Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal expressed concern last week that the new shared bike path underneath the FDR at the heliport is too narrow for both bikes and pedestrians. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Waterside Plaza tenants rallied last Thursday to protest the newly-installed shared bike/pedestrian path for the East River Greenway that runs adjacent to the heliport at East 34th Street that the Department of Transportation installed within the last month.
Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal told Town & Village this week that there are a number of issues with the new configuration, primarily around the newly-painted lane by the heliport.
“It is a major thoroughfare for parents with children in strollers going to the United Nations International School and the British International School,” she said, noting that before the lane was painted recently it was a pedestrian path, but the new lane between 33rd and 34th Streets designates it as a shared bike and pedestrian path, making it cramped when both cyclists and pedestrians are there at once.
“It’s certainly not room for bikes going both directions and people walking,” she added.
The bike lane outside of Waterside Plaza (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The Department of Transportation will begin implementing safety improvements on the FDR Service Road that include a two-way bike lane between East 25th and 33rd Street this month. The improvements specifically address the Greenway along Waterside Plaza, the Water Club at East 30th Street and the East 34th Street intersection near the heliport.
The DOT made the announcement about the project on Twitter last Thursday, although the plan was originally presented to Community Board 6 two and a half years ago in November 2016. The DOT had also announced plans last September to start implementation of the project in the fall but later said in November that it would be pushed back to this summer.
A spokesperson told Town & Village that the then-two-year delay was not unusual, given that the project was especially “complex” and the agency was still working out construction scheduling and the final designs. The DOT also attributed some of the delay to changes in the plan to the design around the Water Club.
Manhattan DOT Community Coordinator Colleen Chattergoon told members of Community Board 6 last fall that the Water Club didn’t want bike traffic directly in front of their entrance, so the design was adjusted to include granite planters and a Jersey barrier as buffers. The restaurant also agreed to relocate a large container currently in their parking lot so that the DOT could more easily implement the bike lane changes.
Stuyvesant Town is the “idyllic” place to live, but with a little secret. Bicycles are stored in the terrace level but some are being stolen without any concern from management, who state that it is not their responsibility if things are stolen. Noticeably there are no security cameras in or near the laundry rooms.
I had two Trek bicycles stolen about four weeks after I moved in. There was hardly a response other than to claim it under my insurance! This despite the room requiring a key to get in (which suggests an “inside” job of either a contractor or someone with key access).
Recently a friend had their $1,100 bicycle stolen, even though it had three locks including a U-lock and no peddles. The thieves knew which bicycle(s) to take, as they left the spouses bicycle, which is old. The two bicycles were locked together.
The newly laid out street east of First Avenue, with two protected bike lanes, has confused drivers and worried pedestrians. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
The traffic safety enhancement project along 20th Street, east of First Avenue, which has so far included creating two protected bike lanes on the north side of the street and moving a bus stop to an island outside the bike lanes, apparently isn’t making neighborhood residents feel any safer.
In fact, many residents have been complaining to Council Member Keith Powers that they’re now more afraid for their safety now that they have to cross the bike lanes to catch the bus. Additionally, at least 15 drivers have contacted Powers to say they’ve gotten tickets, usually for $115, for parking in spots that were legal up until very recently. A few people have also been towed at an additional pickup fee of up to $225.
The project, which began in October, was aimed at making the streets safer in anticipation of increased bike and pedestrian traffic to the Stuyvesant Cove ferry landing once the L train shutdown begins on April 27.
But from what Powers has been hearing, the general response has been that the work seemed unnecessary.
Markings made east of First Avenue and 20th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
On Friday morning, residents of East 20th Street noticed some work being done on the street between Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village on the north side of the street, specifically painting the bike lanes black and adding a double line to the middle of the street. Not to mention, a dozen parking spots were removed.
Asked about this, a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation confirmed the DOT was behind the project, which involves installing protected bike lanes and enhancing safety along the route to the ferry.
The bike lane outside of Waterside Plaza, pictured on Tuesday (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The Department of Transportation will begin implementing improvements along the East River Greenway near Waterside Plaza at the end of September with street configurations meant to calm traffic and protect cyclists. The DOT announced the improvements via Twitter late last week, although the agency originally presented the changes to Community Board 6 nearly two years ago in November, 2016.
