D.O.T. tries again, fails to unleash 14th St. car-ban plan

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | It’s an extended holiday weekend for many, but the city’s Department of Transportation kept pushing in court on Friday morning to lift a judge’s order blocking the start of a novel no-cars “busway” on 14th St.

But D.O.T.’s efforts fell flat, as an Appellate Division judge refused to lift the temporary restraining order, or T.R.O., issued last Friday by state Supreme Court Justice Eileen Rakower. Rakower had ordered the parties to submit additional paperwork this month, and then return to court on Aug. 6.

Arthur Schwartz, the Village activist attorney representing Village and Chelsea block associations and co-op residents in a lawsuit against the 14th St. scheme, said D.O.T. basically tried to pull an end-around.

M14 crosstown buses are now Select Bus Service as of July 1. But the city’s proposed sweeping changes for 14th St. have been blocked by the courts. (File photo)

“Rather than wait until the Aug. 6 return date in front of Judge Rakower, D.O.T. went into court…and asked to vacate the T.R.O. barring D.O.T. from proceeding with its 14th St. plan,” he said.

On Friday, Judge Gishe, of the Appellate Division, “wouldn’t take argument” after having carefully read the paperwork submitted by both sides, Schwartz said.

“She said that granting the relief D.O.T. requested opened up the possibility of a ping-pong effect at great expense to the city and confusion to the public — meaning T.R.O. on, T.R.O. off… .

“She had read the papers carefully and noted that D.O.T. had identified 14th St. as a street needing Select Bus Service way back in 2011, so that their assertions this week of an emergency need to move forward seemed out of place.”

Schwartz said the city attorney representing D.O.T. has tried to argue that the car-ban plan must be in effect to allow S.B.S. to operate at top speed. But Schwartz noted that, for example, 23rd St. has S.B.S. but doesn’t ban cars from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, as the first-of-its-kind “Transit/Truck Priority” lanes plan for 14th St. would do.

The anti-cars plan has never been tried before anywhere else in the city, according to agency officials.

The Village attorney said he is also skeptical that D.O.T. would submit data and studies to justify its 14th St. plan, even though that is what Rakower specifically asked to be provided with by July 12.

Village and Chelsea opponents fear that banishing cars from 14th St., among other things, would merely push them onto their narrow side streets, causing congestion and also endangering their historic buildings due to the vehicles’ vibrations.

S.B.S. on the M14 route did start on Mon., July 1 — despite the court-ordered T.R.O. currently blocking the city from implementing its plan to prioritize 14th St. for buses and through trucks while banning cars. The community lawsuit did not seek to block S.B.S. from starting.

David Marcus is an individual plaintiff in the lawsuit against the 14th St. plan, as well as a founding member and former steering committee member of the 14th St. Coalition.

“Once again,” Marcus said on Friday, “the court has sided with the Downtown community in barring D.O.T. from implementing its ill-advised and unjustifiable traffic plan until such time as it proves its need versus the impact it would have on the community.

“It is not lost upon us that the D.O.T. plan is Polly Trottenberg’s disingenuous attempt to substitute new reasons to justify her attempts to reconfigure 14th St., now that the excuse of the L-train shutdown is no longer available to her,” he added, referring to the D.O.T. commissioner.

“We are grateful to the courts and to attorney Arthur Schwartz,” Marcus continued, “for helping us preserve the sanctity of our communities and neighborhoods, by considering the needs of tens of thousands of Downtown residents and businesses that would be harmed 24/7 by the plan, and not blindly accepting the claims of improved service to questionable numbers of transient commuters and the unsubstantiated claims of marginally improved bus schedules.”

Schwartz noted that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been absent in court on the issue, which would seem to indicate D.O.T. really being the lead agency that is spearheading the 14th St. scheme.

In a statement after the T.R.O. was first issued on Fri., June 28, an M.T.A. spokesperson issued a statement, saying, “This ruling will undoubtedly hinder our goal of speeding up buses on one of the busiest and most congested arteries, and make traveling around the city harder for our customers. Transit prioritization, such as the city’s Transit and Truck Priority busway, would help speed up Select Bus Service.”

The statement added that, in the meantime, with the launch of the M14 S.B.S. on July 1, the M.T.A. would be “working with D.O.T. and N.Y.P.D. to enforce existing rules to ensure our buses won’t be blocked by vehicles double-parking and blocking bus stops.”

