By Molly Sugarman
In 2018, after researching the issue, the full Community Board 7 passed a resolution calling for the Department of Transportation to do a study about installing loading zones on Central Park West due to the safety hazards of double-parked trucks.
At the April 12, 2022, CB7 Transportation Committee meeting, Co-Chair Howard Yaruss again brought up the need for loading zones on CPW — as he had also in March — saying that moving vans and delivery trucks double park, blocking traffic and pedestrian sight lines when crossing the street. He included photographs of the congestion and demanded to know from the DOT representative at the meeting, why no loading zones were being considered. “After 39 months, you should get an answer,” he insisted.
After his repeated questions, the DOT representative, Colleen Chattergoon, left the meeting not to return.
Update: Chattergoon left the meeting in obvious distress. “I actually feel like I was beaten up,” she said, before disappearing. “She was beaten up,” one member said. “You always beat her up,” said another, to Yaruss. “This is her job,” a third protested. “It is not her job to be verbally abused,” a member snapped back. For his part, Yaruss claimed it was “just frustration.”
That was only the beginning. Community Board 7 Chair Steven Brown subsequently sent a letter to the Transportation Committee members, saying he was “… dismayed and disappointed to hear how the issue was framed and the line of questioning from one of the Co-Chairs regarding the ‘status’ of the resolution.”
After reading the comments on the WSR article about the April 12 meeting, Brown said he felt compelled to clarify the relationship between CB7 and DOT.
Brown noted that he and Yaruss had met with both Chattergoon and Manhattan Borough DOT Commissioner Ed Pincar on January 7. At that meeting, the DOT representatives explained that DOT disagreed with the need for CPW loading zones and will not be adding them. Their reasons, Brown said, were:
● The CPW streetscape has changed dramatically since the 2018 loading zone resolution: the major change is the installation of a protected bike lane, which removed all the parking on the east side of CPW. DOT has yet to determine the long-term impact of this change. They noted that there are loading zones on several cross streets off Central Park West, which the resolution did not acknowledge.
● The implementation of congestion pricing and its impact on CB7 may lead to a broader comprehensive strategy for our district.
● DOT does not agree with the suggestion that CPW is not “safe” without loading zones and disagreed with the narrow framing of the lack of loading zones as only a “safety” issue.
Yaruss acknowledges that he attended the January meeting. “My response is simply that if the DOT’s top priority is in fact safety (as the DOT representative at our meeting claimed), they would not let these objective unsafe conditions persist,” he said. “The fact that they keep citing parking loss as a concern with regard to implementing loading zones shows that they have concerns other than safety. As for their claim that double and triple parked cars, obstructed sight lines, and hazardous traffic conditions are perfectly safe, I respectfully choose to believe my own eyes.”
As to the loading zones on cross streets, Yaruss said that he knows of none. “Tell us where they are,” he requested. He also claimed not to understand why a resolution that the Community Board overwhelmingly called for due to safety considerations was put aside while a bike lane went in.
What he says he sought at the now-controversial meeting was a clearer explanation of why CB7’s resolution has not been implemented, with a fuller discussion of safety and the reality of people using loading zones on cross streets. “It is a legitimate question,” he said, “and I still have it.”
He has the same question about seven other projects the full board has approved since 2018 and that “DOT has either ignored or not offered a substantive explanation of why they are not following through on them.”
Brown counters that Yaruss is free to disagree with DOT’s decision and its reasoning about the loading zones, but not to misrepresent its cooperation and responsiveness. “The facts are black and white,” Brown said. “We both saw the same meeting. At no point [on April 12] did Howard say we met on January 7.”
Yaruss said he updated the committee members about the January meeting with the DOT and its response regarding loading zones on CPW. The update was done, he thinks, at the January committee meeting.
Brown disagreed with that assertion as well. “To the best of my knowledge, there was never an update [for Transportation Committee members] of that meeting, based on my conversations with other committee members,” Brown said.
Correction: The 2018 CB7 Resolution called for a study of loading zones on CPW, not loading zones themselves, as we first reported.
Steve Brown’s term as head of CB7 has been a total waste- and statements like this from him show why. Committee members were doing what they should do – respectfully demanding a rationale for DOT’s decision to ignore the community’s resolution on street safety and loading zones. The double-parking from lack of loading zones routinely makes drivers behave unsafely- running red lights, making illegal u-turns, etc. Brown should be spending his time demanding our City govt act on the community’s resolutions (and apparently there are many that have been ignored by DOT). Steve- people are regularly getting injured and killed by cars on our streets – focus your energy there or just step down already!
