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Plan for Grand Street Cycle Track Features New Design Treatment

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DOT has unveiled plans for a Grand Street cycle track [PDF] that bear the fingerprints of Danish planner Jan Gehl. It would be Manhattan's first cross-town protected bike path.

Grand Street is narrower than Ninth Avenue, where the existing protected path runs. Whereas the Ninth Avenue cycle track uses signal timing to prevent conflicts between bikes and turning vehicles, the Grand Street plan uses what DOT is calling a "mixing zone," a space shared by cyclists and drivers at the approach to an intersection (shown above).

In an unusually thorough and bike-positive story about cycle tracks (headline: "Streets are on track for safer bike lanes"), Villager reporter Gabriel Zucker explains:

The narrow-street pilot on Grand St. lacks these special lights; instead, a 90-foot “mixing zone” where the bike lane merges with a right-turn bay will allow cyclists and motorists to negotiate the intersection themselves. The mixing zone, like the entire cycle track design, was copied from Copenhagen, Denmark. According to Josh Benson, New York City D.O.T. bicycle program coordinator, the zones have led to a steep decrease in intersection crashes in Copenhagen.

The Grand Street cycle track would run from Varick Street to Chrystie Street, making the lack of a protected path on Chrystie, a north-south route, look like an even bigger missed opportunity. As DOT creates a network-within-a-network of safer bike lanes, what's holding back protected paths? Community Board politics seem to be the determining factor. While the Grand Street path falls almost entirely within the boundaries of CB2, which recently approved an Eighth Avenue cycle track, Chrystie Street is the domain of CB3. Community Board votes are not binding, but they are seen as a proxy for public opinion.

CB2 voted on the Grand Street cycle track last night. A CB2 representative was not able to retrieve the results of the vote this morning.

Image: NYCDOT 

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Is CB 8 Angling to Get Rid of Bike Lanes on 91st Street?

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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.

Photo: bicyclesonly/Flickr

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Details of the Mayor’s Residential Parking Permit Proposal

RPP_signs.jpgPotential residential parking permit stickers, curbside regulations, and David Yassky.

Here are some more details about the residential parking permit program proposed today by Mayor Bloomberg and DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan:

  • A residential parking permit (RPP) plan will be included in the congestion pricing legislation that will be introduced in the City Council and State Legislature.
  • Though details still need to be worked out by the legislators, neighborhoods and Community Boards will have the choice to opt in to the program and propose their own curbside regulations and zone boundaries. Borough Presidents, Council members and DOT will also be involved in the process. "Community Boards will make the determinations and balance the various interests to form the most reasonable plan," DOT Commissioner Sadik-Khan said.
  • The proposed community-driven process would look something like this, according the Mayor's press release: "Beginning in the fall of 2008, residents can petition for the establishment of an RPP zone in their neighborhood by submitting a request to their Community Board on a form that will be available on the DOT web-site. The Community Board will then be required to hold a public meeting. The Community Board's approved plan will be submitted to the Borough President and the local City Council member, who will both be required to approve the plan before it is implemented."
  • Curbside regulations will vary from neighborhood to neighborhood but would likely be limited to very specific times and places. So, for example, if a neighborhood is worried that they'll become a park-and-ride location, only vehicles with permits would be allowed to park during a specific period of time during morning rush hour. For example:
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  • The RPP program will specifically be aimed at discouraging park-and-ride activity and to help residents secure parking in "neighborhoods that face pressure from large facilities like sports arenas," Bloomberg said.
  • There could be "a small fee" for permits to help cover the administrative costs of running the program but the Mayor said that would be up to the legislators. "With oil at $108 a barrel and gasoline approaching $4 a gallon, $10 a year for parking isn't going to make that much of a difference to most people who can afford to have a car in the first place," Bloomberg said.
  • New York City's RPP plan is being modeled on successful programs up and running in Washington D.C., Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and London.
  • The RPP program will not go forward if congestion pricing is not passed.

The Mayor's full press release can be found after the jump:

Read more...
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Carrion Supports Congestion and Congestion Pricing

Last week AMNY ran a profile of Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr., playing on the angle that he may make a run for mayor in two years. The piece is mostly flattering, but does make mention of Carrion's controversial support for the new Yankee Stadium, which, as Streetsblog readers are probably sick of hearing by now, will bring ~4,000 parking spaces to what was public park land, further polluting the asthma-stricken South Bronx with additional year-round traffic.

carrion.jpgCarrion is unapologetic in his advocacy of the stadium, as well as the $225 million in taxpayer-subsidized parking that will come with it.

Carrion gives himself credit for helping to "turn the tide" in the Bronx from "an acceptance of failure" to an environment in which investors are optimistic enough to put millions of dollars into housing, parkland and a new stadium for the Yankees.

In today's Daily News, Carrion refers to last week's approval of parking deck financing as "yet another important step toward realizing the goal of investment and community participation in the redevelopment of this area."

