Scenes From a Commute Without Subways

The Queensboro Bridge bike and pedestrian path. Photo: ##https://twitter.com/BenSilverberg/status/263633153304956929##@BenSilverberg##

With the NYC subway system knocked out indefinitely and service suspended on the LIRR, Metro-North, NJ Transit, and PATH systems, New Yorkers are gamely heading back to work today. MTA bus routes have resumed service, but across the board, their status is “Delayed.” Early reports indicate that traffic is a disaster. It looks like HOV restrictions, busways, and bike/ped lanes can’t come soon enough.

Here are a few images from NYC’s streets this morning, sent by readers and plucked from Twitter. Send in your photos of the commute without subways to tips@streetsblog.org.

Waiting for the M104. Michael Paulson, an editor at the Times, reports that crammed buses are bypassing stops. Photo: ##https://twitter.com/MichaelPaulson/status/263629846989660160/photo/1##@MichaelPaulson##

A bus stuck amidst the cars on the inbound Gowanus. Photo: Streetsblog reader Moocow
Traffic snarled on Queens Boulevard, heading toward the Queensboro Bridge. Photo: ##https://twitter.com/benveninc/status/26362087562084761##@benveninc##

 

  • Steely

    i’ll state the obvious: City should have a turnkey contingency plan for flood events like this that includes HOV restrictions; bike/bus/walk  bridge lanes and major aves; blanket 20 mph and other obvious measures to prioritize high capacity surface transit

  • Lisa Sladkus

    And, I might add that it never ceases to shock me that yellow cabs don’t ALWAYS do shared rides. Duh. So often, people are going to the exact same neighborhoods. I love Steely’s contingency plan idea…only wish that could be the status quo plan.

  • Ben Kintisch

    If school is closed one more say, I’ll be out with TA greeting bike commuters. Later today I need to help sweep up the local bike lane.

  • KillMoto

    With Queensboro bridge bike lane choked with walkers, I’d be biking in the car lane.  No doubt the motorists will be moving between 0 and 2 MPH, very safe conditions for lane splitting. 

  • moocow

    Was it the RNC or the transit strike when the NYPD had all sorts of rules and regs for cars in Manhattan? I can’t believe that’s not in place now.

  • Clarence

    I’m gonna try to get out there for rush hour tonight and get some photos.  Frankly I was taken by surprise that this many people tried to drive in today.  If there are virtually no traffic signals in lower Manhattan, the Mayor should have made an executive decision banning cars from Manhattan (except for emergency vehicles, doctors, etc)

  • Larry Littlefield

    It’s subway and rail rider’s drive to work day!

    From those drivers who resent paying rent — in the form of transit subsidies — on the share of everyone’s streets non-drivers normally cede to them, those transit riders demand their share back.

    Whoops.  There doesn’t seem to be enough to go around.  And no, I don’t think banning those short, narrow bicycles would make a big difference.

  • I’m not sure why people are suggesting there be unenforceable rules layer onto chaos.

  • Clarence

    Buses should be made free indefinitely until subway service returns (how are you supposed to buy/put $$$ on a MetroCard when there are no station kiosks to do that?).  There should be bus only lanes on all the bridges immediately.  HOV3 restrictions for tomorrow. 

  • Anonymous

    I tried to bike into Manhattan from Park Slope today, and gave up because of all the aggressive, irritated drivers. There should be bike-only dedicated streets leading to the bridges in all boroughs, as well as the bridge-specific recommendations below.  I too was shocked how many single-occupancy vehicles I saw — almost all.

  • Clarence

    Also: buses will move so much faster when you don’t need to wait for paying customers to board.  We need to move everything as quickly as possible.  So no payment until most subway service is restored is essential.  It will also convince some people to take the bus versus trying to bring their car in.

  • Manhattan bridge was fine.  A few extra peds, but no conflicts that I saw.

    First Avenue was also fine.  No signals below 42nd, but traffic cops at major intersections. Motorized traffic was not heavy on 1st until midtown.  Had the feeling that most people are still staying home today (certainly true at my office). Bicycle traffic was also normal to light.

    Probably be worse tomorrow as more people try to make their way in.

    I’m leading a Bike Train ride tomorrow morning at Red Lantern Bikes in Brooklyn.  See https://twitter.com/NYCBiketrain for more info on that and other group commuting rides.

  • Clarence

    Andrew Siff from NBC news reported that he has been monitoring the QBB all morning and that walking continues to be faster than driving in to Manhattan.

  • Jeff

    @jooltman:disqus  This is the funny part about private autos.  Not only are they ineffective as transportation in large numbers in and of themselves, but they make other modes of transportation damn near impossible (especially dragging down bikes and busses).  They’re basically like cancer:  Useless cells in and of themselves, and destroying healthy tissue to perpetuate said uselessness.

  • Anonymous

    I rode my bike from Harlem to the Lower East Side and then back up to Midtown today, and it was fantastic.

