Today’s Headlines

  • Breaking: Mayor, Deputy Mayor Support Mayoral Agenda (NYT)
  • In Times Square Plazas, Waiters Will Soon Bring Food to Your Table (PostNews)
  • BID Wants to Expand, Flip Broadway Plazas, But DOT Vetoes Over Political Backlash (DNAinfo)
  • Markowitz Comes Out Against Car-Free Prospect Park (Gothamist)
  • EDC Managing Plans for Ped-Friendly Water Street, No Bike Lanes to Be Included (WSJ)
  • Jimmy Van Bramer Supports DOT’s Street Safety Goals on Long Island City Roads (News)
  • City Hall News Takes a Closer Look at MTA Real Estate Portfolio
  • State Senate Passes Bill to Increase Penalties on Drunk and Wrong-Way Drivers
  • Bike Merchants Feel the Pain of Central Park Crackdown (DNAinfo)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Larry Littlefield

    Well, folks here probably aren’t going to like it, but I agree with Marty that the current rules for Prospect Park are fair. Pehaps this can be revisted at a future time when auto use is much lower, but as it is the capacity is needed.

    And I as a frequent park visitor, I was never afraid of the cars. When I was younger and used to jog in the park on dark winter evenings, I liked having them go by for security back in the mugging for crack change days.

    In any event, I had predicted long ago that there would be a lot of noise about bicycles and related issues in the future. Because of what people don’t want to talk about — what we pay in taxes, what we get in services in return, how that’s going to be different in the future, and who has benefitted. Growing bicycle use could be the only good news for some time. And this time, the fiscal disaster is not just limited to older cities as it was back in the 1970s.

  • Insider

    Re: bike lanes on Water Street. There are lots of competing interests on that street including a Bus Rapid Transit route, heavy pedestrian traffic, and a lack of green space. While I would love to see bike lanes there, the plan does a lot for pedestrians and buses, and those are major components of livable streets. I’d be careful about bringing out the pitchforks over this one.

  • Anonymous

    What study do you have to back up the claim that “the capacity is needed”? There have been conflicting reports on the subject, some of which show that there would be no impact to side streets or surrounding avenues. What’s needed is a trial period of even a month to see what happens.

  • J

    As long as they don’t build out the Broadway plazas with the bike lanes between the plazas and the sidewalk, I’m fine. The design sucks right now, but it’s clearly temporary and can be changed at any time pretty inexpensively. I guess DOT doesn’t want to rock the boat right now, and I think that’s probably wise. It’s going to be hard to get through there by bike anyway until they build out the Times Square Herald Square plazas, which won’t happen until next year. Spending money on it now would look like it was being done for a small amount of cyclists, who likely wouldn’t increase due to the problems at Times Square & Herald Square. It would look like a waste since it won’t get much bike traffic anyway. After they fix Times Square, however, this is going to become a bigger problem and DOT will be forced to do something about it. Until then, it looks like we have to live with the poorly planned original design.

  • re: Breaking: Mayor, Deputy Mayor Support Mayoral Agenda (NYT)

    This is netzeroMobility 3 to 4 times more efficient than walking that will save the planet and probably a good idea.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I don’t have a study. Just anectdotal observation of traffic volumes on PPSW with the park open, and during near peak periods with the traffic closed. My guess, however, is that DOT does have data, as I’ve seen those boxes and hoses around over the years.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I use the bike lane, and stop for pedestrians three times a block in some cases. And it’s amazing how many walk down the bike lane in preference to the adjacent
    sidewalk. I’ve come to believe that the “bike boulevard” option is better than separated lanes in the heart of midtown.

  • Here’s a compromise: leave Prospect Park open to traffic, but narrow the lanes going through, and line them with metal poles, so prevailing speeds are at 15MPH. You get the traffic capacity, without turning the park into a speedway.

  • Suzanne

    FINALLY the Bloomberg admnistration is fighting back! They should have done this a long time ago!

  • J

    I pretty much agree. Honestly, there is so little traffic on that stretch of Broadway, and it moves at such a moderate pace, I feel rather comfortable biking in the street there. It often feels less stressful that the bike lane.

  • car free nation

    I disagree Larry. When was the last time you were riding your bike during the hours when there are cars in the park? The lead car typically goes 30 miles an hour, honking his horn to clear the path of cyclists. It’s like some kind of automobile parade. If it’s before a Celebrate Brooklyn concert, it’s really obnoxious, and seems pretty dangerous to me.

    I avoid exercising or using the park during the time that cars are allowed, and that makes the park much less useful to me.

    And for what? to save 2 minutes to go around the park.

