If you ride your bike along Flushing Avenue in Brooklyn on your way to or from Williamsburg, you may have noticed a splash of color along the bike lane’s barrier. Similarly, the Flushing Bay Promenade in Queens got some color recently in efforts to bring art to the public. The New York City Department of Transportation, New York Cares and the Community Affairs Unit organized the event in collaboration with two Brooklyn-based artists Deanna Lee and Kara Lynch. On 1,200 feet of the Flushing Avenue barrier between Williamsburg Street and Washington Avenue 30 volunteers executed Lynch’s vision to display 18th and 19th century wallpaper patterns. Her idea was to merge contrasting realms by decorating public space with typically private design. In Queens, Lee also lead a group of 30 volunteers in painting 700 feet of the promenade’s barrier with a blue and green wave like pattern. Her work juxtaposes ocean like patterns against an urban backdrop. The projects, which will remain for 11 months, are part of the Barrier Beautification project initiated by NYCDOT’s Urban Art Program in 2008. Currently the Barrier Beautification project has transformed twenty barriers, by and for the public. Each spring artists can submit their work for a Barrier Beautification site and are eligible to receive up to $2,500 for project expenses. For more information visit the DOT’s website here.
Posts tagged with "New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT)":
“Safety is in the eye of the beholder,” says New York City DOT Commissioner Sadik Khan. Khan’s remarks came Wednesday as the New York City Department of Transportation unveiled its new LOOK! safety campaign urging self-responsibility on the part of drivers and pedestrians alike. The updated campaign features thermoplastic curbside lettering spelling L-O-O-K with appropriately focused eyeballs replacing the O’s on crosswalks at 110 of the most fatality ridden intersections across the city. The street markings are accompanied by witty color photograph ads on nearby phone stalls, bus shelters, and the backs of city buses warning us to heed our mothers’ advice and look both ways before crossing the street. The campaign plans to eventually increase their range to include 200 intersections and more than 300 buses. 57 percent of traffic fatalities in 2011 involved pedestrians and nearly half of those fatalities occurred during the pedestrians’ right of way, states a statistic provided by the NYC DOT. In spite of this, NYC streets are the safest of their kind with the lowest fatality rate of any US city with a population exceeding one million, according a report written by John Petro of the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy and Lindsey Ganson of Transportation Alternatives. The latest ads follow the DOT’s 2011 safety campaign, which incorporated colorful artwork by artist John Morse and haiku styled safety messages.
With only 75 weeks left in New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration, cyclists the city over will inevitably be concerned about the next mayor's stance on bike lanes and street designs lest initiatives put in place under Bloomberg fall from grace. One need only to recall Marty Markowitz's parodic tricycle stunts poking fun at bike lanes or former NYC DOT commissioner Iris Weinshall's efforts to remove a protected bike lane from Brooklyn's Prospect Park West to realize that the concern is not unfounded. At yesterday’s regularly-scheduled City Planning review session, former Bogotá Parks Commissioner Gil Penalosa was invited to give a pep talk, placing a particular emphasis on bike lanes. He warned an audience filled with commissioners and planning staff that as the weeks wind down before the mayor leaves office, they'd better get cracking at PR and permanence: the public needs to become even more familiar with the bike network and the infrastructure needs to become permanent—and striped bike lanes won't cut it! Penalosa now runs the Toronto-based non-profit 8-80 Cities, which espouses the philosophy that if a city is safe for 8-year-olds and 80-year-olds then it will be safe for all citizens. While the philosophy is applied to sidewalks as much as bike lanes, it is particularly interesting when applied to the great strides made in New York's bike network under current DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. Take 8th or 9th avenues in recent years as an example. You might not be too concerned if your kid or grandma pedaled along the green-painted, protected bike lanes in Chelsea, where the lanes runs between the sidewalk and a planted median, and is further buffered from car traffic by parked cars. But moving toward Midtown, the street shifts and bike are moved into narrower striped bike lanes or sharrowed streets at the Port Authority Bus Terminal with no separated bike lane at all. Fortunately in this case, the city recently announced that 8th and 9th avenues will be treated with protected bike lanes between 34th Street and Columbus Circle, filling in the missing teeth. Clearly some of Sadik-Khan's surgical approaches to curb traffic, increase safety, and make way for pedestrians and cyclists are working their way toward permanence, with Snøhetta's Times Square redesign being most extraordinary example. But Penalosa warned that an incremental approach to building a bike network is like the city building a soccer field in phases: We'll put up one field goal this year, then part of the field next year, and hopefully we'll get to the other goal before the next administration decides its a waste of money and abandons the plan. And with the city's 10,000-bike-strong Citi Bike bike-share system to be launched as soon as August, a complete bike network will be more important than ever. Penalosa said that the bike network as it stands is a very substantial start that has opened people's eyes. Cities the world over are pointing to New York's plan as an example, and some, like Chicago, are taking it even further. But he noted that without a network of protected bike lanes and lower traffic speeds, bike infrastructure will struggle to reach its full capacity beyond those who are already established cyclists. If the city wants to coax more people into the system, Penalosa said, then they need to feel safe. So, could all of New York's bike lanes be erased? While it seems unlikely today, one only needs to look to Penalosa's home base in Toronto where several pro-environment mayoral candidates on the left couldn't get their act together to protect strides made by former Mayor David Miller. The conservative candidate Rob Ford won the mayoral election promising to end the "war on cars" brought about by increased cycling. "Not even in his wildest nightmares did Miller think that Rob Ford would be elected," Penalosa said by phone from Toronto. "There's a point when the stars are aligned, when you have the right mayor and the right politicians, but you never know if the next mayor is going to be the same."
