By Brian J Pape, AIA
Somehow the city police will be expected to stop cars and trucks from travelling on 14th Street on Oct. 3, unless they can prove they are car-owning residents on those blocks or deliveries are going to those blocks. Are we to anticipate road-blocks at intersections? Everyone else will be forced to narrow side streets reduced to one lane by free parking spaces and protected bike lanes. This “18-month pilot program” makes no provision for bikes on 14th Street.
Three years ago, the city started planning a response to the impending 18-month shutdown of the L-train running under 14th Street. Without consulting either elected representatives or the many community groups representing nearby older affordable housing projects and walkup tenements, the poor and the elderly, from the Lower East Side to the Fulton Houses. Even when the L-train shutdown was canceled, DOT refused to cancel their ill-conceived plans, ignoring the feedback from hearings that the Community Boards, 12 neighborhood block associations, 2 disabled rights groups, 4 co-op boards, and several public officials opposed the plan. The city argued that it has the right to institute traffic regulations on city-owned streets, despite the opposition of the community. Bus lane paint and signage for the project has been in place since the 2019 summer.
The M14 buses now carry about 27,000 riders a day along 14th Street and needs a dedicated path for its buses for better performance. The MTA hopes the car ban will decrease two to nine minutes off bus riders’ travel time. But to get that, the MTA removed many bus-stops, causing people to walk farther to get a ride! At the same time, no one is saying the 2-10 minute delay for 100,000 walkers waiting for the walk signals is in any way harmful or prejudiced against the walkers.
Not bus riders, with fewer bus stops and longer walking for the elderly, for a couple of minutes shorter bus ride?
Nor bicycle riders, since they continue to mix with motor vehicles on 14th Street.
Nor walkers, who will continue to wait at intersections for traffic to go by.
Perhaps the only beneficiaries are the delivery trucks for Amazon, FedEx, or UPS?
Strange priorities, if you ask me.
To deliver reliable service to the large number of new crosstown bus passengers, NYCT aims for an end-to-end run time of approximately 17 minutes—a 37% reduction from current M14A/D travel times.
The M14A/D local bus service carries 30,000 daily passengers on the street’s surface today.
Brian J. Pape is a LEED-AP “green” architect consulting in private practice, serves on the Manhattan District 2 Community Board, is co-chair of the American Institute of Architects NY Design for Aging Committee, and is the WestViewNews.org Architecture Editor.