East Side Coalition Unveils Its Vision for Safer, Transit-Friendly Streets

Image: Transportation Alternatives
A template to prioritize walking, biking, and transit at the intersection of Third Avenue and 117th Street. Image: Transportation Alternatives

Earlier this week, Laurence Renard was killed as she crossed First Avenue when a dump truck driver turned into her path from 90th Street, hitting her from behind. Renard was one of at least six pedestrians and cyclists who have lost their lives in traffic crashes on East Side streets since last August.

People are seriously hurt and killed with terrible frequency on the East Side of Manhattan: 148 pedestrians and cyclists died on its streets between 1995 and 2008, and more than 15,000 were injured. The area is rife with wide streets and intersections that invite speeding and reckless driving. At the same time, the East Side is home to high percentages of walk-to-work commuters, car-free households, and senior citizens. East Siders lead walkable lifestyles and make many trips by foot or bike, but their streets are extremely dangerous.

Last night, more than 100 people gathered at St. Mark’s Church on East 10th Street for the unveiling of Transportation Alternatives’ East Side Action Plan [PDF], which outlines a broad vision for making this part of Manhattan safer and more livable.

In a series of public workshops, more than 600 East Siders helped TA put together recommendations to redesign their streets and put walking, biking, and transit first. The Action Plan came out of those workshops to serve as “a tool for local East Side experts to use as citizen planners, so they can educate their communities and generate the local support needed to engage decision makers around design and policy change,” said TA’s Julia De Martini Day. Dozens of community groups from Chinatown to Harlem have signed on to the campaign.

With political attacks on pedestrian and bicycle improvements fresh in everyone’s mind, the kick-off event last night was something of a rallying cry for the coalition. New Yorkers who want safer streets have to organize and mobilize as effectively as possible, a point that former Bogota Mayor Enrique Penalosa brought home when he told the audience that the allocation of street space “is a political decision, not a technical decision.”

The East Side campaign has an ally in Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, who told the crowd that he’s been very encouraged by last year’s improvements for transit, biking, and walking on First and Second Avenues, and that he wants to see the NYC DOT and the MTA do more to prioritize those modes of travel. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and City Council Member Dan Garodnick also lent their support to the campaign in TA’s press release.

The East Village Community Coalition is one of the neighborhood groups that will be making the case for safer streets. EVCC Managing Director Kurt Cavanagh said he hopes to meet with the local community board and elected officials in about a month to talk about the recommendations in the East Side plan. Other community groups in Harlem, the Upper East Side, and Chinatown will be approaching their CBs and electeds in the months ahead as well. Stay tuned.

Video: Clarence Eckerson

  • Marco

    Clearance around those truck-sized chicanes will cause massive disruption to parking. I don’t see that being remotely possible. A bump would make much more sense and would be far more palatable.

  • Marco

    Upon reflection, I *really* like the look of 3rd Avenue, though. Really spiffy.

  • J

    This is a really cool vision for the area. Some of the technical details (chicane design, loading zone location) would need to be cleaned up, but it’s really great to completely rethink how we prioritize street space.

    The Chicane idea is amazing and would basically create an top-of-the-line bike boulevard. I’d like to live in a neighborhood like that. Oprah would too.

    Some aspects of this plan would, however, be a tricky political sell. Removing parking spaces, reducing loading zones is a difficult sell, so you’d need to get buy-in early at all levels. I’d urge patience but persistence. If you push too quickly it can inspire too much opposition. Good luck, I’m behind you.

  • jon

    can we return to two-way streets with two-way busways and two-way cycle tracks?

  • why would we work so hard to keep bikes off of 117th? and why work so hard to keep 3rd Ave one-way?

    at least this ‘transit-friendly’ 3rd Ave design doesn’t kick bikes off it completely, like most ‘transit-friendly’ streets — like 34th.

  • EP

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    In my daily commuting, I find the two worst avenues on the east side (above 59th St) to be 1st Ave and Park. There are enough speeding motorists trying to make every green light that I often feel the need to pull over and wait for things to calm down. These cars think nothing of recklessly trying to pass the slower (responsible) cars ahead of them- endangering other motorists, cyclists and yes, should they cause an accident- even pedestrians. I’ve seen a car try to make left hand turn from the center lane on 1st Ave- thankfully, the car they would have hit was the more responsible and alert driver so no one actually got hurt (yet). I see many more instances more irresponsible driving, but this recent one was one of the worst.

