Streams

On Grand Street, Politics Are Very Local

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mayor Bloomberg has been redefining New York’s streets as places to walk and ride bicycles, not just drive. He’s turned Times Square into a pedestrian zone, introduced traffic calming measures and added 200 miles of bike lanes in the past three years. Some New Yorkers have balked at these changes. They’ve even figured into the mayoral campaign. WNYC reporter Matthew Schuerman and producer Richard Yeh visited one bike lane to see what the fuss is about.

Photos by Richard Yeh.

The new bike lane protects riders from cars.

The new bike lane protects riders from cars.

Extra space at corners lets trucks turn.

Extra space at corners lets trucks turn.

But many bicyclists ride against traffic.

But many bicyclists ride against traffic.

The north side is reserved for deliveries.

The north side is reserved for deliveries.

Cycling has increased 60 percent.

Cycling has increased 60 percent.

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Comments [7]

Chuck

If the bike lane discourages the type of people who buy souvenirs from coming to little italy, and this guy goes out of business, the city is improved.

Oct. 30 2009 10:25 AM
Cathy

Nice photos but misleading. A major problem is that emergency vehicles are often blocked because of drivers who ignore the (new) "no turns" signage at the intersection of Bowery. While they wait for crowded crosswalks to clear to make their illegal turns they hold up traffic in the single travel lane on Grand St. It's a chronic condition that could mean the difference between life and death in an emergency, and the DOT has provided no enforcement. Meanwhile, just two blocks away, there are two (sometimes three) traffic agents directing traffic at Bowery and Delancey.

Oct. 30 2009 12:47 AM
Marie

The Grand Street bike lane is dangerous in this over-crowded neighborhood. I have seen countless near crashes with pedestrians while bikers are speeding down the lane. If cycling is going to be encouraged in this city, then rules of the road must be enforced for them just like any other vehicle: yield for pedestrians, stop at red lights, etc. We need some public service announcements about this. Also, cars do park here to shop by the hundreds. Come down any weekend and see for yourself.

Oct. 29 2009 06:00 PM
Chuck

This city needs to change. It should be accessible to all forms transportation. I can't take the anti bike lane people seriously that you spoke with, one it would be illegal for someone to double park to buy that woman's (is she even legal?) noodles and two that trinket shop owner sounds like a throw back form Mean Streets, "Hey this ain't Denmark!'. Please.

Oct. 29 2009 06:00 PM
Michael D

The Grand Street bike lane would be great if pedestrians were not walking in it and cars were not double parked there. As it is now it is basically unusable for its intended purpose. The idea that there is now less free parking is ridiculous. If you can afford to drive a car then you can afford to pay for parking in a private lot. If emergency vehicles can't get through then eliminate one lane of parking altogether. As long as the city provides free parking then people are going to drive.

Oct. 29 2009 12:05 PM
Bill Ward

I am sure as a journalist, you send out these emails and hold your breath for the rebuttals. This is one of those emails.

INCORRECT: The city did not install the bike lane prior to putting in the parking. On the stretch from 6th Avenue to Crosby Street, Grand was a completely open street with no standing signs on the south side and commercial parking on the north. Parking was only allowed on the weekends or at night. At any time of the workday week, you would see an open street with free flowing traffic and completely un-congested in every way. If ANYTHING WAS THE PROBLEM, cars would drive too fast because it was such an open stretch and the lights were timed favorably for speed. There was perhaps only one week period where the bike existed without parking. Furthermore, the city did not consult local merchants AT ALL to gather opinions from whom the lanes would impact the most.

OVERLOOKED: Furthermore, the city has employed DECEPTIVE parking signs that lure people into thinking that the parking on the north side of the street is metered, when in fact it is only metered for commercial trucks. On a daily basis I watch the meter maids ticket cars who believe they have parked legally by paying the meter only to find they get zapped by a $65 ticket.

As a local merchant, the congestion and chaos created by the parking and bike lane, would have definitely led me not open my gallery on this street. I myself am a biker and motorcyclist and sincerely appreciate the city's efforts on the bike lane front, but it is simply unrealistic to think every installation is a success. The Grand Street bike lane is dangerous and when the first 5 year old who is struck down and killed by a bicyclist (or an illegal motorcycle rider, police car etc that occasionally use the lane because of the extreme congestion), I sincerely hope WNYC will care about it enough to present it as the complete failure it is.

Additionally, my vote is not swaying towards Thompson in the slightest and I am not undecided.

Oct. 29 2009 11:42 AM
Nicole

Would a reporter please question whether customers are going to drive up and park to do their shopping. This has been repeatedly mentioned by the business owners, and in NYC that is the most ridiculous notion.

Oct. 29 2009 07:57 AM

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