But not everyone would paint such a rosy picture. Last year Carrion was accused of purging community board members who opposed the stadium project. More recently, some South Bronx residents have vowed to fight construction of the garages. Simply put, they don't want the traffic or the pollution necessitated by an auto-dependent vision of economic prosperity.

Ironically, in the AMNY profile, Carrion also makes a case for congestion pricing.

"The fact that we can reduce millions of tons of particulate matter from the environment, and reduce the heat effect that we create and get more people to live healthy is a good thing. It's the objective that's more important than the inconvenience."

Carrion may not see the disconnect between his negative view of traffic congestion his zeal to bring more of it to the South Bronx, but others do. Again, the Daily News:

"All along I've been opposed to the stadium and the traffic and congestion it would bring to the neighborhood," [Council Member Helen] Foster said. "And this [garage] project will just encourage even more people to drive to the west Bronx."

Many of Foster's constituents worry the 9,000 parking spaces around the stadium will turn their already traffic- and asthma-choked neighborhood into a de facto park-and-ride hub -- especially if the mayor's Manhattan congestion pricing plan becomes reality.

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NYC Gets Its First-Ever Physically-Separated Bike Path

The Department of Transportation revealed plans for New York City's first-ever physically-separated bike lane, or "cycle track," at a Manhattan Community Board 4 meeting last night. The new bike path will run southbound on Ninth Avenue from W. 23rd to W. 16th Street in Manhattan. Unlike the typical Class II on-street bike lane in which cyclists mix with motor vehicle traffic, this new design will create an exclusive path for bicycles between the sidewalk and parked cars.

DOT's plan also includes traffic signals for bicyclists, greenery-filled refuge areas for pedestrians, a new curbside parking plan, and signalized left-turn lanes for motor vehicles. "The left turn lane will be immediately adjacent to the bike lane," DOT Bicycle Program Director Josh Benson explained to CB4 members. "As a cyclist you’ll know that if there’s a car next to you, that car is turning left." Likewise, left-turning drivers' view of cyclists will be completely unobscured. The bike lane is 10-feet wide to accommodate street cleaning and emergency vehicles.


DOT planners consulted with Danish urban designer Jan Gehl on the plan, according to
Transportation Alternatives Deputy Director Noah Budnick. "They are drawing from international best-practice and being smart about talking to other engineers and planners who have implemented these types of designs," Budnick said. "They really thought holistically about everything that is going on on the street."

These types of physically-separated on-street bike lanes, increasingly referred to as "cycle tracks," are commonly found in bike-friendly cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam. Livable Streets advocates have long pushed DOT to experiment with this type of bike lane design in New York City. After Benson's presentation, Community Board 4's transportation committee voted to approve the DOT plan which is part of a larger pedestrian safety and public space initiative around the intersection of 9th Avenue and 14th Street.

The new bike lane design is a break from previously stated DOT policy. In March, during discussion of a possible Houston Street bike lane, DOT officials told Manhattan's Community 2 that physically-separated bike lanes should only be installed on streets with a maximum of 8 intersections per mile to ensure fewer conflicts with turning vehicles.

A copy of the presentation DOT made at last night's Community Board meeting can be found here.


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Bike & Ped Improvements Slated for Manhattan Bridge Approach


DOT plans to build a physically-separated two-way bike lane on this one block stretch of Canal Street at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge. The project also includes pedestrian safety fixes.

The Manhattan approach to the Manhattan Bridge, where Chinatown and the Lower East Side come together in a jumble, has long presented one of the most confusing streetscapes in the city. Pedestrians, bicycles, cars and trucks compete for space in a chaotic rush of traffic that often feels dangerous and unnavigable.

Now the city's Dept. of Transportation is going to do something about it.

In a presentation given to the Community Board 3 transportation committee back in July (download PDF here), the DOT proposed several major improvements to the area, including sidewalk extensions, pedestrian refuge islands and decreased crossing distances for those on foot. Pedestrian safety improvements for two schools in the shadow of the bridge, IS 131 and PS 124, are a key part of the plan and have already been put in place.

The committee unanimously approved the proposal.

Perhaps the most dramatic element in the project is a "complete intersection" redesign for Canal St. at Forsyth St. This is where the bridge's newly reopened northside bike path currently ends, at a blind corner that practically guarantees conflict with pedestrians and cyclists riding the wrong way along the one block stretch of Canal St. leading to Christie St.


The DOT's plan will separate bike and pedestrian flows with a fence and provide a one block physically-separated bike path (with bicycle traffic signals) on Canal St. The DOT press office did not respond to questions about the project and would not say when it would be completed.

A DOT source says that it is difficult to say when the project will be completed now that it is in the hands of the sometimes slow-moving Dept. of Design and Construction (DDC). A similar fate has befallen the Sands Street bike safety improvements on the Brooklyn side of the Manhattan Bridge. Announced on June 14, 2005, the project appears to have stalled since being handed off from DOT to DDC.


