City Approves Greyhound Peter Pan Bus Stop on Essex

The bus stop will be located at the southwest corner of Seward Park.

The Department of Transportation has decided to approve an application from Greyhound/Peter Pan for a new bus stop on Essex Street, alongside Seward Park.  Last week, Community Board 3’s transportation committee voted to oppose the application, following a contentious meeting in which many residents spoke out against the proposal.  A resolution urging the DOT to reconsider, and to come back to CB3 with alternatives, was forwarded to city officials.  But today, we’ve learned, the agency has signed off on the location across from 3 Essex Street, near Canal Street.  It’s a six-month permit that will be re-evaluated next spring.

Greyhound and Peter Pan are creating a new service to compete against already-existing Chinatown bus companies. “YO!” Bus will offer eight daily stops between New York and Philadelphia.  The service begins operating September 27; a ticket office will be located at 98 East Broadway.

Community Board 3 Approves Delancey Street Safety Plan

Slide from DOT presentation depicting new pedestrian plaza on Delancey Street.

Last night Community Board 3 approved a Department of Transportation (DOT) plan to improve pedestrian safety along Delancey Street. The city intends to implement the changes along the dangerous roadway by early summer.

Among other improvements, it will lead to the reopening of Clinton Street at Delancey, the creation of pedestrian plazas to narrow street width and a left-turn ban for automobiles heading south on Essex Street to Delancey and the Williamsburg Bridge. After consultations with CB3, the city also agreed to lengthen the time allotted for pedestrians to cross at Clinton Street by eight seconds and to ban right-hand turns from westbound Grand Street onto Clinton.

The changes came in the aftermath of several fatal pedestrian and bicycle accidents on Delancey Street in the last couple of years. In January, 12-year old Dashane Santana was struck and killed at the intersection of Delancey and Clinton streets.

For more details about the Delancey Street safety plan see our previous coverage here and here.

Delancey Street Countdown Clocks, A Look at DOT Logic

The city has at long last installed countdown clocks along Delancey Street.  Six months ago, a Department of Transportation spokesperson told us they were coming sometime in 2011. After several high profile accidents, elected officials (including Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver) urged the DOT to “complete the project without delay.”

Who knows whether the installation of the clocks this week is merely a coincidence or whether the notoriously independent DOT “fast-tracked” the job in the aftermath of the most recent accident last month.  We do know, however, that the DOT believes the LED displays (being added to 1500 intersections throughout the city) make a difference when it comes to saving lives.  As evidence, the department cites its own Pedestrian Safety Study  which found “signals at wider crosswalks helped reduce the number of pedestrians still in the crosswalk when the countdown signals turned to solid red.”

Essex Street Garage is Getting a High Design Makeover

Courtesy of Michielli + Wyetzner Architects.

A new look for the Delancey and Essex Municipal Parking Garage. The NYC Department of Transportation plans a $4 million renovation of the five-story structure.  The revamp of the 40-year old facility will feature a dramatic new facade, incorporating thick fiberglass/stainless steel cables to create a 3D effect. The project is part of Mayor Bloomberg’s Design + Construction Excellence Program. The redesigned garage will include spaces for 22 bicycles, the addition of a new protective coating on the concrete floors and a new elevator.

Velazquez, Sadik-Khan Announce Traffic Study

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Rep. Nydia Velazquez and DOT Commissioner Janette Sadek-Khan just wrapped up a news conference in Chinatown. Standing on Hester Street, on the edge of Sara D. Roosevelt Park, they announced the beginning of a neighborhood traffic safety study. More details later.

Countdown Signals Coming to Delancey Soon?

If you make it a habit of crossing Delancey, you’re all too aware it can be a death-defying sprint from one side to another. Once the walk signal turns green you’ve got something like 20 seconds before the cars and trucks start rolling off of the Williamsburg Bridge ramp.

Several months ago, the city announced a plan to add countdown clocks on Delancey and several other streets in the neighborhood. We were curious where the project stands, so we asked the Department of Transportation.

No Funds to Finish Allen Street Mall Project

It seems like every day we hear about another public program or project endangered by the city and state budget crisis. It appears the unfinished Allen Street pedestrian mall face-lift can now be added to the growing list.

Earlier this week, city officials updated members of Community Board 3 on the project. Randy Wade of the Department of Transportation said her agency has completed the reconfiguration of Allen and Pike Streets, redesigning automobile and bicycle lanes, closing selected intersections and tinkering with traffic signals. Now it’s up to the Parks Department to finish the job – adding landscaping, seating and other enhancements meant to transform 13 blocks below Houston Street into the Lower East Side’s “Champs-Elysees.”

Community Board Member Opposes Clinton Street Crosswalk

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Earlier this month we reported on the request by the Seward Park Co-op Board to add a mid-block crosswalk (and signal) on Clinton Street between Grand and East Broadway. The transportation committee of Community Board 3 voted for a resolution asking the Department of Transportation to study the situation. But there was a hitch at last night’s full CB3 meeting. Rabbi Y.S. Ginzberg, a community board member and a Seward Park resident, called the request “ridiculous.” He said there was “no reason for it,” because the automobile traffic on this particular stretch of Clinton Street is not very heavy, and there’s not that much pedestrian traffic.

