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DOT Aims to Create a Walkable Main Street in Downtown Far Rockaway

wants to increase plaza space, trees and expanded sidewalks around Mott Avenue. Image: DOT

The city is looking to increase pedestrian safety and improve public space around Mott Avenue and the transit hub where the A train and several bus lines converge. Image: DOT

Sitting at the convergence of the Long Island Railroad, the A train, and multiple bus and commuter van routes, the area around Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway has the potential to be a thriving downtown for the neighborhood, but it suffers from longstanding disinvestment and its streets aren’t great for walking.

Now EDC is working with Council Member Donovan Richards and six city agencies on small business development, mixed-income housing construction, and public space and streetscape improvements. The project is complemented by post-Sandy boardwalk reconstruction at nearby Rockaway Beach. Here’s a look at what’s in store for the neighborhood’s streets.

In conjunction with EDC, DOT plans to redesign the area around Far Rockaway's downtown transit hub. Image: Google Maps

In conjunction with EDC, DOT plans to redesign the area around Far Rockaway’s downtown transit hub. Image: Google Maps

City Hall’s new budget sets aside $9.1 million in capital funds for street improvements near Mott Avenue. Far Rockaway’s dangerous and uninviting streets are among the challenges the project will address. There were 15 severe injuries in the project area from 2010 to 2014.

DOT wants to give the downtown a “village” feel by making Mott Avenue a pedestrian-friendly main street and building out plaza space on the streets that intersect it.

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Streetsblog USA
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Where Does Bernie Sanders Stand on Transportation and Cities?

With Bernie Sanders pulling off a virtual tie with Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucuses, it’s time to take a closer look at his transportation policy platform.

Is Bernie's $1 trillion infrastructure plan enough to win your support? Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Bernie’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan would boost transit funding — and increase highway funding a lot more. Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Two months ago, Clinton released a transportation platform that echoes a lot of the Obama administration’s agenda without including any ideas that might really upset the highway-centric status quo. Does Sanders do any better?

On Cities

Campaign finance reform, inequality, and climate change are the issues Sanders is running on — issues specific to cities aren’t central to his message. His website does have a section on “improving the rural economy” where he mentions the state of Iowa, specifically, eight times. In fairness, platforms like that are common among all the candidates, thanks to a primary process that lavishes attention on voters in Iowa and New Hampshire.

On Transportation

We do have an inkling of how President Sanders would try to handle transportation policy, thanks to a Senate bill he introduced last year and his climate plan, which touches on transportation.

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Why Arguments Against the Amsterdam Protected Bike Lane Don’t Hold Up

Tomorrow night, CB 7 will vote on whether to endorse DOT's proposal for a protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue from 72nd Street to 110th Street. Image: DOT

Tonight, CB 7 will vote on DOT’s proposal for a protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue from 72nd Street to 110th Street [PDF]. Image: DOT

This is the day Manhattan Community Board 7 will finally vote on DOT’s redesign of Amsterdam Avenue from 72nd Street to 110th Street, which will calm traffic and bring safety improvements — including a protected bike lane — to what is now a surface speedway cutting through the heart of the Upper West Side. It’s been a long time coming: CB 7 first asked DOT to design a protected bike lane for Amsterdam in 2009, and local residents have been asking for safety improvements longer than that.

The case for a protected bike lane and pedestrian refuges is clear. Despite serving as a neighborhood main street, Amsterdam is currently designed like a highway, with four northbound travel lanes that encourage speeding. From 2009 to 2013, two people were killed and another 36 severely injured along the project’s length, according to DOT. Just last month, on January 18, 73-year-old sculptor Thomas McAnulty was killed by a motorcyclist while walking across Amsterdam at 96th Street. Protected bike lanes are proven to reduce fatalities and severe injuries, and the neighborhood currently lacks a northbound complement to the bike lane on Columbus Avenue.

Thousands of residents and hundreds of businesses and neighborhood groups have signed on in support of redesigning Amsterdam, but opponents of the project are still trying to undermine it ahead of tonight’s vote. Here’s a look at why their arguments don’t hold up.

The safety argument. Bizarrely, CB 7 transportation committee co-chair Dan Zweig has argued that a protected bike lane on Amsterdam will make the street less safe, because removing parking spaces will expose pedestrians to drivers who fly onto the sidewalk. The truth is that the same basic design strategies the city is proposing for Amsterdam have reduced injuries by an average of 20 percent on the Manhattan avenues where they’ve been installed. Adding the bikeway will narrow the roadway, reducing the prevalence of speeding, and adding pedestrian refuges will shorten crossing distances for pedestrians while leading drivers to take turns more carefully. New York knows from experience that these changes save lives.

