Multiple New Bikes Lanes Coming to Lower Manhattan, Adding to Growing Local Network
The plan announced by Mayor de Blasio amid much fanfare earlier this year—to dedicate one traffic lane, on the Manhattan-bound side of the Brooklyn Bridge, for conversion into a two-lane bike path—has been pushed back until September.
The City’s Department of Transportation (DOT) will begin this month implementing a plan—first approved in the spring last year, but delayed by the onset of the pandemic coronavirus—to add more bike lanes to the Lower Manhattan’s streetscape.
Two new physically segregated bicycle thoroughfares will be constructed in the next few weeks: a southbound connection linking Varick Street to West Broadway, and a northbound route via Church Street and Sixth Avenue. Also coming soon is a protected section of Centre Street—a stretch that will connect Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan to Tribeca and Chinatown.
Currently, bike lanes exist on the Varick/West Broadway and Church/Sixth Avenue corridors, but are situated directly adjacent to moving traffic, which exposes cyclists to danger and also presents the opportunity for vehicles to park in the bike routes, thus blocking them. The new lanes will he sheltered by medians and (in some cases) a lane of parked cars. These developments are part of a larger plan for Lower Manhattan bicycling infrastructure that will also create entirely new bike lanes on Murray Street, Barclay Street, and Park Place, and will link the growing network to the Brooklyn Bridge. (Those last three lanes will be dedicated to cyclists, but not physically separated from traffic.) Bike enthusiasts will be disappointed by one further updated item in the DOT’s schedule, however: The agency has announced that the much-heralded plan to build a dedicated cycling lane on the roadbed of the Brooklyn Bridge has been pushed back until at least September.
This map illustrates the new bike lanes that the Department of Transportation (DOT) plans to add to Lower Manhattan in the next several weeks: physically protected routes to Church Street/Sixth Avenue and Varick Street/West Broadway, as well as non-segregated crosstown lanes on Barclay Street, Murray Street, and Park Place.
These developments follow the 2020 installation of dedicated cycling lanes on Broadway and Whitehall Street, extending from City Hall southward to Bowling Green and the Staten Island Ferry, where this route now links with the existing Waterfront Path, which connects the Battery to bike easements on the East River shoreline and in Battery Park City.
All of the new cycling infrastructure planned for Lower Manhattan is part of a borough-wide initiative, which aims to bring ten miles of additional bike lanes to Manhattan as a whole in the years to come.
The local need for bike lanes was highlighted by a 2020 study from the Downtown Alliance entitled, “Bicycle Infrastructure & Commuting in Lower Manhattan.” That report noted that more than 20 percent of people who are employed Downtown currently walk or bike to work, while nearly one-third of people who live here get to and from their places of business in the same way. These hardy souls are among some 49,000 New York City commuters (concentrated mainly in Manhattan and Brooklyn) who get to the office and back under the power of their own legs each day — a figure that has jumped 55 percent since 2012, and is growing by roughly nine percent each year.
According to the Alliance report, Lower Manhattan ranks among the bike-friendliest communities in the nation, with 2.3 miles dedicated cycling infrastructure packed into the area’s one-square mile footprint, along with 28 Citi Bike stations.
Above: This map shows the south-bound bike corridor added to Broadway and Whitehall Street by the DOT in 2020, which connects to existing cycles lanes on the east and west sides of Lower Manhattan. Below: A rendering of the bike lane that the de Blasio Administration is also planning to add to Centre Street in the months ahead.
From Downtown’s 600-plus acres, the Alliance points out, a 15-minute cycling radius puts commuters within range of most of Manhattan up to 23rd Street (along with parts of Brooklyn), and offers access to more than 60 miles of nearby bike lanes, as well as 130 Citi Bike stations. Indeed, according to 2019 data from the cycle sharing service, nearly 20 percent of all Citi Bike trips begin or end in Lower Manhattan (defined roughly as the area south of Chambers Street).
