By Molly Sugarman
Bureaucracy and the problems it creates were the main topics of discussion at the Community Board 7 Transportation Committee meeting on Tuesday, April 12.
Co-chair Howard Yaruss reiterated the request he made last month that the Department of Transportation (DOT) respond in some fashion to the Community Board’s 39-month-old request for loading zones on Central Park West.
The loading zones were part of a list of long-approved safety projects that DOT has not addressed. For several of the projects, Yaruss said, the Community Board had done a lot of research — held hearings and conducted surveys — yet never gotten a response, not even a denial, from DOT.
More than three years ago, the board sent a list of very specific potential loading-zone locations that they had researched. “It’s not a massive budget,” Yaruss said at the time. “We are at a loss to understand why it is impossible to have at least a couple of [loading zones].”
“There are never two lanes on CPW,” Yaruss said. “Why is zero the right number of loading zones?” he asked Department of Transportation representative Colleen Chattergoon on Tuesday.
She promised to get back to him next month.
“You’ve been saying that for over three years,” Yaruss responded. “This is safety versus parking. Doesn’t safety count with the Department of Transportation?”
Chattergoon left the meeting with no further response.
Double parking by trucks on Columbus Avenue, another long-term concern of the committee, was also addressed at length. Double-parked delivery trucks on both sides of the street, as well as restaurant sheds, have reduced traffic to a single lane on Columbus much of the time, Yaruss said.
The consensus of the committee was that the community needs to weigh in on solutions to the congestion problem and whether restaurant sheds should be allowed before the Community Board acts.
This led to a discussion of community involvement in board decisions, which many felt was lacking.
The installation of an electric-vehicle charging station on W. 76th Street, for example, was not publicized enough to allow public input, according to Karen Arenson, a resident of West 76th Street, who spoke to the committee. The local block association was not notified, Arenson said, nor were residents of nearby buildings.
As a result, safety issues have arisen as cars line up waiting for a charge. The block has an elementary school, a nursery school, a synagogue, and a chapel, Arenson said, which add to the traffic congestion. These problems should have been considered before the charging station was approved, she added.
“We had a presentation about it,” Committee Member Doug Kleiman said. “Check our website for agendas. It’s your community, check our website and check it often.”
Other committee members felt that the Community Board needs to improve its outreach. Arenson suggested that notices of agenda items be posted in local publications, such as the West Side Rag and others. William Ortiz, a member of the board, suggested they use social media.
Referring back to his frustration with DOT’s non-responsiveness, Yaruss said, “One of the ways to get people involved is to show we can get things done. Somehow, what we do doesn’t have the effect we want it to.”
Nyc deliveries in general should be done in the hours of midnight to 5am
Not feasible at all on many levels. How do you propose to have people available during that timeframe to receive deliveries? Where are you going to get enough workers to all deliver in just 5 hours? How would you enforce this? What would long-haul tractor trailers do who cannot plan their trips so precisely?
Night delivery would mean that buildings and stores would need to have staff at night – pretty major.
Also would mean noise for residents at night.
Might also mean crime vulnerability?
And raises issue of furthering inequity – lower paid workers with worse shifts, commutes home at night,away from family etc.
With new tech means we don’t need staff to let delivery drivers in anymore. It’s 2022!
Unfortunately my experience (over years) seeking information from DOT, attending CB 7 meetings and communicating with some CB 7 members has been depressing.
I am not in agreement with the goals of the bicycle lobby, restaurant lobby and real estate industry – with whom some CB members are affiliated.
I used to believe in the CB but now feel pretty cyncical…
It’s pretty amazing that the City’s main anti-car lobby group has its salaried chief of policy on the Transportation Committee, the City’s leading restaurant and nightlife lobbying group has its Executive Director as the CB’s First Vice Chair, and the CB’s Second Vice Chair is a major commercial realtor.
Maybe “amazing” isn’t the right word.
Maybe public servants interested in serving the needs of average people shouldn’t have to put up with insults from improperly constituted Boards.
Bicyclists—not the delivery people, but simply people who use bikes instead of other forms of transportation—are truly a menace. Far, far worse, discourteous, and dangerous than cars.
