Streetsies 2018: The Biggest Piece of Unfinished Business of the Year

unfinished montage
The coveted Streetsie.
The coveted Streetsie.

The Department of Transportation, NYPD and other public agencies delivered several enormous successes this year — among them the fact that road fatalities appear on track to be less than 200 for the first time on record.

The city installed more than 16 miles of protected bike lanes for the third year in a row. The mayor’s office defied Bronx NIMBYers and approved a life-saving street redesign along Morris Park Avenue. The NYPD wrote more bus lane violation tickets than the year before. The Business Integrity Commission is seriously cracking down on rogue carters and even devising a new system that will reduce deadly driving practices.

But there is still so much more work to be done. So we would be remiss if we did not present a Streetsie to this year’s “Biggest Piece of Unfinished Business.” The nominees are:

Queens Boulevard

Queens Boulevard. Photo: Stephen Miller
Photo: Stephen Miller

In 2015, the city began its four-phase effort to transform the so-called “Boulevard of Death” into a safe roadway. Three phases have been completed. And in May, the city announced that the final portion, between Yellowstone Boulevard and Union Turnpike, would be completed in July.

We’re still waiting.

Everyone knows that this particular project has been a huge success. Cycling is up, and fatalities are way down. In fact, no cyclists or pedestrians had been killed on any of the redesigned stretches until Dec. 17 of this year, when, police say, a pedestrian crossed against the light.

So what’s the hold up? The mayor said he remains “committed” to finishing the job. But he said it oddly. “There are some real concerns and worries about how to implement it, but there’s no question we’re going to continue to do more to protect Queens Boulevard,” he said.

Concerns? Streetsblog’s David Meyer asked a follow-up question about whether Hizzoner’s commitment meant extending protected bike lanes into Forest Hills, but the mayor didn’t answer.

Council Member Karen Koslowitz opposes the final phase on a pro-parking/anti-safety platform — and de Blasio needs her support for his plan to close Rikers Island and open community jails.

Regardless, the work is not completed — and Streetsblog will be watching.

Second Avenue

The Second Avenue gap. Photo: Google Maps
The Second Avenue gap. Photo: Google Maps

It’s not often that community boards beg the city to make their roadways safer for cyclists at the expense of car owners and their insatiable demand for free on-street car storage, but Community Board 8 in Manhattan did just that in September when it approved a city plan [PDF] to close a dangerous nine-block gap in the protected bike lane on Second Avenue near the 59th Street Bridge.

A month after the board’s decision, the city announced a delay, without giving a reason.

We’re still waiting. The city says it remains committed to the project — which is essential for the safety of cyclists — 40 of which have been injured in just those nine blocks since 2012. But let’s also not forget the other nine-block gap in the protected lane between 43rd and 34th streets. Eighty cyclists have been injured along that horrible corridor near the Midtown Tunnel over the same period.

Taken together, that’s one of the most dangerous commutes for cyclists in the city. Yet the work is not completed — and Streetsblog will be watching.

Central Park West

Madison Lyden's bike.
Madison Lyden’s bike.

One of the surest ways for a road to get a quick redesign in this city is to be the site of a preventable death. Folks in Park Slope and Sunnyside are now enjoying protected bike lanes after the city moved boldly — and quickly — after people died in entirely preventable crashes.

Central Park West — where cyclist Madison Lyden was killed in August after she was forced into traffic because of a cab parked in the painted bike lane — has become an annoying exception. No street is more suitable for a protected bike lane: it is literally next to a park and car ownership in the area is among the lowest in the city. Plus, locals including Community Board 7 and Council Member Helen Rosenthal support the idea.

Regardless, the work is not completed — and Streetsblog will be watching.

Placard Crackdown

Sometimes you don't even need a placard to abuse the public trust. Photo: David Meyer
Sometimes you don’t even need a placard to abuse the public trust. Photo: David Meyer

In May — 2017! — Mayor de Blasio launched a crackdown on placard abuse to rein in police officers and other city government workers who misuse their city-issued placard. There are more than 100,000 official parking placards in circulation and an untold number of fraudulent ones.

There is so much misuse of these placards that the Twitter account chronicling the daily abuse needs its own Twitter account.