These trends come against the backdrop of ongoing tectonic shifts in commuting habits, which have accelerated in the wake of the pandemic coronavirus. The Alliance report notes that Mayor Bill de Blasio committed earlier this year to an aggressive expansion of cycling infrastructure throughout the five boroughs, including more than 80 miles of new protected bike lanes (along with improvement to existing lanes), the installation of traffic signals that favor cyclists, the creation of 2,000 new bike parking spaces each year, and a doubling (by 2023) of the geographic area served by Citi Bike.
To accentuate this transformation in Lower Manhattan, the Alliance proposed five local initiatives, the first of which is expanding capacity at existing Citi Bike stations across Lower Manhattan and adding new stations near transit stops (including around the World Trade Center). The report also suggested enhancing Downtown’s numerous publicly-owned private spaces (such as plazas in front of office buildings) by installing bike racks and protected bike parking. Third, the study urged that vacant local storefronts (which are proliferating during the economic downturn) be provisionally repurposed to serve as protected bike parking, which would offer the further benefit of improving bike access to commercial buildings. (Such a plan would also mitigate the blight caused to the streetscape by vacant retail spaces, and give building owners an ancillary source of revenue.) The Alliance also pushed for “improved bike infrastructure on the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, allowing for greater ease of access to residential and business communities between Lower Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn.” And finally, the study recommends that local deliveries transition to bicycle-based conveyances, rather than motor vehicles, noting that, “bikes take up less street and sidewalk space, making the public realm safer for bicyclists and pedestrians alike.”
The DOT has attempted to implement this last suggestion, but has faced challenges. The Whole Foods Market in Tribeca was among the very few Manhattan companies that responded to the agency’s request for private-sector partners in implementing a bike-delivery service. But , as the price of its participation, the company demanded — and got — a 100-foot long corral on Murray Street (which removed five parking spaces) in order to create a staging area for bicycles towing flatbed cargo wagons.
Eyes to the Sky
May 17 – 30, 2021
Look west to Gemini’s Castor and Pollux and to Mars, Mercury and Venus
Double star Castor photographed moving in space and time. Image courtesy of New Mexico-based astrophotographer Kent DeGroff.
All rights reserved.
As twilight deepens tonight, beginning around 9:30pm, locate the crescent moon in the west mid-way between zenith and the horizon. Below the moon, a juxtaposed pair of bright stars stands out. Known as the Gemini twins, yellowish Pollux is on the left and blue-white Castor on the right. A ways to the left of Pollux find luminous Procyon the Little Dog. About the same distance to the right of Castor find Capella the Little Goat, brightest of the foursome.
When we gaze at Pollux and Castor with the naked eye, we see two single stars. We learn more about Castor from the intriguing photograph of glistening streaks at the top of this page. As described by astrophotographer Kent DeGroff, “It is an image of a double star (Castor in Gemini) as it trails for a few seconds through the field of view of a telescope at high magnification… The trailing is caused by the Earth’s rotation with the telescope not tracking. The brighter of the two is referred to as Castor A and the fainter is Castor B, with magnitudes of 1.9 and 3.0 respectively. Actually, there are 6 stars with three being visible (only two in that image) and the others being spectroscopic binaries. The combined brightness of all six stars is +1.6. … If the telescope were moving with the stars, tracking, the double star would be seen as one star even at high magnification. When the telescope is in a set position, the star is seen moving through the eyepiece.”
Pollux, at magnitude +1.15, is slightly brighter than Castor—the smaller the number the brighter the celestial object. Recently, a giant planet was discovered orbiting Pollux.
Goldman Sachs, alongside American Express, has partnered with New York City and CVS Health to offer a COVID-19 vaccination program at the Conrad Hotel. All lower Manhattan residents and employees who meet the eligibility requirements are welcome to schedule appointments for the Pfizer vaccine.
In order to qualify for the COVID-19 vaccination program, individuals must be aged 16 years or over and be a resident of New York State OR work/study full-time in New York State.
Scheduling and Location Details
All who meet the eligibility requirements can schedule appointments on the New York City COVID-19 Vaccine Finder by selecting the Conrad Hotel location or use the following links.
Riddle: What Does Downtown Have More of Than Any Other Neighborhood?
