From The New York Shitty Inbox: Everything You Wanted To Know About Those Lines On The Pulaski Bridge

(and I do mean EVERYTHING)

clusterfuck

Rick writes:

I’m a new-ish fan of the blog, 10-year Greenpointer (what I call “outer” Greenpoint — Morgan near Driggs — as opposed to “upper” Greenpoint, meaning along the Manhattan/Franklin corridor), and bike commuter. I’m also a journalist who just finished a year reporting on urban spaces and infrastructure for PBS and public radio.

So after seeing the markings on the Pulaski Bridge path — and reading your posts — I decided to call someone who’d know what was up: Wiley Norvell, Communications Director for bike advocacy group Transportation Alternatives.

I asked him about three things: (1) the “lane” markings on the ramps; (2) the seemingly-superfluous white lines along the main stretch of the path; and (3) the “Stop and Dismount — Walk Bike” signs.

Wiley checked with NYCDOT and got back to me with the following answers:

1. The lane markings at the entrances “are designed to provide guidance,” he said. Every bridge in the city handles cyclists and pedestrians differently: they’re segregated on the Brooklyn and Manhattan spans; pedestrians move counter to cycle traffic on the Williamsburg; and (iirc) they move in the same direction on the 59th. So, Wiley said, “the DOT’s trying to clarify the rules for the Pulaski.”

2. The white lines are an effort to get cyclists to chill out, for lack of a better way of putting it. “That’s typically done for cars,” Wiley said. “They visually narrow the space. That’s intended to get people to slow down and focus. It make it look like the space is only five feet wide, so it’s a visual traffic-calming cue.”

Of course, Wiley says, none of this deals with the underlying problem on the bridge: That the path is simply too narrow for the amount of pedestrian and cycle traffic it’s already handling. And things are likely to get worse: Between the impending completion of the Kent Avenue greenway (which I rode today and is coming along beautifully) and the coming greenway along the LIC riverfront, there’s likely to be a lot more traffic on the Pulaski path. “It’s like the Brooklyn Bridge path,” he said. “We’re running up against the laws of physics.”

The bridge’s roadbed has the opposite problem: It has too much capacity, Wiley said. The evidence: cars routinely exceed the speed limit over the Newtown Creek by 15-20 MPH. “And that behavior continues on McGuinness Boulevard and into Long Island City,” Wiley said.

So there’s a built-in solution that would solve both problems at once: Take a lane away from the roadbed and turn it into a dedicated cycle path. Wiley says Transportation Alternatives supports that idea, but it’s likely a long way off: The Pulaski Bridge was last rebuilt just 15 years ago, so any reconfiguration is likely years in the future.

3. The signs are mandated by a regulation, likely a federal one, Wiley said. That regulation governs how traffic is supposed to behave on drawbridges. The problem, he said, is that the signs are in the wrong place: Cyclists are supposed to dismount and walk their bikes over the expansion joint between the leaves of the bascule (i.e. at mid-span). The signs, however, are hundreds of feet away from the joint. Even so, Wiley said, DOT doesn’t enforce the rule. “They’re planning for the real world, in which cyclists are riding across the bridge.”

Hope this helps… Keep up the good work!

No Rick, thank YOU for taking the time to give us the 411! If anyone has a question for Rick you can leave them in the comments or contact him via email at: rick (at) technopop (dot) org.

Miss Heather

P.S.: Rick was also kind enough to forward me a DOT presentation regarding the Pulaski Bridge. You can view it in jpeg format by clicking here.

From The New York Shitty Inbox: Mixed Signals?

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New York Shitty reader, occasional tipster and soon to be ex-Greenpoint resident AMOJA writes (in an email entitled “MTA Hates Pedestrians”) :

Or, I’m guessing it’s the MTA.  They’ve finally gotten around to indicating why they’ve painted white and yellow lines on the Pulaski Bridge walkway.  On the LIC side, at least (I’m not sure about the Greenpoint side…I’m a terrible reporter*), there are pictographs indicating that the bridge is to be used by pedestrians…and mushroom headed bicyclists…

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Confusingly, they’ve left the signs up telling people to dismount their bikes.  I feel my head is about to explode. Who is the genius that came up with this idea?  Are things really clearer now?

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Given that this is a pedestrian walkway I would hazard to guess the entity responsible for this exercise in zen is the Department of Transportation, not the MTA. However, I am in agreement with AMOJA about the provenance of this plan; I too want to know who came up with this sterling idea. I also want to know how much it cost.

Miss Heather

*As the above photographs indicate, this has been done on the Brooklyn side of the bridge as well.

Citypoint Photos Du Jour: Why?

September 13, 2009 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic, Long Island City, Queens 

Okay— I will be the first to admit that although I know “work” is being done on the Pulaski I am pretty ignorant of the scope of said “work”. Getting “up-to-speed” on this matter has been on my “to do” list for some time but has been sadly lost among the numerous other things I have to do. Today it was cleaning the apartment in anticipation of my brother-in-law’s visit.

