The Bowery Begins Major Traffic Face Lift

Traffic on Bowery about to improve

Traffic on Bowery about to improve

The Department of Transportation is bearing down on the stubborn traffic problems faced by motorists trying to negotiate their way through the famed bottleneck at Spring Street and the Bowery. Monday began the upgrade with the tearing up of the median there. Unfortunately, to the worry of residents, a fire hydrant was collateral damage on Thursday, leaking water all over the place. Although the damage has not been remedied yet, at least the water is being held in check.

Traffic improvements to the intersection will be dealt with in the following phased plan:

  • The southbound on Bowery left turn lane will be moved over to make way for an additional through lane. Two dedicated receiving lanes will help reduce congestion.
  • A new “signal phase” will introduce a light system which will have a flashing yellow arrow signaling to drivers to yield to pedestrians. This system is now undergoing testing around town.
  • The island at Delancey will be reshaped for easier turning. The new median will include trees to help make the neighborhood lovelier.

Several other changes are in the plans, including giving northbound pedestrians an 11 second head start to cross Delancey. During those crucial 11 seconds cars turning left from Bowery will be halted, so pedestrians can cross without fear of being crushed by turning cars.

Frank’s Bike Shop Gets Reprieve from Citi Bikes

Frank Arroyo of Frank's Bike Shop

Frank Arroyo of Frank’s Bike Shop

Soon after the New York Post ran its story on the danger Citi Banks poses to small business owner Frank Arroyo and his bike shop, the bike station was removed.

Arroyo has owned and operated Frank’s Bike Shop for over 37 years, on third of his income coming from bike rentals. The shop, located at 533 Grand Street on the Lower East Side, Citi Bikes suddenly installed a bike rental station a mere 150 feet from his store’s location. At $10 for a 24-hour pass with Citi Bikes, Arroyo believes he cannot compete successfully, charging $30 day for the rental of his bikes.

“My biggest question is how did they come about to choose the areas where they put these bikes. Did they study the areas? Did they look at the businesses around them?” asked a shocked Frank Arroyo.

Arroyo also fixes bikes and sells Schwinn-brand bikes, but he says one-third of his income comes from rental fees. He says that the city never asked him what he would think of having the Citi Bike station so close to his shop. Right before the bike kiosk was installed Arroyo was considering expanding his rental business.

“It has become more and more of a year-round business,” Arroyo said. “You got tourists that come, and Europeans especially are used to using bikes year-round. It’s a growing business.”

But now it is time to change gears.

“I’m going to have to concentrate on where I can make more income to make up for the potential loss,” he said.

One solution Arroyo sees is to join forces with Citi Bike rather than being in opposition.

“It would’ve been nice if [Citi Bike] would’ve had a program teaching young people how to fix bikes,” he added.

After the article in the Post was published on May 27 a petition drive was begun. Over 1,000 signatures were collected, all agreeing that the city should relocate the Citi Bike station. On the other hand, the were others who said that the location for the Citi Bike station was a good one, since there are no easily accessible bus or subway lines. Frank Arroyo himself said he is not so sure the bulk of his problem comes from the station at the intersection of Grand and Henry streets. He fears more the Citi Bike stations close to hotels, the source of most of his bike rental customers.

The Department of Transportation says that the Citi Bike station was removed to make way for some utility construction work, and not as a response to the petition. Eventually the station will be re-installed in the same location.