PlaNYC Program Will Bring 1,000 Sleek New Benches to City Sidewalks

DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan with City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito (left) and Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs (background right). Photos: Brad Aaron

Joined by East Harlem seniors, advocates and City Council members, transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan today kicked off a program to provide new and improved sidewalk seating.

CityBench, a product of PlaNYC 2.0, will bring 1,000 shiny steel benches to locations across the five boroughs. The first two were installed outside the Leonard Covello Senior Center on E. 109th Street, where Sadik-Khan said the primary aim of the initiative is to make streets and sidewalks more accommodating to seniors and the mobility-impaired.

“CityBench brings a new design standard that elevates our streetscapes and simply makes it easier and more enjoyable for New Yorkers of every age to walk and take transit,” said Sadik-Khan. The benches will be sited strategically near bus stops, commercial districts and areas with large populations of seniors and the physically disabled. Members of the public may also recommend locations via 311.

“Not only will these benches allow seniors and other residents to sit down and rest, they will also enable them to chat with their neighbors about their day, their families, and the overall state of the community,” said Melissa Mark-Viverito, who was lauded by Sadik-Khan for her work in bringing separated bike lanes to First and Second Avenues. Council Member Jessica Lappin and Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs were also on hand.

The lion’s share of funding — 80 percent — for the $3 million CityBench program comes from the Federal Transit Administration, with New York State DOT covering another 10 percent.

After the crowd from the presser had for the most part dispersed, I spoke with bench designer Ignacio Ciocchini, who is director of design for Chelsea Improvement Company. Ciocchini said every facet of the bench was developed with the city in mind, from the powder-coated steel, designed to dissipate heat and shed snow, to the 26-inch seats, allowing for what Ciocchini described as “proper social space” and intended to leave room for whatever a pedestrian might be carrying, from a shopping bag to a small child.

“It fits all sizes,” said Covello Center executive director Suleika Cabrera. “It’s fantastic.”

Residents can suggest a CityBench location by calling 311.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

DOT Secures Federal Grant to Add More Sidewalk Seating

|
A federal grant will bring more public benches to NYC sidewalks, DOT announced yesterday. The CityBench program, a PlanNYC initiative launched in 2011, has brought hundreds of steel benches to streets across the boroughs. DOT marked the installation of the 1,500th bench yesterday, at MS 22 in the Bronx, and said the Federal Transit Authority has awarded the […]

Famed Danish Urbanist Jan Gehl in Town to Consult on PlaNYC

|
The Urbanist Musketeers: Alex Garvin, Jan Gehl and Fred Kent in Copenhagen, Denmark, Sept. 30, 2006. Jan Gehl, the famed Danish urbanist, is in New York City this week where, sources say, he has been hired as a consultant for Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC program. At a presentation to the board of the Regional Plan Association […]

Mayor Bloomberg at the Crossroads: Who Will Run DOT?

|
With DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall set to depart city government in three weeks, sources say that Mayor Michael Bloomberg is close to announcing her replacement. The Mayor’s choice will have a profound impact on day-to-day neighborhood life as well as the City of New York’s long-term future. Though the DOT commissioner job search has barely […]

DOT Installs 58 Muni-Meters in Bensonhurst

|
Is the Department of Transportation laying the groundwork for market rate, on-street parking? From a DOT media release yesterday:  New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan today joined State Senator Marty Golden to announce the installation of credit card friendly Muni-Meters along 86th Street in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. The Department of Transportation (DOT) installed 58 Muni-Meters […]

Jon Orcutt Appointed as DOT Senior Policy Advisor

|
File under: Totally unimaginable just a few months ago. Following the appointment of Bruce Schaller as Deputy Commissioner for Planning and Sustainability, Jon Orcutt is DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan’s second high profile hire since taking over the agency. Stay tuned for one or two more big appointments. Kate Slevin will be taking over as Tri-State […]