Will 7th Avenue bike lane have safer intersections?

This month the DOT presented a proposal for a parking protected bike lane on 7th Avenue between Clarkson and 30th Street. While in the past the discussion may have focused on loss of parking, this year all the questions from the public and the committee were on intersection safety.

Following the death of a cyclist on 2nd Avenue two weeks ago, the cycling community is becoming more aware that mixing zones are dangerous, a fact well understood by pedestrians: in the last five years  drivers turning when both drivers and pedestrians have a signal to proceed at the same time have killed tens of pedestrians.  It is good to see that everyone is now focused on safe bike lanes, not just any bike lanes. This will be a necessary ingredient if bicycling is to capture a larger share of the commuters.

If it was up to CB4 , the whole bike lane would be equipped with split phases , like the lower part of 9th Avenue , which have proven to be 100% safer than mixing zones.

We understand that DOT is experimenting with Split LPIs on bike lanes. The first two were installed in CB4  on 9th Avenue at 25th and 29th streets and then on 2nd Avenue at 26th and 30th streets. You can see  how it works here. This configuration gives s strong sense of safety to pedestrians, although the 7 seconds of real protection is woefully insufficient. For cyclists, it still leaves the problem of cars blocking the bike lane during the 44 seconds balance of the cycle, forcing bicyclists to pass the car either in traffic or in the pedestrian crossing or to dismount.

Another variant is the Spilt LCI (Lead Cyclist Interval) which after a protected phase of 25 seconds – would put all users on notice that the crossing is dangerous, and hold them equally responsible for being careful while crossing.

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NO matter which solution is adopted,  we need to get rid of mixing zones and unprotected intersections sooner rather than later. They are deadly for pedestrians and bicyclists while the cars always come out winning and unscathed.

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Long awaited changes come to 11th Avenue – Less parking, Less congestion

11 Av 34th-37thFinally ! Once again , 11th Avenue goes in both directions between 34th and 40th Streets, allowing 9th and 10th Avenues to get relief from Lincoln tunnel- bond traffic congestion.

The Department of Transportation effected the changes last week and will add high visibility cross walks this week. An LPI has also been added at 37th Street where a turning driver killed a pedestrian last year. A bus lane is installed.

The two-way configuration had been put in place after 9/11 to screen trucks entering the Lincoln Tunnel. It turned out to be very effective to balance the traffic on 9th ,10th and Dyer Avenue .  However when the road was reconstructed five years ago, only the portion of 37th to 40th was restored as a two ways avenue; 34 to 37th was set as one way with two lanes essentially used by the Convention Center and the NYPD as perpendicular parking, while 10th Avenue was extremely congested.

DOT intends to extend the two way-section down to 23rd Street, once the Western Rail Yards development is completed and make it more pedestrian friendly.

This is great news for all . Our next step will be to ask DOT to install way-finding signs on the cross streets so that more tunnel-bond drivers use this entrance and reduce the congestion on 9th and 10th Avenues.

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One block of 8th Avenue will soon be safer for pedestrians and cyclists

 

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In May 2017 the DOT plans to redesign the awful block of 8th Avenue between 42nd and 43rd streets.

the pedestrian area increased by 60%  by removing  the  barricade.The adjacent bike lane will be by delineated by large blocks on the pedestrian side and flexible bollards on the vehicular side to prevent obstructions.

We had been working on improving this block since the bike lane installation, 6 years ago , and it proved quite difficult. Fortunately the owner of the property where Duane Reade is located, agreed to study the problem, and hired an engineer who worked out the details with DOT. WE also understand that the Times Square  Alliance has agreed to maintain the pedestrian space, a point that was a job obstacle.

We hope  DOT will take this as a test and soon expand this experiment from 34th to 47th streets .

 

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This a great day for pedestrians in Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen

As part of the Hell’s Kitchen Transporation Study we had requested that a number of intersections be equipped with split phase signals, which give a exclusive crossing phase to pedestrians. The Department of Transportation came through for us, approving all the intersections we had recommended: 12 more pedestrian crossings to be protected in 2017.   This brings to 34 the number of protected crossings in our district.

Following the death of a bicyclist last week in a mixing zone on 1st Avenue, Transporation Alternatives and other safety advocates started asking for safer intersections along bike lanes, a point we have made repeatedly over the years. DOT  announced that they are starting a study of their treatment of intersections and once a new design is chosen they will retrofit all existing bike lanes. We are delighted to hear of this new initiative that will no doubt  improve pedestrian safety. Not a minute too soon.

See the map below  showing the proposed signal installations  as well as the existing ones.

 

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Port Authority Bus Terminal : Next Steps

Two months ago the Port Authority  adopted its 10 year Capital plan and earmarked $ 3.5 Billions to build a new bus terminal . However the Chairman indicated that “ this resolution does not preclude the study of any additional options for providing cross-Hudson transportation. We continue to acknowledge that, while the bus terminal is a critical first step, it is only one piece of a menu of options that must be in place to meet the needs created by future demand increases”. Such statement is a big step in the right direction. Watch his speech here.

Also in response to the CB4 letter on the #7 extension, CB4 met with the Planning Department of the PANYNJ and explained our concepts. It was a productive meeting.

Then in early April, at its last full board, Community Board 4 passed a resolution summarizing the input gathered from the community over the last 12 months . The key points of this terrific letter to the Chairman of  the Port Authority are as follows:

  • Do no harm: no eminent domain and no demolition
  • Comply with the zoning: residential zoning was negotiated as part of the last rezoning and will produce affordable housing.
  • Improve air quality: no staging or parking facilities – the new building should be enclosed with a filtration system. All bus accesses should be underground.
  • Integrate with the regional transportation system: a Path 7 extension of the # 7 should be studied as well as a long distance bus terminal and garage for tour and charter buses and the impact of the Gateway project factored in the plans.