After spending the afternoon exorcising our refrigerator, picking up stuff and arguing with each other the Mister and I got a bit peckish. We decided to go to Creek and Cave for dinner. To this end we hopped on the B61 bus* and headed to Long Island City without delay. Afterward— since the evening was nice and cool— we decided to walk home. This is when I noticed something was amiss on the Pulaski.

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It would appear the pedestrian walkway has be demarcated into “Queens bound” and “Brooklyn bound” lanes.

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Or not. It was pretty much business as usual: bicyclists tearing down the walkway shouting at pedestrians to get out of the way.

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This is what you’ll find at the Borden Avenue stairwell. I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. Walk at your own risk?

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As I approached the Kings County border I noticed the lines had stopped.

Perhaps this hilarity will be confined to Queens?

I thought to myself.

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Nope.

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Can someone please explain to me what this is supposed to achieve? Painting white lines along a pedestrian walkway on a bridge strikes me as being redundant. If one is to cross these lines he (or she) will either end up in Newtown Creek or McGuinness Boulevard: a one-way ticket to Woodhull. All the previous strike me as being much better deterrents to stay on the walkway than a pair of white lines.

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The same goes for dividing the entrance ramps. Does the city honestly think this is going to change anything? It isn’t.

Before all the bicycle enthusiasts reading this tome get their collective panties in a wad I want you to think about the following before you comment (and/or criticize); I am not against bicycling. I am simply tired of almost being run over by bicyclists and/or being shouted at to get out of the way when I walk across the Pulaski Bridge. This is not a matter of bicycles or “green” transportation; it is one of being a good neighbor. What I have experienced on the Pulaski Bridge is anything but neighborly.

Pedestrians are just as entitled to use this walkway as bicyclists— but given the behavior I have experienced on the part of most bicyclists who use this thoroughfare this would not appear to be the case. It’s a simple matter of respect. I respect the right to ride bicycles. In turn, I would like to have my right to walk across the Pulaski in peace respected.

Painting lines on the pedestrian walkway is not going to teach people common courtesy. For this reason I am becoming increasingly of the mindset that dedicating one of the lanes of McGuinness Boulevard as a bike lane might be the most practical (and palatable) solution to this problem.

Miss Heather

*Where one individual managed to break the Metrocard reader by dumping a bunch of dimes in it. So we rode for free. Thank you, idiot.

New York Shitty Day Starter: Polish Paradise

June 29, 2009 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic, Long Island City, Newtown Creek, Queens 

I recently learned that, contrary to popular belief, “Polish Paradise” is not located in Greenpoint. Those of you who are interested in paying this very special place a visit can can find it underneath the Pulaski Bridge in Long Island City.

PP

NOTE: not only is “Polish Paradise” seemingly bereft of Polish people, it also appears to be BYOB.

Miss Heather

Greenpoint Photos Du Jour: Like No Other Place In The World!

June 27, 2009 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic 

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mickeygs

From McGuinness Boulevard

Miss Heather

Citypoint Photo Du Jour: Pink Pandas!

June 19, 2009 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic, Long Island City, Newtown Creek, Street Art 

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From The Pulaski Bridge.

Miss Heather

Greenpoint Photo Du Jour: Pulaski

June 5, 2009 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic 

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From McGuinness Boulevard.

Miss Heather

Photos Du Jour: Long Island City Shots

March 22, 2009 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic, Long Island City, Queens 

eatshit

Now that the Mac Off* is behind me I have had the time to upload some really lovely photographs from my latest sojourn to Long Island City. I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed taking them!

Footage from this evening’s Mac Off will be forthcoming tomorrow!

Miss Heather

*Which was not without controversy. For starters Mizz Greenpoint does not in fact live in Greenpoint: she lives in Park Slope. In addition Red Star saw fit to put bacon in their mac and cheese thus precluding me from eating it. Not that this made any real difference; we immediately and unanimously agreed The Habitat deserved props. Way to go guys (and gals)!

Reader Contribution Du Jour: Greenpoint In Black & White

March 1, 2009 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic 

Yesterday I received an email from a gentleman named Kris. It was entitled “some photos of greenpoint” and its body contained a Flickr link with the following commentary:

nothing particularly interesting… no story, no nothing.

Intrigued, I ventured over to Flickr to see these “not particularly interesting” photographs. The work I discovered was anything but dull; it was quite beautiful. Enough so that I had trouble deciding which photographs to run so I decided to simply embed the whole set below. Enjoy!

If the previous strikes Kris as being nothing special I can only hope he will share some “extraordinary” shots of the Garden Spot with us in the future. Thanks for bring these shots to my attention Kris, they made my day!

Miss Heather

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