Pair of DOT Projects Promise Safer Walking and Biking in South Bronx Nabes

crames_square.jpgThe Crames Square safety project adds new pedestrian refuges and simplifies vehicle movements. Image: NYCDOT [PDF]

Safer streets and new bike lanes are slated for the neighborhoods of Hunts Point and Longwood in the South Bronx. The improvements will make it safer to walk to stores on Southern Boulevard and add new bike connections leading to Barretto Point Park.

Crames Square, a complicated five-point intersection on Southern Boulevard near the Hunts Point Avenue subway station, has an alarming history of crashes that injure pedestrians. Between 2004 and 2008, 17 pedestrians were injured there, according to the state DMV. One block away, 21 pedestrians were injured where Hunts Point Avenue crosses Bruckner Boulevard, a mega-wide highway service road. A DOT safety project [PDF] calls for building new pedestrian refuges and extending existing ones at both locations.

In Hunts Point, a separate DOT project [PDF] will add pedestrian refuges and painted bike lanes to Randall and Leggett Avenues, linking up with another new bike lane on Tiffany Avenue that will lead to the waterfront park at Barretto Point.

Last week, NYCDOT presented both projects to the transportation committee of Bronx Community Board 2, where they got a favorable reception, according to district manager John Robert. "It’s ridiculously wide," he said of the pedestrian crossings at Crames Square. "We know it’s unsafe."

The new Hunts Point bike lanes will serve a route that used to be covered by an MTA shuttle bus terminating at Barretto Point Park. They should debut this spring, Robert said, before the park’s floating pool opens in June. "The timing is perfect," he added, "because now the kids who used to go to the park won’t be able to take the bus, but they can bike."

randall_tiffany.jpgRandall Avenue and Tiffany Street in Hunts Point are slated to receive traffic-calming treatments and new bike lanes in time for summer. Image: NYCDOT [PDF]

crames_squ_before.jpgThe existing conditions at Crames Square. Image: NYCDOT

  • rlb

    Is there a particular reason that these plans always involve a median instead of widened sidewalks?
    While I appreciate the safety of the pedestrian refuge concept, for several cases here it’s having to cross one lane versus two – not the biggest difference. Otherwise medians contribute nothing to public space, whereas sidewalks are the premier public space in many neighborhoods.
    Additionally, wider sidewalks and no median slows cars down more because of directly opposed traffic.

  • J

    rlb,

    There’s a very good reason: Cost. To widen sidewalks usually involves relocating catch basins (where rainwater drains to the sewers) and the corresponding sewer lines. As you can imagine, that takes a lot of engineering and construction money. You also sometime need to relocating other utility line that are located near the existing curb, so that they can be accessed through the asphalt and not the concrete sidewalk (which is VERY expensive). On the other hand, installing refuge islands is remarkably quick and painless, and delivers similar safety benefits at a fraction of the cost.

  • J

    Also, these projects are great news for the area. Crames Square is a nightmare at present for everyone. I’ve driven (for a work project), walked, and biked through there; and it is atrocious. Long waits, heavy congestions. This will be a godsend.

    Also the Hunts Point bike lanes will do wonders to calm traffic in the industrial areas which presently feel desolate and seem to engender a Wild West attitude towards speed limits and traffic signals.

    Can’t wait for these to go in.

  • On Broadway in Midtown, they pedestrianized the outermost lanes, and are now planning to turn them into wider sidewalks.

  • I don’t know this area – but why the big triangular striped area at the top right of the top photo (where it says “traffic calmed”)? Why not extend that triangular park instead?

  • Looks like a lot of confusing paint. I’m ok with these projects as long as the “playing with paint” phase is clearly labeled as Phase 1. Some of these new designs look great on a computer screen and look like a confusing jumbly mess on the streets. I’m thinking specifically of bike lanes that don’t take into account grade and curve ratios. A bike does not function like a car; hills and inertia matter. Not taking a streets-eye view almost guarantees cyclists won’t use the streets “as designed.”

    Also, half that paint will be scraped up in 3 winters of snowplowing. What we really want is the expensive stuff: physically separated bike lanes, wider sidewalks, and pedestrian refuges with a real curb.

  • What we really want is the expensive stuff: physically separated bike lanes, wider sidewalks, and pedestrian refuges with a real curb.

    Start lobbying your representatives in the City Council and State Legislature to get them included in the budgets!

  • re:
    #6. justinleemiller,
    #7. Cap’n Transit

    “What we really want is the expensive stuff: physically separated bike lanes, wider sidewalks, and pedestrian refuges with a real curb.”

    Equipping this city with an infrastructure for lighter-than-human-weight transit is a daunting task and a quick-build low-cost effort is likely the best way to proceed much like in other fields using rapid application development (RAD) as in software and other forms of design and engineering.

    This helps put designs in front of users for evaluation, feedback, and buy-in for ongoing improvements greatly advancing the likelihood of success at reasonable costs in accelerating timeframes.

    Perhaps this is the secret of NYC DoT’s and Commissioner Sadik-Khan’s juggernaut of ongoing successes.

  • BicyclesOnly

    Ben,

    Thanks for the write-up. I biked Barretto point several times last summer with my kids and look forward to doing it again with a (hopefully) safer, more pleasant route.