These points will the basis for our discussions going forward with the Port Authority.

Yesterday at the Regional Planning Association (RPA) annual assembly, infrastructure was on everyone’s mind. The panel discussion “Crossing the Hudson” was very popular. Polly Trottenberg, NYC DOT Commissioner was the star of the exchanges with the Port Authority: “no one build large bus terminals inside cities any longer” she told them. And then she enjoined the Port Authority to build partnership to succeed: “There was no one representing  NYC on the Design Competition Jury ” she added. Brava.

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Finally more space on the sidewalk

You have all seen them in front of restaurants’ doors in the winter: the large IMG_5921vestibules or storm enclosures that take up 3′ or 4′ of sidewalk . They stay up until April or sometimes during the whole year and they are illegal!  Per the code, they cannot extend by more than 18″.

But when it came to enforcing the law, over the last 5 years we encountered an impossible magma of incompetence, unwillingness, and inadequate procedures. Agencies bounced the problem back and forth, calls to 311 directed the issue to the wrong agencies , and in the meantime the vestibules proliferated: over 100 of them are now installed in our district.

311 reporting copyFinally with the help of CB4 District Manager, Jesse Bodine, the Department of Buildings has agreed to enforce the rule and created a dedicated panel on the 311 system to log the issues:  here is the link

Lets reclaim our space !

 

http://www1.nyc.gov/nyc-resources/service/1305/storefront-awning-marquee-canopy-or-storm-enclosure-complaint

And Bravo Jesse Bodine for your wise guidance and help on this matter .

 

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Hudson Park Greenway: Our elected officials step up the pressure with the State

After Chekpeds board member Chana Widawsky sent a terrific letter to our elected officials, on the risks to the bicyclists on the Hudson River Park Greenway,  Senator Brad Hoylman rallied all the elected officials whose district includes the Greenway and they collectively sent a very strong letter to the New York State Department of Transportation asking for a study and  immediate remedies. West-Side-Highway-DOT-State eelcted Letter

“These incidents and the data show the pressing need to improve safety on the West Side Highway.”… ”Overall, however, the West Side Highway lacks many of the basic and innovative traffic calming devices and programs that are used across the city, such as narrower lanes, bulb-outs, speed cameras, red light cameras, greater use of Leading Pedestrian Intervals, appropriate pedestrian crossings, and Improved Driver Visibility”

We could not have said it better and are very grateful that our elected officials and Senator Hoylman are taking charge of this issue, which has been orphan for so long . Thank You .

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Sigh the Petition: Another proof the pedestrians are lowest priority for City

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We all love the beautiful  sights and quiet the snow brings to the city, but walking in the street the day after is no fun at all and often downright dangerous. This last storm amplified what we already knew: cars receive the royal treatment, with  swift snow removal and their snow being piled high along the curb, making the cleaning by homeowners and businesses exceedingly difficult; bike lanes remain untouched for days, and the sidewalks and corners of pedestrian crossings are impracticable as they are left to the goodwill of adjoining merchants.  In some places the walking path is barely 3ft , or zero when in front of a construction sites. Bus stops or shelters are completely impracticable.

Clearly the system needs an overall to take in account the new reality of millions of commuters walking in the streets and a growing number of bicyclists going to work. If the city really wants to get back “on its feet” quickly it needs to take care first and foremost of moving its pedestrians and cyclists.

STREETSpac has initiated a petition to get a hearing at the City Council Transportation Committee  SIGN THE PETITION HERE

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Find out how dangerous your street or school is

crashmapper

In March, CHEKPEDS launched a new mapping tool www.crashmapper.org that lets onefilter information by time slices, by areas like Council District, Community Board, Borough, Precinct, and by type of crash.

It’s distinctive feature is that it lets the user delineate a custom area to be tracked and returns map and statistics filtered by this area. This allows a non expert activist, like most of us are,  to track a stretch of avenue and see if the safety situation is improving or getting worse, or track an area around a school and see if a slow zone is needed.

The reviews by experts have been very positive with the app called “Best in Class” by Streetsblog  or the “Gold Standard ” by the creator of CrashStats, an early incarnation of this concept.

The app relies on NYC open data and refreshes as soon as it is updated. We thank Councilmember Corey Johnson for helping fund this effort and the CARTO company who gave us free space and tools. Chris Henrick assisted by John Kraus completed the app.

We hope that many activists groups, elected officials and others will find the tool useful to demonstrate to the DOT the need for safety improvements. If we are to achieve Vision Zero, we must all focus on the most dangerous intersections and use numbers in a smart way, without ever forgetting that pain and suffering for people and their families are behind these numbers.

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Community unified on approach to Port Authority replacement

Through a very successful town hall meeting and a survey at the end of 2016,  CB4 gathered  our community members’ opinions which were presented at a well-attended February 9th meeting of the Hell’s Kitchen South Coalition. See some highlights below. We encourage you to look at the whole presentation which has a lot of valuable feedback.

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Based on this input and other intelligence , in March 2017,  CB4 jointly with CB5  sent a letter asking the Port Authority to study the creation of a  PA7, a path like rail line that would be connected seamlessly with the #7  effectively creating an extension to the #7 line.   Such a facility would provide 45% of the increase in capacity the Port Authority needs to satisfy the growth in bus riders. Cb4 is further preparing a letter to the PANYNJ with guidelines for redeveloping the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

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It is timely because the Port Authority Board just approved a $ 70 million project to study the developemnt of the bus terminal and staging facilities . Fortunately the Chair indicated that this will not be the only project and that any other project that helps satisfy future demand for Trans Hudson capacity will be considered. We also understand that a joint meeting with New Jersey maybe in the works.

DEC6 air

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