Tonight: Community Board 9 Weighs Fix for Dangerous Stretch of Broadway

DOT's plan for 18 blocks of Broadway in West Harlem would drop it from three lanes to two lanes each way. Image: DOT [PDF]
DOT’s plan for 18 blocks of Broadway in West Harlem would widen pedestrian medians and narrow motor vehicle lanes. Image: DOT [PDF]
A street safety plan [PDF] for Broadway in West Harlem is going before the Manhattan Community Board 9 transportation committee tonight. The redesign is a road diet similar to other DOT projects that have reduced deaths and injuries, but CB 9 members also have a track record of opposing attempts to improve safety by removing car lanes.

This stretch of Broadway is three lanes in each direction with a center median. Six people have been killed between 135th Street and 153rd Street since 2007, according to DOT, including five pedestrians and one motor vehicle passenger. Four of the five pedestrians were senior citizens.

There were 35 severe injuries and 455 total injuries from 2009 to 2013, mostly among people in cars. Of the 108 pedestrians injured, 53 percent were crossing with the signal, nearly double the percentage crossing against the light. DOT also found that up to 30 percent of drivers were speeding, even before the speed limit was lowered to 25 mph.

To address the dangerous conditions, DOT is proposing a road diet similar to projects already implemented on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard in Harlem and Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn. The Broadway redesign calls for going from three lanes in each direction to two, with space reallocated to buffers along the median, larger pedestrian zones at intersections, and wider parking lanes.

Broadway runs parallel to the Henry Hudson Parkway. Even during summer Friday afternoons, when traffic increases on Broadway, DOT says two lanes in each direction is enough. The issues for motor vehicles, DOT says, have to do with left turns and trucks making deliveries.

Today, truck drivers often double park in the right lane, reducing visibility for pedestrians and forcing drivers to weave around them. On the other side of the street, drivers turning left often stack up in the left lane.

New loading zones would be added along Broadway to reduce double parking. In addition, left turns from northbound Broadway at 138th and 145th streets would be banned, and U-turns from southbound Broadway at 152nd Street would also be prohibited.

Like the other road diets on similar streets, however, there is no bike infrastructure in the plan. Instead DOT opted to devote all the repurposed space to enlarge the median and create super-wide parking lanes, which will double as space for illegally double-parked vehicles.

Because of its poor safety record, Broadway is a Vision Zero pedestrian priority corridor. The intersections with 135th, 145th and 152nd streets are among the most dangerous 10 percent in Manhattan. Similar designs reduced pedestrian injuries 61 percent on Fourth Avenue in Park Slope and 27 percent on Adam Clayton Powell, according to DOT.

A section of Broadway has already received this type of redesign: Between 93rd Street and 100th Street, the southbound side received a road diet last year and saw pedestrian injuries drop 37 percent.

Community Board 9 has a mixed record on road diets. It backed a plan for Morningside Avenue, but key members of the transportation committee have stalled a road diet proposed for Riverside Drive, which like Broadway is used by car commuters as an alternative to the Henry Hudson Parkway.

In May, DOT hosted two public walking evaluations of Broadway to flag problems and discuss solutions. Its first presentation to the CB 9 transportation committee was last month. Tonight’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Fortune Society, 625 W. 140th Street.

  • J

    Once again DOTs “Vision Zero” streets provide convenient double parking and completely ignore biking.

  • Bernard Finucane

    Streetside parking and no bulbouts at a school crossing?

  • BBnet3000

    And a double parking lane to obstruct the view of approaching cars. What could go wrong?

  • WHERE ARE THE BIKE LANES

  • This seems like as good an opportunity as any to start laying down a center median bikeway on Broadway, a la Allen/Pike.

  • new yorker

    another disappointment from Polly Trottenberg. not even unbelievable at this point – totally expected.

  • Clarke

    When you need signs that define basic street designs (“Stop here on red” for a stop line), it’s a sign your licensing system is seriously flawed.

