Tomorrow: Celebrate a Safer East Side With TA and Melissa Mark-Viverito

First Avenue at 79th Street, with bike and pedestrian improvements. Photo: DOT

Tomorrow, Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito and Transportation Alternatives will take a well-deserved victory lap on the First and Second Avenue protected bike lanes.

Streetsblog readers know how difficult it was to overcome the misinformation campaign waged by a small number of business owners who didn’t want to see street improvements come to East Harlem. But there are a lot more businesses that support safer streets, and they will be joining in tomorrow’s celebration.

From a TA press release:

“This ride is about celebrating the work we did as a community to bring protected bike lanes to El Barrio/East Harlem,” says City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “The local businesses that Transportation Alternatives will be visiting understand that the bike lanes will help, not hinder, their ability to thrive in our community. I thank Transportation Alternatives, El Museo del Barrio and our local businesses for helping to organize this tour.”

“Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito has demonstrated tremendous leadership by uniting community residents and local businesses around the shared goals of safe neighborhood streets and a strong local economy,” says Caroline Samponaro, Senior Director of Campaigns and Organizing for Transportation Alternatives.

DOT completed work on the First Avenue project on October 15, bringing a smoother, safer ride for cyclists and shorter crossing distances for pedestrians from 72nd to 125th Street.

The tour will visit several bike-friendly businesses and murals in Mark-Viverito’s district. Participating businesses include East Harlem Café, El Paso Taqueria, Heavy Metal Bike Shop, Amor Cubano, Camaradas El Barrio, Spaha Soul, Sabor Borinqueno, El Barrio Juice Bar, and Coco Le Vu Candy Shop and Party Room.

Tomorrow’s ride starts at El Museo del Barrio, at Fifth Avenue and E. 105th Street, at 1 p.m.

Also tomorrow, the TA Queens committee will lead a walking rally for traffic calming and pedestrian safety improvements to 21st Street in Astoria. Queens Community Board 1 has shown interest in making improvements to the street, and has indicated the board may request a study from DOT. City Council members and candidates are expected to be on hand for the walk, which starts at 2 p.m. at the entrance to Queensbridge Park, at Vernon Boulevard and 41st Avenue.

  • Todd Edelman, Slow Factory

    In the intersection above, which I assume is essentially the same as the one on all one-way odd-number streets & 1st Ave intersections between 72nd and 125th, how does a person on a bike safely turn right? It is hard to see what space is available to e.g. wait and not block other cyclists (is that white van in a parking lane?)… and if there are any dedicated signals.

  • Joe R.

    I would personally do it one of three ways:

    1) Wait in the parking/buffer zone right past the crosswalk until either cross traffic was clear, or the light for the cross street just turned green, and then make my turn, joining the flow of traffic from the cross street as I turn..

    2) Turn left into the cross street, make a tight u-turn in the crosswalk, and wait for the green light.

    3) Leave the bike lane about a block or two before my intended turn, work my way into the right-most traffic lane, and make a vehicular-style right turn when I get to the intersection ( I think this is the only option where I’m not violating any traffic laws).

    I’m not sure dedicated signals are a good idea here unless they’re of the sensor/on demand only type. Timed turn signals will steal some of the green cycle time away from both bikes and motor vehicles.

  • cosas oscuras

    Kudos on bike lanes but shouldn’t safer streets in El Barrio/East Harlem include a response to the death of Amar Diarrassouba, the 6 year old killed earlier this year on First Avenue and 117th? Commercial trucks from the East River Plaza still routinely barrel down a residential street in this same area and no other safety measures (speed bump, signage, delayed lights, etc. to encourage trucks to use 116th instead turning into a school crossing) have been implemented since that February despite the outcry of politicians, community members at that time.

  • Robert Marcus

    A few points from a commuter who uses the 1st avenue bike lane from 59th -125th Street. I would like to start with the positive aspect of a protected bike lane which allows cyclists a “safer” haven than riding in such a broad street with cars and trucks but I must make a few comments on why it not what it should be.
    a) Too many pedestrians are unaware that this is a bicyling lane (green paint and all) and step into or walk in the bike lanes.
    b) The new law that requires delivery cyclist to wear ID Vests, helmets and Ride WITH traffic is for the most part ignored. too many of them are riding against traffic in the bike lane. Same goes for casual or just lazy cyclists trying to get to the bridge at 59th st. Sadly too many lack lights and I have seen too many crashes.

    c) Delivery/ Repair trucks PARK in the open parts of the lane (corners) forcing cyclists INTO traffic.
    d) Many pedestrians who walk from the sidewalk to the safety island while traffic & cyclists have a green light jaywalk and maybe unaware that they are risking everyones safety when they do this.
    I am not saying that everyone is at fault here and I am the one cyclist who obeys the law. However, for the protected lanes to ACTUALLY protect cyclists the NYPD and DOT must work together to enforce the ONE WAY direction of the lane, Enforce the law created for delivery people and additional signage to protect pedestrians who are simply distracted and do not realize their mistake in walking through the lane.
    Personally, I do try to avoid 1st avenue and use Central Park to go North through Manhattan because I DO have an option. Perhaps fences to keep people from crossing through mid-block may help, but education and enforcement will prove a better long term investment.

  • Anonymous

    It was great fun tour. Free samples from some eating places that I’ll be returning to, now that I know where to find them. Munching on empanadas at Sabor Borinqueno, Cuban sandwiches at Amor Cubabo, soul food at Sapha Soul, washed down at El Barrio juice bar, all bike-friendly spots, ending up at the East Harlem Cafe. And we got culturally uplifted, seeing several murals and gardens.

    (No pizza from Patsy’s tho. We’ve learned to live without it. If Patsy’s wants us back, they can install bike racks and we’ll know it’s OK.)

    Thanks to Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, the tour organizers, and the local businesses who welcomed us.

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