Let’s see: Yaruss attends a meeting in January where the DOT addresses the resolution.
He then attends a meeting in April in public and accuses the DOT of not addressing the resolution.
And it’s the Chair who’s wasting time?
Please, get a grip.
There needs to be a advocate for people who have cars
The entire government is an advocate for people who own cars and a public policy failure for livable streets. Free parking(which the rest of us underwrite), underfunding of mass transit, underenforcement of traffic violations in bike and bus lanes, a lack of prosecution for pedestrian deaths by drivers, overenforcement of traffic violations for bikes, highways that cut through vibrant neighborhoods, lack of bike infrastructure. The prioritization of cars over any other form of transportation and at the expense of pedestrians, and inertia to fix it, is one of the great failures of our city. I assure you, car owners need no additional advocates. You’re literally winning in a landslide. If you love your car so much, move to the suburbs.
People who live in the suburbs and transit deserts within NYC work here on the UWS and even if you increased funding for transit, doesn’t mean it will be equitably distributed. Even if you increase funding, you will still have 2-3-4 leg commutes to the UWS from outside Manhattan that would take double or triple the public transit time in some cases. Cars have their niche, just like buses do, subways do and bikes do. Manhattan is the nucleus of a large metro area that should be accessible to all, including those who live in transit deserts and who get crumbs from the pie.
I totally agree with @complainers’ comment — just look around at the public space in the city! Pedestrians are confined to narrow sidewalks, cyclists have a small number of dedicated narrow lanes, and cars take up the VAST majority of our outdoor space. And people think car owners need MORE advocates? Laughable.
The open space you speak of was laid out in 1811.
So no, it wasn’t ever “for cars.” And it isn’t today because you would still use it for your buses, your cabs, your police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, and delivery vehicles.
The “if not a bike or a pedestrian then a car” is misleading propaganda.
Josh, do some research on the amounts of manure and the death rates from accidents with horses when the streets were “shared” as you describe.
Paul, you do know that the streets of Manhattan have been widened and the sidewalks narrowed since the introduction of automobiles, right? Plus, when the grid was laid out in the 19th century, pedestrians and horses easily shared the same spaces. What we call “mixed use” today.
A bike lane on CPW – the P is for PARK – one that is now closed to traffic(!) is outrageous. Clearly, neither safety, pedestrians, seniors, disabled or common sense are not considerations for DOT.
Central Park West existed well before there were cars to park on it. Opening 1/6th of it up to other road users while leaving 5/6th for cars just takes us back to a fraction of what it once was: A place for people.
Henry Bliss died on the corner of 74th and Central Park West. Mr Bliss was the first ever pedestrian traffic fatality involving a motor vehicle. Henry, hit by a hack — an electrically driven hack at that. He had just stepped off a street car.
It was Wednesday, September 13, 1899. Henry was a realtor. It was not the first ever traffic death, but it was the first in the United States.
DOT officials know that having zero loading zones on CPW just invites double parking, which is rampant up and down the avenue and creates chaotic and unsafe conditions for all users. Meanwhile, officials are also well aware that free long-term car storage is the least socially and economically productive use of the curb and only incentivizes car use in a congested city. So why is the agency so fiercely resisting turning a handful of parking spaces into loading zones to reduce the chaos on the street?
Isn’t double parking against the law? Wouldn’t the problem be easily solved by having a few traffic enforcement offices write some tickets? So simple.
Perhaps those who want efficient and bebeficial use of cpw and other avenues should get rid of the stupid bike lanes and replace them with dedicated bus lanes. Busses are much more efficient at moving people than bikes. As a senior citizen I am terrified of even crossing those useless bike lanes.All this hate about Free car parking but none about free bike lanes. How about licensng and TAXING bike lanes.
If you want a dedicated bus lane on CPW, take it from the lanes dedicated to cars — if we are talking about efficiency, buses are much more efficient than cars! Bikes take up a tiny fraction of the street compared to cars, and they are certainly not “useless” — many of your neighbors use them every day. Cars cause nearly all of the deaths and injuries of pedestrians — if you are going to be “terrified” of something, be terrified of cars, not bikes.