  • Alyssa

    Using wide parking lanes and only a few loading zones to address widespread loading issues is bad design, DOT needs to be addressing it with parking policy and enforcement. DOT needs the parking team on these designs too, adding loading zones where they are needed (typically at the approach to the intersection – nearside) and then a curb bulb out in front, making peds visible around loading vehicles be they freight, taxi, or passenger pickups.

    Similarly for the bus stops, bulb outs with in lane stops (preferably on the farside of intersections) will make those crucial cross and uptown connectors move more efficiently through Harlem.

  • Jonathan R

    So left turns can cross bicycle lanes in both directions instead of just one. That’s putting safety first.

  • qrt145

    Considering how often lines on the road fade away and are not repainted for years, the sign is good redundancy! 😉

  • J

    True but you avoid right turns altogether, and there are no deliveries and drop-offs that cross the path.

  • The Allen/Pike bikeway uses signals to separate bike traffic from left turning drivers.

  • Matthias

    Bingo. I don’t understand the recent slew of wide parking lanes. It seems like DOT is just trying to accommodate illegal parking.

  • BBnet3000

    Signals at every intersection are too expensive to replicate citywide, and honestly that is way too many signals especially if they are timed for cars. I ride Allen/Pike daily from the FDR to Canal and probably end up stopping more times along that short length than on any other street on my commute. Between Canal and Houston its only faster because of the side streets closed to cars.

    Allen/Pike looks nice (except for nearly every bench along the route having no bottom and the plants overgrowing the bikeway) and I’m sure it was expensive but it’s not a best practice bikeway at all. Its also ridiculously narrow which makes passing impossible.

  • MR

    Could the issue be solved by banning left turns on that stretch of bway except at designated streets that could have a left turn light and lane.

  • AnoNYC

    That’s exactly what they are doing.

  • AnoNYC

    Yeah, she’s been a lame duck.

  • Bernard Finucane

    I can can already see the comments of the investigating officer in the newspaper. “Little Joey darted out into traffic from between parked cars. There was nothing the driver could do”.

  • Daniel

    Does anyone have any understanding of why she has been such an ineffective traffic commissioner? It seems that most proposals coming out of the DOT these days is looks more like an Iris Weinshall era proposal than anything that might actually work.

    Is it just that without strong leadership the career staff have fallen back on the old rural route no 4. guidelines? Is it lack of support from the mayor to override bad decisions by community boards? Is it that she doesn’t have any idea of where we need to go? Is it that she doesn’t know how to get there? Is it an incompatibility between her leadership style and the DOT staff?

    What is going on? And what is the solution?

    At first I thought she might lack political support to take on bad community board decisions, but there are community boards begging for change that are being ignored. Something else must be wrong.

  • BBnet3000

    Except that the stall of cycling infra in NYC dates back to 2010, 2 years before she started.

  • How does a bicycle rider going to a building in the middle of the block safely get there?

    Does a center bikeway create problems for drivers having to deal with too many things at once from too many different directions? One of the key elements of Dutch CROW junctions is that a driver can deal with motor vehicle traffic in the junction and THEN separately deal with bicycle riders and pedestrians. How does this work with a center bikeway?

  • Matthias

    Bikeways with left turn signals (I’m thinking mainly of Columbus Av and Broadway) seriously reduce green time for bicycles. You can’t get more than a couple of blocks per cycle.

  • JamesR

    JSK was a star and a thought leader. If you’d ever met the woman, you’d know why she was so successful in pushing through these projects – she’s brilliant, dogged, and charismatic. By all counts, Trottenberg is more of a typical technocrat – and I don’t think DeBlasio has her back the way that Bloomberg had JSK’s back.

  • neroden

    Seriously, why not much larger loading zones?

    Loading zones can be shared with taxi dropoff/pickup, or even private car dropoff/pickup. Just not with actual PARKING, as in “abandoning your car unsupervised”.

    Most of the legitimate uses of street space don’t require parking.

  • neroden

    This is sort of a good start, but instead of “wide parking lanes”, it should have a lot more loading zones.

    Why is Trottenburg encouraging dangerous double-parking?

    There’s also plenty of room for fully separated bikeways here.

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