The NYPD has resisted even modest efforts at reform, even as de Blasio still talks about launching a crackdown that he hasn’t actually launched. “We really have to have some strong enforcement on this issue,” Council Member Margaret Chin said earlier this year. “We want to make sure that the trust between our government and citizens is there. Residents see this abuse every day. We’ve got to do something.”

Regardless, the crackdown has not happened — and Streetsblog will be watching.

More protected bike lanes (um, hello, Dyckman Street?)

More, please. Photo: David Meyer
More, please. Photo: David Meyer

Mayor de Blasio failed to break his own record for building protected bike lanes, falling well short of last year’s 24.9-mile mark. That shortfall is disappointing to advocates, including Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, who has challenged the mayor to build 100 miles of protected bike lanes every year.

The mayor did add key links in the city’s bike network, but missing his own projection of 29.4 miles of bike lane is a stinging failure in a city that should be building more and more bike lanes every year.

The work is not completed — and Streetsblog will be watching.

And one particular protected bike lane remains spectacularly unfinished: Back in August, the Department of Transportation announced it would remove protected bike lanes from both sides of Dyckman Street so that drivers could double park, as Manhattan Borough President (and Streetsie anti-award winner) Gale Brewer put it. But the mayor said he would review that decision. Four months later and the review goes on…

And the Streetsie goes to…

Welcome to hell: The gap in the Second Avenue bike lane forces cyclists into a scrum of car traffic. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Welcome to hell: The gap in the Second Avenue bike lane forces cyclists into a scrum of car traffic. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Second Avenue! We get no joy in saying this, but someone is going to be seriously injured in both gaps. The city must act immediately.

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  • I try hard to avoid the 2nd avenue gaps but if there is no other choice, I will use the right-hand side “Select Bus” lanes to get through. Usually there is enough gridlock in those areas to keep car and bus traffic moving fairly slowly, slower than me at least. Another option is to simply dismount the bike and for a few blocks, shape-shift into a pedestrian, and then back to a bicyclist when it’s safe. That is one of the great perks of biking IMO.

  • Jeff

    Wow even Streetsblog forgot about Grand St!

  • Gersh Kuntzman

    My understanding that Grand Street isn’t supposed to be “done” until just before the L train is shut down. Am I wrong?

  • Jeff

    While the through traffic restrictions will not be in place until just before the L train is shut down, we were told that the protected bike lanes would be done before the end of thermoplast season in 2018. Right now it’s in a half-finished state that is even more dangerous and confusing than the previous class-2 bike lanes:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuYsbX5WsAE86Kp.jpg

  • crazytrainmatt

    Good list

    The gap on 2nd Ave between 43rd and 33rd (now actually ten blocks since the water main work has destroyed the section between 33rd and 34th) is one of the biggest problems in Manhattan as there is no alternative route east of Broadway (vs. York and the greenway further north).

    DOT told the CBs this year they were waiting for the water main work to complete 2nd Ave in a few years, but it looks like that work doesn’t extend north of the QMT maw at 37-38 or so. The actual tunnel entrance between 37th and 34th is not pretty but it is short, traffic is usually quite slow, and sidewalks are usually wide open if need be. I feel most at risk in the section between 43rd-38th, which is downhill with lots of double parking and lane jockeying. In contrast to the tunnel or Queensboro bridge sections, the only complication for a standard PBL is the permanent NYPD vehicles in front of the Israeli UN mission at 42nd. It was a big strategic mistake by DOT not to include this section in this or last year’s plans.

  • walks bikes drives

    Shape shifting is most definitely a perk – especially when making a right turn on a red light when NYPD is staking out the intersection. Hope off. Walk on sidewalk. Hop on. Ride away. Takes half a minute longer than just running the light, but there is no ticket.

    I also use the bus lane on those portions of 2nd Ave, however I am more comfortable doing that on my own bike than on a citibike.

  • MatthewEH

    From 38th southward one can dodge east and get over to the east river esplanade routing (including the block of contraflow lane on 1st Avenue southbound). Cold comfort, yes.

  • That downhill stretch of 2nd ave is like a freakin’ highway.

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