We've been anxiously waiting for the city to drop off the planned 10,000 Citi Bikes—after all, there will be 82 bikes parked just outside AN's HQ in Lower Manhattan!—as part of NYC's bike share system originally slated to open this month. Our dreams of riding with the wind in our hair were crushed, or at least postponed, when system operator Alta began surreptitiously tweeting news of the delay: “Look for the launch in August.” When the bike share system is complete, 10,000 bright-blue bicycles will be scattered throughout three boroughs, docked at 600 stations located in Manhattan, Long Island City, and a healthy chunk of Brooklyn from Downtown Brooklyn to Bed-Stuy and north through Greenpoint. The bikes and stations are being assembled at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and with 20,000 tires to inflate, we're willing to give them a little slack. In the meantime, check here for public demonstrations being staged around the city, where you might just land yourself a free helmet.
It would seem that the the once humble blue stone, quarried in New York State, is getting some renewed respect. We recently saw it cleverly cladding 41 Bond by the design-build firm DDG Partners, now artist Nobuho Nagasawa it calling attention to it underfoot in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Nagasawa's installation elevates an everyday visual experience to the level of art, namely tree shadows on a Brooklyn blue stone sidewalk. Incorporated into the DOT's reconstruction of Columbia Street, "Timecast" was funded through the Percent for Art Program and its installation was overseen by the Department of Design and Construction (DDC). The installation is a component of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway Initiative which connects the waterfront from Greenpoint to all the way Sunset Park, including Columbia Waterfront District. The blue stone was fabricated and sandblasted by Brooklyn-based Ottavino Stoneworks and DDC made sure to repour the concrete surrounding the blue stone, so as to ensure an undisturbed visual flow. In her artist statement Nagasawa said that by planting native trees and etching the traced shadows onto the New York stone, the project aims to memorialize local history. As the young trees grow they will become a "fixed marker of change" in the evolving neighborhood and will inspire people "to think about their own presence over time."
If all the world is a stage, according to Shakespeare, all the city is a kunsthalle in the eyes of the New York City Department of Transportation. Bogardus Plaza, a tiny pedestrian plaza carved out of a little-used block of Hudson Street in Lower Manhattan and named for architect James Bogardus, the inventor of the cast-iron building, just received a well-deserved facelift and has now been chosen to host a prototype art display case designed by Architecture Research Office (ARO). If the design looks familiar, that's because ARO designed their sleek new case to mirror the look and feel of the city's existing bus shelters, newsstands, and benches to create a cohesive streetscape. The stainless-steel-wrapped display features a unique angled edge that creates a playful optical illusion. The rectangular shape is chamfered at the base, meeting the sidewalk at a single, stationary point, standing in contrast to the plaza's moveable cafe chairs, tables, and potted plants. “We envision the display panel as a visitor to the plaza, a temporary and flexible element that moves culture out into New York City’s pedestrian spaces,” said ARO principal Adam Yarinsky in a statement. ARO's design was selected after NYCDOT challenged designers to rethink the museum display case as public furniture. The display case is on a month-long trial run to test for durability. If it holds up, a series of cases will be fabricated and installed throughout the city in the fall and a new rotating art program will be implemented. The initiative is part of NYCDOT's Urban Art Program that brings art in unexpected places throughout the city.