Hint: Want to Buy a Brand New, Never-Used Condo Apartment at a Steep Discount?
Multiple analyses of price trends in residential real estate for Lower Manhattan illustrate an ongoing portrait that is grim for homeowners and landlords, but may augur opportunity for buyers and prospective tenants.
A new study from the online real estate database company, StreetEasy, shows that prices for home sales and asking rents continue to soften. During the first three months of this year, for Lower Manhattan as a whole, the median asking price for condominiums and cooperatives fell to $1.75 million, or a retracement of 11.6 percent from the first quarter of last year. For tenants, the median asking rent dropped to $3,000, or a decline of 22.9 percent.
Play ball! As part of the deconstruction of the old Rector Street Bridge and its attendant west side stairs and ramp, public space for the Battery Park City community has been increased via expansion of the Liberty Community Gardens and adjacent basketball courts.
The final portion of this project is the painting and striping of the court surface, currently scheduled to begin the end of this week. This work will necessitate closing of the courts and take (weather permitting) roughly two weeks to complete.
In the interim, as of Friday, May 7 the nets have been installed and the courts are available for play.
Inn and Out
FiDi’s Moxy Hotel Seized by Lenders
The developers of the Moxy NYC Downtown, located at 143 Fulton Street, have surrendered possession of the property to their mortgage lenders, AllianceBernstein. In a story first reported by the Real Deal, Tribeca Associates—the development team behind several other Lower Manhattan properties, such as the Marriott Residence Inn World Trade Center (at 170 Broadway), the Smyth Hotel and Residences (85 West Broadway), and the office tower at 30 Broad Street—have handed the land lease for the ground beneath the Moxy NYC Downtown back to the lender, valuing it at $108 million. This appears to be in restitution for a $105 million loan that the financial firm made to Tribeca Associates in 2018.
This comes on the heels of developer Leonard Stern deciding in February to hand the keys to a pair of Downtown hotels—the Roxy and the Soho Grand—over to lenders, rather than continue making payments on a $100-million mortgage. To read more…
The City’s Economic Development Corporation has followed the urging of Community Board 1 by moving ahead with plans to create a floating pool in the East River. The agency has vetoed the recommendation of Lower Manhattan leaders, however, by choosing to locate the facility in the Two Bridges neighborhood, instead of alongside the Brooklyn Bridge, as CB1 had requested.
The proposal styled as “+ Pool” (and verbalized as “Plus Pool”) will consist of a floating dock, surrounding a cruciform swimming hole (with a safety net on its underside), the four branches of which will include a quartet of adjacent pools—one each for children, for lap swimmers, for sports uses, and for lounging. To read more…
City Council Measure Stands to Make FiDi Thoroughfare Pedestrian-Friendly in Perpetuity
The City Council has enacted a law, co-sponsored by member Margaret Chin, that will make permanent the Open Streets program begun by the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio as a provisional measure during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ratified on April 29, the bill is now awaiting Mr. de Blasio’s signature. This measure is significant for Lower Manhattan, because it may have the effect of preserving a local implementation of the Open Streets project, on Pearl Street, where (since last summer) the City’s Department of Transportation (DOT) has each day restricted vehicular access—between Broad Street and Hanover Square from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm and again from 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm. To read more…
Strengthen the whole body from warm-up to cool-down with a variety of fun exercises. The instructor will lead you in aerobics, balance and coordination exercises, as well as strength training. Come join for a fun workout in the fresh air! Participants are expected to bring their own equipment: weights, water bottle, hand towel, etc. Masks required. Participants must maintain six feet of physical distance between households. All programs will be held in accordance with New York State reopening guidance. Free Battery Park City Authority
During trying times, music stills our souls and provides a healing grace. Throughout the season of Lent, Comfort at One will present performances that are inspired by the Gandhi quote: “In the midst of darkness, light persists.” These concerts include improvisations by Julian Wachner, light-inspired Bach cantatas, our 2014 Lenten “Lamentatio” series featuring NOVUS NY and The Choir of Trinity Wall Street, new performances from the Trinity Youth Chorus and St. Paul’s Chapel Choir, and new virtual content on Fridays from our extended family of artists. Free
Community Board 1’s Environmental Protection Committee
1) Mediating Establishment and Neighborhood Disputes (MEND) NYC – Presentation by Marisa Senigo, Deputy Commissioner of Public Affairs and Communications, Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH)*
2) Public Safety Update
3) NYC Advisory Commission on Property Tax Reform: Preliminary Report – Discussion & Possible Resolution
4) Expansion of SCRIE and DRIE Eligibility to Residents of Former Mitchell-Lama Buildings and Other Enhancements – Discussion & Possible Resolution
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades, Respectable Employment, Lost and Found
The Battery Park City Authority asks that the public not interact with or feed the urban wildlife in the neighborhood’s parks and green spaces, and at the waterfront.