    And while I am grateful for the 1st Ave bike lane that starts at 72nd street, I have had motorists both deliberately and accidentally swerve into the lane while I am riding or decide to use it as a left hand turn lane. So I never really truly feel safe using it, though it’s better than nothing. Taxis regularly pull over to pick up fares and block passage. I wish this were a protected lane.

    I’ve noticed that recklessness and hostility from uptown motor traffic has become worse since construction on the 2nd Ave subway began. I’m not saying it’s all drivers, or even a majority. But it’s enough to make me feel unsafe as a cyclist. And I’ve been riding these roads for 22 years.

    Though I am a huge cycling advocate, today I was a pedestrian and yes, I saw several instances of dangerous cycling today. Each one was a delivery person- and the majority of them were on motorized bikes. Is there some kind of outreach that can be done to get these guys to be more responsible?

    Off my soap box for now- in agreement with Marco that the 3rd ave design looks great.

  • Tjon

    It seems as if the 3rd ave screenshot above has some text-highlight marks in it.

  • BicyclesOnly

    EP,

    I agree that the traffic on Park is a serious and overlooked problem. Because it is so wide and excludes commercial traffic (in theory if not in practice), thru traffic favors it over Madison and Lex, which often are reduced to one lane by double-parking trucks on both sides. And the “block” timing of the lights means that you can travel further on each green light if you exceed 30 MPH– unlike the “sequence” timing where you will hit a red if try to exceed ~30 MPH. With the malls south of 96th Street, the roadway is very difficult to cross in one light for seniors or little kids, and north of 96th the Metro North viaduct poses all kinds of visibility issues. And as a two-way roadway, there’s more going on at each intersection. All these factors added together have resulted in a surprisingly high number of traffic killings on Park north of 59th Street–almost as many as on First or Second Avenues.

    I think that Park north of 47th Street should have a 20 MPH limit, and should be changed to “sequence” timed lights.

  • Greg

    It’s amazing that this design for 3rd still has 3 traffic lanes, which is what the road effectively has now with frequent double parking on both sides. But the new design also adds the bus and bike lanes, as well as designated loading zones, none of which 3rd has now. Good job.

  • Marco

    Greg – right, but it really destroys street parking on 3rd. I figured that implicit in this design would be additional expansion for off-street parking, either in the buildings on third, or on the cross-streets. The best livable communities build parking decks to make pedestrian-friendlier streets. I don’t think that’s economically possible in NY, so they’ll need to modify parking limits in existing and new lots to make something like this work.

  • J

    Marco,

    It doesn’t “destroy” parking. It restricts it. This can be overcome with pricing parking correctly, and creating loading zones where they are appropriate. The notion that building transit and bicycle infrastructure in the densest place in the US requires constructing additional parking is nonsensical, as it would only support existing levels of driving.

    “the best livable communities build parking decks”
    Not in NYC, they don’t. We have the best transit system in the country and parking deck are not necessary, not feasible, and not desirable.

  • Marco

    J – have you been paying attention to Columbus Avenue? That had *far* less impact on parking, and it has since caused all parties to publicly reconsider adding back parking spots that were lost. In this example, parking on the East side of the street goes from about 10 spots to 2. Never in a million years will that happen.

    People like cars. People in New York use cars. Businesses depend on cars. Getting into an ideological war with the public about whether cars are a benefit is a 100% losing proposition. Semantically arguing whether losing 80% of parking is “retricting” or “destroying” those spaces isn’t even relevant.

    “Livable streets” does not mean “getting people where they’re going as pollution-free as possible.” A livable street accommodates a variety of tranportation, economic and cultural needs to better enhance a living and interacting *community.* Retail and restaurants and visitors are vital. To the extent that it becomes impossible to park, it compromises all of those things. Second Avenue construction-area businesses would be more than happy to explain this.

    I unrealistically want Pearl Street in Boulder, you sound like you unrealistically want a sleek and speedy transit corridor. Eliminating that many parking spots without replacement will negatively impact more people than you think it will benefit. For the community impacted, it is a loser.

  • Chris

    If you add back the parking without charging a market rate for it you’ll just have double parking again.

  • Marco

    Oh – I think market-rate parking is great. Either with smart meters or sufficient parking lot parking. And I think there may be a reasonable small reduction of parking that’s appropriate. However, you just can’t blow up 80% of existing parking without screwing over the community it supports.

  • EP

    BicyclesOnly- Thanks for adding to my knowledge as to why Park Ave is so dangerous!I do see commercial vehicles on Park- didn’t know that it supposedly excludes it.