I walk, ride my bike and drive in Manhattan, so I’m aware of the issues for all three. Errant behavior by drivers is far more of a problem than that exhibited by some cyclists and pedestrians (althouth the delivery guys have become a much bigger issue in the last year or so). But as a driver, I’ve never felt the city needs to do anything to make driving easier or faster; in fact, I applaud some recent innovations, like delayed greens and reduced lanes. Traffic levels have a way of flexing both up and down (remember the doomsday predictions when Broadway was cut way down in Times Square?). At the same time, I see no reason to provide limitless free street parking to everyone; taking more of that away to create loading zones would be fine with me.
I support adding loading zones to Central Park West. I am not aware of any loading zones on side streets. We have them on west end Ave which is very far from CPW.
When the chair of the CB 7 chastises a committee chair for doing their job one has to wonder does the Chair see members of the CB7 as equals or as school children he is there to train in the art of Being supine before government officials. Asking hard questions of DOT reps is appropriate.
Steve Brown, who instead of supporting common sense safety resolutions passed by overwhelming majorities of CB7, is attacking Howard Yaruss. This comes after he removed Rich Robbins, a dedicated and very knowledgeable representative, from the transportation committee. Steve is trying to crush anything that takes away an inch from cars regardless of the number of people who are killed because of his actions.
Question for the bicycle advocates… why do bicyclists ride downtown on the west side of Central Park West? Seems extremely dangerous to me (and illegal?).
DOT decided that a two-way bike lane on the east (Park) side of CPW would not be safe, as southbound motor vehicles turning left into the park wouldn’t see southbound bikes. Thus, the bike lane is northbound only and DOT expects bikes going south to do so on the west side of the street with traffic.
People cycle down on the west side of CPW because the bike lane on the east side of the street is a one-way lane in the uptown direction only. It’s actually illegal to cycle downtown in that bike lane.
Because they don’t want to ride in traffic, as they’d otherwise need to do if they want to stay on CPW. It’s annoying, and yes illegal, but it’s no mystery why they do it: Because there’s no southbound bike lane on that avenue.
Correction — he was asking why they ride in traffic. And the answer is that they’re legally supposed to do so, because there is no southbound bike lane.
Laws of physics being what they are, I think would choose Columbus Ave or the park drive before I would go southbound amongst the cars, many of which are turning right. But thanks for the info on the legality. Most bicyclists seem to be utterly fearless.
I see many bikers going the “wrong” way in the bike lane. Let’s make all bike lanes two way. Problem solved and everyone is happy.
Why would it be illegal to ride in the direction of traffic?
What needs to happen to CPW is that there needs to be a conversion to one way northbound with a parking protected bike lane on the east side of the street. This would restore the parking spaces lost on CPW. I’d have two travel lanes, one of which would be wide enough to allow trucks to load without disrupting traffic. 8th Avenue is northbound in midtown and CPW being one way northbound would continue that to 110th Street. 5th Avenue bordering Central Park on the east has two travel lanes and it works fine. This would also be safer for pedestrians as it would reduce the need to look for oncoming traffic when making left turns.
Agree one way north would be an excellent solution
1. There should not be loading zones on CPW. Loading zones are not the panacea they are assumed to be. Among other things, no way to anticipate needs, schedules. They add to street confusion. They have not worked in the EV.
2. Fewer trucks? Solution=reduce ecommerce and reduce overdevelopment.
3. As a pedestrian, bus and subway user, I no longer have faith in the CB 7 Transportation Committee – they seem to care only about bicyclists and the powerful bicycle lobby.
I’m not opposed to loading zones along the curb but I doubt that will solve the double parking problem more than a little.
If you look at the loading zones on West End Ave you’ll see they’re not used by the usual delivery vehicles. Those drivers prefer to double park because they do quick drop offs and move on, and because if they use the curb they’ll be double parked in by the next guy.
So not a panacea? Actually, they’re all but useless.
The real issue with loading zones is that the loading zones that are most useful are the ones on Amsterdam and Columbus where the curbs are commercial parking only before 1 pm. Now many of those spots are lost to outdoor dining. The residential loading zones aren’t used and if anything, they’re just another microagression that urbanists are trying to take out on cars. This isn’t about safer streets, its about an axe to grind against cars and to push a neo-feudal agenda.
