DOT's Progress in 2017
Every day, New Yorkers make decisions about how they travel. Is the trip to the doctor fastest by walking or subway? Will there be a place to park? The reality is that most New Yorkers use a variety of modes depending on the time of day, trip purpose, convenience, and cost. And DOT’s job is to make sure that New Yorkers, regardless of where they live or of disability, have a range of options to safely and efficiently navigate their city.
For pedestrians, improving mobility means expanding sidewalks, adding pedestrian ramps, and installing accessible pedestrians signals (APS). DOT has been upgrading pedestrian ramps throughout lower Manhattan and is working on citywide plan, which will include a major increase in capital funding and a significant expansion of the agency’s in-house pedestrian ramp crews. As of the end of 2017, there are APS units installed at 286 intersections citywide. The agency is also expanding the bike network and adding bus lanes to speed up bus service. At the Staten Island Ferry, DOT brought back lower level boarding so that the ferry can load larger crowds in a shorter period of time. These changes all make it easier for people to walk, bike, and take transit around the City. For a complete list of the agency’s progress on Mobility Initiatives, refer to nycdotplan.nyc/initiative-table.
“It is much more convenient to use lower level boarding. I don’t worry as much about missing the boat because I can go right on rather than having to go all the way upstairs.“
Rosalind, Staten Island Ferry rider
DOT continues to increase and upgrade its bike network. After installing a record 18.5 lane miles of protected bike lanes in 2016, DOT had another record setting year in 2017, completing 25 lane miles of protected lanes. Altogether, DOT implemented over 75 lane miles of bike projects.
As cycling grows, the agency is focused on expanding neighborhood bike networks, especially in the outer boroughs. An example of this effort is Community Board 12 in the Bronx, where DOT recently added 12 lane miles of bike lanes. This project improved bike and pedestrian access to waterfront parkland and a major greenway route. It is just one of several neighborhoods where DOT is building out the bike network; we are also expanding the bike networks in Jamaica, Glendale, and East New York.
Bridge and Greenway Connections
New York is a city of islands, so DOT focuses significant effort on integrating its bridges into the overall bike network. One example is the Centre Street/Park Row two-way protected bike lane, which DOT completed in September 2017. Before this project, cyclists had to take a circuitous route from Lower Manhattan to the Brooklyn Bridge. Now, a new two-way protected connection to the Brooklyn Bridge bike and pedestrian path provides a safer and more direct route for the over 1,500 cyclists who use the bridge on a daily basis. The project also created a more pleasant pedestrian environment with new crossings and expanded medians on Park Row.
The City is taking advantage of its waterfront space by building out the greenway network. The Manhattan Waterfront Greenway is a planned 32-mile waterfront pedestrian promenade and bicycling path around the whole of Manhattan that is moving towards completion. DOT has worked closely with the community to close the gap in the network between the Harlem River and Hudson River and, in November 2017, implemented parking protected bike lanes along Dyckman Street that connect the Hudson River Greenway with the Harlem River Greenway.
This project is in addition to other major investments in the greenway that occurred in 2017. In September, Mayor de Blasio announced the kickoff of the formal design process for a $100 million investment to close the largest gap in the East River Greenway: the section between East 53rd Street and East 61st Street. Design of the new esplanade will begin this year and construction will commence in 2019, with completion expected in 2022. Lastly, in December, the City committed $83 million towards the development of a new park in East Harlem that will advance construction of a new section of the greenway between East 125th and East 132nd Streets. When this segment and the East Midtown expansion are complete, there will be a contiguous waterfront esplanade and bikeway for nearly 100 blocks along the east side of Manhattan.
In October 2017, the Mayor announced a series of initiatives to help ease congestion in the city. Working with the NYPD and other city agencies, DOT will modify curb regulations and signage, install block-the-box markings, and expand its signals-based congestion management system called Midtown in Motion. The tool kit of congestion management strategies will also be applied to outer borough hotspots such as downtown Flushing and downtown Jamaica.
DOT and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) work in close partnership to improve bus service throughout the city. A major component of this partnership is Select Bus Service (SBS), New York City’s version of bus rapid transit that offers fast, frequent, and reliable service on high-ridership bus routes. DOT and the MTA have jointly implemented 15 SBS corridors, including three in 2017.
Select Bus Service
SBS uses transit signal priority (TSP), off-board fare collection, and enforcement via bus lane cameras to achieve better service. For example, TSP is implemented along several key sections of nine SBS corridors. The technology facilitates bus movements through intersections by either holding the green light or shortening the red light to reduce the amount of time buses are stopped at intersections. It has contributed to an average reduction in bus travel times of about 12 percent during weekday peak periods. Riders also appreciate the real-time passenger information (RTPI) signage that is included along SBS routes and some local bus routes. It lets riders know when the next bus is arriving so they can make more informed travel decisions. As of the end of 2017, DOT has installed 381 RTPIs, which include both wayfinding totems and pole signs, citywide.