    I will say that travelling south today on Park- from 84th to 69th, I had to pull over at least 4 times because drivers were annoyed that I had to take the lane instead of riding closer to parked and double parked cars. Too much snow at the edges for that. Even when the furthest left hand lane was clear, more drivers felt the need to edge up really close to me and continue speeding rather than slow down and pass safely. Hence, why I made the decision several times to take precautions to save my own life.

    And travelling north this morning on 1st ave, past 72nd street, I was forced out of the bike lane 3 times…two taxis picking up and dropping off and one ConEd vehicle double parked.

  • Marco

    This may be politically difficult to pull off, but when the city sends out those SendWordNow alerts for alternate side suspension due to snow, they should also add something about being mindful of the rights of cyclists and the fact that they need more space due to the snow on the curbside.

  • EP

    Marco- I agree it would probably be hard to achieve what you are talking about. But we can keep hoping..

    And, forgot to add the most horrific motorist mistake I saw this morning.

    I was heading uptown, on 1st Ave underneath the Queensboro Bridge. I was waiting for the red light to change and there was a car waiting to my right also. When the light changed to green, and I started riding again, and the car made a left hand turn onto the bicycle ramp for the bridge! I tried to yell out for him to stop, of course, was ignored. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stick around to do anything about the situation b/c I was pressed for time getting to work. Thankfully a nearby pedestrian overheard me. Her initial response was “maybe he works there”. I said no, that’s a bike ramp and only bikes are supposed to be there. As I continued north, she headed up the ramp, I am hoping to speak up for us.

  • Stan

    Marco – market rate pricing for parking means prices will be however high they need to be so that 10% or so of spaces are free at any time. No free spaces? Then they are too cheap.
    This absolutely will work, but will be unpopular if it means $20/hour parking meters.

  • J

    Marco,

    I think you are misreading the diagram. It appears that this is basically just the 1st/2nd Ave SBS plan applied to 3rd Ave. The plan appears to call for bus bulbs at SBS stops, not a general widening of the sidewalk and removal of all parking spaces. The bus bulbs create a relatively minor disruption, as they occupy space already dedicated to buses, and only occur every 7-10 blocks where the SBS would be located. This would eliminate FAR less than 80% of the parking as you describe.

    Yes, you are correct that New Yorkers go crazy about parking. Yes, it would be a fight no matter what, but I think this falls into the category of a modest reduction in parking (maybe 10%), rather than the 80% parkmageddon you describe. It would still be a fight, but the idea of livable streets groups advocating for the construction of new parking lots in Manhattan is ridiculous.

  • Marco

    J – if parking spots are eliminated only at SBS stops, please explain the East side of the street between 117th and 118th. Also, please help me understand how the West side of the street between 116th and 117th doesn’t decimate existing street parking. If you can’t take a spin up there, just look at it on Bing or Google maps. It’s all currently metered marking except for the single bus stop on the East side between 116 and 117.

    I recognize that the term “livable streets” has been a bit bastardized by some specific advocates, but parking is a key component of traditional livable streets and livable communities. Like I said earlier, Boulder has city-built parking decks, as does Portland. You can pick any progressive city (even those with great transit), and more likely than not, they’ve integrated a policy of creating smart parking facilities. Eliminating parking (as is contemplated by the plan if no replacement is incorporated) generally eliminates some level of community. They’re parked there for a reason 🙂 – they’ve got business or family or some other thing that’s significant to them. It’s a little callous to get rid of 80% of that for the sake of speedier connectivity, and it *certainly* doesn’t advance the cause of creating a livable community.

  • Driver

    There is always such a focus on cars, and not on what makes a community truly livable; trucks. Sure they are big, loud, dirty, dangerous, and generally unpleasant, but they are necessary to bring in everything that is required in a truly livable city, from toilet paper to produce, to building and maintenance materials and everything in between. The volume and weight of supplies brought into this city daily is tremendous.
    Go to midtown (and elsewhere) and you see trucks double parked and clogging streets everywhere. In many places, there is physically not enough spaces available to accommodate the amount of truck traffic that is necessary to supply the thousands of businesses and buildings in Manhattan. Higher meter rates won’t change that, the same vehicles will just pay more and pass on the costs.
    A plan like the one pictured does not accommodate the trucks that are vital to the cities economy and livability. Not only is there not enough truck parking, without the ability to turn it becomes overly difficult to go around the block or otherwise look for legal parking. This is just a further incentive to double park or otherwise park illegally. And the street with the chicanes, impassable for a tractor trailer. Some will argue that tractor trailers shouldn’t be in Manhattan or on side streets, but the reality is they are instrumental in servicing large volume businesses: supermarkets, food service establishments, hospitals, retail stores, and other institutions.
    Also not pictured in the model are fire hydrants, the presence of which greatly impact parking. There are some areas in Manhattan where truck loading zones are designated that have a fire hydrant (or several) located in such a spot as to severely limit the ability of average size box trucks to park legally within the designated loading zone. One parked van can pretty much make the loading zone useless for most other trucks.
    The plan pictured, well intentioned as it is, is a potential nightmare for the area businesses and the trucks that serve them, and invites backlash against the livable streets movement from area drivers and businesses.
    One more thing, with the recent snow storms fresh in out memories, imagine traffic trying to navigate 117 st as pictured after a monster snowstorm. It would be a real mess, and most likely impassable.

