Finally more space for pedestrians in Hell’s Kitchen!

Our community has been asking for the removal of phone booths for years. These bulky and ugly appliances have given shelter to illegal activities, while being of very limited utility and taking up a lot of real estate on our sidewalks where the crowding is intense. They were there to support advertising .

We started working on this matter in 2008! neighbors did surveys, inventories, letters etc.. and since then we have been diligently negotiating for their removal , first with the help of Borough Presient Gale Brewer who locked in reduction of 40 booths. The balance was due to be converted to LinkNYC two years ago .

IMG_0017 Now with the drug trade returning to Hell’s Kitchen, the block associations clamored for removal of phone booths which facilitate the illegal activities. the link operator has not lived up to its commitment  , and City Council Speaker wrote a letter to the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunication (DoiTT) asking for the old booths to be immediately removed. Fortunately, the new commissioner agreed with him.

Already 20 installations have been removed with a second wave in the works ! The infamous booth at West 44th Street and 9th Avenue , and the one on 9th Avenue at West 45th street we sought to remove 10 years ago, are gone …  The sidewalk are restored providing new space for pedestrians to walk on and see through. Their removal demonstrate how  much real space and  visual obstructions these booths were causing.  This is a huge victory in our fierce and endless fight to reclaim the real estate that belongs to us – the pedestrians.  Thank you Speaker Johnson !

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Study: Air quality in our district is dangerous to our health

The communities of Hell’s Kitchen South / Chelsea / Hudson Yards in New York City have reasons to be concerned about the quality of their air. A six-week study of the air quality performed by Clinton/Chelsea/ Hell’s Kitchen Coalition for Pedestrian Safety (CHEKPEDS)’s  25 volunteers demonstrated that the air  contains unhealthy levels of micro particulate matters that are known to cause cardio vascular and respiratory diseases like lung cancer. Read the full report Here. 

Summary Findings

Every week for six weeks, peaks of particulate matter (PM1, PM2.5, PM10) and NO2 caused by fuel exhaust significantly exceeded levels considered safe by the World Health Organization (WHO)

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The areas closest to heavy vehicular flows and the bus terminal  showed the worst measurements on the Air Quality Index (AQI ). Click Here to view the interactive map .

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These results on the ground confirm and amplify the New York City Department of Health measurements that show this neighborhood as being the third worst in New York City for air quality. After 15 years of city programs, this neighborhood remains highly polluted and lags all others for air quality improvements. 

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Next Steps

We are calling on our elected officials and agencies to put air quality front and center of many efforts in our neighborhood:

  • Improve year- round measurements and available data: agencies like the New York State  Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the New York City Department of Health  (DOHMH) should deploy additional measuring towers especially in New York City Housing Authority (NYSHA) properties in our district. Results should be reported to the community annually.
  • Take short term measures: agencies must develop immediate plans for reducing air pollution in the area: DOT and Port Authority (PA) have some control over the use of streets and facilities in the area. New planning and vehicular rules that improve air quality  must be developed and implemented now, especially reducing idling cars and buses.
  • Incorporate in greenhouse reduction plans: agencies must include the impacted area in their long-term Plans : Port Authority plans call for a 35 percent reduction greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction by 2025.  Both the PA and the City signed on to the Paris agreement that requires 80 percent reduction by 2050.
  • Factor in future land use projects: Community Board 4 and Department of City Planning exert influence over the characteristics of new developments; they must pay serious attention to this issue. The area’s air quality improvement programs must be included in all projects.
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2019 was a roller coaster- Best Wishes for 2020

 

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Dear friends ,

2019 brought us many successes , but – in the end-  turned out to be one of the bloodiest for pedestrians and cyclists in Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen. Eight fatalities!  double from last year. This is devastating. Pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages deserve a safer city. We will not stop until that happens.

The number of traffic fatalities is getting worse citywide and countrywide , but we had hoped that our efforts over the last 15 years would have spared us from this carnage.  Three of the fatalities took place in locations where we had requested additional safety, pointing to the need for more resources for DOT to ramp up their efforts .

CITYWIDE : 

Congestion pricing legislation passed in Albany. This is the only way to get less chaotic and safer streets . The implementation should start in early 2021. Read more about it.  We sent information to all the out of borough state elected to educate them on the benefit they will derive from the program.

Enforcement: 750 Speed Cameras were added to streets around schools and their hours of operations were extended thanks to the extraordinary persistence of Families for Safe Streets and Transportation Alternatives.

Street MasterPlan : Speaker Corey Johnson’s signature initiative IMG_0F91A3194161-1to accelerate DOT’s efforts and  keep the DOT accountable for their results was passed into law. With the Speaker’s strong support, Chekpeds was instrumental in adding goals to fix intersections and to add pedestrians space in the bill.