The Bx6, a recent SBS route launched in September 2017, serves nearly 25,000 daily riders and connects the South Bronx and Upper Manhattan. The design for each SBS route is customized to the specific corridor, and the Bx6 SBS is no exception. DOT converted the East 161st Street tunnel—which was originally built for streetcars—to bus only in the eastbound direction and created a center-running bus lane with stops at the median rather than the sidewalk. By using a center lane, the bus avoids getting stuck behind double-parked vehicles. DOT also built two bus boarding islands that provide pedestrians with a safe space to wait for the bus and added amenities such as shelters, benches, and leaning bars.
The Q52/53 SBS along Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards in Queens was implemented in November 2017. The new SBS route is nearly 15 miles, making it the longest SBS corridor in New York City. The Q52/53 SBS has a combined daily ridership of 20,000 riders, but altogether, over 45,000 daily riders of Queens bus routes, including express bus passengers, will benefit from improvements along the corridor. The project area also contains eight Vision Zero Priority intersections, which were redesigned as part of the SBS project. Overall, more than 30 intersections were upgraded for pedestrian safety and traffic flow as part of the DOT’s largest street improvement project of 2017.
“I ride the Q44 to work in Flushing. Before the Q44 was a Select Bus, it was hectic. It was always overcrowded; it was always late. Now it seems like since we have the SBS and the schedule, they’re on time. Since this has started, I haven’t had any problems. If [the real time arrival display] says two minutes, it’s two minutes.”
-Mari, Q44 SBS Rider
Planning for the Future
DOT and the MTA select SBS routes based on a combination of data analysis and public input. Both the Bx6 and Q52/53 were identified as potential routes in the Bus Rapid Transit Phase II: Future Corridors report, which was released in June 2010. With many of the routes in that report nearing completion, DOT, with input from the MTA, decided to undertake a new planning and public engagement process to identify the next generation of SBS routes. In October 2017 the agency released Bus Forward, its blueprint for the next generation of bus improvements. The plan targets more than 21 new bus corridors, commits to expanding bus-priority treatments to local routes across the city, and when implemented will almost triple the number of commuters served by SBS.
Bus Forward is part of DOT’s Citywide Transit Plan (CTP), a visioning process for the future of transit across the five boroughs. In mid-2018 DOT will release a companion report to Bus Forward that will focus on improvements to existing services, how to best prioritize existing resources to meet transit needs, and what the City’s priorities are for transit system expansion. The agency received public input for the CTP through a robust outreach process. Between fall 2016 and summer 2017, DOT held six public workshops and surveyed people on the street at 19 locations. The agency also created a website where transit riders could take a survey online. In total, DOT received feedback from 5,996 transit riders: 191 at public workshops; 1,693 on-street; and 4,112 online.
The upcoming closure of the Canarsie Tunnel will have a major impact on how New Yorkers move throughout the city. A total of 400,000 daily riders use the L train: 50,000 within Manhattan, 225,000 between Manhattan and Brooklyn, and 125,000 within Brooklyn. At peak hours, the L train carries as many people into Manhattan as all six East River bridges and tunnels together carry in vehicles. DOT is therefore working closely with the MTA to support alternative travel options during the 15-month closure. The preliminary mitigation plan includes implementing high occupancy vehicle (HOV3) restrictions on the Williamsburg Bridge during rush hours, creating a busway in the core of the 14th Street corridor during peak hours, and installing a new two-way protected crosstown bike lane along 13th Street. DOT and the MTA will hold further community meetings to discuss the proposed plans and receive additional input.
New Yorkers are more and more taking advantage of new mobility services, such as carshare and bike share. On March 21, 2017, Mayor de Blasio signed two carshare-related bills into law. One requires DOT to establish a carshare pilot program allowing qualified carshare companies to apply for designated on-street parking spaces, while the other mandates that the agency allow carshare companies to apply for designated parking spaces in municipal parking facilities. These two bills create the framework for DOT’s carshare parking pilot, which aims to provide an affordable and practical alternative to car ownership for New Yorkers.
The carshare parking pilot will launch in 2018 in 14 neighborhoods (see map). DOT designated zones where on-street carshare vehicles would most enhance mobility and reduce personal car ownership, and with community input, identified on-street carshare parking spaces in each zone. In addition, DOT will reserve at least 10 percent or 10 spaces for carshare (whichever is less) in any municipal parking facility where there is demand from carshare companies. DOT will evaluate the success of the pilot. It is partnering with researchers from the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley to conduct a survey of carshare members and is requiring data sharing from all participating companies.