  • Driver

    BTW, I find it ironic that a safer streets plan does not have fire hydrants illustrated.

  • Joe R.

    The bike lane suffers from the same issues as the one on 1st Avenue, namely merging cars making lefts, plus traffic lights/pedestrian crossings every single block. Not to mention peds using the bike lane as a sidewalk extension. All great sources of conflict. Instead, put the bike lane above the bus lane, with up/down ramps every block or two. By tripling back on itself, such a ramp can take up only maybe a 40 by 5 foot patch of sidewalk. Incidentally, this would be the section nearest the street, which is rarely used for walking anyway. You would use the elevated lane for most of the trip, then walk your bike ( or ride slowly, perhaps in the 5-foot section nearest the curb ) on the sidewalk the last block or two to whatever cross street they’re going to. Use the structural supports for the elevated bike lane to physically cordon off the bus lane from other vehicles. Now you have bicycles almost completely out of the mix, on a path free of peds/traffic signals. This is one set of conflicts just about completely removed. You then have the entire left lane of the street free for delivery truck parking. At the same time, a physically isolated bus lane means unimpeded travel for buses. Down the road it would be fairly easy to substitute light rail for the bus, perhaps along with traffic light preemption.

    117th Street is a dumb design making traffic weave in an out like that. It’s not like crosstown traffic really speeds much anyway. Like Driver said, that design will be a nightmare when it snows. Imagine trying to plow something like that. Taking into account both 3rd Avenue and 117th, as shown it’s not a completely horrid design overall, but honestly we can do much, much better.

    As for parking, if it’s a necessary evil as Marco alludes to, then I’d much rather see off-street parking only ( except for delivery trucks of course ). Parked cars are a major eyesore, plus cruising for parking spots is a major source of added traffic.

  • MIke

    Why bother with the triple switchback ramps? Wouldn’t it be easier to have winged unicorn shuttles to get bike riders between street level and magical elevated fairyland?

  • Joe R.

    “Why bother with the triple switchback ramps? Wouldn’t it be easier to have winged unicorn shuttles to get bike riders between street level and magical elevated fairyland?”

    What’s fairyland here? From where I stand, a lot of the backlash against bike lanes is because they take up street space, the so-called “scofflaw cyclists” endanger pedestrians, and they aren’t used during inclement weather. So you know what, end those complaints ( whether justified or not ) once and for all by using grade separation. I agree with the city’s goal of providing a comprehensive, interconnected, useful cycling network. Unfortunately, with big fights over adding a mere 19 blocks of bike lane as happened over at PPW, this isn’t happening anytime soon unless we address the complaints of the critics. It doesn’t matter whether these complaints are justified or not by the facts. The critics won’t believe any data which doesn’t support their narrow point of view. So I say, the heck with them, stick the bike infrastructure up in the air, away from everything else, where it belongs in the first place. Pretending bicycles can coexist with everything else just fine, even in a dense area like Manhattan, well that’s fairyland. The truth is they can’t coexist, not with the existing heavy vehicular/pedestrian traffic. Bikes generate scores of complaints, whether or not they follow traffic laws. Besides that, they can’t operate even close to optimally, not when they need to slow or stop every block for a red light or some pedestrian wandering into the bike lane. Grade separation neatly solves those issues ( and the inclement weather issue if roofed over ), albeit at a nominal but still acceptable cost in the larger scheme of things. We need to do this on at least one avenue for proof of concept. If it works, and I think it’ll be revolutionary, then it makes sense to run these over most major arterial roads, including those in the outer boroughs. In fact, in some parts of the outer boroughs we already have els. It wouldn’t be hard or overly costly then to just suspend a bike lane below them.

    Granted, if we got rid of about 95% of motor vehicle traffic then there would be plenty of space for all at street level, but I honestly don’t see that happening anytime soon. So let’s do the next best thing, “create” new space over the street ( or perhaps even under it wherever there are valid aesthetic objections to elevated bike lanes ).