    Central Park West and parts of Columbus Avenue were packed with cars moving at an average speed of 2 mph, but lane splitting worked wonders.

    On the parts of Columbus Avenue and 9th Ave with a protected bike lane, I could fly while all the cars were stuck.

    South of Midtown, where there is no power and traffic was lighter, all those theories of traffic calming via signal elimination were proven absolutely correct: people drove at 20 mph on avenues where they normally drive at 40+ mph; pedestrians looked before crossing, and motorists looked for cross traffic before proceeding. The police were present at a few major intersections, but other than that it was a smooth, self-organizing system.

    The best part was not having to worry about running a red light on my bike and risk getting a ticket. Going up and down the protected bike lanes on 1st and 2nd avenues without red lights was great, almost as fast as taking the greenway when it is empty. And even known dangerous spots such as Houston and Delancey somehow seemed safer without traffic lights! I must be dreaming, I know.

    Of course, I’m lucky I didn’t have to cross the bridges on the obviously insufficient shared path. I think KillMoto is onto something with his suggestion of lane splitting between the car lanes. Hey, there’s a video on Youtube of one of the Neistat brothers taking advantage of a traffic jam (not today’s) to ride his bike on the freaking Holland Tunnel! (Yes, sure, don’t try this at home and all that.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceCOy-RM3DU

  • Anonymous

    The real “Carmageddon.”

  • JamesR

    Does anyone know what the status of the Hudson River Greenway is? I assume it is still technically accessible, but unusable due to damage and debris?

  • Anonymous

    NYC Parks are closed until further notice. That might include the Hudson River Greenway, but I really don’t know, so I avoided it today because I didn’t want to face the frustration of riding all the way there just to find it closed or unusable.

  • Anonymous

    Giuliani banned private cars for days after 9/11. Why is Bloomberg hesitating?

  • Ines Alveano

    How stubborn and selfish to drive trough the caos. ¡Take out your bikes, or use your legs!

  • al

    Just implement the transit strike plan.

  • al

    Just implement the transit strike plan, but with buses and short turning trains.

  • USbike

    Jooltman  You mean you weren’t able to ride VC style and get around more safely and quickly (as opposed to being on a separated bike path)?  Okay, I was being facetious.  But I’m also poking fun at people who firmly oppose any kind of bike infrastructure and believe they are all slow and less safe.  

  • On the Greenway, I too was curious. A colleague told me she was turned back at 79th street and told it was closed. Someone else told me online, however, that he’d used it south of 59th street. I’ve resorted to travelling from South Brooklyn via Greenpoint, Queens and the Queesnboro Bridge. I tried the Manhattan Bridge yesterday but found the Lower East Side with no traffic signals a little bracing…

  • On the Greenway, I too was curious. A colleague told me she was turned back at 79th street and told it was closed. Someone else told me online, however, that he’d used it south of 59th street. I’ve resorted to travelling from South Brooklyn via Greenpoint, Queens and the Queesnboro Bridge. I tried the Manhattan Bridge yesterday but found the Lower East Side with no traffic signals a little bracing…

  • On the Greenway, I too was curious. A colleague told me she was turned back at 79th street and told it was closed. Someone else told me online, however, that he’d used it south of 59th street. I’ve resorted to travelling from South Brooklyn via Greenpoint, Queens and the Queesnboro Bridge. I tried the Manhattan Bridge yesterday but found the Lower East Side with no traffic signals a little bracing…

  • On the Greenway, I too was curious. A colleague told me she was turned back at 79th street and told it was closed. Someone else told me online, however, that he’d used it south of 59th street. I’ve resorted to travelling from South Brooklyn via Greenpoint, Queens and the Queesnboro Bridge. I tried the Manhattan Bridge yesterday but found the Lower East Side with no traffic signals a little bracing…

  • Davine

    Y’all are nannystate nincompoops. To get to downtown Manhattan from anywhere outside of 5 miles you HAVE TO drive. And there’s no traffic holding up any buses so not sure what you are all gabbing about. Ride a bike, if you like, but don’t tell the cars to take a hike.

  • @171dc0e7efe6579191470d30b97ba38a:disqus  – I’d love to tell cars to take a hike, but they don’t have feet.  Most motorists can take a hike, though.

  • Anonymous

    Update from HuffPost:
    “[the] mayor told a press conference that the city cannot cope with the number of private cars that are trying to drive on the streets in the wake of the subway shutdown.He also announced plans to implement a scheme where drivers could pick up pedestrians who needed to get into Manhattan to meet the carpool requirement.”He announced that from Wednesday evening, all East River bridges will be available only to high-occupancy vehicles – meaning that any car crossing a bridge will need to have a minimum of three people in it.

  • Anonymous

    Update from HuffPost:
    “[the] mayor told a press conference that the city cannot cope with the number of private cars that are trying to drive on the streets in the wake of the subway shutdown.He also announced plans to implement a scheme where drivers could pick up pedestrians who needed to get into Manhattan to meet the carpool requirement.”He announced that from Wednesday evening, all East River bridges will be available only to high-occupancy vehicles – meaning that any car crossing a bridge will need to have a minimum of three people in it.

