanes has gotten its shine back. There’s a fresh coat of thermoplast on the Lafayette Street bike lane between Spring Street and Canal Street, which for a while had almost completely disappeared.

The erosion of bike markings and the long lag times between resurfacing streets and restriping bike lanes became such a noticeable problem that it spawned the #PaintMyBikeLane hashtag last year.

At a City Council hearing in March, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said the city is aiming to do better, with $10 million in the 2017 budget set aside for DOT’s restriping program.

Of course, the Lafayette Street bike lane could use an upgrade too. Above Spring Street, the northbound Lafayette Street bike lane was converted to a parking-protected lane in 2014, but the southbound segment remains unprotected and is frequently blocked by double-parked cars. Refreshing the paint will make a difference, but swapping the parking lane and the bike lane would be the best move to keep cars out of this important southbound connection to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Until this week, the Lafayette Street bike lane was starting to look a lot like sharrows. Image: Google Maps

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Concerned About Illegal Parking? Stuff It, Says P.C. Richard & Son

Here’s one company doing business in NYC that doesn’t want to hear about fleet safety.

When Jeremy M. Posner tweeted P.C. Richard and Son about a double-parked delivery truck in front of a store on E. 86th Street, despite an available loading zone a few yards away, the company’s customer service department replied that it “isn’t ideal” to cart appliances “down the block.”

It wasn’t the first time Posner posted photos of a P.C. Richard truck blocking the street. In addition to making the street less safe for biking and walking, Posner says the trucks impede the M86.

“Keep in mind that they are double parked next to a loading zone, rather than in the loading zone,” he tweeted. “Every day.”

It could be that P.C. Richard benefits from the city’s Stipulated Fine program, which lets companies off the hook for parking violations. We asked, but either way, if the city is going to continue offering this program, the least it can do is require participating companies to complete Vision Zero surveys.

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Eyes on the Street: Outlines Appear for Seaman Avenue Bike Lane, Sharrows

DOT is replacing two 4-foot bike lanes on Seaman Avenue with one 5-foot bike lane and sharrows. Photos: Brad Aaron

DOT is replacing two 4-foot bike lanes on Seaman Avenue with one 5-foot bike lane and sharrows because, according to DOT, the street isn’t wide enough for two standard-width bike lanes. Photos: Brad Aaron

Preliminary markings for a bike lane and sharrows appeared on Seaman Avenue in Inwood yesterday, nearly two years after DOT resurfaced the street.

Seaman Avenue runs from Dyckman/200th Street to W. 218th Street. The only north-south through street in Inwood west of Broadway, Seaman serves as a bike connection between the Hudson River Greenway and the Bronx, in addition to being a key neighborhood biking corridor.

Seaman is also a cut-through for Bronx and Westchester motorists looking to avoid the toll on the Henry Hudson Bridge. It has a few speed humps, and it’s within the Inwood Slow Zone, but those measures do little to keep drivers from speeding past the apartment buildings, parks, schools, and churches that line Seaman from end to end. The 34th Precinct, which issued just 266 speeding tickets in 2015, is a non-factor when it comes to slowing drivers down. Double-parking is probably more common than speeding and seems to get even less attention, enforcement-wise.

All things considered, Seaman Avenue seemed ripe for a change. The street’s old 4-foot wide bike lanes were removed when DOT repaved in the summer of 2014, and were not replaced when the city put down new crosswalks and other markings. DOT informed Community Board 12 last September of its plans to install a northbound 5-foot bike lane and replace the southbound bike lane with sharrows. Though Seaman will retain two lanes for parked vehicles, DOT says it isn’t wide enough to have bike lanes in both directions.

Last year DOT told Streetsblog the agency will monitor the new configuration to see if adjustments are necessary. If DOT is ever willing to challenge the status quo, Seaman could become a much better street for biking and walking, with a protected bikeway next to Inwood Hill Park.

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Eyes on the Street: Early Spring Means Earlier “Street Seats”

It's only March, but Laughing Man Coffee & Tea has already brought back its "Street Seats" that were outside the establishment from May to November of last year. Photo: Charles Komanoff

It’s only March, but Laughing Man Coffee & Tea has already brought back its “Street Seats” that were outside the establishment from May to November of last year. Photo: Charles Komanoff

Despite this weekend’s snow forecast, for a few days there it felt freakishly like spring. Yet another sign of winter’s demise is the reemergence of DOT’s “Street Seats.”