Meanwhile in Williamsburg, Brooklyn 1.1 miles of Berry St. is closed to traffic and barricaded with non-ADA compliant barricades 24-7. This was done during a pandemic when neighbors had COVID and were attending funerals. Overnight the DOT took our street and rezoned it without any input from residents paying property taxes or rent here. The DOT comes to the community board not for collaboration but to dictate what they are doing without any studies required by law being conducted. Our block association for the third year is left out of the conversation about Berry St yet a group based in another neighborhood, Greenpoint, is listed as the “partners”
DOT with the approval of CB 7 also allowed closure of parts of Amsterdam and Columbus for weekend outdoor dining/open steets – even though there are bus routes on Columbus and Amsterdam.
So buses are diverted, hurting bus riders (especially elderly, disabled, families with kids). This also sabotages bus transportation in general.
It’s hard to believe that Howard Yaruss has any credibility whatsoever. This fellow is blind!
The “loading zones” on West End Avenue: useless! In fact, they somehow encourage double parking!
The bike lane on Central Park West: worse than useless! Total waste!
The loss of thousands of public parking spots on the Upper West Side for the construction of so-called protected bike lanes: After two years, the major “positive result” is that food delivery people can deliver food a few minutes faster! Well done, Howard! People can’t find parking, but food is delivered faster! BRILLIANT PLANNING!
Please, oh please resign!
You have no idea how things really work.
The bike lane on CPW might be useless to you because you dont ride a bike. But by that logic, the 5 motor vehicle lanes (4 travel plus one parking) are useless to the thousands of cyclists who use the CPW bike lane every day and dont have a car.
BTW, excellent side effect of the bike lane: last Tuesday a lot of cops from the 20th were racing up CPW with lights and sirens to 96th street (24th precinct) and they flew up the bike lane. One police officer decided to stay on the road. Because it was so much faster for the few dozen cyclists I saw in the ten block stretch to clear the bike lane than all the drivers, the 5 or so cops who went up the bike lane hit 96th street and turned before the one on the road hit 90th, weaving in and out of both directions of traffic.
“Thousands of cyclists use the CPW bike lane every day?“
Let’s take a closer look at that TA propaganda term “cyclist.”
We can do a five year survey, but it pretty much looks like this – if anyone cares to look:
Perhaps there is one “cyclist”per block on an average day.
Out of ten cyclists, seven appear to be food delivery people – and god forbid we ever criticize them!
Out of ten cyclists, including food delivery people, at least nine out of ten are using electrified bikes, motorized bikes – or good, old-fashioned motorcycles.
Meanwhile, there is auto and truck congestion up and down CPW, causing pollution and stress to drivers, residents, and the many students in schools on the street, due to this mindlessly constructed bike lane that PRIMARILY benefits the food delivery industry.
Once again, well done Howard Yaruss and his fellows on CB 7!
During peak commuting time, there are far more than 1 cyclist per block. I bike commute to work because it is simply the fastest method – less than half the time of any other method of commuting. I use the CPW lane in my way home and am slowed on that portion of my ride by congestion. And I do not have an electric bike.
However, I do whole-heartedly agree that motorcycles do not belong in the bike lane and should be ticketed for it. E-bikes, however, are considered bikes according to state law, so it’s not TA categorizing them as such, it is Albany.
i can’t wait until us cyclists take all the free parking away.
Howard Yaruss is responsible for the majority of the UWS transportation problems thanks to his insistence on blanketing the UWS with bike lanes. Isn’t his term up soon? We need someone chairing the Transportation Committee who represents all UWSers, not just the bike lobby.
This personal attack is totally uninformed and obnoxious. These resolutions pass by a majority of the Community Board- not one person. And thank god for the bike lines- cars do not have some mystical universal license to own all our street space. We need more bike lines, and more dedicated community volunteers like Mr. Yaruss to serve on the board who care about our safety.
Instead of constantly aiming for low-hanging fruit by bike bashing, why don’t you focus on the VEHICLES and PEDESTRIANS that are interfering with efficient traffic flow.
The bike lanes are here to stay – they’re not going to be removed. If they were, the bike traffic would shift to the vehicular lanes causing even more problems. The street sheds need to go. The restaurants can’t (and won’t) hire enough staff to properly serve the increased number of customers so I don’t see the point of giving them all that space for free. No one was clamoring for street sheds pre-Covid.