At the committee meeting on June 10th, Lee Slater of the co-op board voiced concern that cars speeding along Clinton in order to make the green light at Grand Street, fail to notice people trying to cross in the middle of the block. He cited the death of a woman by a garbage truck a few months ago. CB3 ended up passing a watered down resolution, calling on the DOT to study the situation but removing language suggesting the community believes pedestrian safety is a problem on Clinton Street.

The Co-op had also asked for and received CB3’s support in reducing truck noise on East Broadway. The committee asked the DOT to look into posting signs on the street reinforcing the current law, which prohibits trucks from using the street as a “through” route. Last night, Rabbi Ginzberg said he agrees there’s a need to keep trucks from using East Broadway as a “through” street. But, he expressed fears that posting signs there would only encourage trucks to use Grand Street to get across town. Ginzberg said Grand is already snarled with traffic, due, in part, to the city’s new bike lanes and center islands. Other members of the CB3 Board pointed out that, like East Broadway, Grand is not a “through” route. Trucks heading to the west side are supposed to use Delancey or Houston streets. The bottom line: the DOT will look into the requested changes on both East Broadway and Clinton streets.

Followup: Bike Lane Battles


Some bicycling advocates were not very happy with comments City Council candidate Margaret Chin made about the Grand Street bike lanes, in her recent interview with the Lo-Down. In responding to a question about Mayor Bloomberg’s transportation policy, she said, in part:

“…That bike lane (between Chrystie and Canal) is the stupidest thing,
that’s what people in the community say. It just created a lot of
congestion. But the city says ‘we think it’s a good idea. We just think
people will get used to it.’  Wait a minute. You can’t just impose that
on a community…”

Bicyclist Liam Quigley posted the following comment:

“The Grand Street Bike lane is a vital part of my commute to my home in the LES as well as to my friends and family. I implore you to try to see the benefit for the community in having
a truly safe network for bicycle commuters, not one that puts them toe
to toe with traffic and huge trucks that are often careless about
cyclists.”

Liam, and apparently other cyclists, contacted Chin’s office for an explanation of her position on the bike lanes. You can see the full post on his blog here. The bottom line: Chin says she’s not “anti-bike,” and she doesn’t oppose the concept of the Grand Street bike lanes – just the execution. She told Liam, “It has added confusion and removed space from an already congested area, and doesn’t work as well as it could.” Chin added, “the creation and usage of the Grand Street bike lane has been, in my opinion, a failure.” She also reiterated the main point she made during our interview: the Department of Transportation must do a better job of taking community feedback seriously.

Some critics of the bike lanes argue the configuration of Grand Street makes it nearly impossible for large emergency vehicles to make turns. In a message to us, Liam said the design is not the problem:


The bike lane… has design considerations for larger vehicles (fire trucks, etc).
There are buffer zones near intersections in the parking lane, where
parking is not allowed to provide better visibilty and allow for
vehicles that need to make wider turns. The problem is, people park here illegally. Crack down on that and trucks can turn somewhat more easily.

A representative for “Transportation Alternatives” said, essentially the same thing to us following the heated “transportation town hall” City Councilman Gerson’s office sponsored on the LES a few weeks ago.

One thing’s for certain: this debate is far from over. Next up in our series of interviews with the candidates running for the District 1 Council race: Pete Gleason. Read what he has to say about the bike lanes Monday.

Followup: Chinatown Bus Chaos

Pike Street between East Broadway and Division streets. Photo by Albert Chan.

We’ve been following the fight by the people who live along a stretch of Pike Street to get those ubiquitous Chinatown buses away from their doorsteps. Last night they took the battle to the transportation Committee of Community Board 3. While the committee was sympathetic to their ordeal – Committee Chairman David Crane made it clear the problem is much bigger than a single bus stop on one street.

The residents said the buses make their lives miserable from 6 in the morning until 11:30 at night… idling… drawing huge crowds of waiting passengers, loitering on the corners. They even said passengers were camping out in the lobbies of their buildings, waiting for buses to depart. Lots of charter buses, offering discount fares to major destinations along the east coast, simply stop to load and unload passengers wherever they can find a spot.

But, in this case the city’s Department of Transportation actually issued the bus company a permit for Pike Street, right in front of two apartment buildings. A DOT representative at the meeting said, however, the permit only allows the company to pick up and drop off passengers- not to stand on the corner and sell tickets to passers by. One of the residents said a representative showed up at a NYPD community meeting and, when confronted about the problem, simply shrugged his shoulders and was “really callous about the complaints.”  The CB3 committee passed a resolution asking the DOT to revoke the permit. They asked the city to send investigators to Pike Street to investigate.

Crane explained that the interstate bus business had become so large and popular that banning them from the city was unrealistic. He said the City Planning Department is conducting a study to find out what’s going on throughout Manhattan. Crane said he suspects they’ll come up with a master plan in about six months. The difficulty he said, is drafting guidelines that will withstand legal challenges.

In the meantime, Crane suggested the group also address the full community board meeting later this month. And the DOT has promised not to approve any more permits without going through the community boards.

A few blocks away last night at the 7th Precinct community meeting, police officials acknowledged the buses are a big problem. They write a large number of citations every week. The officials said it’s illegal for the private buses to pull up to MTA bus stops. However, this was contradicted by the DOT spokesperson at the community board meeting, who said the charter buses are allowed to use the public bus stops in the city.

See our previous coverage here.