Tools & Training : We designed and delivered with the Borough President staff a training session for Community Board Transportation committee members. Crashmapper was included in the Data training curriculum for new Community board members. Chekpeds trained activists in three separate sessions on the use of Crashmapper.  To date, 7,000 have used the site and it is frequently quoted in the press as a source.

 

IN OUR DISTRICT

DOT did an admirable job with limited resources to deliver on many projects in our neighborhood. They worked hand in hand with the community : in total, they made 16 intersections safer for both pedestrian and cyclists , installed a major upgrade to pedestrians space, laid down four different protected bike lanes and completely transformed a bus corridor.

Safer Intersections  for both pedestrians and cyclists at

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  • 41st street and 10th avenue
  • 42nd Street and 8th Avenue on 42nd street
  • 39th, 41th , 42nd , 43rd, 45th  and 57th Streets and 8th Avenue
  • 57th street and 10th Avenue
  • 57th, 55th, 53rd, 51st, 49th, 47th, 45th , and 43rd street on 11th Avenue

Pedestrian space and experience  :

  • The sidewalk space was doubled in size on 8th Avenue between 38th and 45th Streets where commuters frequently walked in the street !
  • TOSS (Trash off the sidewalk) aims at relocating the garbage from the sidewalk to the parking lane and allow pedestrians to walk without obstructions or being subject to rats and odors. The Departement of Sanitation is reviewing our proposal.
  • The Air Quality Study involved 25 volunteers to take measurement of our air quality with portable mini labs: the Flow devices. After 6 weeks of measurement, we are now waiting for the final report.

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Bus riders finally got people’s attention:

  • a new style of protected bus lanes was installed on 14th Street, along with limiting vehicles to local 14th street busaccess only. Transporation Alternatives and Riders Alliance were determined to make every bus rider count.
  • Early results are impressive, but the side streets still require some mitigation. 14th street bus way nforcement camera mounted on buses make their debut this week. See more Here and recent statistics Here
  • 42nd Street also got an upgrade with red painted bus lanes. The jury is still out on its efficacy.

Cyclists also got numerous  improvements

  • on the 8th Avenue stretch in front of the Port Authority bus terminal DOT closed the gap with a fully protected bike lane with very few pedestrian conflicts – It is spectacular!
  • 11th avenue from 57th to 42nd Street was turn into one- way – a project we have worked on for 15 years – and equipped with a fully protected bike lane and boarding islands for the bus riders.
  • 8th Avenue from 55th street to and including Columbus circle was upgraded and equipped with a bike lane .
  • 50th and 55th streets we equipped with protected bike lanes as well as 10th Avenue from 50th street to the connection to Amsterdam Avenue .

As you can see, our effort have never been more successful and yet the numbers do not reflect these advances. We are both proud and profoundly saddened by this year’s results . We must continue to question whether our approach works and what else we and the city should be doing .

We wish you a safe and healthy 2020.

 

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Pedestrian and Bike Mayors ?

EKUiBUwXsAEE8oiOne week ago the Chair of the City Council’s Transportation committtee introduced legislation to establish two offices: one of pedestrians and one for bicyclists.  Kathleen Treat, representing CHEKPEDS,  spoke in favor of it.

This position exists in London and Amsterdam and would be very useful in New York City to elevate the profile of Pedestrians and coordinate the work of multiple agencies. CHEKPEDS testified today at the City Council in favor of Intro 1813 to create an office of pedestrians:

“The walking infrastructure – sidewalks – is controlled by SEVEN different agencies and a vast number of property owners. Because of this, the Office for Pedestrians should be a stand-alone office, rather than inside another agency or another office. The Office for Pedestrians must be independent from the Office for Cyclists. It must not be subsumed in another office driven by divergent  priorities.”…”Finally, the law should clearly define what are the powers invested in this  office and what is its  budget”.

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Join Us : World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Victims

Events_World-Remembrance-Day_Global-Road-Technology-and-The-Decade-of-Action-970x320-2500x750Please join Families for Safe Streets and Transportation Alternatives in commemorating World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Crash Victims on Sunday, November 17, 2019 at 12  noon. 

As always, we’ll honor and memorialize all those who’ve been injured and killed on our streets (and sidewalks too!) but this year we’ll also be demanding a plan from our national leaders (and those who want to be) to end the silence on traffic violence.
We will meet at Bowling Green, at just steps away from the US Department of Transportation.

Together, we mourn. Together, we remember. And together, we will stand in the presence of 100 body bags to demand our national leaders (and those who want to be) put an end to the silence on traffic violence. #EndTrafficViolence

Sadly, this epidemic is one that unites us all. People of every faith, neighborhood, race, class, gender, age, ability and political affiliation are hit personally by this issue. We look forward to commemorating this important day together — and to demanding action from our leaders.

