L train shutdown: Will alternative transportation improvements survive?

Many of <a class="ql-link" href="https://ny.curbed.com/2018/12/19/18148685/nyc-protected-bike-lane-expansion-vision-zero-2018" target="_blank">the city’s new protected bike lanes</a>, like this one on Park Row, were installed in areas expected to receive additional cyclists from the L train shutdown.

NYC should still move forward with cycling network, transit
service, and pedestrian safety improvements developed to mitigate
the shutdown—even if it never happens

Following Thursday’s announcement that a complete
L train shutdown
, slated to begin in April, may be averted due
to a
new Canarsie Tunnel design
,
questions linger
. If approved
by the MTA board
, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 11th-hour plans to
change course on repairs four years in the making will affect not
only the L train, but also multimodal transportation improvements
designed to both accommodate displaced riders in the near future
and strengthen the city’s long-term transit options.

Will the new bike lanes, expanded bike share programs, and
pedestrian safety improvements survive? Uncertainty abounds. But if
New York City’s transit planners and politicians are smart,
they’ll push forward just as aggressively as if the shutdown was
still on.

To accommodate an estimated 275,000 of the 400,000 daily L train
riders that would have been affected by a full shutdown of the
Canarsie Tunnel, the MTA and DOT
have been aggressively planning physical changes to the city, many
of which were developed in consultation with community groups:

renovating subway stations expected to receive additional
riders
;
expanding the bike lane network
; redesigning streets to calm
traffic, be safer for pedestrians, and accommodate
additional bus service
; adding more pedestrian space around
Union Square; and
installing more Citi Bike docks
.

Servicewise, the MTA planned to add an
express ferry across the East River
;
increase capacity
of the A, E, F, G, J, M, Z and 7 trains; and
make bus service more robust.

These mitigation measures would have made getting around the
city easier and safer for all New Yorkers, and should have been
done regardless of the shutdown to meet
Vision Zero goals
. The city’s
mobility crisis has reached a tipping point
and it needs more
alternative transportation systems to alleviate pressure on the
overtaxed subways and to reduce traffic congestion. However, the
future of many of these initiatives is now unclear.

An MTA spokesperson told Curbed that because of the new plan’s
dramatically reduced impact, an entirely new alternative service
plan is needed. It’s reconsidering, along with the DOT, plans for
a busway on 14th street and bus-only lanes on the Williamsburg
bridge. The agency doesn’t know when the alternative service plan
for the interruptions—now falling only on nights and
weekends—will be released, but says it will come as soon as
possible.

When asked about how Cuomo’s new plan will impact pedestrian
safety improvements, bike lane network expansion, and traffic
calming interventions under construction, a DOT spokesperson told
Curbed the agency will review the new proposal; the agency didn’t
have anything else to offer about in-progress construction at this
early stage.

Some officials and advocates are still interested in keeping the
mitigation measures, even if the full shutdown never happens.

At a press conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio said: “[W]e’re
not undoing anything we’ve done in the short term. We’re going
to keep all of our current approach in place until everything is
settled.”

Citing emerging ridership, Andy Byford, president of New York
City Transit, indicated
he’s still interested in increasing the frequency and length of G
trains
and investing in station improvements. He said
additional ferry service will “almost certainly not”
happen.

Councilman Rafael Espinal Jr.—who represents parts of
Bushwick, East New York, and Brownsville—voiced support for
multimodal improvements. “The city should go ahead with its plans
to ease that pressure even if the L Train won’t be completely
shut down,”
he said in a statement
. “Things like expanding the network of
bus and bike lanes and extending Citibike further into Brooklyn are
good proposals and still necessary so the city should push ahead
with them.”

Curbed reached out to Citi Bike about its plans for more docks
and to
increase its fleet of pedal-assist bikes
and will update this
post when we learn more. The DOT indicated that it will move
forward with the new docks planned for north Brooklyn. As agencies
review the new plan and await MTA Board approval, we’ll continue
to develop this story.

When the L train shutdown was announced, the MTA and DOT were
forced into figure out how New Yorkers would get around without a
major train line, and plan around it. This is an exercise they
should do for every single train line and bus route. Real transit
accessibility means losing service on one system won’t cripple
mobility since other systems can pick up the slack with minimal
interruption for riders.

Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
L train shutdown: Will alternative transportation improvements survive?