“As a NYCHA resident, paying $5 a month to unlock a bike and ride has been the key to my success and livelihood as a struggling New Yorker working full-time, […] studying law, and babysitting in my spare time.”
-Shaquana, Citi Bike member
DOT is also progressing with its goal to expand bike share. In December 2017, the agency released a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) soliciting ideas and information from dockless bike share providers. Dockless bike share bikes have internal locking mechanisms and do not require a network of docks, allowing the bikes to be parked anywhere within a designated geography. Through the RFEI process, DOT plans to evaluate the feasibility of operating dockless bike share in the city and whether to pilot the new technology in areas not currently served by Citi Bike.
To sustain the City’s growth and expand mobility, New York City, the MTA, and other agencies must work together to increase the capacity and efficiency of our transportation system. For DOT, that means allocating more street space to the most efficient modes of travel on our streets: walking, biking, and buses. These affordable travel options move the greatest number of people while using the least amount of space, as well as generate the least amount of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. DOT must also take advantage of new technologies to better manage our streets and prepare for disruptive innovations, like autonomous vehicles and the shift towards shared-use mobility.
DOT will continue its efforts to expand and enhance our 1,000-mile bike network, to increase bike parking opportunities, and to bring bike share to all five boroughs. The agency will also continue to improve the pedestrian environment through Vision Zero (as detailed in Chapter 2: Safety) and by making our streets more inviting (as detailed in Chapter 6: The Public Realm). In terms of transit, DOT will continue its SBS partnership with the MTA to improve bus travel times and reliability. We will also integrate bus priority treatments for local routes into our street redesign projects and continue to rollout transit signal priority. Together these efforts will also help ensure that all New Yorkers, regardless of income, have access to affordable and convenient transportation choices.
Looking to the future, DOT will explore new technologies and approaches that may help us better accomplish our mission. The agency will explore new sensor and camera technology, curb regulations, and pricing strategies to better manage our streets and curb space, so trucks can make deliveries and customers can reach their destinations.
Finally, DOT will adapt proactively to shared-use mobility services and autonomous vehicles. The world of shared-use mobility services, which includes ride-hailing, ridesharing, carsharing, and bike share are changing the ways that New Yorkers get around. Autonomous vehicles, once considered the stuff of science fiction, are closer to becoming a reality. These services and technologies present both opportunities and challenges. DOT, with the TLC and others, will explore how these services could help the City improve street safety, mobility, quality of life, and the environment. For example, DOT will explore how rideshare services might improve “last mile” connections to transit in neighborhoods underserved by the subway system.*
*In this document, the term rideshare is defined as traditional carpooling and van pooling, as well as TLC-licensed app-based car services that enable a single vehicle to carry multiple riders making separate trips.
Secure Bike Parking Stations
© Harrie van Veen
Across the world, cities are encouraging bike use by providing secure bike parking to cyclists at transit hubs and major destinations. In Chicago’s Millennium Park, the McDonalds Cycle Center offers 300 bike parking spaces with showers, lockers, and towel service. Visitors to Chicago can also purchase bike rentals and tours at the center. In California, six BART rail stations feature adjacent bike stations to facilitate bike-to-rail commutes. The stations offer 24-hour controlled access parking and free daily valet service.
European cities have taken bike stations to the next level. Malmö, Sweden, for example, has an underground facility with 1,500 secure bike parking spaces located below its rail station. Utrecht in the Netherlands recently completed a 4,200-bike facility. These bike parking stations fill a gap in bike infrastructure by providing amenities that make it convenient to bike to work or transit, or to use a bike to get from a transit station to a nearby school or activity center. Cyclists do not need to worry about finding an open secure rack near their destination or having their bikes stolen or vandalized.
The Benefits of Shared-Use Mobility
In the past decade, shared-use mobility services, like bike share and carsharing, have emerged as mobility options in a number of cities. Carshare programs, in particular, have multiplied in New York City and across the country. Researchers have begun to analyze the impact of these services: a 2010 review of several studies found that 23 to 32 percent of carshare members had given up a vehicle since joining a carshare service. Similar results have been found in studies of Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Recognizing these benefits, cities are adopting policies to encourage carsharing. Seattle offers one-way carshare organizations permits that allow members to park vehicles in metered spaces and within residential parking permit areas. San Francisco has created an on-street permit program for round-trip carshare organizations. For a fee, carshare organizations can purchase an annual permit for an on-street space. In return, San Francisco requires the company to maintain the parking space and to station vehicles in all neighborhoods to ensure equal access.