DOT, NYPD Remove New Eastern Parkway Ped Islands for Once-a-Year Parade

island_museum
The city is removing two pedestrian islands from Eastern Parkway to accommodate the West Indian Day Parade, but the parade has passed three other islands for years, including this one by the Brooklyn Museum. Image: Google Earth

DOT and NYPD are destroying two concrete pedestrian islands the city installed less than a year ago on Eastern Parkway at the request of organizers of next weekend’s West Indian Day Parade, the Post reports.

Instead of making the parade accommodate permanent pedestrian infrastructure, the city is undoing safety measures that protect people 365 days out of the year to accommodate an event on a single day.

The medians — at the intersections of Kingston and Brooklyn Avenues — were installed in December as part of a Safe Routes to Schools plan for Arista Prep Academy and Nursery School and the Oholei Torah yeshiva that was in the works for 10 years [PDF]. The intersection of Kingston and Eastern Parkway is also a Vision Zero priority intersection where seven people were severely injured from 2009 and 2013.

The West Indian Day Parade draws more than a million people to Eastern Parkway every Labor Day. DOT must have been aware of the parade when planning the project.

It’s not clear why the parade is incompatible with the islands, especially since the route has already passed by three concrete pedestrian islands west of Washington Avenue for years. Those islands will not be removed. Parade officials were nevertheless able to convince the city to remove the two new concrete islands.

DOT told the Post the islands were being removed “due to safety concerns involving parade participants” and would not divulge the cost of installation and removal. “We are looking at ­potential replacement treatments in the area and for the long term,” spokesperson Scott Gastel said.

Residents who fought for years to making crossing Eastern Parkway safer are now seeing their work undone. “It compromises the safety of the people. It’s not good,” Debora Goldstein told the Post. “The parade is one day out of the year. The main thing is the pedestrians, the kids and the schoolchildren.”

  • Mike

    Clearly somebody with political pull intervened. The question is — who was it?

  • Potentially willful action by NYC DOT and NYPD that could lead to a serious injury or pedestrian death. This is completely outrageous especially in the so-called era of so-called Vision Zero.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    It takes a year of public CB meetings to put pedestrian improvements in, and a single closed-door deal to take them out.

    How are these floats moved around the city before and after the parade if they can’t fit on a 2-lane side of Eastern Parkway? (except in front of the Brooklyn Museum where they apparently can?)

  • c2check

    Imagine if someone with that kind of political influence took time to walk places, or liked to bike!
    Sure is easy to ignore the rest of us peds and cyclists (and transit users) when those in power (and their friends) have money to have someone drive them everywhere.

  • JudenChino

    If the organizers requested this, why can’t they pay for its removal and reinstallation? I mean, that seems fair if they believe it necessary. Otherwise, Jesus Christ. What an insult.

  • com63

    Can someone file a lawsuit to stop this? Just need to delay it for a few more days.

  • Joe R.

    Sometimes the city does things so monumentally stupid it makes you wonder if the people in charge are less intelligent than the roaches inhabiting their apartments. This is certainly one of those times.

    Is the city going to remove the islands, replace them after the parade, and then remove them annually? What are the “potential replacement treatments”?

  • qrt145

    They could replace the floats.

  • Joe R.

    But that would be too sensible. NYC instead has to find more expensive, difficult, and brain-dead solutions lest it lose its reputation as the world leader in screw-ups.

  • Albert

    The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade has maximum float size regulations, which should be sort of typical. I checked them out a few years ago when someone asked if the presence of that parade would make it impossible to put protected bike lanes on Fifth Avenue (answer: it wouldn’t).

    And, by the way, marching bands can re-form into any configuration, from wide & short to narrow & long. They even like to show off how spectacularly and interestingly they can do it! Therefore, pedestrian refuge islands are likely to be more aesthetically pleasing than any “potential replacement treatments.”

  • Bernard Finucane

    Another example of pure insanity in American city planning.

    But of course this is really just corruption. The guy who got this favor is worth much more than the countless thousands it endangers.

