11th Av. conversion crowns 15 years of advocacy on the west side

Our long-held dream to rebalance the vehicular traffic between 9th and  11th avenues by converting 11th Avenue becoming one-way south only has been realized. As promised, DOT changed traffic lights and markings at the end of June 2019.  In August, will be the installation of bus loading platforms and a bike lane on the west side of the Avenue  And sufficient spare capacity will remain to install an SBS lane for the M12  when the  number of commuters warrants it.

Chekpeds has been working on this complete street since 2004. 15 years have passed with many other wins to pave the way and much help from various organizations and in particular HKNA, Transportation Alternatives, Street film, Streetsblog, PPS, Open Plan, Manhattan Community Board 4, Hudson Yards/ Hell’s kitchen Alliance and Garment District, and our elected officials.

This one feels like a crowning achievement. Our primitive Powerpoint ( see one of the slide below dated march 2004) was shown to all agencies at the time under the banner of the HKNA traffic committee , chaired by Martin Treat. I recall the dripping sarcasm of all agency employees who looked at us like naive dreamers and sent us our way.

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Fortunately things changed and new teams at DOT started to study the neighborhood . Our elected officials had procured federal funding to the DOT but in 2007, it was still an enormous challenge to include the words “pedestrians” and “safety” in the scope of the study. Took us about four months of wrangling to get there.

Subsequent DOT planners were very attuned to our concerns and fought valiantly inside DOT . Andrew Lenton, Greg Haas, as well as Margaret Forgione and scores of others, did wonders to move not only DOT but Port Authority in the right direction. We are very fortunate to see the result of their efforts. Bravo to all !

 

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SPEAK UP: Public comments on the Bus Terminal replacement project

SPEAK UP : tell the Port Authority your priorities

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PABT ramps – credit Brian Weber

The public meetings are part of the Port Authority’s robust 120-day public outreach process to solicit comments from elected officials in New York and New Jersey, the City of New York, neighborhood residents, other stakeholders and the public on plans for a new Port Authority Bus Terminal.

Public Meeting , Replacement of the Port Authority Bus Terminal
Wednesday July 10, 4 -8 p.m.
Westin Hotel Times Square , Broadway Ballroom
270 W. 43rd Street (7/8), New York, NY 10036

The Hell’s Kitchen South Coalition has developed a plan endorsed by Manhattan Community Board 4, with the input of many stakeholders in the community. It reflects the feedback collected through many consultations of  community members over the last three years :

The community applauds the approach that does not require the destruction of local properties through ”eminent domain”  - but this is not enough. The community asks that :

The facilities MUST house ALL buses that are using the curbside today and provide for their growth. Buses operate or park at the curb because a lack of capacity or ramp compatibility in the Port Authority terminal and parking lots. Our streets and curbs are used as an annex to the PABT operation, PA must address these operations as well as those occurring inside the terminal. Other large cities have shown it is feasible to free curbside from buses – given the political will.

Air quality MUST be addressed in the most aggressive way: ALL facilities must be enclosed with air filtration systems. We have the third worse air quality in the city,  Buses idle everywhere for hours at a time, Lincoln tunnel queues of cars and buses overwhelm our neighborhood for many hours a  day and idle constantly.

Substantial green space MUST be created over the existing Dyer Avenue cuts and parking areas. CB4 is next to last in green space per resident in the city , and Hell’s Kitchen South in particular is not served by any park space.  70 years ago PA left Dyer avenue cuts uncovered: PA must finish the job, cover them and repair the damage that resulted in our community

Affordable housing and retail MUST be included in the plan

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New housing must preserve the social diversity of our neighborhood. And affordable goods and services must be provided to current and new residents

The HKSC web site includes links to the HKSC plan presentation and PABT scoping document.

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How much faster will the M42 get?

Not much if DOT proceeds with their current plans which maintain many car lanes and conflicts with curbside uses between Dyer and 8th Avenues.

As part of the Better Buses Action Plan, DOT intends to improve bus speed by 25% by 2020. the M42 was an easy choice, at 4mph or 25% slower than other buses in Manhattan and a third of W 42nd street users traveling on  bus (probably more if it was faster).

42nd bus lane

DOT presented to Manhattan Community Board 4 a plan to install dedicated bus lanes for the M42. across Manhattan. The plan seems to be well thought out between Dyer  and 12th Avenues , but between Dyer and 8th Avenue, the plan falls apart.  There are no proposed eastbound bus lanes  between Dyer and 9th Avenue , with two lanes dedicated to the tunnel traffic. On the block between 9th and 8th the bus lanes are along the curb, when we know that multiple buses and jitneys block the lanes the whole day.

These layover would slow down buses for the whole route . This block is  very complex but we expect DOT to come back with a better mousetrap.

See the full presentation here

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Finally! More walking/cycling space on 8th Avenue

The horrendous stretch of West 38th Street to West 45th Street is slated by DOT for an upgrade and not a minute too soon. The changes will take place later this year.