Charles Komanoff sent Streetsblog this picture of the temporary outdoor seating area being re-installed outside of Laughing Man Coffee and Tea on Duane Street in Tribeca. The corral was previously installed from May to November of last year.

The Street Seats program allows businesses to apply for and sponsor daytime seating areas in adjacent repurposed parking spots outside their storefronts. Last year DOT received 22 applications for Street Seats, of which 13 were approved.

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DOT Adds Welcome Chunk of Pedestrian Space to Bronx Broadway Hellscape

New sidewalk space at Broadway and W. 231st Street, to the right of the subway steps. Photos: Brad Aaron

New sidewalk space at Broadway and W. 231st Street, to the right of the 1 train steps. Photos: Brad Aaron

DOT reclaimed a nice chunk of space for pedestrians on a corner of Broadway in the Bronx, bringing some relief to an area that’s otherwise deplorable for New Yorkers who walk and bike.

The curb on the northwest corner of Broadway at W. 231st Street in Kingsbridge, beneath the elevated 1 train, was once lined with parked cars. Years ago the city added a pedestrian island a few feet off the curb, shortening the crossing distance and giving people waiting for the Bx9 a place to stand other than in the street.

Last fall DOT filled in the gap between the curb and the pedestrian island. Now the sidewalk is contiguous, extending from the old curb line to the 1 train stanchion. In total, the new space is roughly two car widths wide and four car lengths long.

Waiting for the Bx9 is not as dehumanizing as it once was.

Waiting for the Bx9 is not as dehumanizing as it once was.

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Eyes on the Street: DIY School Zone Traffic-Calming in Corona

Photos: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Photos: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Today Transportation Alternatives staff and members of Families for Safe Streets are in Albany, asking legislators to allow NYC to install speed enforcement cameras near every school in the city. This example of a crossing guard’s efforts to defend school kids in Queens, courtesy of Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson Jr., is another good illustration of why the state should lift arbitrary enforcement restrictions.

Last week Clarence and son Clarence Eckerson III came upon a DIY neckdown at 104th Street and 41st Avenue, outside P.S. 16 in Corona. Says Clarence:

The crossing guard [pictured] had set up four cones to slow traffic — essentially setting up a temporary gateway treatment on this street! Two cones on either side, narrowing the crossing distance for young people and all other pedestrians.

Before they got the cones, provided by the Parks Department, crossing guards at the school used trash cans to slow turning drivers. Four cones are needed, she said, due to “the speeds some cars go around here.” The 104th Precinct, where P.S. 16 is located, ticketed 702 speeding drivers in all of 2015.

queenscones2

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Eyes on the Street: The New 215th Step-Street Officially Opens Today

The 215th Step-Street, looking west from Broadway. Photos: Brad Aaron

The new 215th Step-Street, looking west from Broadway. Photos: Brad Aaron

Over a decade after the project’s first expected delivery date, the reconstruction of Inwood’s 215th Step-Street is complete.

West 215th Street crosses the width of Manhattan island’s northernmost neighborhood, from Inwood Hill Park to the Harlem River. Between Park Terrace East and Broadway, W. 215 is a step-street — one of many car-free street segments in Upper Manhattan and other parts of the city — connecting Broadway shops, buses, and the 1 train with residential blocks to the west.

Inwood history blogger Cole Thompson traced the origin of the double-wide staircase to 1915, when Broadway was paved with cobblestones and “the automobile was still a relatively new contraption.”

By the late 20th century, the long, steep staircase was in sad shape. Resident requests to renovate the stairs date at least as far back as the 1990s, and the city once pledged to get the work done by 2005. For years afterward, however, the step-street continued to deteriorate, requiring periodic repairs as locals contended with ice patches and busted street lamps. In 2007 a woman was injured when she tripped on a hole in the stairs.

The stairway in 2008.

The stairway in 2008.

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Eyes on the Street: First DOT Makes Your Sign Official, Then Adds Bollards?

In December the guerrilla street designers at the Department of Transformation installed DIY signage and put down some cones to try to keep drivers out of the First Avenue bike lane under the Queensboro Bridge. However, DOT soon removed the signs and abdicated responsibility for motorists blocking the lane, terming it an “enforcement issue.”

Then, last week, the Transformation Department tweeted a pic of new DOT signage, which looks remarkably similar to the home brew version.

It’s good to see DOT responding to public demand for safer streets in this way. Who knows, maybe we’ll soon see physical barriers to keep the lane clear.