    Who is the person quoted in the post who says kids will be able to bike to Barretto Point now that the bus is eliminated–the District Manager or a DoT representative?

  • I personally do not like the Hunts Point Av station redesign for several reasons:

    1. I see so many cars, buses, and trucks use all corners of the intersection since they’re going to either the Bruckner Expressway, the Southern Blvd shopping strip, or points west such as Morrisania or Melrose.

    2. Trying to calm traffic down in an already choked intersection would only make things much worse as lanes are reduced at the cars’ expense. Although speeds would slow down, car travel (specifically heading to the Bruckner, Hunts Point, or 163rd/161st Streets).

    3. Although many counter that drivers should be using the Bx5, Bx6, or Bx19 buses, those buses do not run so great. They arrive late and it results in people often resorting to taking a cab over the bus most of the time. In addition, many cars that are along Hunts Point can be going anywhere in the Bronx or Manhattan, or even out of state, whether it’s to Bay Plaza, Throggs Neck, Washington Heights, or even Connecticut or Massachusetts.

    4. Even if this traffic calming gets done, other streets such as Faile Street and Tiffany Street should be redone to allow more car traffic to bypass the crowded intersections around Southern Boulevard.

  • Lenny, the point is that pedestrian safety is more important than whether people in cars have to wait. If you don’t accept that basic premise, you won’t find too many people here who agree with you.

  • M to the I

    Im definitely a ped, bike and transit priority supporter. But this plan does not make sense to me at all. The problem with taking the position that creating more congestion for cars in order to prioritize pedestrian safety improvements is that public transit riders will also have to deal with added congestion and longer travel times. Congestion on Hunts Point Ave and E 163rd St already slows down buses enormously. Traffic calming on a road where speed is not an issue can create more problems. Because of selfish drivers, cars will no doubt back up into intersections and crosswalks creating more safety hazards for pedestrians.

    The Tiffany Street plan is great! But I agree with Lenny that there needs to be an alternate route created for cars and trucks to bypass Hunts Point Ave if this plan is going to be implemented as is.

  • J

    Re: #10 & #12,

    A lot of people worry about extra traffic, and have vigorously opposed many DOT projects because of it (Broadway closures, 9th ave bike lane, Grand Street closure). So far, none of it has materialized. The reason why: because DOT cannot afford to create gridlock. No one likes gridlock. It’s noisy and smelly. Walkers, bikers, residents, and businesses hate it. I hate it. If DOT went around creating projects that stopped traffic, it would be VERY easy to document, and the results would make headlines. The public would lose faith, and public servants would lose their jobs. The fact is, though, that the projects simply aren’t creating gridlock. The most controversial projects, Ninth Avenue, the Broadway closure, Grand Street, Kent Avenue – none of them produced the supposed gridlock that naysayers predicted. The reason is because DOT does extensive traffic analysis before any project is implemented. They have to for their own credibility and survival, and the same is true here.

    DOT isn’t out to get drivers, they’re just trying to put walking, biking, and transit on a more even playing field, while making sure that cars can still get around. The plan is temporary so people can see how it works before major construction dollars are poured into a permanent solution. Give this project a chance. You may be surprised by the results.

  • Chris

    I think Lenny in post 10 is on to at least one point.

    The traffic in this area will use anything it can get its wheels on to, paint or no paint.

    The traffic calming area of the map enclosed really is going to prove useless UNLESS they physically block it off. And of course they wont do that so they can have emergency access or some other reas.. excuse.

    I am all for removing lane/road capacity. I think its a fantastic thing and the harder you make it for a driver, the better it will get for transit.

    But please don’t half ass this and leave it to where you have drivers still driving where ever they want.

  • J: so far there’s no verdict on whether the Broadway closures have increased congestion or not is mixed. Your faith in DOT is remarkable, but remember that this is the same agency whose BRT project involves buses lying idle while inspectors check everyone’s tickets. You’re assuming honesty and competence when often the agency has neither.

    The Times Square project was not sold as reallocation of street space. It was sold as a traffic mitigation. This may not have happened, but DOT went with similar projects anyway. At best, it was a bait and switch. At worst, Bloomberg instructed DOT to lie in order to secure his own legacy.

  • Jonathan Marin

    Let me start with the bike lanes, I lived in this area my whole life, I’m 28 now, anyway these bike lanes are almost never used. They are pointless, as for the traffice improvements I like them. Now, if something can be done about the majority of people who live in this area.

  • Ian Turner

    Jonathan, you mean pedestrians?

  • BronxLat

    Jonathan– what exactly, are you referring to, sir, when you say “Now, if something can be done about the majority of people who live in this area?”  :o)  You sound more than a little bit racist or elitist.  The MAJORITY of people in the area likely includes YOU!  You know…as a 28-year-old, you should be at the stage in your life to have acquired and education and a career– thereby affording you the ability and opportunity (financially) to LEAVE said area…and “the majority of people” there– since THEY are such a problem to YOU and people like you.  I happen to also have lived in the South Bronx and can recognize that blacks and latinos who feel “they’ve made it,” STILL cannot bring themselves to leave. Why?  Probably because the prospect of YOU entering other more affluent neighborhoods would make YOU part of THEIR list of undesireables– and you would never be completely welcome; you’d only ever be considered marginally tolerated. You’re no better than anyone else.

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