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Posts from the Eyes on the Street Category

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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.

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Eyes on the Street: Just Another Brush With Death at a Typical NYC Crossing


The design of 29th Street and 39th Avenue in Long Island City is typical of thousands of New York City crossings: an intersection of relatively narrow streets where drivers are allowed to park to the edge of crosswalks with no design elements to force motorists to slow down.

The combination of poor visibility and lack of traffic-calming features leads to crashes like the one in the video, taken Thursday, when an Access-A-Ride driver sped into a crosswalk while turning left and struck a child with a van’s door-mounted mirror. Luckily it appears the child wasn’t seriously hurt.

Jean Cawley, who sent us the video, has written to DOT officials, including Queens DOT Commissioner Nicole Garcia, several times to ask for traffic-calming measures at this intersection and other locations in the area. Cawley also submitted a petition to DOT from residents of Dutch Kills.

Consistent NYPD enforcement wouldn’t hurt either. The 114th Precinct, where the crash in the video occurred, issues an average of just 23 tickets a month to drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians.

Below are images from a two-vehicle collision at the same intersection that sent a cab onto the sidewalk.

“Cars barrel through our streets in a dangerous manner all day, every day,” wrote Cawley in an email to Garcia, with the video and photos attached. “I hope you will help. DOT’s actions may save a life.”

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Eyes on the Street: Transformation Department Reclaims First Ave Bike Lane

Check it out. With a few traffic cones and DIY signage, the Transformation Department this morning reclaimed the First Avenue bike lane under the Queensboro Bridge.

DOT recently installed flex posts to keep drivers from commandeering a bike lane in Washington Heights. How long before the agency adds cheap but effective barriers as a matter of course?

Until that happens, the grassroots Department of Transformation is accepting donations.

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Eyes on the Street: Safer Crossing Shaping Up at Broadway and Sherman

Drivers must make slower turns from Broadway onto Sherman Avenue after DOT eliminated a slip lane, now covered with epoxy, in the foreground. Photo: Brad Aaron

Drivers must make slower turns from Broadway onto Sherman Avenue after DOT eliminated a slip lane, now covered with epoxy, in the foreground. Photo: Brad Aaron

Earlier this year DOT put Inwood’s Sherman Avenue on a road diet, reducing the number of lanes for motor vehicles and adding bike lanes along the length of the street, from Broadway to 10th Avenue. That plan included a redesign of the intersection of Sherman at Broadway that now looks close to complete.

The most significant change is at the southeast corner. There, DOT converted a slip lane into pedestrian space using epoxy and gravel. Before, people trying to get to and from Broadway on the south side of Sherman had to cross both the slip lane and Elwood Street, which intersects Sherman a few feet east of Broadway. Now the slip lane crossing is gone, and drivers have a tighter right turn from Broadway onto Sherman, forcing them to slow down.

DOT also reversed the flow of traffic on Elwood from southward to northward, so people crossing the street don’t have to look over their shoulders for turning drivers.

The Broadway-Sherman slip lane before the redesign. Image: Google Maps

The Broadway-Sherman slip lane before the redesign. Image: Google Maps

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Eyes on the Street: Flex Posts Keep Drivers Out of 158th Street Bike Lane

Photo: Alec Melman

Photo: Alec Melman

Reader Alec Melman sent these before-and-after pics of the bikeway on 158th Street in Manhattan, which is now protected with flex posts. The lane is part of a package of Upper Manhattan bike improvements intended to make biking and walking safer between the Hudson River Greenway and the High Bridge.

As you can see in the photo below, before DOT added the posts the lane was vulnerable to incursion by drivers, many with placards, who commandeered the space for parking. The lane runs beneath a Riverside Drive viaduct where NYPD has a fleet service station.

This is the type of low-cost, high-impact improvement that could also make it safer to ride on streets like Chrystie Street, where safety advocates who call themselves the Transformation Department put traffic cones to keep drivers out.

“Now this actually feels safe to bike on,” Melman wrote.