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StreetFilms
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Austin: The Most Bike-Friendly City in Texas

I was in Austin a few months ago for the NACTO Designing Cities Conference. While in town I was able to put together this look at what the city is doing to improve bicycling, including the dazzling 3rd Street curb-protected bikeway. Also captured on camera: many bike paths along the Pedernales River, car-free nights on 6th street, and the ridiculously long Halloween Social Ride, which is an exhilarating weekly nighttime bicycle excursion with hundreds of people that manages to follow traffic laws to a T. (I did all 30 miles on a heavy B-Cycle — there were quite a few hills!)

The timing was excellent, because near the end of 2015 the League of American Bicyclists declared Austin a gold status bike-friendly city, the first city in Texas to claim the honor. So let Streetfilms take you on a tour of the bike lanes, greenways, floating bridges, and bike-friendliness of Austin.

Streetsblog.net
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St. Louis “Beat Congestion” and Now Commute Times Are Longer

Image: NextSTL

Image: NextSTL

St. Louis is every highway planner’s dream. Consistently ranked among the least-congested cities in America, the region’s car commuters spend a smaller share of their trips to work sitting in traffic than all but two other cities.

That means St. Louis car commuters aren’t encumbered much by other car commuters, just like in those car commercials.

But that doesn’t mean people in St. Louis are spending less time in their cars. Alex Ihnen at NextSTL points out that the region’s commuters are behind the wheel as much as ever, because they’re driving longer distances:

As congestion has declined in St. Louis, commute times grew.

Peak hour commuters spent an average of 289 hours behind the wheel in 2009, 36 hours more than in 1999 when congestion was significantly worse. The reason for longer commutes, even if that time is spent moving faster? Between 1950 and 2000, St. Louis’s urban population grew 48% while urban (developed) land area grew by more than 260%. Sprawl has meant longer transit trips as well. In 2008, MetroLink riders travelled an average of 7.3 miles per trip, 6th most in the country amongst light rail and metro rail transit systems (APTA).

At its worst, accidents, flooding, (a little rain, the sun in driver’s eyes, a hill) etc., can slow traffic to a crawl. More than a century ago, the horse car, the city’s first public transit vehicle, could average six miles an hour. An hour commute from downtown Kirkwood to downtown St. Louis would be an average of about 15 MPH. Today, the rush hour commute can often be about 40 minutes, or roughly 23 MPH.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Comeback City says Baltimore’s problem isn’t a bad economy, it’s sprawl. And Mobilizing the Region reports that Amtrak has a timeline and budget estimate for the Gateway project to improve rail access between New Jersey and Manhattan: 15 years and $24 billion.

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Today’s Headlines

  • De Blasio’s Horse Carriage Debacle May Drag Out a While Longer (Post, News)
  • Uber Drivers Protest Fare Cuts, Strike, Organize (AMNY, GothamistNYT, Post, News)
  • Queens CB 1 Committee Endorses Protected Bike Lane for Shore Boulevard (Times Ledger)
  • Plan to Redevelop Park Slope Supermarket Would Add Housing and Keep Parking (DNA)
  • Realtors Look to Capitalize on L Train Shutdown (DNA); Gothamist Recalls ’88 Willy-B Closure
  • Tri-State Examines Gateway Construction Timeline, Expected to Last 15 Years (MTR)
  • Snow or No Snow, It’s Hard for People in Wheelchairs to Get Around in NYC (Crain’s, 2AS)
  • Staten Island Motorist Charged With Felony DWI Had BAC of .34 (Advance)
  • LI Driver Hits Child With Enough Force to Warp Hood, Killing Her; Cops: No Criminality (Post)
  • Queens Motorist Targets Other Drivers’ Parking Habits (DNA)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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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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NYC Motorists Kill 2 Pedestrians and Critically Injure 2 Others in 3 Days

Giovani Romano was charged with failing to yield for fatally striking Alfiya Djuraeva at 20th Avenue and Bath Avenue in Brooklyn. He was not charged for taking her life. Image: Google Maps

Giovani Romano was charged with failing to yield for fatally striking Alfiya Djuraeva at 20th Avenue and Bath Avenue in Brooklyn. He was not charged for taking her life. Image: Google Maps

In four separate crashes since Thursday, at least two people have been struck and killed while walking, and two others were critically injured.