Top photo: Geoff Zink. Plan and photographic rendering were pulled from DOT's presentation.

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No Love for One-Way Proposal in Jackson Heights

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Congestion in Jackson Heights: The DOT needs some new ideas

The Queens Times-Ledger reports on the "cool reception" given last week by Queens Community Board 3 and City Council Member Hiram Monserrate to the DOT's proposal for a one-way pair of streets on 35th and 37th avenues. What's most disappointing about the debate so far is the DOT's insistence it can't come up with any other solutions to the chronic traffic congestion that plagues the heavily residential neighborhood.

Will Sweeney, a founding member of the Western Jackson Heights Alliance civic association, said one-way streets east and west would increase vehicle speeds and danger to pedestrians. He said the congestion was created not by east-west problems, but by backups on north-south streets. That is where the DOT should focus its efforts, he said.

"We do need a traffic engineering solution to the congestion and pedestrian safety problems in Jackson Heights. We don't need a dangerous raceway for through traffic," he said.

DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Maura McCarthy, who noted that no one spoke in favor of the plan, said there were not many options for the city to consider.

"We are not here to force anything down anybody's throat," she said, but then added "there are not a lot of other ideas."

You can find a PDF of the DOT's complete presentation here.

Photo: Sarah Goodyear 

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Queens Residents Oppose Loss of Parking for Bus Rapid Transit

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Trend Watch: New York City Community Boards and civic groups opposing progressive transportation projects on the grounds that they interfere with car owners' on-street parking and double-parking privileges. Last week, while DOT was catching flack in Brooklyn for its plan to stripe bike lanes on Brooklyn's 9th Street, Community Board 13 in Queens was putting up a fight over the removal of parking spaces for a new Bus Rapid Transit on Merrick Boulevard. In the Bronx, Coop City residents were calling BRT plans "a recipe for disaster."

The Queens Chronicle reports:

Transit officials say the New York City Bus Rapid Transit system will be a commuter's dream. With fewer stops, dedicated lanes and on-board technology that can communicate with stoplights to clear right of way for the buses, advocates hope to create a quick and more convenient mode of transportation that will beat driving to work.

But with a pilot route scheduled to begin on Merrick Boulevard in the fall, some residents are voicing concerns about the impact the buses might have on local merchants and businesses.

The buses will use dedicated lanes during peak hours, according to Ted Orosz, Bus Rapid Transit project manager for New York City Transit. The change will be accompanied by more police enforcement to prevent motorists from parking in the dedicated lanes during operating hours.

"We already don't have enough parking," said Bess DeBetham, a member of Community Board 13 and a local business advocate. "Elderly people going to see the doctor can't even double park to see the doctor right now. Now having a bus stop in front, that's going to have an impact on business."

Photo: SuperEvilBrian/Flickr
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Park Slope says: “One Way? No Way.” CB6 says: “Let’s Study It.”

In the aftermath of last Thursday's CB6 transportation committee meeting on the DOT's proposal to convert Sixth and Seventh Avenues in Park Slope, Brooklyn to one-way arterials, some observers are noting that the motion that came out of the meeting may not accurately reflect the input of the nearly 700 people who came out to oppose the plan. As Norman Oder points out at Atlantic Yards Report, the language voted on by the committee leaves the DOT plenty of leeway.

Judge for yourself. Here's the text:

Motion 1: CB6 thanks DOT for their efforts to improve pedestrian safety and facilitate the flow of traffic in and around Park Slope as dialogue and discussions are always beneficial; however, we request that DOT not proceed with their proposal to convert 6th and 7th Avenues from two-way to one-way streets at this time because there are too many questions about the impact of this change and how it would affect the neighborhood's traffic flow and pedestrian safety.

We further request that DOT continue to work with the Community Board and the Park Slope community in resolving Park Slope's very real traffic and pedestrian safety problems. For example, the perceived/actual high rate of speed of vehicles traveling on 8th Avenue and Prospect Park West, and the congested Union Street approach to the Grand Army Plaza . By working more closely with the Community Board and community we are committing to work with DOT to produce an improved set of remedies and actions designed to further enhance pedestrian safety and facilitate the safe movement of vehicles within our community.

Motion 2: CB6 would table making a recommendation on the 4th Avenue proposal until after such time as we have had a chance to engage DOT in a more comprehensive discussion of the traffic planning needs and challenges facing the Park Slope community.

Streetsblog's Aaron Naparstek (who, full disclosure, is a member of the committee) reported the next day that the committee "fully and unequivocally" rejected the DOT proposal. But AYR's Oder was correct when he wrote that things were a bit more complicated, and that what actually happened was that "the committee, expressing disapproval, voted to table discussion on the plans until further talks with DOT and implementation of community-requested changes." Watch video of the motion's passage by Kevin Burget here.