Well, there goes my hope about getting something done to clean up congestion at 96th And Broadway
It’s outrageous that the DOT walked out on the community without giving an honest response as to why they haven’t responded to the community’s request for 3 years. Mayor Adams and DOT Commissioner Rodriguez give lip service to caring about community input and safety, and then when they get input from our Community Board they don’t even bother to respond or give any reasoning as to why their input is being ignored. Disgraceful. The lack of loading zones causes car backups that block pedestrian access and views of oncoming traffic, it causes cars to block bike lanes and run lights- it’s a safety nightmare. And elderly residents need space in front of their buildings to be picked up and dropped off. I agree with the CB representative- we need loading zones urgently and the current number of ZERO is just shameful.
“It’s your community, check our website and check it often.”
This is obnoxious. Publicize important decisions!
Loading zones are not the panacea they seem to be.
For example, there might be multiple trucks at the same time or none.
Or let’s say you are moving stuff to/from your building but the loading zone is down the block – may be complicated.
New loading zones in the East Village have had unintended negative consequences.
A Modest Proposal:)
Reduce traffic generators – reduce ecommerce ordering and eliminate new luxury development.
Restricting business and property rights is anything but a modest proposal.
Probably a play on Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal.
It is shocking that the community representative of a taxpayer-funded City agency would simply walk out of a Community Board meeting when she didn’t like what she was hearing. It is also shocking that there are ZERO loading zones on CPW as e-commerce continues to rise. I don’t know which is worse.
The problems with flow and congestion on the major north-south arteries are directly related to the Bloomburg-DiBlasion administrations’ reconfiguration of roadways and installations of the ubiquitous, dedicated bicycle lanes and the relocating of formerly curb-side parking spaces. This constriction has been exacerbated by the 2020-21 Covid19-related proliferation and existence of dining sheds.
Bicycle lanes, with the exception of motorized bike home delivery personnel, and a small contingent of Citibike renters, are utilized by a fraction of the volume that actual motorized vehicular lanes are.
The city would do itself, it’s citizens, all delivery-dependent businesses, and all traveling, vehicular traffic, a great service by eliminating all bike lanes (and Citibike corrals) and dining sheds, restoring legal curb-side parking to the physical curb, and creating a number of salient, planned loading zones for commercial properties and residential buildings.
Bikes don’t cause car congestion — cars cause car congestion. If you are driving a car and complaining about traffic — YOU ARE THE TRAFFIC. Drivers’ obsession with blaming everyone but themselves for the issue of traffic congestion is exhausting.
Cars don’t own the roads. All commuters, including cyclists, deserve to have the roads designed with their safety in mind.
You want the bike lanes to be removed because they dont benefit you, and you want parking g restored because it does benefit you. But we had gridlock in the city well before the first bike lane was installed by Bloomberg. Traffic data actually showed that speeds increased after a bike lane was installed.
If you really wanted the roads to be efficient without double parking, etc, then all street parking in NYC should be eliminated and the entire city turned into a loading zone. Then you would have no issues with double parked vehicles blocking the way. But this would inconvenience the small number of New Yorkers who own a car and park it on the street (myself included). So we wont do that. Removing the bike lanes will put the cyclists who make the 530,000 daily bike rides into greater danger of life and limb, but that is ok for many people because it isn’t dangerous to them. Or we could find a balance that works for everyone – which is focusing on getting trucks to stop double parking and blocking roadways. Loading zones could do this if placed well and enforced, both to keep people from parking in them, and to make sure delivery drivers use them. I love seeing UPS and FedEX drivers who double park even when there is an open loading zone or commercial parking right next to them.
No. Congestion is caused by double parkers. Full stop.
Bike lanes have zero to do with the congestion you may be seeing.
Is this whole discussion an indicator that the Community Board concept is fatally flawed?
They can get all the input that they want from the community, but they have absolutely no power. The structure is built so the Board’s advice can be ignored.
Its a strange kind of democracy.
My understanding is that community boards have limited power – however some community boards, such as CB7, have a lot of “soft power” as some members have significant acquaintance with some City Council or borough president etc or in their day jobs representing entities or lobbying groups.
There is also variation across the city in terms of CB outreach to residents or articulating the range of resident opinion.
(IMO CB 7 members don’t seem particularly interested in residents who have other opinions)
Maybe BB can weigh in?
I never understand how people categorize anyone as not being on the side of residents because they dont align with that particular resident. Dont people realize that there are other residents besides themselves – and those residents might have opinions different from their own? Why are we always so self-centered that we think everyone else in the neighborhood has the exact same opinion?