To hell with what Pennsylvania groundhog Punxsutawney Phil says about there being six more weeks of winter; if you want a true harbinger of spring, head over the Center for Architecture for a last chance to check out the “Two Wheel Transit” show mounted by the DEP for their bike share program that going to be launched in the spring. The show teases out some of the details of the plan that will add rentable public bikes to the New York City's transit options. The exhibit closes this Saturday, but if you don’t make it over in time, you can go to one of the community bike share workshops that begin on Monday. The first meeting will be held at 25 Carmine Street. The workshops will give New Yorkers a chance to comment on where to put the 600 bike stations. Some of the concerns about the stations crowding already crowded sidewalks, was addressed by DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan at the show’s opening. She said the department will be looking at placing them atop subway grating, in privately owned pubic spaces, and near major subway hubs. A crowd sourcing program on the department’s website has already received over 7000 suggestions—including one fan from Portland Oregon who wants a station placed there. The commissioner said that the DOT is also developing an app that will allow bike share users to find a station nearest them, as well as the number of bikes that may or may not be available. With 70 percent of New Yorkers approving the plan, the app will come in handy as certain stations may be prove too popular to keep bikes on hand. “It’s the right fit, for the right city, at the right time,” said Sadik-Khan.
Approximately six years after Thomas Phifer and Partners, the Office for Visual Interaction, and Werner Sobek won the CityLights competition for a new standard streetlight, some of the first examples are popping up in Lower Manhattan. The design for LED streetlights was cutting edge at the time, and the technology was very expensive. Prices for energy efficient LED's have fallen considerably since then, allowing the ultra slim fixtures to find their way onto city streets. The Bloomberg administration has changed New York's scrappy streetscapes in numerous ways, including adding new pedestrian plazas and hundreds of miles of bike lanes, and commissioning new street furniture and newsstands. These fixtures, developed by the Department of Design and Construction and the Department of Transportation, are the latest of these efforts to make gritty city a bit greener and more civilized.
As we all know, Jane Jacobs was a visionary urban activist and author, whose 1961 publication of The Death and Life of Great American Cities had a tremendous impact on how we think about cities and urban planning today. She challenged prevailing assumptions in urban planning at a time when slum-clearing was the norm and emphasized the intricacies and sensitivities of an urban fabric. In 2007, the year after Jacobs died, the Rockefeller Foundation launched the Jane Jacobs Medal, an annual award given to those who stand by Jacobs' principles and whose "creative uses of the urban environment" renders New York City "more diverse, dynamic and equitable." Two awards covering New Ideas & Activism and Lifetime Leadership are presented each year. Janette Sadik-Khan, commissioner of the NYC Department of Transportation and Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives took the New Ideas & Activism title for their contributions to public space and transportation while Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal were presented with Lifetime Leadership awards for their contributions to the Tribeca neighborhood. Sadik-Khan was lauded for her standout efforts to increase access to public space, improve traffic flow, and promote sustainable transportation. Her work includes the creation of select bus service routes in the Bronx and Manhattan, the installation of 18 pedestrian plazas, the addition of over 250 miles of on-street bike lanes, car-free summer streets, and a new Street Design Manual. Steely White's leadership is responsible for championing public campaigns to make New York's streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists including traffic calming initiatives and the Safe Routes to School and Safe Routes for Seniors campaigns, which were later adopted by NYC DOT. His organization also led the government call to install new pedestrian spaces and 200 miles of bike lanes between 2006 and 2009. The Lifetime Leadership awards went to Academy Award-winning actor Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal, co-founder and driving force behind the Tribeca Film festival. Together, the pair not only founded the Tribeca Film Center, the first commercial space in Tribeca dedicated to film, television, and entertainment companies, they also responded to the devastating consequences the 9/11 attacks on Lower Manhattan by founding the Tribeca Film Festival in 2002, whose active presence heavily contributed to the city's long-term recovery. The recipients were decided by a jury comprised of Dr. Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, Richard Kahan, founder and CEO of the Urban Assembly and recipient of a 2009 Jane Jacobs Medal, Mary Schmidt Campbell, dean of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and Bruce Nussbaum, professor at Parsons The New School for Design. The 2011 Jane Jacobs Medal was administered by the Municipal Art Society.
Mayor Bloomberg’s vision for a pedestrian-friendly Times Square is about to be written in stone. On September 27, Snøhetta gave Community Board 5 a preview of things to come at the Crossroads of the World, and they look a lot more permanent than lawn chairs and painted pavements. Principal Craig Dykers presented designs for dark and darker pavers that largely eliminate any bias for an automotive Broadway, stepping the plaza streetscape up to sidewalk grade and adding elongated benches to indicate long-gone traffic patterns. In homage to New York noir, the designers have also embedded nickel-sized reflectors adding a hard bit of glitz to the dark stones that will not compete with the glam above. According to an email from Seth Solomonow, Press Secretary at the NYC Department of Transportation: “This long-planned redesign will restore the aging utilities below the street, which itself hasn’t been rebuilt in more than 50 years and still has trolley tracks beneath the asphalt. On the surface, this simple, flexible design will clear obstructions and support the growing number of programs occurring in Times Square, which more than 350,000 people visit every day.”