Regarding the gap between the presentation to Community Board 6 and the project’s implementation, a spokesperson for the DOT said the time frame for this “complex” project is not unusual, due to working out the final design and construction scheduling.
The improvements are planned specifically for the area of the Greenway between East 25th and 34th Streets, alongside Waterside Plaza, the Water Club Restaurant at East 30th Street and the East 34th Street intersection.
Arthur Z. Schwartz discusses the litigation at an April press conference. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
In April, Arthur Z. Schwartz, an attorney for Advocates for Justice, filed a lawsuit in an attempt to stop the L train shutdown planned for 2019. The litigation, filed on behalf of a coalition of West Side residents living on or near 14th Street and disability advocacy groups, was over the lack of access for disabled passengers in the plan to upgrade various stations along the L train route.
The lawsuit is also over area residents’ concerns about traffic congestion, due to a planned “busway” on 14th Street and expanded sidewalks causing traffic to be congested on surrounding streets. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Department of Transportation and the Federal Transportation Authority were named as defendants.
However, Schwartz, who’s also a Greenwich Village Democratic district leader, announced late last month that the suit was partially settled with the MTA proposing to make the Sixth Avenue station accessible to the disabled. Previously only two stations included in the renovation plan (Bedford Avenue and First Avenue) were slated to become compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In exchange, the part of the lawsuit alleging disregard for disabled New Yorkers has been dropped. This was first reported by The Villager.
Dr. Mitchell Katz, president and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals Corporation, parent organization to Bellevue and other public hospitals, wrote the following letter on Thursday, following a press briefing.
Over the last few days, I have received messages from distraught physicians, social workers, and other health care providers in our health system who are understandably horrified by the unjust treatment of immigrants across our county. They are seeing first-hand the serious health impact to children of immigrants who have been torn apart from their families — and not at our border, but here in New York.
After separation, some of these children have ended up in our Emergency Departments accompanied by their government-appointed guardians who are often unfamiliar with the children, have no access to medical records, and have no way of getting in touch with a family member to get a medical history.
We have seen children as young as five and have treated teenagers who have presented with signs of anxiety, trauma and stress-related illness, including one extreme case of a teen with suicidal ideations after being separated from his mother.
A man who came to a recent Community Board 6 meeting on the proposed protected bike lane for Kips Bay was one of numerous meeting attendees who said it was sorely needed. Others expressed concern about the loss of parking. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Community Board 6’s transportation committee this Monday voted in favor of a resolution supporting the Department of Transportation’s proposal to install bike lanes on 26th and 29th Streets.
Community Board 5, which covers the western portion of the streets, had a much more contentious meeting last week on the proposal in which a vote was delayed because of disagreements about the removal of parking spaces.
While Community Board 6 members were not enthusiastic about the loss of parking either, the members ultimately voted to support the plan in a 9 to 2 vote.
Repaved sink hole (Photo courtesy of Economic Development Corporation)
By Sabina Mollot
The East River bike lane sinkhole has finally been repaired.
According to Shavone Williams, a spokesperson for the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), the faulty valve causing the problem was located on Friday, and fixed, with the road repaved by midday. Workers at the scene had been looking for the damaged water line that belonged to the nearby Skyport garage since a water main shutdown on Wednesday morning, Williams admitted. The EDC manages the Skyport, which is owned by the city.
Men work at the sinkhole on the bike lane at 23rd Street and the East River on Tuesday. (Photo by Janet Handal)
By Sabina Mollot
A sinkhole that’s been on the bike lane at 23rd Street along the East River for weeks now has grown from being a few feet across to a ten-foot-wide gurgling geyser. It has also been an active worksite manned by a plumbing crew from the Economic Development Corporation, which manages the nearby city-owned Skyport garage. It’s a broken, leaking pipe underneath the garage that has been blamed for the problem.
Town & Village first reported on the sinkhole last week, when a then two-week-old 311 complaint had yet to spur any action from the city. The relevant city agencies finally arrived at the scene last Wednesday evening (following T&V’s press time) to barricade off the area. Additionally, at that time, a spokesperson for the DEP told us the Skyport garage had been ordered to fix the pipe as well as well as the sinkhole.
