Monday, August 12, 2019

Report: 14th Street busway halted once again by last-minute appeal

And just when you thought the 14th Street busway was debuting today.

On Friday afternoon, a judge halted the city's plan to ban almost all cars on a portion of 14th Street between Third Avenue and Ninth Avenue, according to published reports. (NY1 had it first. Here's Gothamist's coverage.)

This marked the end of a chaotic busway week. A quickie recap: Last Tuesday, State Supreme Court Judge Eileen Rakower lifted a temporary injunction on the 14th Street busway, allowing the city to move forward with its plans.

In late June, right before the new busway was to launch on July 1, a coalition of block associations — repped by attorney Arthur Schwartz — filed a last-minute lawsuit to block the project, arguing that the city failed to complete the proper environmental review for the work.

On Friday afternoon, the city was out educating drivers on the changes that were to take effect today...

To Streetsblog:

The coalition of wealthy West Village and Chelsea landowners, who lost their court bid to stop the Busway on Tuesday afternoon filed a hurried appeal that was granted by the Appellate Division on Friday ...

According to the court papers, Schwartz’s plaintiffs, who are among the wealthiest people in the city, argued that Justice Eileen Rakower was wrong in allowing the Busway to proceed because the city did not actually take the required “hard look” at possible impacts of the car-free Busway that is necessary under state environmental law.

Transit champions were suitably outraged:

"For every day that the 14th Street busway is on hold, M14 rush hour commuters lose two weeks worth of time that they will never recover. Time wasted stuck behind cars in stalled traffic is time away from family, friends, work, and New York's civic life" — Riders Alliance spokesperson Danny Pearlstein

"This tiresome, tedious effort to circumvent the democratic process delays tangible improvements to the commutes of tens of thousands of working New Yorkers. It's despicable, and we're not going to accept it." — Thomas DeVito, senior director of advocacy at Transportation Alternatives

And per Streetsblog: "Schwartz was pleased. He said Friday’s ruling will delay the Busway for 'months' as the appeal is heard."

The busway aimed to help move people during the L-train slowdown. Private through-traffic would be banned between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. on 14th Street between Third Avenue and Ninth Avenue. Buses, trucks and emergency vehicles would be given priority in the center lanes between Third Avenue and Ninth Avenue. Cars would be allowed to make pickups and drop-offs as well as access local garages.

The neighborhood groups repped by Schwartz have argued that the city has not undertaken a sufficient environmental review of the vehicle restrictions, which they say would cause "horrific traffic jams" on residential side streets while contributing to more pollution.


Here's local City Councilmember Carlina Rivera's reaction to the news...


Anonymous said...

The attorney said that, after Tuesday’s deflating State Supreme Court ruling, he had asked members of the 14th St. Coalition — the ad hoc group fighting the city’s plan — if they supported appealing the decision, and the answer was overwhelming.

“I said it might cost $5,000 to $10,000 to print the record,” he said, referring to the paperwork — in multiple copies — required to file the appeal.

“I got a great reaction,” he said. “Everyone was pledging $1,000 here, $1,000 there.

“It’s much easier to stop something, than to stop it once it starts,” Schwartz noted of why he scrambled to pull the last-minute appeal together.

This a class war where the rich can afford to sue them city in order to stop the improvements to bus services used by the poor.

DrGecko said...

$1000 here, $1000 there; pretty soon you're talking about real money. Like the kind of money they could use to rent garage space but they still want the city to provide them space for free.

noble neolani said...

Arthur Schwartz and his deep pocket friends should put their money and energy into something that helps people other than Arthur Schwartz.

Anonymous said...

They should ban allllllllll traffic on 14th Street, make it into a pedestrian mall and route the traffic and buses to the streets both North and South of Union Square by 4 blocks in each direction. Let's also ban cars in the city for anyone who is not a resident between 5AM and 10PM Mon - Sat. Let's ban Uber and Uber type companies in Manhattan or start charging them $50 a week for the parking areas they take up on the streets, not to mention blocking hydrants, cross walks and metered spaces that they do not now pay. Oh yeah, motorcycles need to have decibel levels checked and reduced. Garbage pick ups between 10PM - 7AM. Trucks...deliver during daylight hours, you pay $50. You deliver during the nightime hours you pay $10. Bicycles get licensed....$25 year. Pedestrians still go free anywhere, anytime, any day. Hey...I do have a heart!

Gojira said...

By the time this issue wends its way through the courts, is appealed and counter-appealed, and finally settled, the L train project will be long finished.

cmarrtyy said...

