Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen win Safer Bike Lanes

Under significant pressure from the community and its elected representatives, DOT agreed to add 33 real pedestrian refuges to the proposed 6th Avenue bike lane between 8th and 33rd Street. Community Board 4 will vote to approve the revised proposal in February.

cylist signalYou know this picture of 9th Avenue bike lanes that DOT uses in many  presentations? Wide median, turn lanes, cute little bike signals, red arrow signals, flexible bollards?  Just like a presidential campaign, very little of it remains true. If you get a bike lane today, it is not going to look like this at all.  Unlike the bike lanes on 8th and 9th Avenues in south Chelsea, the DOT has now stripped its bike lanes proposals from all pedestrian safety features: gone are the true pedestrian refuges that allow shorter avenue crossing and gone are the split phase left turns that  provide exclusive time for pedestrian to cross the side streets and for bicyclists to cross the intersections.

DOT analysis in 2014 demonstrated that such features yield 20 to 30% more safety than other types bike lanes. Still DOT engineers steeped in years of car focus deny the obvious and advocate for as little safety as possible. To proof, the DOT presenter still talked about “accidents” instead of crashes and denied the validity of their own studies.

9th bike lane

It has been difficult to endure the wrath of our bicyclists friends during these past two months. But we did the right thing and we won big for all.

Unfortunately we were not successful in our bid to win more split phase signals; the DOT plan for only 2 of them will leave 9 intersections  unprotected where 65% of injuries took place in the past. A real shame. What is the point of redoing corridors in Vision Zero if DOT does not intend to make the whole corridor safe? This becomes a bike lane installation instead of a complete street or a Vision zero project. More marketing.

IMG_3199For Vision Zero to succeed, we need more safety – not as little as possible. If the life of your children, family or friends depended on it, would n’t you ask the doctors to do “everything possible ” to save them? This is certainly the standard car drivers and government ask of car manufacturers. There is no reason why we should not ask the same from street designers.

Chekpeds will continue to make the point that Vision Zero is more than press conferences and power points presentations: it needs to permeate deep into the agencies and their projects and bring as much safety as possible to the pedestrians and cyclists.

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A Fun Thing To Do During The Blizzard

The Hudson Yards / Hell’s Kitchen Alliance (a Business Improvement District) is naming your new park and they want your help!

See the pictures and suggest a name by clicking HERE!

Block1smallThis will be the first time in New York city that a park name is crowdsourced! Spread the word .

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2015 was a good year for Street Safety!

Thanks to the DOT administration and the advocates of various groups ( most notably Transportation Alternatives ) we made great strides in 2015:

Safety: CHEKPEDS’s push on fully protected phases for pedestrian crossings was embraced by the DOT in their Vision Zero report by Borough. And sure enough, the DOT installed a number of them on 8th and 9th Avenues, bringing to 48 the number of intersections protected by either fully protected phases or Lead Pedestrian Intervals. This is a huge progress that makes us proud!  In addition Public Advocate Letitia James introduced legislation that would require the DOT to install 100 of such devices every year at the most dangerous intersections.

Rised

Thanks to your advocacy, we were also awarded a $ 250,000 grant by Council Member Corey Johnson , as part of the participatory budget democratic process, to install Raised Pedestrian Crossings at various intersections, to slow down cars and improve the crossing conditions for Disabled Residents and Seniors. Full Story 

Congestion: In its 8th Year the Hells Kitchen Traffic Study yielded a huge breakthrough. 120 buses daily were redirected away from turning at the intersection of 9th Avenue and 42nd Street where the congestion was backing the north section of 9th avenue   to turn at Dyer Avenue and 42nd street where they enter directly in the Lincoln tunnel. It also avoids turning movements at 41st Street and 9th Avenue, a deadly intersection. Full Story

Through our work with Manhattan Community Board 4, DOT  and Inspector Pilecki of the NYPD, we enjoined jitney buses that were illegally stopping on 42nd Street to apply for a permit. As a result, half of the buses were relocated to 40th street at 8th Avenue to drop off passengers and the pickup were regrouped in three stops on the North side of the 42nd street. While this is not ideal, a 50% reduction in jitney traffic is significant.

Option3The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey continued to discuss how to modernize the Bus Terminal. Through our advocacy, we obtained that a robust Community Consultation process be formally included in the Port Authority resolution that approved two studies in order to make a final decision in September 2016. Full Story

 

In our continuing quest for more pedestrian space, we officially submitted to DOiTT the list of 75 phone booths we want to be relocated as part of the LINKNYC roll out.

Traffic JusticecrasnoaccidentAll along the year, we continued to advocate for safety along Families For Safe Streets and Transportation Alternatives: we rallied to change the language “Crash No Accident”,  ( Click on image to take the pledge); we went to a vigil for the massive number of victims of vehicuar violence,  we marched at the World March for traffic victims – a first in New York city – where DiBlasio reaffirmed his commitment to Vision zero, we protested the call for MTA bus drivers to be exempt from responsibility in 8 deals crashes, we advocated for more $ in the budget to be spent on street design interventions.