Photo: Alec Melman

Photo: Alec Melman

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Eyes on the Street: Progress on Pulaski Bridge Bikeway

Photo: DOT

Photo: DOT

Last week DOT posted photos of construction work on the Pulaski Bridge bikeway on the project’s Facebook page. DOT is adding a protected lane that will create more room for people who bike and walk the bridge, which connects Greenpoint and Long Island City over Newtown Creek.

The project has been on New Yorkers’ wish list for years, and has been delayed a few times. In August DOT said drainage problems would push the start of construction to next spring, but those issues were resolved within a few weeks and things got started soon after.

It looks like work is moving apace. Doug Gordon tweeted a pic today, and thanked Assembly Member Joe Lentol, a vocal proponent since 2012, for his support of the project.

We’ve asked DOT about the timeline and will post the agency’s response if we get one.

Photo: DOT

Photo: DOT

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Eyes on the Street: DOT Begins Filling Gap in First Av Bike Lane [Updated]

Photo: Stephen Miller

Striping for a protected bike lane, left, and markings where DOT eventually plans to install a concrete pedestrian island, center. Photo: Stephen Miller

The Pope has left town and the United Nations General Assembly is over, meaning it’s time to make First Avenue a better place to bike and walk.

The gap in the First Avenue protected bike lane was baked into the initial plans for it, which called only for sharrows between 49th and 59th streets in order to accommodate motor vehicle traffic heading to 57th Street and the Queensboro Bridge. Now DOT is comfortable repurposing that space for a bikeway, telling Community Board 6 in May that it would start filling the gap this summer. The final few blocks approaching 59th Street would be installed later in the year, DOT said, once new traffic flows had smoothed out.

We found out last month that work would be delayed until after the departure of Pope Francis and the end of the UN General Assembly. The heads of state are gone now, and it looks like progress is afoot:

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Eyes on the Street: A Flower-Protected Chrystie Street Bike Lane

Bike commuters on Chrystie Street found a pleasant surprise this morning. The street’s northbound bike lane, a busy connector from the Manhattan Bridge that’s usually a favorite of illegally-parked drivers, had received an upgrade: Someone added orange traffic cones, decorated with the occasional sunflower, to keep cars out of the bike lane.

Earlier this year, DOT agreed to study upgrades to the Chrystie Street bike lanes after Community Board 3 and a united front of local elected officials asked for fixes. CB 3 is still waiting for DOT to come back with a plan.

This morning’s pop-up protected bike lane was the work of the “Transformation Dept.” Photos were first posted under the @NYC_DOTr handle on Twitter. The project, covering two blocks between Grand and Delancey streets, had a budget of $516 to purchase 25 cones and about a dozen flowers. It took four people less than 20 minutes to install, said a Transformation Dept. representative who asked to remain anonymous.

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Eyes on the Street: Children Play Mere Feet From Citi Bikes — The Horror!

Photo: Joe Enoch

The E. 82nd Street bike-share station, menace to playing children. Photo: Joe Enoch

Let’s take a moment to remember the fury of the Upper East Side parents who discovered last month that a bike-share station had begrimed the same block schoolchildren use for midday recess on E. 82nd Street near Second Avenue, next to P.S. 290.

Here are the fear-mongering quotes reported by DNAinfo:

“I’ve been here 12 years and it’s disgusting,” said Janine Whiteson, mother of a fifth grader at the school. “We have 650 kids, and most of them are really little. They could knock into the bikes or fall and hurt themselves. Who knows what kind of people will come in. It’s disgraceful.”

…”It is ridiculous to even consider putting it on a street that is already closed off for part of the day,” [parent Brian Feldman] said in an email. “Random people are going to be walking through the kids’ recess to get on and off bikes or riding their bikes through.”

…In protest of the new location, the PTA sent out an email to parents on Friday. “This is not in the best interest of the 650 children ages 4-11 that use the street for recess, drop-off and pick-up every day,” the email states. “The staff at P.S. 290 is not equipped to handle the additional burden of making sure that adults walk their bikes safely through the street while the children are using it. Imposing this responsibility on the staff will divert their attention from watching and engaging with the children.”

So how’s it going with the new station? Reader Joe Enoch was walking by the play street and saw the “disgusting” scene unfolding before his very eyes.

Chaos.