The Rich get richer and everything else they want. What a disgrace. The judge should be ashamed... ASHAMED. You have to ask... where are our elected officials? WHERE?! Ok. Don't worry... I'll answer that.... Where they usually are... MIA...MIA!!

Anonymous said...

The City is wearing out its longtime residents with the all the ineptitude, evident corruption, and inability to follow through on plans that were undoubtedly very expensive to create let alone implement. Maybe the new people enjoy this sort of thing; more likely, they are oblivious to how deep it gets.

Anonymous said...

@9:17am: Perhaps you don't realize that Arthur Schwartz speaks for MANY MANY people - poor, middle-class, and well-to-do - who live in the ENTIRE AREA affected by the re-routing of all cars/taxis onto 12th and 13th Streets from 9th Ave. to 3rd Ave. Do you imagine that only "rich people" live within those boundaries?

I have neighbors of all kinds on my block: young, middle-aged, elderly, able-d and disabled, rent-controlled, rent-stabilized, and owners who bought here circa 1980 (when you couldn't give this neighborhood away). We all appreciate Schwartz standing up for our right NOT to be dumped on by DOT and Di Blasio (Mr. SUV).

12th and 13th Streets are not dumping grounds for what the city defines as excess traffic. If it's so important to re-route, then do it on 9th & 10th Streets instead, then sit back & see what the gold-coast $$$$ owners around 5th Avenue have to say about THAT.

Choresh Wald said...

@cmarrtyy : Carlina Rivera did voice her objection to the lawsuit on Friday

Every day these lawsuits continue means another NYCHA resident is dealing with the slowest bus service in the city. It means car exhaust increases in 1 of the most polluted parts of Manhattan. And it means we’re 1 day further away from breaking the car culture.

This has to end!

noble neolani said...

To 3:15 PM who chose my respond to my comment earlier. This lawsuit is phony and I know that because Mr Schwartz included the demand that the bike lanes be removed in addition to stopping the re-routing of cars from 14th Street. If he really cared about the air quality of his neighbored he would support the expansion of bike lanes and not the opposite.

As a resident of 12th Street I can say that life on our block has greatly improved since the bike lanes were installed. A lot less noise for starters since drivers have room to get around double parked cars and I seldom hear car horns from impatient drivers. Our blocks is 50% cleaner now that one side has no parking, some drivers are jerks and empty out their car's trash before leaving their parking spot.

Mr. Schwartz made his voice heard when the bike lanes were installed last autumn and this lawsuit is just a move rich people pull to thrown a wrench into a city plan which would benefits a congested city and the thousand of daily commuters in and around the neighborhood. Nobody but you is falling for his BS.

Anonymous said...

@5:28pm: Nobody but you is falling for *your* BS. I live on 12th St. and hate the bike lanes - b/c they were put in as part of a lie. I hate being lied to. Most normal people hate being lied to.

Which is why Schwartz wants the bike lanes removed:

1) Because they were put in *supposedly* b/c of the "L train" repair [NOPE: the "L train" repair was just a Trojan horse to shove the lanes in without neighborhood approval], and

2) Because *supposedly* the bike lanes were temporary, pending some vague future review of usage & decision by the DOT. But everyone KNEW that these bike lanes were NEVER actually temporary - another DOT lie.

I love cars & I love NYC - and I'm not rich. I've lived here long enough to know BS when the DOT tries to put it over, and their whole "justification" for the bike lanes on 12th & 13th Streets is BS, IMO.

Anonymous said...

If that many hate the bike lanes they should be able to assemble an anti-bike lane demonstration. Unless of course it's just a few bike hating trolls who are spoiled by free parking. So if we get the pro-parking crowd and pro-biking crowd to assemble in Union Square who will have better attendance?

Anonymous said...

To "August 12, 2019 at 3:15 PM"

You are so misinformed. The reason why the MTA and the DOT wanted to ban cars from 14th Street was to get more and more commuters to their destinations quicker. Sounds like you don't care about the overall economy. When people are late because of congestion, it hurts the economy. Learn to be less dense and do factual research before making a foll out of yourself.

If you love your car that much, I suggest moving to a city where mass transit is non-existent. I am getting sick of congestion of this city that plagues bus travel speeds. If more and more people left the cars or not buy one in the first place, the mass transit network would be more and more efficient. If I had it my way, this city would have a ton of bus only corridors.

meesalikeu said...