  • Driver

    Mlke, you can’t make winged unicorns working in this extreme cold weather, it’s inhumane. Sorry Joe R, but Mlke made me LOL.

    Joe, Bus lanes isolated by structural pillars don’t sound very safe. It is the equivelant of a protected bike lane with no buffer. There is no maneuverability to avoid hazards, especially pedestrians. And the pillars obstruct the views of the drivers causing many blind spots, similar to the existing El’s. Drivers cannot see pedestrians who walk out from behind the supports. These bus lanes would also become useless in heavy snow, and they would present serious issues for fire dept and emergency vehicle responses.

    In many if not most spots, suspending bike infrastructure from El’s would reduce vertical street clearance to a level that would not allow trucks to pass or cross. I don’t see how that is feasible.

  • Joe R.

    Driver,

    You could always put the supports on the sidewalk side if need be to allow manuverability. In all honesty though, I was trying to address the problem of intrusion into bus lanes by using the supports as bollards. I suppose one way to address the pedestrian issue you mentioned if this is done is to also run a fence between the supports to prevent pedestrian crossings except at crosswalks, where they’re expected. I’m thinking of the future here. If BRT takes off, it will eventually make sense to replace the bus with light rail for capacity/speed/cost reasons. When that occurs, the clearance to manuever around obstacles is moot.

    As for suspending the bike lanes from els, just an idea to save money and also avoid community objection ( i.e. the el already uglifies the neighborhood, adding a relatively small attachment won’t make it any worse ). If there isn’t sufficient clearance suspending them underneath, you can always attach them on the side. That gives you a partially covered sidewalk as a bonus.

    Oh, and I got Mlke’s humor. I even LOLed myself. Humor is fine to lighten up things a bit, but I would really like to discuss this idea seriously. Maybe the city can’t afford it now, but when the economy picks up, it makes all the sense in the world to do a few miles along one Manhattan Avenue as proof-of-concept. The design can obviously be tweaked somewhat. In some cases you might have room for ramps without switchbacks. In others you might want to run the lane above the sidewalk for weather protection. Obviously the whole idea makes connections with the East River crossings easier. Just look for example at the lousy way bike traffic off the Williamsburg Bridge spills into the left side of Delancy Street now. Think instead if it goes straight to an elevated bike lane which then turns up First Avenue without ever dropping to street level.

  • Mike

    Joe, it’s time for you to admit this is NEVER going to happen, and move on.

    Maybe this can work for very short distances. Your Williamsburg Bridge idea is one such example. A similar flyover was once proposed to take the Brooklyn approach to the Brooklyn Bridge into Cadman Plaza.

    But: ALL the bike infrastructure the city has built in the last 5 years has cost about $10 million (including federal funding). A single block of this scheme would cost millions by itself. The minimal Cadman Plaza scheme was estimated at $5 million: http://www.transalt.org/files/newsroom/magazine/042Spring/05brooklyn.html Building this out on a citywide scale would cost billions, AND would cause shadows below, huge maintenance costs, massive community opposition, and would go largely unused and/or would be full of pedestrians like the Brooklyn Bridge Promenade. There is simply no way this would EVER happen. Ever. Period. Let’s get back to reality, guys.

  • Joe R., off the top of my head, here are problems with flying lanes as you describe them:

    1. Lack of midblock access means that they can’t be used for shopping in local shops; through traffic only.

    2. Fencing the street from the sidewalk as you suggest makes it impossible for people who park cars to get out of the car on the safer, sidewalk side.

    3. Needs 15′ of height off the street. In order to get 15′ high you need 300′ of ramp at 5% grade. Even using two switchbacks, the ramp blocks off 100′ of street access. Who wants to be a property owner behind a 100′ wall separating the premises from the street?

    4. Impossible to see conditions on the flyway before climbing up there; what if there’s trash strewn around or lots of broken glass or lots of winos, especially under the shelter?

    5. Who plows the ramps? I guess you could run steam through the whole thing if you built it in Manhattan so the snow would just melt off, but that makes it more attractive to winos in the winter.

    6. What property owner would allow the city to dangle a walkway from his or her building? Buildings are made to hold themselves up, not to cantilever walkways off to the side. You’d have to put supports beams running through the entire building, which would mean tearing the whole thing down and starting again.

  • Joe R.