  • ddartley

    I’m generally with you, J. Here’s the comment I posted directly on DNAinfo:

    The problem is misstated [in the DNAinfo article] in two ways: it’s not simply “the placement of the pedestrian plaza right next to a bike lane,” but rather the sandwiching–UNIQUE TO THAT STRETCH–of a bike lane BETWEEN two large areas where pedestrians ought to and do feel entitled to let their guard down. Ped Plazas simply *next to* bike lanes are established and unproblematic. But peds at this particular stretch *don’t* have a “dangerous gamut” to run, because cyclists, seeing that it’s completely–and I mean completely–overrun with peds, mostly avoid this stretch of the bike lane. This is my observation from biking this stretch almost every evening rush hour for almost two years.

    I strongly support the BID’s idea of swapping the two things (although I regret their need to frequently steal back the ped plaza space for unappealing “events”). DOT must now be shell-shocked into paranoia if they think that just swapping the bike and ped areas will prompt backlash. The backlash has already happened! Swapping those two spaces not only won’t draw new backlash, but may even assuage the bit of anger still out there about the entire, overall reconfig.

    I may be delusional, but I actually like to try to take credit for being one of the first persons to submitting to DOT the idea of swapping these two things. (I did so at one of the open houses DOT had on the subject, and planners from DOT and a (the?) boss from the 34th St. Partnership were at my table.)

  • J

    I’m with you ddartley, and think they definitely should be swapped, but I think that right now DOT views fixing that stretch as a low priority as changing it would be akin to stirring up the ant pile. The Times Square plazas and bike lanes have been out of the news for quite a long time now, save for the occasional jab from Cuozzo, who most people ignore anyway. The longer they are out of the news, the more accepted they become. With a major reconstruction coming up next year, DOT probably wants as much political backing of this as possible. How much the Times Square BID cares about swapping the location of the bike lane and ped plazas remains to be seen, as they are a big provider of that support. I do think they will be swapped at some point, just maybe not this spring or summer.

  • kevd

    I have no problem with the cars in the morning.
    Especially now that they all have to exit at G.A.P., so I’m not merging with and turning through 2 vehicle lanes.

    Afternoons seems like a bigger problem for park users, especially kids who might, you know, want to do something in the park after school without their parents worrying that they’ll get run over.

    I’m rarely off work early enough to see the cars in the park evenings.

  • Anonymous

    I think the original idea was well intentioned-to give bikes a space away from traffic, but the reality is that pedestrians don’t keep clear of the lane. Since traffic is substantially reduced and slowed on Broadway these days, some combination of a parking protected bike lane and a painted buffer on the traffic side would probably suffice.

  • Suzanne

    I have to agree with Care Free Nation. The cars drive way too fast, often aggressively pushing into the bike lane (often driving right on the line.) Plus they stink and pretty much destroy any enjoyment of one of our limited green spaces. I’d be willing to compromise with something like removing a lane and putting a physical barrier between the cars and ther est of us but quite honestly, with the thousands of miles of roads they have and the few parks we have, I’d much prefer no cars at all in my public parks.

  • dporpentine

    I’m going to take the NBBL position: I see very few cars in PPW and the ones I do see make me afraid for my life.* Therefore, they should be eliminated.

    * Thanks in no small part to the pedestrians and joggers who fill the bike lane, forcing me into the car lane. I don’t blame those folks–the walking lane is ridiculously narrow–but they’re not my special friends, that’s for sure.

  • Jeff

    Can anyone think of a single new piece of bike infrastructure announced by DOT since the tabloid-fueled illusion of a backlash really kicked into high gear? We’ve seen plenty of traffic-calming projects with solid-line-stripped parking lanes wide enough to fit a standard parking-offset bike lane, plenty of flush median installations and lane reductions, a few neck-downs here and there, but not so much as a single sharrow.

    Have the tabloids won? Or is this just clever strategy? It’s tough to argue against traffic calming. So long as the space dedicated to automobile storage doesn’t get reduced, even the most self-entitled of motorists would have a hard time stepping up and saying, “But I LIKE driving recklessly!” (traffic calming which comes at the expense of automobile storage is, however, a completely different issue, as they pretty much all but stand behind the notion that automobile storage is more important than a human life).

    So then we have a non-controversial traffic calming project which, after the media fire dies down, can be easily modified to include bike lanes by literally painting the bike stencil thing (again, so long as automobile storage space remains untouched). Then what does the rallying cry of the opposition become? “We don’t like the aesthetics of the little bike man.”? Or, “But now if we kill a cyclist who is riding on the same road space that was originally part of the wide parking lane, there will be a greater chance that we’ll be held accountable!”?

    Do we need to be patient, or do we need to start putting pressure on DOT?