But by Tuesday evening of this week, a spokesperson for the EDC, Shavone Williams, still couldn’t say exactly when the damaged water line would be fixed, although the expectation was sometime this week. Williams added that the EDC was planning with the Department of Environmental Preservation to shut down a main on Wednesday morning so contractors could repair the line and repave the surface later in the week. Until it’s repaired, Williams said, the crew would remain onsite and keep the area surrounding the water hole secured with cones and tape.
Meanwhile, water service was completely shut off at Waterside Plaza on Wednesday by 8:30 a.m., according to the management office. General Manager Peter Davis said he didn’t know if it was related to the sinkhole, since the property hadn’t gotten a notice from any agency. UPDATE at 10:54 a.m. Water service has been restored to Waterside, and a DEP representative said the agency was looking into why it happened and why residents were not notified.
Janet Handal, president of the Waterside Tenants Association, first reported the sinkhole to the city on July 5, fearing it would become a deathtrap for cyclists and the usual crowds of people headed to the party boats at the marina next to the garage.
However, there was no visible response from the city on the growing hole until Handal reached out to a number of city agencies and elected officials as well as Town & Village. Only then did teams from the DEP and the Department of Transportation arrive to completely barricade off the sinkhole, which had been only partially surrounded by tape.
As of this Tuesday, Handal said it didn’t appear the workers knew yet where the water main actually was. After stopping by the site, Handal said she was shocked by the force and sound of the gushing water in the hole, as thick cords from six water pumps snaked their way inside. The width of the hole, which had originally just been in the bike lane, had stretched across two traffic lanes by then. This may have been done intentionally to allow the workers access, however.
Based on her observations, though, the water pumps didn’t appear to be doing much. She said she was told by a worker that the EDC was waiting for the DEP to turn off the water and that the collapsed pipe was believed to be about 80 years old.
An elderly woman who was doored while cycling earlier this month died from her injuries last Sunday. Police said that 74-year-old Xin Kang Wang, a Lower East Side resident, was riding her bike east on East 20th Street between Park Avenue South and Broadway at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 4, traveling within the north bike lane on the street, when a passenger exiting a cab that was stopped in the bike lane opened the rear passenger door in front of Wang.
Police said that the victim then struck the door, bounced into the adjacent lane on the street and fell into the road in front of another car. Wang was transported to Bellevue Hospital and died there on May 14, a little over a week after the incident.
The cab driver was issued a summons for discharging a passenger in the bike lane at the time of the incident but no other charges have been filed. Police said that both cars remained at the scene and the investigation remains ongoing.
Town & Village is proud to present “The Soapbox,” a column featuring a different voice from the neighborhood each week (space providing). All are welcome to submit columns on the topic of the author’s choice, preferably not longer than 800 words, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cyclists use the bike lane near Stuy Town correctly, which author Susan Turchin would like to see happen more often. (Photo by Susan Turchin)
By Susan Turchin
We have an unspoken and somewhat unconscious agreement with each other. As pedestrians, when we step off the curb to cross the street and we have the green light, we expect and trust that traffic will stop and we will safely cross to the other side. But now, with increased bike traffic, this unspoken agreement is null and void. When our fabulous new bike lanes came into being all bets were off.
We need a crash course in how to share our streets. I have just returned from Europe, Vienna and Budapest. Two cities where bikes, pedestrians and cars share the roads with ease and respect. Bikes obey the traffic lights and actually stop when the light is red. Pedestrians do the same. No jay-walking. No bikes going down one way street in the opposite direction. Everyone obeys the rules and everyone safely shares the streets.
Case in point. Tonight I rode my bike home from work. A pleasant evening. The right temperature and Ninth Avenue has a nice down slope so the ride was easy. But…
There were pedestrians walking in the bike path all over Ninth Avenue for no apparent reason, since the sidewalks were clear. And there were countless food delivery guys on their motorized bikes riding up Ninth Avenue in the wrong direction on the one-way street. Pedestrians were crossing the streets in the crosswalks against the red light and also jay-walking in the middle of the block crossing into the bike lane without looking or right to be there. Ringing my trusty bicycle bell did not deter them.