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Greening: We installed and replaced a few tree guards for new trees on 9th Avenue. Thanks to our friends of the Hudson Yards/Hell’s Kitchen Alliance the Canoe, the Triangle as well as the tree beds on the 9th Avenue were planted with beautiful and diverse plants . A welcome improvement.

 

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24 Intersections now SAFER in Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen

8 years into the DOT Traffic study of Hell’s Kitchen, DOT is adding six (6) Split phases and 18 Lead Pedestrian Intervals in Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen, a  welcome news for the residents of these neighborhoods overwhelmed by the horrendous thru traffic.

Combined with those already installed as part of other projects ( bike lane, crash remediations etc..)  this brings the total to 24 Split Phases and 24 Lead Pedestrian Intervals. Protecting crossings is beneficial to pedestrians, to bicyclists who can get a head start and to people with disabilities who cannot move as fast as others.

We are grateful to DOT for these installations and look forward to the next phase of improvements.

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Join Us to remember the victims: 373,377 lives lost to traffic in US in last 10 years

dayofremembrance

 

November 15, @ 12 Noon, City Hall Park Fountain.

There are no words to describe this epidemic and the condoning silence that surrounds it . The costs to society are staggering, and the cost in pain to families indescribable.  Why is this not registering in the news more than say a Russian plane with 225 person killed – (a horrific crash in itself )?  We cannot stay silent . Join us to remember and speak up.

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Bus Terminal Master Planning should include Community Input


Option3The Port Authority Board voted on October 22nd to initiate two studies in advance of finalizing a location and a design for a new bus terminal by September 2016.

  • Performing a “Trans-Hudson Commuting Capacity Study” including other modes like rail and ferry capacity, existing and anticipated patterns and preferences of bus commuter travel after arrival in Manhattan, strategies to reduce bus congestion in neighborhood streets adjacent to the proposed new bus terminal and in the Lincoln Tunnel and its approaches.
  • Conducting an international design competition (the “Bus Terminal Design Competition” or “Design Competition”) soliciting conceptual designs for a new bus terminal on the site recommended by the Working Group, one block west of the current structure, between Ninth and Eleventh Avenues; and appropriate pedestrian connections to mass transit in the vicinity of the new terminal; suggest alternative sites for a new Port Authority bus terminal should their analysis determine that the proposed site west of 9th Avenue is not optimal.

A very interesting part of the board’s recommendation was to “solicit substantial public and stakeholder input in this ongoing process” a part that has been sorely missing to date. Consider that the proposed bus location west of 9th avenue , would increase commuting time by 7 minutes everyday  and would require the condemnation of two 9th Avenue blocks, In short, the  $ 10 billion project would yield a slower commute, and a disfigured neighborhood.  Community Board 4 responded accordingly in its letter to the Port Authority: 

CB4 is appalled at the idea of condemning two blocks in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen-south, on 9th Avenue, our main retail corridor, in order to free up investment properties and make space for ramps and pedestrian passageways, when the existing underground passageways between Dyer and 8th Avenues could easily be used instead.  This would require the eviction of many affordable housing tenants, a church and food pantry, a nursery school, a farm, the only affordable food supermarket and a number of other retail stores essential to the character of our neighborhood. Robert Moses technique of razing our neighborhood is no longer acceptable. You can and must do better than that. “

As such projects will take eons to get completed , the Community Board also recommended that the Port Authority use unallocated funds to perform short term system – wide improvements that could relieve commuters and communities. Read the full letter here. 

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Tell the Feds: City Streets Are Not Highways

It doesn’t make much sense to design a street that passes through the center of a community’s downtown the same way we would the 50 mph highway that carries commuters from that city to another.

Currently, local communities and states must adhere to a long list of federal design criteria, or face an arduous and costly process of requesting exceptions to do simple things like line a downtown street with trees or use design cues to slow traffic to the community’s desired design speed and make streets safer for people in cars and on foot.

In a proposed rule, FHWA decided after a thorough review to scrap 11 of 13 current design criteriafor most roads and streets with speed limits under 50 mph. Many of the streets that fit this description often serve as a town’s main street or are where a large share of pedestrian fatalities occur. According to the proposed rule, these criteria have “minimal influence on the safety or operation on our urban streets” and are more useful for designing freeways, highways and higher speed urban arterials.

We agree — do you?  FHWA needs to hear that they have strong support. Can you take just one minute to generate a letter that we’ll personally deliver to FHWA for you?

Sign this letter endorsing this proposed rule  and thanking FHWA for their great work

This  move will liberate local communities that have been working hard to make their roads safer for everyone that uses them, and rid them of the need to petition FHWA for exceptions to do exactly that. We need to make sure FHWA moves forward with this proposed rule.

