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Posts from the "Eyes on the Street" Category


Ten Months Later, Parks Department Fills in Hudson River Greenway Hole

Greenway users need this like a hole in the head. Will the Parks Department fix it? Photo: BornAgainBikist/Twitter

Greenway users need this like a hole in the head. The Parks Department says it filled the cave-in today. Photo: BornAgainBikist/Twitter

Last June, we reported on a sinkhole in the Hudson River Greenway just north of 181st Street in Washington Heights. The Parks Department, which manages the path, said it had cordoned off the hole and was assessing the situation. As of yesterday, nothing much had changed in ten months — except the hole has filled with leaves and grown slightly larger, swallowing more of the greenway path along with it. Now, the Parks Department says it has filled in the hole as a temporary measure.

With the weather warming up, more and more people are using the greenway, which is a vital connection for bike commuters in Upper Manhattan. Streetsblog readers have contacted us to express their concern and frustration. “It’s so large at this point that you have to either dismount and walk through or ride through very carefully to avoid falling in,” wrote reader James Rather. “It’s a huge hazard.”

Streetsblog asked the Parks Department today if it has done anything to fix the hole since it first surfaced, or if it has plans for repair. This afternoon the agency said the hole is being filled in as a temporary fix:

While a long-term solution for this situation is being determined, on Monday we filled in the holes with gravel and dirt to allow users of the greenway to pass safely. Cyclists will have to dismount for a few yards. This work should be complete by Monday evening.

We’ve asked the Parks Department whether the dismount zone is just for today or will be in place indefinitely until a permanent fix is installed. Update: Parks says cyclists will “likely” have to continue to dismount after the hole is filled in.


Eyes on the Street: What’s Up With the 8th Ave Bike Lane at Penn Station?

Photo: Tri-State Transportation Campaign

Yesterday the Tri-State Transportation Campaign tweeted this photo of the new Eighth Avenue bike lane alignment between 31st Street and 33rd Street. On this stretch, there’s no longer physical protection for cyclists, and motorists can double-park in the bike lane. What gives?

It turns out this is not about clearing room for NYPD’s rush-hour parking lot on Eighth Avenue. DOT says this is a temporary measure during Moynihan Station construction, which involves the adjacent Farley Post Office. Phase 1 of the project is currently underway, extending the Penn Station Amtrak concourse so passengers can access it via new entrances.

The protected bike lane will be restored when construction wraps up, but Moynihan is a huge project that’s expected to take several years to complete. DOT did not provide a timetable for the restoration of the protected lane.

Is the buffered lane the best that can be done for these blocks that link up with critical commuter transit hubs, for what figures to be a very long-term construction project?


Eyes on the Street: City Can’t Keep Up With Snowy Sidewalk Complaints

They haven't been visible for a while, but there are stairs under that snow. Photo: Brad Aaron

They haven’t been visible for a while, but there are stairs under that snow. Photo: Brad Aaron

New Yorkers are told to notify 311 about sidewalks that need to be cleared of snow and ice. That’s what I did after I came across the 214th Street steps on Saturday, but as of today my request has yet to be acted on.

Over two days after what was at the time the most recent snowfall, these steps, which are adjacent to Isham Park and connect Park Terrace West with Seaman Avenue, remained covered. I’m fairly able-bodied and would prefer to stay that way, so rather than attempt to get down the stairs I decided to backtrack and take another route.

On Saturday afternoon I filed a service request with 311 online. This morning I got the following message:

Your Service Request was closed.

Work to correct the reported condition has been deferred because of seasonal considerations and will be corrected as soon as possible.

Depending on worker availability every effort is being made to clear the area. Please be patient.

Though streets had long been cleared for motorists by Saturday, the city still hasn’t made them passable for New Yorkers on foot. This response makes it seem as if crews can’t keep up with dangerous conditions for pedestrians reported to 311.

Sure enough, as of this afternoon the 214th Street steps had not been touched.

Have you gotten results by notifying the city of snowy sidewalks? Let us know in the comments.

After the jump, photos from Ken Coughlin of snowbound NYC bike routes, all taken on Saturday.

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Eyes on the Street: Rehab of Inwood’s 215th Step-Street Finally Underway

Photo: Brad Aaron

Photo: Brad Aaron

After years of delays, work began today to rebuild the 215th Step-Street in Inwood.