  • Eric M Boucher

    @0725e26de8afcbf0a72ccf98de3fb783:disqus   this is very good question, also the east river greenway status would be nice to know as well.  I plan on using it tomorrow to get around town for work.  Anybody been over  there?

  • Davine

    Just because the zone with power was crammed, doesn’t mean lower Manhattan was. It is a ghost town, and the only way in or out if you don’t live within five miles is a vehicle. I am glad people walk or bike, but you cant just tell everyone what works for this city. The majority of its workers live 10 to 50 miles outside the zone and there is no easy way to pick up extra passengers – the city has never supported any real effort to rideshare. So the brilliant hov rule just becomes pointless yet again. Don’t believe me? Take a few steps below 23rd and you’ll see the streets are just packed with people looking for cabs, and not a whole lot else.

  • Anonymous

    @171dc0e7efe6579191470d30b97ba38a:disqus Most offices that do not have power are not open, thus workers do not have to drive. All the bridges and roads leading up to them were parking lots too.

  • Davine

    The datacenters, cell towers, markets, all have power via generators and need people to service them, else we would be suffering even worse than we already are. There are no exceptions to the hov mantra. Just rules. We’re signing our own death warrants here, buses are dropping people off on 23rd street because they are afraid to go further. Welcome to the new ghetto.

  • Guest

    @171dc0e7efe6579191470d30b97ba38a:disqus it’s nonsense to say that nobody will bike more than 5 miles.

    Sure, some people may not feel comfortable biking that far.  But to make it sound like nobody would do 5.5 miles, nobody would do 6 miles is ridiculous on its face!

    I’m only an occasional cyclist, but I would gladly do a 9-mile ride to work given the right circumstances (and these would qualify!).

    Finally, if you really can’t bike that far and “need” to drive… put the bike in the car and drive part way, THEN bike into the congested core where cars just don’t fit.  

  • Bapfin75

    Can you use the Whiestone Bridge by car tomorrow, 11/2/12 southbound (From; Westchester To; Queens) with one person in a car?

  • Bapfin75

    Am I correct in this statement; “Re: HOV Rules-Today and tomorrow you can cross any bridge with LESS than 3 people in a car if you are NOT GOING INTO Manhattan” Need some help here. Thanks

  • Dickq

    The mayor is an idiot. The last thing we need are more restrictions and regulations on drivers. How about giving us more public transportation options instead – Oh but that would cost too much money . . .much cheaper tto put the burden on the public .

  • Farreachingman

    I agree. Why on earth would you stop people trying to go to work or trucks bringing in necessary supplies into Manhattan. Don’t f’orget the HOV restrictions don’t just limit the people trying to get to work in the morning but all those who live in Manhattan but work in the outer Boroughs and have to go home at night. The time and resources spent checking cars and imposing restrictions causes far more delays then  any additional cars. How about running more frequent LIRR trains in the City zones, having a real shuttle bus service which actually meets rider capacity and run more subway lines such as the E and R in Queens and the G in Brooklyn to Queens. Give the G back it’s old route and you’d deal with a huge bunch of people who live/work in those two Boroughs

  • Joe R.

    @171dc0e7efe6579191470d30b97ba38a:disqus 5 miles may be the limit for a novice rider, but for anyone who has been riding a while, it barely qualifies as a warmup. I can easily do 15 miles each way (in any temperature from about 30F up to 85F), and I’m going to be 50 in a few weeks. I’ll even bet if I had to I could do 25 miles each way, although that’s pushing it a bit. Note that even 15 miles takes one from city limits to midtown. And I can ride that distance in about an hour, give or take a few minutes, depending upon traffic and prevailing winds.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Parks Department Repairs Hudson River Greenway Sinkhole

|
Happy Bike to Work Day: The Parks Department has repaired the Hudson River Greenway sinkhole. Streetsblog first reported on the sinkhole, located just north of 181st Street in Washington Heights, almost a year ago. Temporary fixes didn’t keep it from widening. As the problem got worse, the Parks Department said the agency was trying to […]

Construction Narrows Brooklyn Bridge Bike-Ped Path

|
During the Brooklyn Bridge rehab, stretches of the 14-foot-wide bike-ped path will be narrowed to 11 feet. Photo: Noah Kazis Heads up if you bike or walk across the Brooklyn Bridge: Rehab work slated to last until 2014 is narrowing the promenade from 14 feet to 11 feet. Right now, paint removal work has narrowed […]

Obama’s Energy Secretary Reclaims His Bike, for a Day

|
Energy Secretary Steven Chu was dismayed about having to give up his bike-commuting habit in order to join the Obama Cabinet, but security concerns didn’t stop him from participating in Friday’s Bike to Work Day in the nation’s capital. As the Wall Street Journal reports: Energy Secretary Steven Chu (center) with colleagues, before he joined […]