25 Responses to D.O.T. tries again, fails to unleash 14th St. car-ban plan

  1. Don’t be so simplistic.

    It’s not about parking spaces as we had petitioned DOT years ago to restrict parking in favor of traffic lanes. Ten foot traffic lanes with eleven foot bike lanes is downright stupid and restricts the free flow of vehicles; emergency vehicles and delivery vehicles in particular. We don’t need parking, we need unimpeded traffic flow.

    • Emergency vehicles are now able to use the bike lanes to move freely and faster then before, when they were stuck in traffic.
      Multiple moving lanes encourage more traffic, wider moving lanes encourage speeding.
      The lawsuit calls for the city to preserve street condition before the bike lane designation meaning designating 550 free car storage spots.
      If car owners were not organized how come a tiny minority of people (25% of Manhattan households own cars) gets to use so much of street space in a way that pollutes the air, noise pollute, creates constant stress and is lethal for people that get hit by motor vehicles ?

      • Are you kidding?

        Bike buffers used regularly for delivery, car service, etc parking and not available for emergency vehicles a majority of the time and when they can be used there’s an oblivious biker or two with headphones blocking the way.

        As for speeding, how about bikes regular or electric, the majority of which are going the wrong way?

      • Hi "ReasonMustWin" –

        You're a fake and shouldn't be using my handle. I've posted under this handle and the paper has my comments and email from prior posts. They can compare and see you are an imposter.

        At least be smart and coherent if you want to steal my identify. You're stupid.

        Go away you TransAlt propagandist.

        The real ReasonMustWin

    • Wrong. Both are needed. Otherwise Commerce in the City will die. No one wants to rely on Public Transit which may or may not work for you. Right now Select Buses are a little faster but the Transit is not necessarily getting you where you want to go and if so not on time. Bikes are very limiting and if you use one where do you put it.

  2. Dear Lincoln Anderson,

    Is there any vision behind keep pushing the agenda of Arthur Schwartz and co. ?
    Do you think that the city can keep absorbing endless amounts of private motor vehicles with out any end in sight?
    Just let every street be flooded with bumper to bumper traffic? All day and night?
    Let bus service get worse until only those who have no choice but to use it will? That’s actually the situation today. How about a quick article about how does it feel to ride the M14D at rush hour? How long does it take to cross 14 St from 1st to 9th Avenues? How many people are stuck in the bus behind so few people who can use their private vehicles in the same moving lane?
    14 St needs to be bus and deliveries only.
    If people fear that traffic will flow to other cross street they should advocate to eliminate through streets: allow local traffic only, eliminate free on street parking and designate protected bike lanes on 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18 streets, encourage people to use bicycles, e-scooters, e-bikes, hover boards: every kind of micro mobility is better than passenger motor vehicles.

    • In all your lecturing we never hear you admonishing your bike riding brethren to obey traffic rules, ride in the right direction, not on the sidewalk, obey traffic regulations, signs and signals and most importantly yield to pedestrians and not curse them or flip them birdies when they try to cross the street.

      And what about folks who can’t or don’t want to ride single passenger vehicles, have family to transport or goods to bring home or when weather conditions make it impossible?

      You folks get more than your fair share of media coverage and the reporting of news is just that; reporting of news. Don’t shoot the messenger and don’t force your lifestyle views on the vast majority of commuters that have no use for bicycles and related vehicles or abusive bicyclists that disregard traffic rules and threaten the safety of pedestrians.

      • The Villager promotes the 14 St coalition view very aggressively: posting opinion posts by plaintiffs of the lawsuits on different occasions, those opinion columns repeatedly miss report the facts.
        I transport my children and bring goods home on my bike, all weather conditions, daily use of the protected bike lanes on 12 and 13 streets. So all these excuses are not valid.
        And all this nonsense about admonishing or educating people… people from all over the country and the world live in this city and the streets. You can’t educate people not to speed on a street that allows it. When you design a street with speed bumps and other elements you FORCE drivers to slow down and so make the street safer for people.

        • Seems to me you would prefer not to have accurate news reported but rather want a cheerleader for your minority views. Seems to me you are quite prolific on these posts. Have you ever attempted to submit an op ed or Letter to the Editor and found The Villager unwilling to print it? Stop whining and make your case instead of taking pot shots at intelligent and thoughtful news coverage.