These stairs, which technically serve as a car-free street, connect residential blocks in northwest Inwood with shops on Broadway, and they are a link for commuters headed to the 1 train. The step-street is quite steep, with cracked stairs and broken lamps. The city has done a decent job patching the steps as needed, but there’s only so much that can be done in its current state. In 2007 a woman tripped on a hole in the stairs, cutting her legs and face. Several steps had begun to crumble again during the recent cold snap.

In the fall of 2011, the Department of Design and Construction told Streetsblog the stairs would be rehabbed in the summer of 2013. Before that, the timeline called for a 2009 finish date — and before that, Inwood residents were told it would be done in 2005.

DNAinfo reported last July that a contract had been awarded, and now it looks like the wait is over. By 7:30 this morning, crews had cordoned off a segment of the stairs to start work. In addition to new steps, the design will include tracks for bikes to be wheeled up and down the stairs.

Construction is expected to take 17 months, according to DNAinfo, and DDC says the steps will remain open for use throughout.


Eyes on the Street: 78th Precinct Clears the Bergen Street Bike Lane

Photos: N. Wayne Bailey

Photos: N. Wayne Bailey

The story of the Bergen Street bike lane, and the 78th precinct, keeps getting better.

Your eyes are not deceiving you. Reader N. Wayne Bailey sent in these photos of NYPD officers — including CO Deputy Inspector Michael Ameri — shoveling the Bergen Street lane, which for over a year now has been protected by barriers put in place by the precinct.

Good stuff.

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Eyes on the Street: How Snow Makes the Case for Traffic Calming

See those snowy spots in the road? Perfect opportunity for permanent traffic-calming curb extensions. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Those snowy spots in the road? Perfect opportunity for traffic-calming curb extensions. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Streetsblog asked and you delivered. Earlier we sent out a call for photos of snowy streets where drivers or plows had cleared a path while leaving much of the remaining the asphalt untouched. It’s an easy way to visualize the opportunities for permanent sidewalk extensions like like neckdowns and bulb-outs — but you have to snap a photo before it melts.

In addition to the submissions from New York, the #sneckdown hashtag traveled across the country (much of which is covered in snow at the moment) and even attracted attention from England and Sweden. Here are a few of our favorites from right here at home.

Perhaps the photo that best illustrates the sneckdown idea comes from Jackson Heights, above, snapped by Streetfilms’ own Clarence Eckerson Jr. — who, by the way, created the definitive videos about nature’s traffic calming. If you haven’t watched them already, check it out.

21st Street and 40th Avenue in Long Island City. Photo: Lisa Soverino/Instagram

21st Street and 40th Avenue in Long Island City. Photo: Lisa Soverino/Instagram

Lisa Soverino sent over this photo of 21st Street at 40th Avenue in Queens, where advocates are working with Community Board 1 on getting DOT to study 21st Street for a traffic-calming plan — but built with concrete instead of snow.

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Eyes on the Street: Safer Crossings in North Corona

A new crossing at 114th Street and 34th Avenue yesterday. Photo: Stephen Miller

A new crossing at 114th Street and 34th Avenue yesterday. Photo: Stephen Miller

When we last checked in on the intersection of 114th Street and 34th Avenue in September, construction was about to start on a new pedestrian island and crosswalk leading to an existing path next to the Whitestone Expressway [PDF]. Now, work is nearly complete as winter sets in, and pedestrians and cyclists have a safer crossing to the path.

The plan, presented to Queens Community Board 3 in June, includes an enlarged pedestrian island splitting eastbound and westbound 34th Avenue at 114th Street. This gives pedestrians more space as they cross the avenue and eliminates a dangerous wrong-way route for cyclists accessing the path.

While the route still involves a guessing game with drivers exiting a high-speed ramp from the Grand Central Parkway, the crossing, which had previously included only signage, is now striped.