9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Report
More Survivors than Responders Now are Submitting Claims
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) has released its annual report for 2020, which documents some significant developments.
Over the course of its ten years of operation thus far, the VCF has awarded $7.76 billion to more than 34,400 individuals who have suffered death or personal injury as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath. The vast majority of these injuries take the form of illness caused by exposure to toxic materials that were released by the destruction of the World Trade Center.
1995 – Shawn Nelson steals a tank from a military installation and goes on a rampage in San Diego resulting in a 25-minute police chase. Nelson is killed by an officer after the tank gets stuck on a concrete barrier.
1521 – Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, is executed for treason.
1536 – George Boleyn, 2nd Viscount Rochford and four other men are executed for treason.
1536 – The annulment of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s marriage.
1673 – Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette begin exploring the Mississippi River.
1775 – American Revolutionary War: the Continental Congress bans trade with Quebec.
1792 – The New York Stock Exchange is formed under the Buttonwood Agreement.
1808 – Napoleon I of France orders the annexation of the Papal States to the French Empire.
1849 – A large fire nearly burns St. Louis, Missouri to the ground.
1939 – The Columbia Lions and the Princeton Tigers play in the United States’ first televised sporting event, a collegiate baseball game in New York City.
1954 – The US Supreme Court hands down a unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Ed of Topeka, Kansas.
1970 – Thor Heyerdahl sets sail from Morocco on the papyrus boat Ra II to sail the Atlantic Ocean.
1973 – Watergate scandal: Televised hearings begin in the United States Senate.
1983 – The US Department of Energy declassifies documents showing world’s largest mercury pollution event in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (ultimately found to be 4.2 million pounds), in response to the Appalachian Observer’s Freedom of Information Act request.
1990 – The General Assembly of the World Health Organization eliminates homosexuality from the list of psychiatric diseases.
1995 – Shawn Nelson steals a tank from a military installation and goes on a rampage in San Diego resulting in a 25-minute police chase. Nelson is killed by an officer after the tank got stuck on a concrete barrier and tried to break free.
2004 – The first legal same-sex marriages in the U.S. are performed in the state of Massachusetts.
1732 – Francesco Pasquale Ricci, Italian violinist and composer (d. 1817)
1882 – Karl Burman, Estonian architect and painter (d. 1965)
1912 – Archibald Cox, American lawyer and politician, 31st United States Solicitor General (d. 2004)
1922 – Jean Rédélé, French race car driver, founded Alpine (d. 2007)
1936 – Dennis Hopper, American actor and director (d. 2010)
1956 – Sugar Ray Leonard, American boxer
Cass Gilbert, American architect. The lower Manhattan skyline owes a lot to Cass Gilbert. In addition to his famous Woolworth Building, he designed the Custom House at Bowling Green, (now the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian), 90 West Street, the Federal Courthouse at Foley Square and the Lawyers Association Building on Vesey Street.
290 – Emperor Wu of Jin, Chinese emperor (b. 236)
1510 – Sandro Botticelli, Italian painter (b. 1445)
1886 – John Deere, American blacksmith and businessman, founded the Deere & Company (b. 1804)
1934 – Cass Gilbert, American architect (b. 1859)
2004 – Tony Randall, American actor, director, and producer (b. 1920)