Here’s some good news: The Brooklyn Paper reports that livable streets advocate Teresa Toro has been reinstated as chair of the transportation committee at Brooklyn Community Board 1.
Posts from the "Community Board Reform" Category
If you want to join a Manhattan community board and haven't yet filed an application, you have until tomorrow. Manhattan has the earliest (and by far the most well-publicized) deadline of the five boroughs, so no need to panic if you intend to apply elsewhere.
As regular readers know, community boards often represent the front lines in the battle for livable streets, and our neighborhoods desperately need more progressive voices at the board level -- ideally, enough of them so that something like this doesn't happen again.
Follow the jump for more dates and application links. Best of luck.Read more...
Next Monday, November 24, TA will host the "Community Board Join-Up Jammy-Jam" at the offices of The Open Planning Project. There will be snacks, drinks, and short presentations on community board membership (and "why it rocks"). TA staffers will be on hand to field questions, along with a notary to make your app official.
RSVP (through Monday) to Elena at volunteer[at]transalt[dot]org or 646-873-6036.
WHAT: Community Board Join-Up Jammy-Jam
WHERE: The Open Planning Project, 349 W 12th St, #3 (1st Floor), Manhattan
WHEN: Monday, November 24, 6:00-9:00 p.m.
If you can't make the party, or want to get a head start, application info for all boroughs is after the jump.Read more...
Proposed Dyckman Street redesign, presented by citizens to the CB12 Transpo Committee last February
For the third time this year, residents of Inwood and Washington Heights Monday night presented the Community Board 12 Traffic and Transportation Committee with a vision for a traffic-calmed Dyckman Street. One with a separated bike lane connecting the Henry Hudson
and Harlem River bike paths, sidewalk bulbouts, leading pedestrian intervals, and street trees. A destination corridor where people can shop, stroll and mingle without constantly feeling under siege by untamed auto traffic.
And for the third time this year, the committee asked these residents to come back when they have a better idea of what they want.
Members of Inwood and Washington Heights Livable Streets were hopeful that an audience with Paimaan Lodhi, urban planner with Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's office, would help the case for the Dyckman Greenway Connector. But after distributing copies of "Sustainable Streets" guidelines to committee members (it was hard to tell if any of them had heard of the DOT program), Lodhi deflated those hopes. Any action by Stringer's office, he said, would require consensus from CB12.
Just how likely is consensus to emerge that an innovative, people-friendly design for Dyckman, similar to the Ninth Avenue bike path, would be a boon to Upper Manhattan, where just 20 percent of households own a car? To get an idea one only has to tune in to Jim Berlin, the most outspoken member of the transpo committee, if not the whole of CB12. Last night a neighborhood mom told the committee that she feared a pedestrian bridge over Dyckman at Tenth Avenue, used by students at her child's elementary school, was unstable. Berlin, minutes after declaring that any plan to alter Dyckman should not impede auto traffic, agreed that the condition of the bridge is a concern, as it "keeps kids away from a ridiculously dangerous intersection where a school should never have been built in the first place."
In other words, to Berlin and other CB12 members, Dyckman Street is already a connector -- between the West Side Highway and the FDR. Its function as a neighborhood street, used by school children and hundreds of thousands of other non-driving Upper Manhattanites, is purely incidental.
In another case of 1970s-era environmental law being turned on its head, Brooklyn Community Boards 7 and 14 are demanding that the city conduct an environmental review before implementing a proposed, three month car-free trial in Prospect Park next summer. At a press event this morning attended by 19 people near the Park Circle entrance to the park, Assemblyman Jim Brennan joined CB7 chair Randy Peers and CB14 chair Alvin Berk, calling for an Environmental Impact
Statement to study the matter.
A car-free park "could have a major environmental impact," said Brennan, who co-signed a letter with the CB chairs asking DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan for the EIS. Similar use of environmental regulations have postponed the development of San Francisco's bike lane network for three years.
In the midst of calling for the environmental impact study, typically a lengthy and expensive process, Peers made clear that he had already reached his own conclusion. "Closing the park to traffic is unacceptable even for a trial period," he said.Read more...
More parking means more cars, congestion and noise for Dyckman Street. Says CB12: "Bring it."
Citing fears that it would disrupt the neighborhood and rouse illegally parked motorists from their beds on Sunday mornings, Community Board 12 Tuesday night tabled a recommendation for a new Greenmarket in Washington Heights. Minutes later, without discussion, the board unanimously approved a feasibility study for additional parking on Dyckman Street in Inwood.
About a dozen residents turned out in support of the 185th Street Greenmarket resolution, which was the product of a citizen-generated petition with 1,000 signatures. But since the petition was circulated at a time when Bennett Park was thought to be the top choice for the market location, rather than adjacent 185th Street, CB12's Traffic and Transportation Committee dismissed it, and declined to issue a recommendation earlier this month. Still, the chair of the board's parks committee, Elizabeth Lorris Ritter, said a new petition had 42 signatures from those in favor of a 185th Street market, in addition to 32 e-mails indicating support.