          God Bless you and your children. Good for you. However, I dare say that most families with children do not buy into it and resent your attempts at changing the world in that way. And as for your use of the 12th and 13th Street bike lanes, we have counted the usage as infrequent throughout the day with over 50% speeding delivery bikes typically going the wrong way. Do you really believe that this city should bend itself out of shape to cater too a vocal (and very often nasty, disrespectful group of bicyclists that misrepresent the truth, level nasty personal attacks and name call) minority of people whose numbers pale by comparison to the vast majority of the commuting public??

          It amazes me how inconsiderate you are in trying to get this city and it’s people to change how they choose to commute just because it works for you and your kids. There are other points of view and many other commuting preferences and clearly you and your brethren are deep in the minority. Stop trying to dictate to the majority and learn to live in a city that has many alternate forms of transportation; something for everyone and stop trying to change the streetscape of our communities and neighborhoods to suit your particular preferences.

          • BTW. I was not referring to speeding cars as most drivers obey the rules. If it wasn’t clear to you I was referring to the cyclists and to suggest you need to further modify the streetscape is to say you think the laws don’t speak for themselves.

          • Who is "we" who counted the infrequent usage of the bike lanes ?
            Did "we" count How many bikes and how many cars were using the street at a given period of time ? Did "we" count private motor vehicles traveling at the same direction of traffic on 14 St at the same time (all this imaginary vehicle spillage onto the side streets) ?
            How fast were the wrong way speeding delivery people going ? Did you use a speed gun ? Did they go faster then 36 MPH, the minimum speed the city starts ticketing for speeding (40% above the speed limit)?
            NYC DOT presented pretty compelling numbers of the usage of the bike lanes using counts that were made during the winter and showed similar numbers of usage as in warmer months before the designation of the bike lanes.
            When did you talk to "most families with children do not buy into it and resent your attempts at changing the world in that way" ? Go early September to any school in the neighborhood and count the number of families using bikes and e-scooters to drop off and pick up their children, maybe ask them if they resent designation of a safe street space to be used by non motor vehicles. Each one of them represent one less car travel, less air and noise pollution.
            The majority of people in this city do not own a vehicle. 25% of Manhattan households own a car, 8% of commuters use cars. So a clear minority of people are getting a clear majority of street space: on 11 Street which dozen't have a bike lane 100% of street space is designated for the use of motor vehicles: 2 sides of the street are free storage space for private vehicles ("Alternate Side Parking") and a very generous moving lane which allows cars to speed or double park in order to drop off or pick up passengers and deliveries (since curb access is impossible because of the free car storage).
            The bike lanes on 12 and 13 st take only 33% of the street space and can accommodate a much higher number of street users then the other 66% of street space. A traffic light cycle can only accommodate 10-11 vehicles in one time. At the current mode share of 8 out of 10 moving vehicles in our neighborhood an FHV or a taxi transporting 1 or 2 passengers the potential to move many more people using more efficient modes of transportation is huge.
            There is a limited amount of how many vehicles a crosstown street block can accommodate and it is much lower then the amount of the number micro-mobility devices.
            The streetscape is dynamic and changes every few decades: before 1950 overnight car parking in the city was illegal. One way streets did not exist before the arrival of the motor vehicles. If many people are using the streets as 2 ways when they use micro mobility devices it is because the street can accommodate it. Same as people walking should not be limited to one way traffic. DOT had a plan to designate a 2 way bike lane on 13 street, it was changed to 2 one way bike lanes on 12 and 13 streets.
            The design is there and should be put in place in the future on all streets.

          • and yes, I know that you were referring to bike riders regarding speeding. If "most drivers obey the rules" how come traffic safety speed cameras issue Millions of traffic summons in a year ? Let's see how many will be summons will be issued now that the program will expend to 750 cameras and not limited to school hours. If "most drivers obey the rules" then the numbers will not grow…

          • What about the free education I provide for your children with the enormous amount of taxes I pay ? That pales in comparison to my ‘free car storage’.

      • Long time East Village Guy

        Great points, Lone Ranger.

        • We took our own measurements throughout the day and so the answer is yes. Have you taken your own measurements? My guess is you rely on DOT etc who we have demonstrated has lied.

          Of course more cars than bikes would be ticketed for speeding which is exactly the point, there are far more cars than bikes so why should the city cater to your paltry numbers?

          As for bike speed, no I don’t have nor need a speed gun to know when it’s to fast or when they zip within a hair of an old or disabled pedestrian. And certainly don’t need one to know wrong way on a one way street or driving on the sidewalk. You cite auto speed but do you claim they violate those other rules as well? Hardly! And if you say something they curse you.