The zones on Amsterdam and Columbus are used for deliveries to stores, which can take a while, while deliveries on West End (and CPW) are usually much quicker and take mere minutes.
It’s the experience on West End that should guide the decision on CPW.
I’d have to disagree with that. A truck will park by a hydrant on Columbus and stay for hours with 15 or 20 employees coming and going all day making deliveries. If they take up a loading zone like that all day then it’s not really going to help the double parking situation.
There are loading zones on West End Avenue that, judging by the number of double parked trucks, are not used. Too many needed parking spaces were removed from Central Park West already. What makes anyone think that loading zones would be used.
Eight years ago, the DOT made a Vision Zero promise to reduce traffic deaths in New York to zero by 2024. At some point, the DOT quietly switched that to 2030.
Watch what they do, not what they say. Their refusal to make truly safe streets for all when that conflicts with the interest of drivers is literally killing New Yorkers.
The New York Comptroller’s Office has a new Climate Dashboard, because, “The climate crisis is one of the greatest risks facing New York City.” The Comptroller asks residents to help him identify ways to reduce GHG in the city.
Every city that has successfully reduced driving has reduced parking. Part of the Antarctic was 90º over normal a few weeks ago, and 2022 is proving to be the worst year in New York since we began Vision Zero.
Let’s stop arguing about parking spaces and make the fixes the city is officially committed to. New York is the one city in America where the majority of residents can easily live without cars. We can do this.
There’s more to NYC than Manhattan. If you have ever spent time working on transit issues, you’d understand MTA and NJ Transit can’t be everywhere and don’t want to be everywhere. Just because the UWS has the 1/2/3 train doesn’t mean getting to the 1/2/3 train isn’t cumbersome. This is something congestion pricing won’t address. Another thing is that a growing number of people think that climate change is a concern but NOT the ONLY concern, especially since people are tired of endless sacrifices. Not driving and being forced to use public transit is a sacrifice.
The Transportation Committee of CB7 has a large number of Transportation Alternative members including the Chair, Yaruss, who is also on the board of this anti car organization. As a result, several anti car pro bicycle arguments have arisen with the Transportation Alternatives crowd following their partisan agenda rather than listening to the actual residents of their district. I write as a past CB7 vice chair and transportation member who has watched in dismay as this committee devolved into a contentious mess. This helps no one and interjects a hostility that is counterproductive.
I’m a black doorman and urbanists like the ones on the CB7 transportation committee are driving me to vote Republican. I voted for Curtis Sliwa in the general election last year over removal of parking for outdoor dining.
I wish CB 7 would work to improve bus service instead of focusing all its attention on bicycling.
There has been loss of bus routes and reduction in frequency over the years.
And now M7 and M11 sacrificed for open restaurant streets.
CB7 has no jurisdiction over bus frequency and routes, since the MTA is a state agency. They would only have a say in bus stop location and SBS placement. Even then… community boards have very little power.
Make CPW one-way northbound and restore (on the east side of the street) parking spaces taken for loading zones. The existing bike lane then becomes parking-protected. CPW would mirror 5th Avenue which is one-way southbound. Also, remember that CPW is ***already*** one-way northbound-below 62nd St.
Jim Z makes the most sensible change (at least to start out with). Most avenues should be one way it’s better traffic flow. Loading zones also will make it easier and would need to be enforced.
Also add resident parking it’s ridiculous to see these out of town plates day in and day out register your car in nyc these drivers are the ones first and foremost stealing money from the city and committing insurance fraud. If you are visiting car let them park for 4 hours legally or purchase a visiting parking permit.
Also what is up with the cars with police placards those parking illegally on top of it the cars are often parked for the whole weekend in spot they should pay double fines.
That would make Columbus Avenue traffic even more unbearable. And I don’t see the comparison – two blocks of existing one-way traffic means that 100+ blocks would work?
One way traffic is always better when you alternating avenues going one way in the other direction. Left turns are the worst for two way traffic a one way allows left turns to be focused on pedestrians not oncoming traffic.
One change that would help parking on the West Side and throughout Manhattan would be eliminating the free parking for cops who drive in from the suburbs. Eg. CPW from 59th to 61st. Similarly, the Construction No Parking zones that exist seemingly only for the purpose of commuting construction workers.