    Fine Mike, if you say so. I don’t agree with your figure of billions though, not if we standardize on a guideway design ( the Cadman Plaza scheme was a one-off project which is why it was so expensive ). Offhand, I’d estimate if we used mass-produced standardized parts, we could do it for perhaps $250,000 per mile, worst case $1 million. In essence this is structurally the same as a pedestrian bridge in terms of loads. Maybe figure in a roughly 20 mile by 20 mile city you need a grid with about 1 mile spacing to make a useful network, so maybe 800 miles guideway total. Let’s round up to 1000 miles. That’s about $1 billion at $1 million a mile. Not chicken feed for sure, but spread out over 10 years it comes to not much over $10 per city resident per year. I’d be more than willing to pay an annual fee of 5 times that to use the lanes. So would many others I think. Roof it over and it’ll be used in all weather. As for community opposition, you’re not going to be building these things down a quiet residential street. You would build them over main arterials with largely commercial zoning. If you stick them along the median ( which many arterials have ), then the visual impact is minimal. Besides, it’s not like most city streets are things of beauty anyway. A well done guideway might actually make the street look better. It could double as a support structure for streetlighting also.

    OK, let’s go back to reality since you claim this idea is hopeless. What the city is doing isn’t working and isn’t ever going to work, period. I’ve regretably come to that conclusion as of late. You’re having massive opposition at every turn which is only going to get worse. Moreover, for all the headaches getting these protected bike lanes put in entails, what advantages do they offer over just street riding ( which admittedly largely stinks in much of the city? Sure, they make some new riders feel safer, perhaps even get some people off the overcrowded subways, but how useful can they potentially be in the larger scheme of things, especially seeing that a useful, interconnected network is but a pipedream given the current level of community opposition? Is what the city doing useful at all to outer borough residents? Here you can actually replace car trips, not transit trips, with bike trips if you built a smart network. And what about outer borough to Manhattan commuters? That’s a huge potential group, but the city is doing squat for it outside of in a few close to Manhattan areas like Williamsburg or Long Island City.

    Bottom line, it IS time we started thinking big. Not just with bike infrastructure, but with everything. Look what’s going on in China. Thousands of miles of high-speed rail, new roads, new subways. Why can’t we do this here? Maybe we should have the Chinese build us the bike lanes and also the Second Avenue subway. There’s just no reason things should cost as much as they do, or take as long as they do. It’s not like this city or state don’t have the money. We get plenty of money in taxes. We squandor it on entitlements for the few instead of infrastructure for all.

  • Joe R.

    Guys, I’m bowing out of this discussion at this point since it seems everyone is doing the same thing they always do whenever someone in this country has new ideas-namely think of every reason under the sun why it won’t work. We’ve already done that in the US with high-speed rail, with expansions of commuter rail/subway, with clean energy, and so forth. I think I’ll just turn in my citizenship and move to a forward-thinking place where people aren’t afraid to try and perhaps fail at something. Oddly enough, the USA used to be exactly such a place.

  • The Anti-Weinshall

    Marco,

    I’m not saying the plan is perfect, and I’m not unilaterally defending it. I just think that the discussion should be about how to amend this plan by maybe removing less parking, charging more intelligently for parking, and properly and effectively accommodating deliveries. We should NOT discuss building extremely expensive parking lots and garages that induce more driving and are not attractive additions to the neighborhood.

  • Richard S.

    Is it possible to combine the bus and bike lanes into one? The lane can be wide enough so bikes can pass a bus. This could save space for parking.

  • eveostay

    “In many places, there is physically not enough spaces available to accommodate the amount of truck traffic that is necessary to supply the thousands of businesses and buildings in Manhattan. Higher meter rates won’t change that, the same vehicles will just pay more and pass on the costs.”

    Of course higher meter rates would change that. You just have to price out the people who wouldn’t be there if they weren’t getting free or extremely cheap subsidized parking.

    I also think you’ll find that if you consider the total value of the contents of a truck along with all of the costs involved with getting it into a dense urban environment (labor, fuel, congestion delay, and so on) several dollars more isn’t going to make much difference to the overall cost of the goods.

    (Also, put me down in the unicorn camp — we already have plenty of roads and we (w/ JSK) are working towards making them usable for more than one type of traffic.)

  • Marco

    The Anti-Weinshall – I’m on board that we should be making changes, although I’m not sure that a Transportation Alternatives plan is one that we should be basing the template on, for a variety of reasons. I’d rather hear from a number of perspectives, and have the city incorporate them with a blank slate.

    In addition, I’d suggest that it’s wrong to look at parking as a negative in building a livable community. Contrary to what some say, cars aren’t fundamentally evil, and when appropriately accommodated, can be an important part of a vibrant livable community. There is a balance to be met, and while there may be currently be excess parking around 117th and 3rd (I have no idea), I find it hard to believe that a transition to the parking in the graphic could satisfy the community, particularly without incorporating any additional transit options.