That thin ribbon of green paint along Brooklyn's Prospect Park West sure is a touchy subject for residents of the Park Slope neighborhood, and beyond--they're even talking about it in London. Many love the new separated bike lane installed in June 2010--the "pro-laners"--but a vocal group packing some political power would rather see the lane removed--the "anti-laners." We're not kidding when we say the anti-laners are up in arms, either. According to a Gothamist report, one resident wielding a bullhorn shouted to bystanders that the new bike path "mutilated" the broad boulevard. After threatening legal action for a month, two area organizations, Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes and Seniors for Safety, have now filed a lawsuit requesting the lane's removal, which should make CB6's public hearing on Thursday night more lively than usual. StreetsBlog summarizes the complaint:
It argues that DOT acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner, with conclusions made irrationally or in bad faith. It argues that the bike lane did not properly go through the necessary processes given the landmarked status of the Park Slope neighborhood and Prospect Park. And finally, it argues that an environmental review was necessary to assess the impact of the lane on the historic character of the area.Among the anti-laners are Iris Weinshall, a former NYC DOT commissioner who just happens to be married to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, and former Sanitation Commissioner Norman Steisel. Anti-laners have also argued that the Prospect Park bike lane has remade crossing the street as a pedestrian into an urban adventure. Local resident and Huffington Post blogger Paul LaRosa wrote that Prospect Park West "now resembles that old video game Frogger where you need to keep looking and back and forth to avoid getting splattered by a car or a bike." Opposing the lawsuit, Councilman Brad Lander, who represents Park Slope, said a survey of the neighborhood shows the majority of residents support for the bike lane. The Park Slope Civic Association also falls in the pro-laner camp. Association president Michael Cairl told Transportation Nation, "Prospect Park West before the reconfiguration had been a speedway. It was unsafe to cross, it was unsafe to cycle on, it wasn’t all that safe to drive on." The anti-laners submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for the DOT's raw data, finding flaws with the results. Their sentiments are echoed by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz who also questioned the validity of the DOT data. He suggested that the original study to determine the feasibility of the bike lane should have been done by an outside agency to make it more impartial. As different parts of the city create new bike-car combinations, it's inevitable that there will be some clashes. We'll keep an eye out for the implications for our built environment as cases like these plays out in court and on the street.
While most of the World Trade Center site whirls in mid-construction, the National September 11 Memorial is a mere 208 days from completion. That thought brings both relief and consternation to local residents who have seen their neighborhood become a national flash point for mourning, controversy, and debate. It is also about to become one of the most heavily trafficked tourist destinations in the country. Accommodating the tourists and their means of transportation is key to the success of the master plan, but traffic components of the plan are still two to three years away from realization. Currently the area sees 1.3 million visitors annually, when the memorial is completed in September, approximately four to five million will descend on a site about the size of one city block. Last night, Luis Sanchez, Lower Manhattan commissioner from the Department of Transportation appeared before the World Trade Redevelopment Committee of Manhattan Community Board 1 to update the committee on plans for the huge tourist influx. He was joined by Joe Daniels, president and CEO of the memorial and museum. Daniels said that the memorial will operate for ten hours each day, with access controlled, as it is at the Statue of Liberty and Washington Memorial, through a time reservation system (TRS) for ticketing. Visitors will not be able to simply show up; they will have to reserve a time slot in advance, primarily by going online. Though first responders and members of the community will be given preferential ticketing, they too must go through TRS until the entire construction site is completed. While this may control the pedestrian traffic to and from the memorial, it is also intended to mitigate bus traffic and “flatten peaks.” Tour buses would have curbside access within walking distance from the site and a layover time of two to three hours. Sanchez said that DOT is also pushing remote transfer plans, such as water taxis from Liberty Island and parts of New Jersey. He noted that visitors would stay longer and spend tourist dollars in neighborhood businesses if they didn’t have to rush back to a bus in three hours time. Sanchez said that the DOT will actively reach out to the tourist industry to let them know that remote transfer tour groups will get priority ticketing and non-compliant companies would have passes withheld. "John Doe bus company isn't going to be able to just show up," he said. Several board members argued the DOT’s presentation lacked enough details on enforcement for bus traffic that is already heavy enough to makes the area one of the most congested in the city. “How many buses are there going to be and where are they going to park?” asked one board member. “We already made one suggestion—for example, New Jersey.”