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D.O.T. still doing outreach for University Place bike boulevard plan

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Updated Oct. 28, 10:20 p.m.: The Department of Transportation, along with the Village Alliance business improvement district, will be holding two community workshops to gather more input for a study of University Place for a possible two-way “bike boulevard.”

The first workshop will be on Thurs., Oct. 28, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and will be held outdoors on University Place between 10th and 11th Streets.

That will be followed by a second workshop that had initially been scheduled for Wed., Nov. 10, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Zoom. However, on Thursday William Kelley, the executive director of the Village Alliance BID, said D.O.T. has decided to push back the virtual meeting another week. D.O.T. will be providing the meeting link for Community Board 2 to share with the community.

According to Kelley, the design ideas that will be shown at both workshops are concepts only. The comments received at the two events will then inform a “draft roadway design” that will be presented for review and comment by the public at a C.B. 2 meeting during the winter.

D.O.T. had been expected to collect data for the proposal over the summer, but apparently that was not done. According to the C.B. 2 Traffic and Transportation Committee, a D.O.T. representative indicated earlier this month there are currently no final proposals, which is why the agency is seeking additional feedback.

Advocates contend University Place is a good spot for a bike boulevard since it has a relatively low volume of car traffic. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Back in June the agency did a preliminary presentation to the C.B. 2 committee — though, at the time, officials said it was not a final plan. However, the reaction from area residents who attended the virtual pitch was overwhelmingly negative. Washington Square Park’s midnight closing time still was not being enforced then and the park was a raucous late-night scene.

“The street is already noisy at 2 to 3 a.m. with N.Y.U. students and people coming from Washington Square Park,” one Ninth Street resident complained at the June meeting. “The idea of connecting Washington Square Park and Union Square so people can go back and forth at any time of day is terrible. We’re now dealing with heroin and cocaine in Washington Square Park and now it’s going to be a drug highway,” he warned of the University Place scheme.

Noting that cyclists aren’t always quiet, the Villager complained about “electric bikes with boomboxes on them.”

Some residents, dreading the bike boulevard and the noise they feared it would cause, noted they had specifically moved to the University Place area because it was a relatively quiet part of the Village. They also said the street has a small volume of car traffic.

However, one local begged, “Please do not put tables and chairs out there. It’s already loud.”

Local residents fear a bike boulevard would turn University Place into a “party path” between Washington Square Park and Union Square. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Similarly, another resident said, “I’m on the 13th floor and I can hear word-for-word conversations by the students late at night.”

Another resident said, “I’m concerned about skateboarders, not just bikes, going up on the sidewalk. It’s dangerous,” adding, “I think you’re trying to put something in based on desire and not on need.”

Residents asked if there would be “crossing guards” to assure that cyclists would stop for pedestrians.

“The bikers are a menace,” one said. “We have had to teach our grandchildren to look both ways. Electric delivery bikes are going the wrong way.”

For their part, D.O.T. representatives and advocates contended that University Place is a good spot for the project since it has a low volume of car traffic, which also sometimes causes drivers to speed. They claimed the bike boulevard would slow down speeders.

Also raising concern about the bike boulevard idea were Andrew Berman, executive director of Village Preservation, and Democratic District Leader Arthur Schwartz. Schwartz previously filed lawsuits on behalf of locals to block the 14th Street no-cars busway. Both activists criticized Mayor de Blasio’s track record of springing done-deal — or “fully baked,” as Berman put it — projects on the community and then ramming them through.

One University Place small merchant, who declined to give his name, polled a few weeks after the C.B. 2 committee meeting, was dismissive of the whole idea. He feared the impact the bike boulevard would have on his business.

“The politicians don’t know a f—ing thing,” he groused. “They’re not in the real world. They have no idea what’s good for merchants.”

As for the cyclists who would ride on a potential bike boulevard, he scoffed, “They got a cell phone in one hand and a gelatta in the other. They’re just looking for the next protest.”

10 Comments

  1. Michael Certo Michael Certo October 28, 2021

    If anyone needs proof of how clueless that D.O.T. is about traffic patterns, just look at the mess they made on 12th and 13th Streets due to their jamming through the 14th Street busway.

    • Susan Schenker Susan Schenker October 28, 2021

      Right on, Michael Certo!! Making 14th Street available to only buses has pushed traffic onto 12th and 13th. Massive backups also are caused by making University one way south from 14th to 13th. It’s a mess.

      “Bike Boulevard” indeed. And don’t get me started on all the illegal parking in the buffer/no parking lanes on 12th between University and Broadway, which prevents ambulances and emergency vehicles from getting through.

      • Choresh Wald Choresh Wald October 28, 2021

        Illegal parking and placard abuse is a prevalent problem regardless of street design.

      • Michael Certo Michael Certo October 29, 2021

        At least 12th street has a buffer lane (that is no-parking, completely ignored and seems virtually un-ticketed.). 13th street is configured with a buffer too narrow for any possible temporary use without blocking the bike lane. Trucks are being ticketed there all day long for the crime of trying to make a delivery to Whole Foods. Another well-thought-out DOT improvement. Putting a bike lane on one of the busiest truck delivery streets in the neighborhood, eliminating even temporary commercial parking on that side of the street and then forcing 70 percent more volume. What could go wrong?

  2. Sam Lane Sam Lane October 28, 2021

    It’s 3:42…no DOT anywhere to be found. Was that a typo in the time?

    • The Village Sun The Village Sun Post author | October 28, 2021

      It actually started at 4 p.m., sorry. One annoucement incorrectly said 3 p.m., but another said 4 p.m. Maybe the start time was changed.

  3. Judy P Judy P October 29, 2021

    From my viewpoint, with a bike lane right outside my window, bicyclists take the quickest, most direct route to where they are headed – riding in both directions, especially delivery people who seem to be the majority out there on their electric bikes. I see way more bikes on a practically empty 14th St without a bike lane than on 12th & 13th with bike lanes. Many bikes ride in traffic and on the sidewalk even on avenues with bike lanes. At my corner, bikes speed by going north, south, east and west — scary for a pedestrian. So what makes the DOT believe that people will flock to University Place? What is the draw for just 6 blocks?

  4. Peter Peter October 29, 2021

    This artlcle seems to make no attempt to speak to those who might be in support of this change. There is no mention of the danger, noise and pollution that cars produce. I for one, think this change is long overdue. I don’t condone the dangerous, noisy or illegal behavior of bicyclists anymore than I condone that of motorists. But last time I checked cars were louder than bikes, their horns were louder than bike bells, they weigh 200 times that of a bicycle, and killed vastly more people and emitted vastly more pollutants.

    • The Village Sun The Village Sun Post author | October 29, 2021

      The article primarly reported on an open public meeting this summer that was an informational and community-outreach effort for the project presented by the Department of Transportation. Most of those who attended the meeting, mostly local residents living around University Place, were strongly against the project. It’s pretty much just a straight report.

      • LES3025 LES3025 October 29, 2021

        People who attend community meetings are almost always against whatever is the topic of those community meetings. There’s tons of reporting and academic literature on this (here’s one article: https://archive.curbed.com/2020/2/12/21132190/neighborhood-development-democracy-city-council-local-meeting). If your approach is to provide straight, credulous reports of what people say in those meetings (which is often a bunch of nonsense), you’re inherently promoting the “anti” viewpoint.

        That’s fine of course, you’re allowed to have your editorial positions. But OP makes a point that there’s another view out there (the right one, IMO) that your readers aren’t getting.

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