A wider pedestrian island (newer section on the right) splits 34th Avenue for safer pedestrian crossings. Photo: Stephen Miller

A wider median island (newer section on the right) divides 34th Avenue. Photo: Stephen Miller


Eyes on the Street: Reading in Ozone Park’s New Plaza

Ozone Park children read at The Uni portable library during the November 2 grand opening. Photo: DOT/The Unit

The Uni set up a portable library for the November 2 grand opening of the Ozone Park plaza. Photo: DOT/The Uni

The intersection of Liberty Avenue and 101st Avenue sits on the border of Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, and Ozone Park, Queens. A few blocks from the A train and surrounded by small businesses, it’s a natural hub for the neighborhood, but the road configuration gave over large areas of the angled intersection to cars. Last year, the Bangladeshi American Community Development and Youth Services Corp. (BACDYS) applied to DOT’s plaza program, and last month, the finishing touches were put on the new plaza space.

BACDYS, the maintenance partner for the plaza, hosted a grand opening celebration on November 2, featuring portable library set up by The Uni Project, which brings books to sidewalks and public plazas across the city.

Ozone Park's new plaza stretches along Liberty Avenue. Photo: DOT

Ozone Park’s new plaza stretches along Liberty Avenue. Image: DOT

During the planning process, DOT had discussed a few design concepts with the community, including a plaza on the south side of the intersection along Liberty Avenue. The final result creates a plaza that stretches along 101st Avenue, which was converted from two-way to one-way traffic flow, and on Drew Street between 101st and Liberty Avenues.

The plan was refined during public workshops in May and August, and received support from Council Member Eric Ulrich, U.S. Representatives Nydia Velasquez and Ed Towns, Brooklyn Community Board 5, Queens CB 9, and a number of adjacent businesses.

Ulrich’s office tells Streetsblog that a few business owners were upset with the loss of 11 parking spaces. Two weeks ago, Ulrich held a meeting with merchants and DOT to discuss potential changes to the plaza, including a reduction in its size to restore a few of the parking spaces that were removed.


Eyes on the Street: Filling the Gap in the Second Avenue Protected Bike Lane

Crews stripe a new parking lane alongside the existing bike lane on Second Avenue at 21st Street. Photo: Stephen Miller

Two months after a presentation to Manhattan Community Board 6′s transportation committee, and less than one month after the full board voted to support the plan, DOT crews were on Second Avenue today painting new stripes to convert the buffered bike lane in Kips Bay to the parking-protected variety.

Between 23rd and 14th Streets, Second Avenue had four lanes of car traffic sandwiched by a buffered bike lane on the left and a curbside bus lane on the right. Now, the left lane of car traffic has been converted to parking, better protecting southbound cyclists. The new configuration links other segments of protected bikeway on Second Avenue, creating a continuous stretch between 34th Street and 2nd Street.

According to DOT’s seasonally-adjusted counts, weekday motor vehicle traffic between 14th and 15th Streets dropped significantly from 2011 to 2013: Traffic volumes are down 11.8 percent during the morning rush, 23.1 percent midday, and 15.3 percent during the evening’s busiest hour. The agency predicted that converting a general traffic lane to parking would not significantly affect traffic flow on this section of the avenue.

The existing buffered bike lane has been a hotbed of double parking. Like other parking-protected bike lanes, this new stretch will probably see a bit of a learning curve: Some drivers early this afternoon, looking at the new parking signs, decided to park in the bike lane instead of the newly-striped floating lane right next to them.


Eyes on the Street: Bronx River Greenway Access Streets Get Upgrades

The new two-way protected bikeway has been installed on Bruckner Boulevard ends after a block, yielding to shared lane and sidewalk markings.

The Bronx River Greenway has given many South Bronx residents a place to feel comfortable biking, but the streets nearby are often filled with speeding drivers navigating sometimes-confusing intersections. A project adding bike lanes, curb extensions, and lane striping aimed to fix that — and since the end of the summer residents have seen some of the results. An anonymous reader who lives in Soundview and commutes by bike through the area sent in some photos showing the changes.

Some of the biggest changes have come to the intersection of Whitlock and Westchester Avenues, busy with pedestrians accessing Concrete Plant Park and the 6 train. Among those changes are painted curb extensions, which do not have flex-post bollards and “are almost always completely ignored by drivers,” our reader said in an e-mail. Streetsblog has asked DOT if the agency will be installing barriers to keep cars out of the pedestrian space.

Without bollards or barriers, some drivers ignore the newly-painted curb extensions at the intersection of Westchester and Whitlock Avenues.

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