 

 

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BIGGEST TRAFFIC CHANGE in years makes a superb debut in the quiet of the summer

On July 13th , in the middle of the day, Port Authority and DOT started to operate a contra lane on Dyer Avenue, between 42nd and 41st Streets for buses to reach the Lincoln Tunnel in a safer way. This resulted in 90 less left turns by buses at 42nd Street and 9th Avenue a dangerous intersection used by thousands of pedestrians. Our DOT Commissioner does big things quietly !

Slide1Every day between 4 and 6 p.m.  about 90 commuter buses travel west on 42nd street,  turn south at 9th Avenue, and then turn west at 41st Street and 9th Avenue to reach the Lincoln Tunnel. A large proportion of buses there are MTA buses going to Staten Island. Both of those intersections are very dangerous according to Vision Zero.

We all know that left turning movements on a two-way street cause many crashes.   In addition, the buses contribute to traffic which causes heavy congestion on the northern part of 9th Avenue .

IMG_3788Now, from  4 to 6 p.m. every week day, while the other three lanes continue to go north, one lane of Dyer Avenue goes south, with cones and changeable signs. Instead of turning south at 9th Avenue, then west at 41st  Street and south at Dyer Avenue, the buses continue west to the Dyer Avenue intersection with 42nd Street and make a southbound turn in the contra lane, which brings them directly in the tunnel . Two traffic agents are located there to direct the operation.

IMG_3791As a result the 42nd Street intersection with 9th avenue sees very few buses turning at that time of the day, and the congestion to the north of 9th Avenue is reduced.  (there is currently construction of a hotel on the west side of 9th Avenue that makes matters worse for the time being). Further, MTA has rerouted all its buses at the other times the day to use 11th Avenue to reach the tunnel. This is a major success.

Removing 90 left turn movements by buses everyday is a major achievement, that will without a doubt, reduce crashes and injuries at this crowded and dangerous intersection . In total , the number of turns is reduced by 180 per day. The community had worked closely with DOT on these changes. We are extremely grateful to the DOT and the Port Authority staff who came up with this brilliant idea and implemented it as part of the Hells Kitchen Traffic Study.

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NYPD and their Cars

Commissioner Bratton this week repeatedly voiced his support for removing the Times Square Plazas that have become an enormous success with all users including the real estate interests in the area. This is in response to incidents with a few topless women, draped in USA flag paint and the ever-present petty crooks now disguised as Walt Disney mascots.

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While the NYC official statistics show that the plaza has reduced crashes by 40%, the Commissioner continues to quote Fox News numbers to the contrary. That may explain why CrashStats is useless in changing NYPD behavior: they keep their own set of books.

 

We believe that in fact, Commissioner Bratton is playing to his troops: the horrifying truth about policing Times Square is that you cannot do it with your butt glued to the seat of a White and Blue Crown Vic, using a megaphone. You actually have to WALK. 

That officers would prefer cruising in their vehicles instead of stopping and frisking topless women is yet another reminder of NYPD’s irrational love story with cars.

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION here to keep pedestrians first in Times Square

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New Bills introduced to prevent Left Turn collisions

ON August 13, Public Advocate Letitia James introduced two traffic safety bills in the New York City Council aimed at reducing pedestrian deaths across the City. The first bill would require the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) to establish protected left turn signals at 100 additional intersections with four or more traffic lanes. The second bill would require the DOT to provide reports on all pedestrian right-of-way violations to identify intersections requiring better safety measures.

“By increasing the number of protected left turn signals at large intersections and taking a closer look at locations with chronic right-of-way violations, we can make Vision Zero a reality.”

At last year’s Vision Zero conference CHEKPEDS advocated for such a measure. We have  been a vocal supporter of Left turn signals to improve pedestrian safety. On the Chelsea portion of the bike lanes where left turn signals are installed, crashes were reduced by 50% versus 30% where they were not . As part the Hell’s Kitchen Traffic Study , Chekpeds has requested the installation of over 10 such signals in our neighborhood, and  two new ones were  just installed at 41st street and 9th avneue where two people were killed and at 43rd Street and 9th Avenue. 

IMG_3200According to a report commissioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, New York State has the most pedestrian fatalities caused by left-turning vehicles of any state in the country. And according to the New York City DOT, left-turn pedestrian collisions outnumber right-turn collisions 3-1.

“T.A. supports Public Advocate James’ two pieces of new Vision Zero legislation,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “The proposal for dedicated left-turn signals is an opportunity for the NYC DOT to continue leading this effort … We applaud Public Advocate James for pursuing public accountability, enforcement and transparency as part of Vision Zero implementation.”

The Right of Way Law, enacted by the City last year, increased penalties for drivers by making it a misdemeanor to hit pedestrians or cyclists with the right of way. Public Advocate James believes quarterly reports on violations of this newly established law will help inform where additional safety measures are needed.

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