    The TA design is a very cool theoretical proposition, but clearly shows no scientific assessment of the needs of that particular neighborhood. It’s more like an art project than a legitimate roadway proposal.

  • Driver

    Eveostay, I am referring to areas that are predominantly if not exclusively parking for commercial vehicles during daytime hours, which is why I mentioned midtown. Street parking (metered) is not taken by cars, but by work vans (mostly mechanical companies) and trucks that are working. You can raise the commercial meter rates as high as you want, it does not change the demand for so many vehicles. That demand is determined by the requirements of businesses and buildings in the area.

    Joe, although I agree that the likelihood of your ideas becoming a reality are slim to none, I like how you think outside the box, whether I agree with a particular idea or not. Your Williamsburg bridge idea is excellent.

  • Contrary to what some say, cars aren’t fundamentally evil, and when appropriately accommodated, can be an important part of a vibrant livable community.

    You keep saying this, but you aren’t giving us any proof to support it.

  • Marco

    You need “proof” from someone that cars can be part of vibrant livable communities? No, I’m sure that’s not my responsibilty to provide it.

    If your view is that the hub and spoke of transit is sufficient for the totality of livable communities, their residents, visitors and businesses, wherever they might be located, I’m not going to take the time to correct that.

  • Driver

    “You keep saying this, but you aren’t giving us any proof to support it.”
    Unless you are suggesting that there are no vibrant livable cities in this country, the proof is in the present day real world. Is it perfect? No. Will it ever be? Not likely, but to echo Marco’s sentiment, transit falls far short of meeting all the needs of an active and vibrant city.

  • Driver, what makes you think that every building-maintenance crew needs a van? Let’s assume I’m a plumber, come to fix a leaky faucet at the Streetsblog 12th floor offices. Whatever tools and materials I need, I have to haul them up on a dolly-cart in the elevator from the street; the van doesn’t help me there. So why not just go from job to job with the dolly-cart, instead of having to schlep the van around and rack up parking tickets?

    You can keep on assuming that everything that a motor vehicle is used for today absolutely requires the use of a motor vehicle, but that doesn’t make it a correct assumption, or even a particularly good one. It certainly didn’t turn out to be true of horse-drawn vehicles.

  • NattyB

    The problem with these types of designs, is that, pedestrians treat the NW portion of the intersection, the space between the pedestrian refuge and where the bike lane starts up again, as additional sidewalk space to wait, until they can cross 3rd ave.

    And this is precisely the problem with the 1st Ave bike lane.

    I took 1st ave up to work today, and not only did I wipe out once to avoid a senior who blindly stepped into the bike lane, but, that every intersection was like that. I spent the whole time eye-balling each corner, and man, so many close calls (in addition to my one wipe out – which did some minor damage, though, mostly just annoyingly wet for the rest of my ride).

    ***

    Substandard bike lanes suck! The 8th/9th Ave, Kent Ave, and PPW lanes are the way to go. Anything else is just selling us out. I would’ve been safer just riding in the middle of 1st ave.

  • You need “proof” from someone that cars can be part of vibrant livable communities? No, I’m sure that’s not my responsibilty to provide it.

    Well, clearly they’re part of our communities; I have to deal with them every day. The part of your assertion I was questioning, that they’re important parts of vibrant livable communities, is the part you left out. I would even grant that they’re important; something that will kill you if you don’t pay enough attention to it is important. But important isn’t the same as necessary.

    If your view is that the hub and spoke of transit is sufficient for the totality of livable communities, their residents, visitors and businesses, wherever they might be located, I’m not going to take the time to correct that.

    And now you’re attributing assertions to me – that transit always has to have a hub and spokes – that I didn’t make.

    We had vibrant livable communities before cars, and we’ll have vibrant livable communities after them. And no, Driver, I don’t consider most places in the U.S. to be particularly livable. I’m relatively comfortable here in Queens, but my kid can’t play in the street, dogs can’t lie in the street the way my mom’s dog did when she was a kid. It’s only borderline livable.