Pedestrian congestion is so extreme on this stretch, that last year conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists escalated with a pedestrian sending a cyclist to the hospital for three days. Community Board 4 requested a study, CHEKPEDS did a walk through with DOT and then with Port Authority,  and DOT responded positively .

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At the June 2019 CB4 Transportation committee, the DOT pedestrian group and PANYNJ  presented  an excellent plan for this complicated section:  recognizing the imbalance between walk lanes capacity and volume of walkers,  DOT proposes to increase the walking lanes by 60% and create  a protected bike lane on the whole length of the corridor.

The left turn onto Westbound 42nd Street and one block of taxi stand will be eliminated, while the other taxi stand will be equipped with a floating boarding area in order to maintain the protection of the bike lane.

No more Mixing Zones

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Safety is also massively improved by the installation of three split phases to replace dangerous mixing zones.

An offset crossing will be installed where a cyclist was killed earlier this year by a driver turning in a truck

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And finally DOT will pilot bike lane markings continuing through the intersection at W45th Stret...

Christmas in July !

See the full presentation here

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Spring fever: DOT is transforming our streets

So many times, we complained that DOT was too slow or not doing enough ..  Let’s give them credit for the projects going on in our neighborhood. These are very exciting times for Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea even if some projects took a very long time to come to fruition.

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More walking space: introducing the “Walking Lanes”

 

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As our reader Michael McGrinder commented: “The word sidewalk implies a place for walking, not walking sideways”. 

Chekpeds testified at the City council asking for just that : official well defined Walk Lanes – which are dedicated,  unobstructed space on sidewalks or in the street- for pedestrians to walk. Today this goes by the obscure name of “pedestrian right of way” which is ignored by all agencies and enforcement personnel, who happily trample pedestrians rights.

A A City council bill   would create a five year plan for Transportation: it defines immediate projects and benchmarks for bike lanes, bus lanes and plazas. The projects  for ADA and pedestrians would start in 5 years.

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CHEKPEDS proposes adding “Protected Walk Lanes” to the Master Plan’s projects and benchmarks immediately, including protected and ADA-compliant intersections, in order to address the 11 million of people who walk for at least part of their trips everyday. See our testimony here. 

Manhattan CB4 Transporation Committee just voted in favor of such a plan.

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Join us in asking for more walking space

Like all of us , people who walk, you are probably frustrated by the lack of space for pedestrians. On both 8th and 9th Avenues, one often has to walk in the bike lane . Not good for cyclists or pedestrians.  At intersections we need to walk around buses and cars, right in the traffic.

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Join us to tell  the City Council Transportation committee that more walking space and  protections must be included in any Transportation plan for the City .

City council Transportation Committee Hearing
Wednesday June 12th, 1 p.m.
City Hall Chambers

It is not enough to have bike lanes and bus lanes, if the last portion of the trip – walking- cannot be preformed in a safe manner.

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Join Us Monday-1 p.m. to protest traffic violence

On June 6, a driver deliberately tried to run over a cyclist who was crossing the west side highway lawfully in the crosswalk. Watch the Video 

Press Conference – Right of Way camera enforcement
Monday, June 10th, 1 p.m.
City Hall

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Join Corey Johnson and Antonio Reynoso to ask that the driver be held accountable and for the right of way to be enforced by cameras .

 

 

 

 

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11th Avenue being converted to one-way (44/57)

Finally after 12 years of planning work, the DOT has started the conversion of 11th Avenue from two-way to one-way south between 44th and 57th Streets  !WHH Flyer for 11th Ave bet 59th and 43rd Sts.

It was the ultimate goal of the Hell’s kitchen study, to optimize the unused capacity and re balance the load between the various avenues.  The installation will take place in multiple phases over the summer and the fall. But it is REALLY happening on the ground with lanes being re-striped and medians being built .. photographs soon to come ..

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Could NYC sidewalks be freed of garbage?

In its response to a recent Department of Sanitation’s request for information, CHEKPEDS makes a strong case that they could.

As a location for the temporary storage of building waste, we propose to use some of the public right-of-way that is currently used for the free storage of private vehicles. Specifically, our proposal repurposes several on-street parking spaces per block for the use of storing waste before its removal, in lieu of storing it on our precious and heavily used sidewalks. On a typical midtown side street block of 700 feet, six on-street parking spaces (three on each side of the street) would be converted to this use, to be called a Waste Corral.

DSNY REFEI response - appendix 2 - plan detailsThe corral would be created by (1) cross-hatching the area with paint, (2) installing parking blocks to protect the space from adjacent parked vehicles, and (3) installing a chain link fence enclosure with a large opening to the street and a smaller opening to the sidewalk. Optionally, a visual screen could be added to three sides of the enclosure, leaving the street side unscreened for safety and monitoring.

On our prototype block of W45th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues, we found that waste takes up about 300 linear feet on each side of the street, at an average width of 2.5 feet. That amounts to 750 square feet per side, or 1500 square feet per block. The six proposed Waste Corrals would occupy a much more efficient 840 square feet per block, a reduction of 44% in total space, and would free up 100% of the portion occupied on the sidewalk.

 

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