Where is the head of the Community Board Steve Brown on this? Where is councilmember Gail Brewer? Their job is to stand up for the community and demand a response from our City government- I haven’t seen a peep from them! I’m so disappointed in them and the DOT. It’s appalling that the DOT is ignoring our community’s request for three years now. They dont have the decency to share what steps they’re taking, what the timeline is, or anything? This is not how it’s supposed to work and they are letting our system break down. Why should the community research, debate, pass resolutions, etc if it’s just completely ignored.
Step 1: remove outdoor restaurant sheds.
Step 2: remove bike lanes
Step 3: reinstall the vehicle lane
Step 4: push/prioritize Mass Transit – offer better discounts to incentivize subway/bus commute.
NYC is like no other parts of the world. Bike lanes are a safety hazard and create more problems than what they solve. Might work elsewhere, but not in a heavily congested city. We didn’t have these issues 50-100 years ago because mass transit was what everyone used. Ps: Ebikes and Bikes are moving faster than cars, which is dangerous.
Remove the restaurant sheds (they’re supposed to come down end of this year), they’re an eyesore. Put in place performance parking meters, that charges a rate comparable to garages and insures churn. Most NYers don’t need cars. Those who truly do, there should be a resident placard system. If you can afford to live on the UWS and keep a car, perhaps you can afford a garage space.
I, too, blame the bike, and the powerful bicycle lobby!
Does anyone on UWS do anything but complain about parking and cyclists? Double parking has been.a problem for the 30 years I.’ve lived here
double parking is required by law in order to allow street sweepers to swing by. One thing that drivers are supposed to do, but don’t often enough, is leave a contact number on their dashboard.
Would LOVE to see where this double parking g is required by law. The law requires a vehicle to not be parked on a specific side of the street at specific times for street cleaning. The fact that we can leave the car double parked during ASP hours is allowed with a smile and a wink, but is definitely not actually legal. On my block, after a couple idiot drivers double parked their cars in a way that a school bus couldn’t get through, NYPD came through and ticketed every single car doubleparked cat during ASP and none of us were able to get out of it.
Cat? I have no idea how that word got into the last sentence there.
There could’ve been a better way to handle all of this. Make Central Park West a one way street and make the protected bike lane a parking protected bike lane and restore all the parking back. It would be safer for cyclists and cyclists wouldn’t have to deal with the M10 bus weaving in and out. There would also be safer left turns off of CPW since cars don’t have to look for oncoming traffic, just the crosswalk.
I was on Columbus Avenue on the bus and traffic was at a complete standstill on a weekday afternoon because of restaurant sheds on both sides of the street with a double-parked truck, and traffic reduced to one narrow lane!! Folks-restaurant sheds have been voted in by the City Council to remain forever despite enormous public protest and opposition by an overwhelming number of community boards. If community boards and the voting public have no say in any matter in their community, as this article describes, what’s the point??? If community boards don’t organize and demand a block of votes in City Council then you’re kidding yourselves. Community boards need to organize protests and other actions to have any serious role going forward. A very small group of real estate, and restaurant lobbyists run this city. And we are all suffering for it. Not to mention as others have the seemingly disappearing role of enforcement of any kind when it comes to electric motorbikes and bicycles riding on the sidewalks nearly knocking over pedestrians. Ever see a cop do anything about this matter? I haven’t.
If the restaurant sheds weren’t there, parked cars would be in their place. So the trucks would be double parked next to parked cars instead of restaurant sheds.
But there are many things the city can do – for example, why does Trader Joe’s at 93rd and Columbus take up two lanes to get a delivery? In front is a commercial vehicle parking lane and a truck delivering double parks next to an empty parking lane and they use the street to organize the pallets that come off the truck. Isn’t that what the stock room is for?
Parked cars wouldn’t take their place because before COVID the spaces occupied by sheds on Amsterdam/Columbus/Broadway were truck loading zones for part of the workday.
Curb space is mispriced. Increase prices until 15% of all spaces are unoccupied and these loading and double-parking issues will disappear.
I wish that were true, but I have seen so many instances of delivery drivers double parking when they could have put their vehicles against the curb. I remember hearing once that drivers do that because the company pays double parking tickets, but they (driver) would be responsible paying for meters or expired meter tickets.
We in Jackson heights have similar problems. The DOT has its own agenda. Everyone else be damned!