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City rolls out ‘Bike Boulevard’ concept for University Place

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | A month ago, when The Village Sun reported on the Department of Transportation doing community outreach for ideas for University Place, local stakeholders said their understanding was that any plan would not bar cars.

At that time, Shirley Secunda, chairperson of the Community Board 2 Traffic and Transportation Committee, said, “They’re not talking about booting cars off the street.”

“There will still be cars,” echoed William Kelley, executive director of the Village Alliance business improvement district.

But just four days after that article, Patch reported that Mayor de Blasio had announced that, in fact, University Place would become the city’s first “Bike Boulevard.”

There aren’t many details about exactly what a Bike Boulevard is, other than that it would “discourage cars from entering the space,” slow vehicle speeds and connect to existing bike lanes.

De Blasio’s first mention of Bike Boulevards was at his State of the City address more than a year ago back in February 2020. Perhaps the pandemic slowed down the plan’s rollout.

D.O.T. apparently is potentially eyeing the whole length of University Place — which stretches from 14th St. to Waverly Place, where it connects to Washington Square East — for the Bike Boulevard project. The one block from 14th St. to 13th St. was recently reversed to one-way southbound and made into a so-called “slow street,” with a squiggle-shaped road space forcing cars to drive through slowly.

This week, Secunda said she was taken by surprise by the Bike Boulevard announcement.

“As you know, the Department of Transportation has been conducting community outreach as part of a study to make University Place more responsive to neighborhood needs,” she said. “We’ve been under the impression that the study is still going on — it was supposed to be through the summer — and that D.O.T. will report on results before any steps are taken. Hopefully, we will find out more from D.O.T. at our meeting.”

Secunda said all that she knows about the idea is what she read in the Patch article, which noted that the mayor had offered “minimal details” about the initiative.

“This is all we know about it — in other words, we are in the dark,” Secunda said. “This is why we’ve asked D.O.T. to come to our meeting, to explain what this is about.”

Secunda’s committee will hold a virtual hearing on the issue at its meeting tonight, Thurs., June 3, at 6:30 p.m. For the meeting link, click here.

In another case of the mayor rushing to a decision on a local traffic idea, a few months into the pandemic, he abruptly declared the 14th St. busway permanent. His announcement on the busway came about halfway through its stated 18-month-long pilot-project phase, after which the community was supposed to be able to get a chance to weigh in on it.

4 Comments

  1. Obiter Dicta Obiter Dicta June 3, 2021

    While Mayor de Blasio demonstrated good judgment and common sense in his support of the recent safeguards established to protect the safety, health and welfare of Washington Square Park visitors and those in the neighborhood, I’m afraid that I cannot say the same for the proposal that University Place be converted into a bike speedway. There are a great many elderly residents, students and workers who shop on and live near University Place. In addition, University Place is heavily congested during school hours as hundreds and hundreds of students and NYU faculty utilize University Place as a major artery to, from and within the NYU family of schools and affiliated venues. The flooding of the city with bicycles, electric and manual, has resulted in a huge number of injuries and even deaths due to reckless bicyclists, especially the food-delivery workforce, and pedestrians themselves. To convert this short street into a bike thoroughfare would be disastrous. I, for one, would find other streets to shop on should this folly be put in place.

  2. Carol from East 5th Street Carol from East 5th Street June 3, 2021

    So sick of de Blasio passing legislation and projects like this without community input (as in the destruction of East River Park). Can’t wait for him to be out. And let’s not forget his minions on the City Council. Vote them out!

  3. elizabeth gaynor elizabeth gaynor June 4, 2021

    ditto, what carol said. nyc does not stand by its promises of working w/ communities on proposals (more often, dictates from de blasio admin!). a more consequential point in question: the fate of East River Park! nyc plans to demolish the largest downdown park (along E river from manhattan bridge to p cooper village) recreationally serving a super-diverse population: financial district, chinatown, LES, NYCHA housing, e village, alphabet city, stuytown & p cooper — all w/out community input or viable rationale.

    nyc’s East River Park proposal (dubbed ESCR) serves as nothing but a dubious experiment in “surge protection” from Sandy-sized storms @ the expense of 1000s of LESiders. as we all know, nyc is made up of a continuum of coastline. where’s the overall plan for surge protection & rising seas? our downtown communities use East River park for its 1000 (yes!) mature shade trees, gardens, 1/2 dozen kids/adults ball fields, dozen tennis courts, 2.5mi bike/running paths, soccer pitch, running track, bbq areas, kids sprinklers & playgrounds, adult exercise areas & more. nyc plans to bulldoze all this w/out adequate hearings or scientific backup.

  4. john doe john doe June 20, 2021

    As usual, the DOT lies and is trying to shove this down our throats. Even if cb2 wisely says it does not want it, even if the storeowners dont want it, even if the neighborhood doesnt want it, the trucks and line painters will show up one day and do it. We have one of the most corrupt and ineffective mayors in modern history and we all cant wait to see him go. This one needs to be fought. The last thing these ideological thugs want is community outreach, involvement, or sugggestions.

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