But the three residents who spoke against the market carried the night, conjuring visions of 6 a.m. tow truck sweeps, vendor vehicles snapping tree limbs, and rats descending on 185th to feed on discarded produce. The market would hurt nearby businesses, they said, disturb nearby apartment-dwellers, and force motorists who chose not to obey "No Parking" fliers to get up early to move their cars from 185th Street's 19 parking spots. One was "offended" that the market would operate on the Christian sabbath, while another said that, though "chic and trendy," the market would, in reality, "not serve anybody."Read more...
From Transportation Alternatives' Queens Committee Chair Mike Heffron:
At the Queens Community Board 2 general meeting on Thursday, May 1, with no vote by board members, Chair Joe Conley delayed the board's input on the Department of Transportation's planned pedestrian and cyclist improvements to Vernon Boulevard, an important link in the proposed Queens East River Greenway. DOT can move forward with the Greenway plan with or without CB 2's approval.
The DOT plan [PDF] calls for removal of the majority of parking along the East River side of Vernon from 45th Ave to its termination at Main St. In place of parking the DOT plans to put down a painted bike lane in both directions, with painted buffers between the lanes and auto traffic. Also proposed are additional traffic calming improvements along Vernon and a pedestrian relief Green Street to be installed at Queensbridge Park. Two weeks prior the proposal was unveiled to CB 2's Land Use Committee, which voted unanimously in favor.
Almost six months after DOT installed "controversial" new cross-town bike lanes on the Upper East Side, Manhattan's Community Board 8, which opposed the city's plan for lanes on 91st Street, has formed a "91st Street Task Force."
Of particular concern last year was the feared intrusion of cyclists into a section of 91st Street, between Second and Third Avenues, that has been closed to cars for decades. When the Task Force held a meeting earlier this month, item one on the agenda was: "The different designations available for streets that are closed to traffic, with their precise legal definition."
Streetsblog called CB 8 to ask about the committee but did not get a call back.
In other news, a centuries-old chunk of Antarctic ice shelf seven times the size of Manhattan disintegrated today. Scientists cite "rapid climate change in a fast-warming region of Antarctica" as the cause of the collapse.
On weekends, 200 vehicles and 4,500 pedestrians per hour make their way down Prince Street, yet the vast majority of the street's public space is given over to motor vehicle traffic and parking.
Community Board 2's Traffic & Transportation Committee heard specifics last night on a DOT pilot project that would open a segment of Prince Street to pedestrians 14 days a year. And as expected, the committee and DOT heard from residents who want the pedestrian-heavy thoroughfare to continue to accommodate cars 24/7/365.
The city proposes to close Prince to cars from Lafayette to W. Broadway on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The project would last from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend.
According to surveys cited by DOT:
- Eighty-five percent of people travel to Prince Street by subway, on foot, by bike or on a bus.
- Eighty percent of pedestrians interviewed on a Saturday "experience the street as being crowded."
- Expanding pedestrian space would attract people to come to Prince Street more often, where they would spend "about five times as much money" in neighborhood shops and restaurants.
- On a typical weekend, 200 vehicles travel Prince Street in an hour, compared to 4,500 pedestrians.
While some members of the public spoke in favor, they were easily outnumbered by opponents. "There was a lot of screaming about an out of control street vendor problem that the City seems unwilling or unable to address," one Community Board member said.
For an idea of the tenor of the debate, one supporter of the plan who pointed out that pedestrian streets work in London and other cities was rebutted with cries of "This is New York City!"Read more...
If you read the comments on the previous post, then you know something interesting is in the works for Prince Street. Next Tuesday, Community Board 2's Transportation Committee will consider a proposal to turn a six-block stretch of Prince Street, from Lafayette to West Broadway, into a car-free zone on Sundays from 11am to 6pm. The pilot project would likely run from Memorial to Labor Day. The idea for this long-sought reallocation of street space emerged from discussions between DOT and the SoHo Partnership, the neighborhood's innovative welfare-to-work program.
Not surprisingly, an opposition movement has already sprung into action. Faithful Streetsblog readers will recall the SoHo Alliance as the neighborhood group that seems to specialize in fighting street vendors, new bike lanes, sidewalk widenings and, generally, any livable street improvement that threatens to diminish long-time SoHo residents' access to on-street parking.
A tipster reports that the Alliance is papering the neighborhood with flyers arguing against the pilot project. Here's a sample bullet point from the flyer, which can be found in its entirety, below:
The current do-wop group will attract other noisy street performers to entertain the increased crowds of tourists. Food vendors will likely spring up. Will Jugglers and mimes be far behind?
Though the specter of mime-filled streets truly is terrifying (and quite politically savvy -- I mean, who's going to speak up for the mimes?) does a bad case of coulrophobia outweigh the potential benefits of car-free Sundays?
As it is, Prince Street is jam-packed with pedestrians and vendors on the weekend yet the majority of the public right-of-way is hogged up by a horn-honking, exhaust-spewing, barely-moving armada of SUV's and luxury sedans. When London pedestrianized some of its most popular shopping streets, it led to a bonanza for local businesses, a PR coup for the city's sustainability agenda and a generally nicer, more pleasant public realm for residents and tourists to enjoy.
If you want to help make a car-free Prince Street a reality, then speak up at Community Board 2's Transportation Committee meeting next Tuesday, March 11 at 7:30pm. The meeting will be at the NYU Silver Building, 32 Waverly Place, room 713. You can be sure the other guys will be there.
The Soho Alliance flyer can be found after the jump...Read more...