          Vehicles serve an essential purpose and always will and dwarf the number of inefficient bicycles in serving individual need. I don’t tell you you can’t have your bike, how dare you tell me I shouldn’t need my car. And no I never park on the street and was amongst the residents to ask DOT to eliminate parking in favor of traffic lanes.

          That’s the trouble with you bike zealots, you cannot tolerate a different point of view.

          Live your life as you see fit but don’t dictate to the overwhelming majority of NYC commuters; some of whom have cars, some who rent them, some who use car services, some of who use public transportation and some who walk. And when you quote car ownership statistics you ought include bike ownership statistics and see which group has the right to dictate to the other; if at all.

          And so when you and your kids leave the city on vacation or for long weekends; how do you travel? Is it always on a bike or do you require alternate forms of transportation. Just sayin’

          • Who is "we" who counted the infrequent usage of the bike lanes ?
            Did "we" count How many bikes and how many cars were using the street at a given period of time ?
            Did "we" count private motor vehicles traveling at the same direction of traffic on 14 St at the same time (all this imaginary vehicle spillage onto the side streets) ?
            Also: did "we" count the amount of Passenger cars vs. bikes ? I don't mean utility, delivery, emergency and access-a-ride vehicles who actually need to operate motor vehicles on the street.
            Did "we" count how many of the moving vehicles are FHV / taxis who don't use curb space for parking, only to drop off or pick up passengers ?
            If you didn't use a speed gun you cannot state someone was exceeding the 25 MPH speed limit (or actual 36 MPH speed limit). Stick to facts, not assumptions.
            From your comments I understand you are part of the 25% minority of car owners who right now enjoy 100% of street space on most streets and afraid to lose that privilege.
            The number of people who use the bike lanes grow, counts were taken by DOT before and after the installation of the bike lanes. That is a fact: there is documentation of who counted, when it was counted.
            Not some random anecdotes.
            Micro mobility mode share grows as the introduction of more options are offered: It used to be bikes but now people can use bikes,cargo bikes, e-bikes, e-scooters, hover boards , electric unicycles.
            Every trip taken on these modes is one less trip of an Uber.
            Regarding your comment: "some of whom have cars, some who rent them, some who use car services, some of who use public transportation and some who walk. "
            8% of commuters use cars. 67% use public transportation. so it is not "some" and "some".
            Some people commute by helicopters and we are all suffering from their extreme noise pollution.
            With the expansion of the bike share system citibike clocks over 80,000 trips on nice days lately. That is tens of thousands less uber and taxi trips every day: a 100% benefit for everybody.
            There is a vision behind expanding access to street space for non motor vehicles: it offers the possibility of cleaner air and less noisy environment.There is no vision in maintaining free for all motor vehicles access .
            Last point to note is that bikes and e-bikes don't cause harm: they might be annoying to you but they don't harm people the same as motor vehicles do: The city needs to handle with the unsafeness of cars before it devotes its' limited sources to E-bikes. Once it will be safe to cross the street without getting hit from cars then it will be time to focus on the annoyance of e-bikes. It is a distraction from an actual cause of harm.

          • No Choresh, you’re the only moron blocking traffic (cars and bicycles) with your stupid cargo bike.

    • The Bus moves at snail pace even when there is no traffic. The Bus Driver controls its movement.

  3. Long time East Village Guy

    Great story, Lincoln.

    Keep doing what you’re doing.

  4. Robert Lederman

    Vision Zero is a perfect illustration of what happens when elected officials and their appointees have zero vision. Like most people I think bicycle riding is a good but that bike lanes belong in parks not mixed in with some of the densest traffic in the U.S. People are dying on bikes because Bloomberg and his DOT flunkies got it into their heads that NY should be exactly like Amsterdam. de Blasio inherited this nonsense, made easy to swallow by campaign donations. NYC is not and will never be Amsterdam, nor should it be. The Transportation Alternatives people have a belief that bike riding will save the world. Like Vision Zero it is a myopic plan based on the desires of a few who want to force their crackpot ideas on the rest of society. These folks practice politics the same way they ride bikes; intolerant of anyone who is not a bike fanatic; rude and reckless on the road; demanding that their way is the only way. Keep up the excellent coverage.

  5. I see that on this issue, there is complete unanimity [sic]!

  6. Winners: Lincoln Anderson, Judith Gische, Arthur Schwarz. Loser: Polly Trottenberg.

  7. How about some definitions of terms here for those of us who are not chronic infrastructure-heads? What is "Select Bus Service"?

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