Please note this is a public event and all are encouraged to participate.  RSVP: transalt.org/WDOR2019

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A profound change: the Street Master Plan becomes law

IMG_0F91A3194161-1After months of discussions and refinements , the city council , under Speaker Corey Johnson’s leadership , passed a legislation to make the DOT accountable for the annual implementation of street improvements that benefit all. “The law shall prioritize and promote: (i) the safety of all street users; (ii) on-street priority for mass transit vehicles; (iii) the reduction of vehicle emissions; and (iv) access for individuals with disabilities”. This statement of intent should help accelerate the culture change already underway at DOT and cement our progress regardless of the next administration.

Chekpeds had been in conversation with the offices of Speaker Johnson to advocate for more pedestrian and safety improvements. Our requests were echoed and supported by Manhattan Community Board 4 and Families for Safe Streets.

We are particularly pleased with the results: sidewalks were included in the definition of “pedestrian space” in addition to plazas. The law requires DOT to immediately start protecting 400 intersections per year from left turn conflicts. By 2023 DOT must create 1,000,000 square feet of pedestrian space.

The law requires that accessible signals be installed at 500 intersections annually starting immediately, and install pedestrian ramps at no fewer than 3,000 intersection by 2026.

The law also requires the annual installation of 30 miles of protected bus lanes and transit signal priority, 30 miles of protected bike lanes and that the bicycle network be completely connected by 2026.

This is nothing short of extraordinary: it  will focus DOT on safety as a priority over flow. It will compel DOT to align its resources and request an appropriate budget in order to comply. We are extremely grateful to Speaker Johnson.

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Vehicular Violence Accountability Act is introduced

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., New York State Senator Timothy M. Kennedy, and New York State Senator Brad Hoylman, last week announced the introduction of a bill establishing a new article in the State’s Penal Law entitled “Vehicular Violence,” which establishes four new offenses including the class A misdemeanor “Death by Vehicle,” and class B misdemeanor “Serious Physical Injury by Vehicle.” The legislation was drafted by the D.A.’s Office on the recommendation of a New York State Grand Jury empaneled by D.A. Vance.

D.A. Vance said: “While other types of crime drop to historic lows across New York, we are experiencing an epidemic of vehicular violence . Today, we are announcing a bill which fixes laws that are fundamentally broken, so that more drivers who injure or kill can be held accountable. The Vehicular Violence Accountability Act is our effort to make sure that on the criminal justice side, we are doing all that we can to  ensure that dangerous drivers face accountability.

Senator Hoylman said: “In 2019, there have already been 171 traffic fatalities in New York City—and the number of victims continues to grow. As this new grand jury report from the District Attorney’s office shows, we need strong new state laws to hold drivers accountable for causing serious physical injury or death while behind the wheel. I look forward to working with Manhattan D.A. Vance, advocates like Transportation Alternatives, and my colleagues in the Legislature to craft new laws to protect pedestrians and make our streets safer.”

Thank you Senator Hoylman for introducing this critical legislation .

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A new gem on 11th Avenue

14 blocks ( W43rd to W 57th) of brand new protected bike lane just popped up on 11th Avenue , or so it seemed!  The 11th Avenue redesign was the last piece of a major puzzle entailing the Lincoln Tunnel approaches,  that took DOT and the Hell’s Kitchen community 15 years to resolve. We owe it to NYCDOT and Greg Haas who did a wonderful job on this project.

The design includes protected intersections, protected bike lane and bus boarding areas,  to allow for a future SBS. This is a major new – safe- facility for the many new residents of 11th Avenue where high rises are proliferating. Biking at full speed while passing car traffic and automotive dealers is particularly sweet.

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And because we cannot stop enjoying it , here is an aerial view of the 8th Avenue pedestrian and cyclist improvements from W38th to W 45th.  Again thank you NYCDOT!

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More legislative good news

Two more legislations passed last week that will improve our safety on the streets: 

  • the carting industry reform will limit the number of commercial gY6JQ-tchaulers in each of the service districts, thus reducing the overall  miles travelled by commercial garbage trucks by 50%. This industry had continued to demonstrate its disregard for human life and for the laws.
  • the complete street legislation will require the DOT to comply with a complete street checklist or will be called to justify why a project do into include enough safety features for all users. This combined with the Maser Plan will be a potent incentive for the DOT to execute properly.

 

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New Wide Sidewalk and Fully Protected Bike Lane on 8th Avenue

 

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DOT has completed its installation of a wider sidewalk and protected bike lane from W38th to W45th Streets,  with NO CONFLICTS with vehicles (full split phase signals, no left turn at W42nd Street)  and striped green at W45th Street ! This is the beginning of a new era for pedestrian and bicyclist safety!  THANK YOU to DOT’s pedestrian unit and to Port Authority staff who worked together to design these changes in a challenging area.

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The pavement was also fixed in multiple locations along the bike lane , although much more needs to be done .

 

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