As someone living on 14st I would say its time to share the love with others. But seriously, there is not going to be much flow to 13st and 12st. People will use 23rd and Houston. You know this. The appeal is frivolous. Even if its really about that they shoved bike lanes in, that’s not enough. The far greater good for vastly more people is to calm 14st. The traffic quagmire around Union Square is insurmountable. There is no other way or choice. Let’s do this and see how it goes. After 6 months of getting used to everyone will be wondering why it wasn’t done decades ago.

MTAtoxic said...

I don't understand who wouldn't want bike lanes on their block. Less noise, pollution... I live on Ave B, and would love to have a bike lane instead of all the honking and exhaust.

In any case, congestion pricing would solve a lot of these problems. Too bad the MTA has lost its credibility by buying hundreds of dirty diesel buses.

Anonymous said...

@9:58pm: I assure you there are plenty of bike haters, and none of them are "trolls." Much of the population of Stuy Town/ Peter Cooper hate bike riders, and rightly so. Pretty much anyone who values their bodily well-being is scared to death of bike riders. It sure does seem like bike riders love to have everyone scared of them - otherwise they'd behave as if they respected others, wouldn't they? They do have a choice of how to behave.

@10:10pm: Bike-lovers have their own alternative "facts" and they whine & yell b/c even with bike lanes, they're not happy. And they don't even use the bike lanes a lot of the time. Bullies are always unwelcome, and too many people on bikes have a bully-like attitude.

I don't have a car, but there's nothing wrong with cars. If I had my druthers, the streets would be the way they were before bike lanes were a gleam in Bloomberg's eye.

Why should I (or anyone like me) have to move? I was here first. Maybe it's time for bike-lovers to move to Amsterdam or some similarly bike-centric nirvana.

@10:16pm: Why do you think someone who needs to be near/on 14th Street will "default" to 23rd St, rather than the closest local streets? That makes no sense to me.

noble neolani said...


To answer your very good question, people who own cars and want to keep their free parking.

Anonymous said...

I don't own a car, but I LOVE cars and I hate bike lanes and irresponsible bike riders. I LOVE CARS. Deal with it!

Or maybe we can ban all the new-fangled internal combustion engines & instead everyone can own a horse: nice, back-to-nature, eats hay, produces manure that's good for agriculture, VERY eco-conscious, and will slow down the city in a very pleasant way, and take us back to our real roots. No bikes, no cars, no trucks, no skateboards - just horses.

Anonymous said...

Everyone should quit feeding the old troll who wants to live in the past. The future for NYC is better public transportation and bike lanes, NOT free street parking and personal cars.

Anonymous said...

@11:04 AM

Yeah right. Everyone's terrified of bikes. So organize your troll squad and all 5 of you can wave signs around in front of Whole Foods. Unless that rich liberal NIMBY wants to put an ad on Craigslist for some extra headcount.

I'm old and born here and I applaud our new bike friendly overlords. We will have to regulate the electric motorcycles eventually but the seas of Citibikers and physically separated bike lanes are an improvement on Manhattan traffic. You car freaks should be taxed into paying for ride shares. Even now Lyft would be saving you money.

Anonymous said...

@8:18pm: There are a lot of what you call "old trolls" and many of them are not that old; just old enough to be wise about how this whole bike-lane thing went down from the get-go.

If we had better mass transit, nobody would need a bike. The future of NYC will always include personal cars.

And that 'free on street parking" you keep referring to is PAID FOR by every car owner via fees, fees, and more fees to NYC (no matter whether they park their car on the street, in their own driveway, or in a garage). OTOH, Citibike actually has taken over PUBLIC space for free (a gift handed to it by Bloomberg & co.) and the $$$ paid for Citibike membership & bike usage goes into a private company's bank account. Who's really taking advantage of public space here? I'd say it's Citibike.

sophocles said...

"If we had better mass transit nobody would need a bike."
If we had better mass transit nobody would need a car either?
But you love cars, and for reasons best known to yourself, you hate bikes.

Anonymous said...

@3:57pm: No, we will always have cars b/c mass transit doesn't go to every corner of this city; and b/c not everyone can or wants to ride a bike; and b/c some people need cars to get to/from their jobs, their second homes (unless second homes are forbidden now), or to visit their friends & relatives who live elsewhere.

An example of why we'll always have cars: The repair guy who was here to fix equipment in my building drove in from LI with 3 big & very heavy tool-bags, plus some large spare parts in the trunk. He didn't have a van or a truck - but he DID have a car, and he had to make 5 other stops in Manhattan after he got done in my building. Would you prefer he'd driven a van or truck instead of a car?