Yesterday evening, the New York City Department of Transportation presented Manhattan Community Board 3's Transportation Committee with plans for a major redesign of Chrystie Street, a key route for the thousands of people who use the Manhattan Bridge bike path every day.
In February of 2015, StreetsPAC board member Dave 'Paco' Abraham pitched Manhattan CB3 on a concept for replacing Chrystie Street's paired (and frequently obstructed and badly pockmarked) Class II bike lanes with a parking-protected, two-way Class I bike path, running along the east side of Chrystie, adjacent to the linear Sara Roosevelt Park. The board's Transportation Committee endorsed the concept unanimously, and two weeks later, the full board, by a vote of 35-0, asked NYC DOT to study the idea, which had the backing of elected officials including State Senator Daniel Squadron, City Council Member Margaret Chinned Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
Then last fall, an anonymous group calling itself the "Transformation Dept." (NYC_DOTr on Twitter) created a pop-up protected path on Chrystie's northbound bike lane, using plastic safety cones and sunflowers. The temporary materials were enough to keep the lane clear of the vehicles that frequently obstruct it, and led to calls for the real NYC DOT to accelerate its efforts.
The waiting, at least as far as a plan goes, is now over.
The proposed two-way protected path will run from the Manhattan Bridge to Houston Street, much as it was first conceived by Abraham. It will be protected by a combination of parked cars, jersey barriers, and flexible delineators. The project will add new pedestrian islands at Rivington Street, Stanton Street and 2nd Avenue and 2nd Street, shortening crossings and enhancing access to Sara Roosevelt Park. NYC DOT expects to begin work on the project this fall. An official rendering of the south end of the path is below.
"In a word, the plan is bold," says StreetsPAC's Abraham. "It's bold because the two-way protected lane is the safest option for people who bike. It's bold because the new ped islands will make Chrystie safer for people who walk. It's bold because the reorganized, properly prioritized configuration will make things smoother for people who drive. And it's bold because in little more than a year, this went from constituent concern, to elected officials' meeting, to community board request, to DOT design, and now official presentation. I look forward to seeing it in the ground in 2016."
You can see NYC DOT's plan for Chrystie Street here.
No one has done more during the past decade to improve New York City's streets than Janette Sadik-Khan, the visionary Commissioner who led the city's Department of Transportation under Mayor Mike Bloomberg from 2007 to 2013.
And now, the woman responsible for the Times Square pedestrian plaza, the Prospect Park West bike path and the launch of Citi Bike – among a host of transformational complete-streets initiatives – tells her own story in Streetfight, released yesterday by Viking Press and co-authored by former NYC DOT press secretary Seth Solomonow.
Streetfight offers a step-by-step guide for remaking urban streets and correcting the motor-vehicle-driven mistakes of the last century, while shining a light on the behind-the-scenes battles with a sometimes-hostile media and lawyered-up and well connected NIMBYs that threatened Sadik-Khan's most innovative projects. It's a must-read for anyone who cares about the future of cities and smart transportation policies.
Pick up a copy today at your local bookstore, or order one here.
Peatónito Takes New York!
Peatónito, Mexico City's masked protector of pedestrians, is in New York City this week for Transportation Alternatives' Vision Zero Cities 2016 conference. StreetsPAC was lucky enough to tag along as Peatónito took on the mean streets of Brooklyn and Queens while Streetfilms' Clarence Eckerson Jr. had his camera rolling. Watch the action below!