CB 7 Committee Wants More Concrete Pedestrian Islands in Amsterdam Ave Redesign

DOT reps attributed the absence of concrete to a shortage of resources.

DOT's redesign of 10th Avenue/Amsterdam Avenue calls for pedestrian islands made out of paint, not concrete. Image: DOT
DOT's redesign of 10th Avenue/Amsterdam Avenue calls for pedestrian islands made out of paint, not concrete. Image: DOT

On Tuesday, the Manhattan Community Board 7 transportation committee voted unanimously for DOT’s plan for protected bike lane on 10th Avenue/Amsterdam Avenue between 52nd Street and 72nd Street [PDF] and bike upgrades at Columbus Circle [PDF]. But the committee still wants DOT to deliver more robust pedestrian safety measures in the project, according to a source who was in attendance.

Like Community Board 4 last month, the CB 7 transportation committee took issue with the absence of concrete pedestrian islands at intersections along 10th Avenue and Amsterdam in DOT’s plan. The project does call for pedestrian islands at intersections, but made out of paint and plastic posts, not concrete.

DOT attributed the lack of concrete to a shortage of resources for design and construction, the source said.

Because the concrete islands don’t necessitate full reconstruction of the street, DOT has been able to implement them quickly. But the agency hasn’t been applying concrete to every project where it make sense. On Ninth Street in Brooklyn, for example, DOT recently opted for painted pedestrian islands and left the possibility of concrete to future capital reconstruction projects.

The CB 7 committee did not withhold an endorsement, but did request some improvements. In addition to concrete pedestrian islands, the committee’s resolution called on DOT to eliminate the left turn from Amsterdam onto 71st Street and to add more loading zones to both sides of the street.

The committee also identified a few ways in which the Columbus Circle design could go further to protect cyclists from motor vehicle traffic.

The bike lane at Columbus Circle would loop around the inner public space, with cyclists using pedestrian signals to enter and exit. Image: DOT
The bike lane at Columbus Circle would loop around the inner public space, with cyclists using pedestrian signals to enter and exit. Image: DOT

Most notably, the redesign does not include any physical separation between the inner bike lane loop and motor vehicle traffic. They also called for a bike lane south of 62nd Street on Central Park West, the primary route of most northbound bike traffic, and for delineated space for cyclists entering Columbus Circle eastbound from 59th Street and southbound from Broadway.

CB 7 will vote on the resolutions at its full board meeting, which will be held next Tuesday, July 17, at Goddard Riverside Center, located at 593 Columbus Avenue.

  • J
  • Joseph R.

    There’s quite a few extra Jersey barriers and sugar cubes lining the Greenway that could definitely be put to better use where concrete islands or physical car/bike lane separation ‘aren’t possible at the moment’

  • DoctorMemory

    This is, taken on its own merits, great. But it’s completely insane that pedestrian/cyclist safety in this city is basically hostage to the composition of your local community board, so CB4/CB7 residents additional safety measures while CB12 residents get screwed so that drivers can double-park.

  • Daphna

    If only the Manhattan Community Board 9 Transportation Committee were of the mindset of the CB7 Transportation Committee – namely to endorse DOT plans but ask for them to be improved or made more robust. CB9 Transportation Committee, led by spectacularly bad leadership, rejects all street re-designs and improvements, then when pressured to consider safety, they pretend to consider the plans but actually just move on from outright rejection to delay tactics instead.

  • Is it written in the law that paint and posts are supposed to be considered the equivalent of concrete?

    I have been trying to explain this to my local precinct, so as to combat the practice of people parking in what is supposed to be reclaimed pedestrian space. But, because the space is made only of paint and posts, the police officers whom I speak to tend not to accept the idea that parking in these areas is the same as parking on a sidewalk.

    What authority can I cite to make the case that a painted area is to be treated the same as a sidewalk?

  • Maggie

    Yeah, the security theater aspect of the obstructive sugar cubes that block pedestrians trying to cross Central Park South at Columbus Circle, at the same time that the “cyclists dismount for pedestrian safety” pathway to Columbus Circle is somehow still accessed and used by large box trucks pretty much every day – this is both completely untenable and emblematic of how the city screws things up. The city should be able to design that very wide path to include people on bikes – obviously at slower speeds – and something is not right if trucks are cleared to use it while cyclists can’t. There needs to be a thoughtful design that allows southbound cyclists to connect from Central Park to the southbound bike lane on Broadway, and ideally also to a southbound bike lane on Seventh Ave.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Yup, same with the Taxi and Limousine Commission. I was told by a TLC prosecutor that a painted sidewalk extension “presents as parking lane” or something along those lines.
    Fortunately most of them are lined up with crosswalks so I changed my reports to “blocking the crosswalk”.

  • The one time I got a police officer to ticket a car parked on the painted pedestrian area near me, he wrote the ticket for double parking rather than for parking on a sidewalk, because he was not prepared to accept that premise.

    I have pressed the Council member’s office on this; and someone in his office responded to me saying that they would try to get the DOT to put up an explicit “No Parking” sign.

    Still, the fact that the police cannot understand that the DOT intends these painted areas to be the same as concrete is astonishing. Shouldn’t there be some kind of inter-agency communication that establishes this?

    And again I wonder: is there no published DOT document that states that a painted area is to be treated as a sidewalk? Some citable authority would be most helpful when trying to communicate with the police and legislators.

  • Richest city in the world cant afford what the Romans did 2,000 years ago

  • Vooch

    Until the City Gov’t leadership ceases to have a suburban mindset things will not change

    It’s emblematic of a suburban mindset that it’s dangerous so bikes must dismount but box trucks can blissfully drive through the people walking.

    I believe only once the under 40s urbane thinking types move into leadership will these horrific car obsessed situations change.

  • Jason

    Even if DOT out such guidance, it’s not like that would mean anything about whether NYPD would listen. Look at how women kept getting arrested for being topless even after an internal NYPD memo that amounted to “listen up shitheads, it’s not illegal for women to be topless in places it’s legal for men to be topless, so stop arresting them for it” got sent around the entire department.

    I think the real core issue is that NYPD feels comfortable ignoring any and all “civilian” (air quotes because they’re not the military) oversight up to and including the mayor, and the mayor’s office (since it’s not like this is a problem unique to a single mayor) apparently has neither the backbone nor the wherewithal to do anything about it.

  • Jason

    Sugar cubes?

  • When I passed by this morning, the pedestrian space was almost (though not entirely) surrounded by some high orange cones with yellow tape strung between them; and there were no cars in there. So, let’s see if some good changes are coming.

    Notwithstanding that tentatively hopeful sign, you are of course generally correct that the police tend to act capriciously, and that the mayors typically do nothing about this. I often characterise this as the police department behaving in the manner of a military junta that considers the civilian government to be irrelevant.


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