Last Thursday afternoon Giovani Romano hit 56-year-old Alfiya Djuraeva with a Buick while turning left at 20th Avenue and Bath Avenue in Bath Beach, according to the Daily News and WNBC. Djuraeva suffered trauma to her head and torso and died at Lutheran Hospital.

Romano, 74, was issued a desk appearance ticket for failing to yield, but was not charged for the act of killing Alfiya Djuraeva. The crash occurred in the 62nd Precinct and in the City Council district represented by Vincent Gentile.

Early Saturday morning, a BMW driver going the wrong way on 181st Street near Amsterdam Avenue in Washington Heights hit two people and a pickup truck, then fled the scene, the Daily News reported. A male pedestrian, 46, was killed. The second victim, a 46-year-old woman, was hospitalized. The deceased victim’s name was being withheld pending family notification, NYPD told Streetsblog.

Police charged Jonathan Segura, 34, with manslaughter, leaving the scene, and drunk driving, after Segura turned himself in, the News said.

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Livable Streets Events

This Week: Speak Up for Safer Walking and Biking on Amsterdam

Tomorrow, Manhattan Community Board 7 will vote on DOT’s plan for a protected bike lanes and pedestrian islands on Amsterdam Avenue from 72nd Street to 110th Street.

Calming traffic on wide, one-way Amsterdam while providing a sorely needed northbound pair to the southbound Columbus Avenue bike lane has been a long time coming. Neighborhood residents have been calling for the city to fix Amsterdam for years, and Citi Bike’s northward expansion makes the project all the more important.

Despite prior support from CB 7 for a protected bike lane on Amsterdam, nothing is assured tomorrow. The CB 7 transportation committee, chaired by safe streets opponents Dan Zweig and Andrew Albert, failed to endorse it, and Zweig and Albert will figure prominently at tomorrow’s meeting. DOT rarely implements life-saving street improvements without the blessing of the local community board, so a strong showing from supporters at Tuesday’s meeting is critical.

Here are this week’s calendar highlights. Complete listings are here.

  • Monday: At a meeting of the Community Board 5 transportation committee, Vornado and the 34th Street Partnership will seek a resolution in support of permanent, people-friendly improvements around Penn Station. 6 p.m.
  • Also Monday: The Manhattan CB 6 transportation committee will discuss bike safety initiatives, traffic on E. 23rd Street, and upcoming DOT projects, including a review of First Avenue and Koch Bridge access.
  • Tuesday: The Manhattan CB 7 full board will decide whether to endorse the Amsterdam Avenue redesign. Arrive by 6:15 p.m. if you want to speak. The meeting starts at 6:30.
  • Wednesday: The Manhattan CB 8 transportation committee will take up the proposal to add painted crosstown bike lanes on the Upper East Side. 6:30 p.m.

Keep an eye on the calendar for updated listings. Drop us a line if you have an event we should know about.

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Total L.I.C. Street Rebuild to Include Safety Overhauls for Key Intersections

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer alongside the DDC and DOT Commissioners this morning. Photo: David Meyer

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer alongside DDC Commissioner Feniosky Pena-Mora (to the left) and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg (on the right) this morning. Photo: David Meyer

The streets of Long Island City are getting a total rebuild, and as part of the project four major intersections along Jackson Avenue and Vernon Boulevard will get redesigned for greater safety.

Many other intersections could get curb extensions or other traffic-calming treatments as part of the $38.47 million neighborhood-wide street reconstruction. Speaking this morning at the foot of the Pulaski Bridge, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer said DOT will prioritize four intersections: 21st Street and Jackson Avenue, 23rd Street and Jackson Avenue, Vernon Boulevard and Jackson Avenue, and Vernon Boulevard and 44th Drive.

Jackson and 11th Street, a complex multi-leg intersection that pedestrians and cyclists have to navigate to get to the Pulaski Bridge, will also be improved. Once the Pulaski Bridge bikeway opens this spring, there will be a lot more room for walking and biking, and the approach on the Queens side could use an upgrade.

Long Island City’s population is on track to soar as new development hits the market. But sandwiched by the Queensboro Bridge to the north and the Pulaski Bridge and Midtown Tunnel to the south, the neighborhood is often overrun by car and truck traffic, creating an unpleasant and unsafe environment for pedestrians.

In December, Van Bramer, DDC, and DOT hosted a public workshop where local residents and business owners overwhelmingly cited Vernon Boulevard and Jackson Avenue as streets in need of safety improvements. Jackson Avenue feeds into the Pulaski and is the site of several popular attractions, including MOMA P.S. 1, but has few safe crosswalks. In 2015 alone, 31 people were injured on Jackson Avenue within the project boundaries.

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