  • I am really mad at this. No notice to the community; no CB review; no nothing. Just a unilateral decision made as a political favor to someone. What a corrupt and farcical system.

  • SSkate

    Seems like an appropriate reason to file a FOIA request.

  • Kevin Love

    The attitude towards the countless thousands it endangers is, “Good enough for the likes of you.”

  • Kevin Love

    Where is the All-Powerful Bicycle Lobby when we really need it?

  • Uh

    Uh….what?

  • Perhaps the next time Bike New York uses highways for either of their NYC rides we can take the opportunity to remove some highway on ramps for cars?

  • c2check

    Busy, pedaling about, begriming our neighborhoods and thoroughfares

  • Bernard Finucane

    It’s funny how in “bad neighborhoods” in America the public infrastructure is bad. Corruption is the only possible explanation.

    The corollary is that people worry the infrastructure improvements will harm the poor via “gentrification”. Corruption has become so ingrained in American consciousness that people have come to believe that poor people need bad infrastructure so they’ll have a place to live.

    It’s hard to get out of a dead end like this.

  • Joe R.

    I’m all for converting one of the highway lanes for permanent use by bikes. Obviously this would need a separate set of on-off ramps but in the interests of fairness I think it’s an appropriate thing to do. Car highways are mostly useless to NYC residents who don’t own cars. At least devoting part of them to bikes makes them somewhat useful to more city residents.

  • J

    DOT hosts a series of public meetings to install EACH and EVERY ped island, but there is ZERO public process for removing them. This is the current state of Vision Zero in NYC.

  • J

    POST: ““We are looking at ­potential replacement treatments in the area and for the long term,” said DOT spokesman Scott Gastel, who refused to address questions about the cost of installation — and removal — of the barriers.”

    Ladies and gentlemen, this is what corruption sounds like.

  • Eric McClure

    I get that the West Indian Day Parade is a big deal. But the idea that the floats can’t just go around the islands, or straddle them, is ridiculous. This sets a terrible precedent.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    To be fair, sometimes they include two or even three ped islands/bulbouts in the same proposal. At this rate, assuming they don’t keep removing them, there should be comprehensive high quality pedestrian treatment citywide by the year 2100.

  • It is outrageous that the precedent never works the other way. If someone dies on a street, DOT doesn’t make it safer overnight without community consultation. It still takes years.

  • dave “paco” abraham

    Either the mayor doesn’t believe in his own Vision Zero program or there is gross mismanagement at DOT… or more likely BOTH are true. Either way, stuff like and last week’s mess in Marine Park makes me think DOT is actually it’s own worst enemy. Really hard to trust their intent much at all anymore. #ExasperatedAdvocate

  • J

    Years of advocacy and public debate and process wiped away in an instant via a backroom deal. How can you possibly trust such an institution to do what they say?

  • rao

    Whoa, that’s a little unfair. The city of New York does not engage in city planning by any reasonable definition of the term.

  • Emmily_Litella

    Why can’t cones or a couple of cops split the marchers around a 6 foot wide median for a few steps? Its not about the floats, but the people marching alongside. The stench of dead fish permeates this entire matter.

  • The more I think about this the angrier I get. What advocate will be willing to go to bat for the mayor or DOT in the future knowing something could get torn out due to a backroom deal? Not this one.

  • dave “paco” abraham

    Agreed. I’ve advocated for many DOT projects for quite some time and did my best to calm the crazies in community meetings. But at this point… all I can think is “what’s the point.”

  • AnoNYC

    This!

  • AnoNYC

    Or drive around the damn islands perhaps!

  • AnoNYC

    I was hoping the same?

  • AnoNYC

    Everyone involved should be exposed.

  • Guest

    Isn’t Safe Routes to School federally funded?
    Is there any federal oversight possible for this fiasco?

  • neroden

    Doesn’t this require:
    (a) community hearings and community board approval
    (b) approval from the state and federal governments, which funded these islands?

    Sue the hell out of the DOT. They’re being scofflaws.