  • Driver

    Jonathan, you should ask a plumber about that. Some equipment is mounted in the van, and not all equipment is needed for all jobs, and all jobs are different. So you have a van full of equipment necessary to complete a variety of job ttpes (don’t forget this includes having replacement parts available as well), but you only bring in what you need for that particular job, and it may certainly be more than one dolly cart of tools or supplies. In the course of a job, you may suddenly find you need a different tool or piece of equipment. Plumbing is a good example of this, as there are many unexpected things that can come up in the course of a job or repair. Elevator and HVAC mechanics face similar situations. Either the equipment is readily available in the van, or the job doesn’t get completed with any reasonable efficiency.
    Given the rate that plumbers make, having them walk miles with hundreds or probably thousands of pounds of equipment is not only physically labor intensive and impractical, it would likely be more expensive than parking tickets.
    By the way, if we had never invented the combustion engine, we would probably still be using horses. Horses didn’t disappear because they weren’t necessary, they disappeared because their function was replaced by technology that was more efficient.

  • Stan

    Just eliminating the private cars from Manhattan would make a huge difference. Accomodate trucks and service vehicles with appropriate pricing, have some taxis for errands and use the rest of the lanes for more humanane transportation like streetcars and bicycles and sidewalks.

  • Marco

    NattyB – I think one of the failures of the DOT’s implementation of the current strategy is the lack of clarifying signage or road markings. There is a *dire* need for all road users to be reminded of the appropriate way to handle their responsibilities. It’s primarily drivers that are the offenders, but everyone should be given additional plain language reinforcement about rights of way.

    Communities where there is a tradition of shared road use generally have clearer signage, and those people don’t need the reminders that we do. There’s a spectrum of solutions between ignorance and enforcement that NYC should be implementing.

  • Clarence,

    Your clip of Penalosa picks up right after he said, “You can make a wonderful bike path or other improvement in Copenhagen, and nobody pays attention. But in New York…”

    Biggest laugh of the evening! Can’t believe you cut that out!

  • The Anti-Weinshall

    Marco,

    The reason TA used the existing designs as a template, is that they exists in the real world, they have been proven to work, and we can physically point to them and show how they work.

    Also, SBS with dedicated lanes, off-board fare collection, and signal priority IS additional transit service.

    Finally, do you honestly think that removing a few parking spaces on each block will destroy all the businesses there? If so, then Grand St, 9th Ave, 8th Ave, 1st Ave, 2nd Ave, Broadway, Columbus Ave should all be ghost towns. Yet, they aren’t. Why? Because the vast majority of customers on those streets arrive by transit and walking, and because not that many parking spaces were removed. Yes, it’s now slightly harder to park and a little slower to drive there. BUT, it’s easier, safer, and more convenient to walk, bike, take the bus, and LIVE there.

    I’m not sure what you have in mind, Marco, but it’s not sounding much like livable streets to me.

  • Charlie

    Have you guys consider making the separated bike lane two directional? That would add a lot of connectivity to this street for bikes. And if the left turning traffic is signalized anyway there wouldn’t be any conflicts.

  • Marco

    The Anti-Weinshall –

    You’ve said:

    “If so, then Grand St, 9th Ave, 8th Ave, 1st Ave, 2nd Ave, Broadway, Columbus Ave should all be ghost towns. Yet, they aren’t. Why? Because the vast majority of customers on those streets arrive by transit and walking, and because not that many parking spaces were removed.”

    TA’s plan for 3rd Ave requires removing a *ton* of parking spaces (the vast majority of parking, in fact), not the “few” spots that you’ve suggested, so I’m not sure what you’re trying to argue. There’s certainly no parallel, and at least on Columbus, there has been an understanding by pretty much everyone that some of the lost parking there needs to be replaced.

    If you can explain TA’s science behind their specific parking deletions, I’m all ears, but I’m pretty sure it was entirely disconnected from the actual needs and desires of the impacted neighborhood. If they’ve got a study or a poll exploring how much street parking should be eliminated, I haven’t seen it.

  • BicyclesOnly

    Most commenters on this thread are mistakenly assuming that the raison d’etre of the East Side Streets Coalition and the Action Plan is to secure implementation of the specific redesign proposals in the foldout, one part of which is shown in the post. It’s not.

    These redesigns reflect not only the handiwork of design professionals, but also community charettes involving scores of ordinary residents. There were a lot of ideas proposed at the charettes and not a great deal of time to discuss context and other issues.

    The goal of the Action Plan is to reduce cyclist and pedestrian casualties by 1/2 over ten years, using bottom-up grassroots infrastructure solutions. These diagrams exemplify the beginning, but not the final product of that process. Winning any of the infrastructure on the diagrams–most elements of which are severable from the others–is a complex multilateral political process that will inevitably take many twists and turns. I expect the comments on the diagrams made on this thread and otherwise will be of help to proponents of traffic calming on the East Side as they hone their specicif proposals and move forward in building their coalition.

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