  • neroden

    The Department of Transformation needs to install improved streetscape. When the criminal DOT operators attempt to make the streetscape worse, (a) injunctions need to be filed, and (b) the rogue employees need to be physically stopped before they can violate the injunctions.

    Ths situation is getting ridiculous. Ridiculously corrupt and illegal.

  • neroden

    Yeah, you need an organization which will file for emergency injunctions against this sort of pedestrian endangerment on a routine basis. Anyone wanna start organizing one? It should be run by someone who lives in the city, obviously, so not me.

  • neroden

    Since it’s a Local Law 61 violation, who’s going to sue the city for an emergency injunction, ordering the city to (a) stop violating their own laws and (b) not endanger pedestrians?|

    This is what court injunctions against the city are for. You need a lawyer to go to the city and file this.

  • neroden

    This isn’t just corrupt, it’s actually criminal. But your best tool is a civil lawsuit. Sue to demand that they leave the pedestrian islands in, unless they can prove that the change would be safer for pedestrians, pointing out that anything else is wilful endangerment of pedestrians, and point out that Local Law 61 prohibits their lawless backroom actions. Get a preliminary injunction ordering them not to remove the pedestrian island.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    No, Local Law 61 only applies to bike lanes. My point is that an equivalent for ped safety improvements wouldn’t matter if nobody is willing to hold them to following the law, by suing as you said.

  • neroden

    No, this is a case where a lawsuit and a subpoena are appropriate. Force them to testify about their procedure…. given that they violated Local Law 61 by not having public hearings, who *did* they talk to?

  • neroden

    Ah, thanks for pointing that out. The thing is, there is a general civil law principle that the city is not supposed to endanger people.

    Even without a pedestrian equivalent of Local Law 61, you could *still* sue for a preliminary injunction based on the people who can be expected to be killed and injured by DOT’s actions. You can probably bring NEPA in — if adding this stuff requires environmental review, removing it certainly does.

  • I cannot agree more. I get more and more infuriated everyday.
    The new DOT left turn report is another example : not only the DOT Ignored the best treatment for protection in the study, it is now downgrading the safety treatment on existing bike lanes …. Enough is enough . They are just faking it..

  • In December last year, CB4 objected strongly to the installation of a bike lane without ped refuges. They finally won over DOT with elected support. We need to be intense about pushing the boundaries and not accepting anything less than full safety.
    We are in a phase of the revolution where the powers to be have appeased us and we have become too trusting of them. Our complacency allows them to revert to business as usual and our initiatives have been starved of funds…

    It is incumbent on us to challenge the status quo as if we had not won anything, because in the scheme of things, we have so far to go, we cannot afford to lose even the tiny bit of territory we won.

  • ohhleary

    Even worse, the eastbound lanes on Eastern Parkway are THREE lanes wide at the site of these pedestrian refuges!

  • mfs

    @chekpeds:disqus what is the safety treatment downgrade you’re talking about? I assume the “best treatment” is split phases based on your previous comment?

  • Yes . So the first bike lane on 9th avenue in Chelsea had split phases and hard separation of turn lanes from the traffic .
    the subsequent bikes lanes has split phases ONLY at major intersections with two way streets. other intersections were given mixing zones with no hard separations. So cars do not stop nor do they slow down before turning .
    now DOT has started to install their new ” hardened center ” treatment at the intersection of 34th street and 8th avenue. According to their theory it is intended to slow down turning cars by hardening the median separation between the lanes on the two way cross street. It is too far back, it does nothing to protect the bikes and pedestrians . the attached image shows NYPD added two construction cones to try to make it work .
    and now pedestrian refuges are being removed for parades …..

  • JamesR

    There is an Article 78 proceeding for local law violation just waiting for some enterprising attorney to file.

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DOT has installed “removable rubber pedestrian islands” at two intersections on Eastern Parkway, two months after Mayor de Blasio authorized the removal of concrete pedestrian islands to ostensibly make room for the West Indian Day Parade. The concrete islands were only in place for about eight months. They were installed last December at Kingston Avenue and Brooklyn Avenue in […]