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A Safer, Saner Lafayette Street Is on Its Way This Summer After CB 2 Vote

1:31 PM EDT on March 21, 2014

Under the plan, a buffered bike lane would be converted to a protected bike lane with pedestrian islands. Image: DOT

After a unanimous vote at its transportation committee earlier this month, Manhattan Community Board 2's full board last night unanimously passed a resolution supporting an upgrade of the buffered bike lane on Lafayette Street and Fourth Avenue to a protected bike lane. The project [PDF] runs from Spring Street to 14th Street and will include a northbound protected bike lane from Prince Street to 12th Street, pedestrian islands, and narrower car lanes to slow drivers.

The project is set to finish construction this summer. Crews have already started grinding pavement on Lafayette to repave the street, which currently has faded markings and a pockmarked surface.

At last night's meeting, five people spoke in support of the plan, including Scott Hobbs, deputy director of the Union Square Partnership, and William Kelley, executive director of the Village Alliance BID. Transportation Alternatives also submitted a petition with signatures from nine business owners and 76 people on the street.

"We felt there were tremendous advantages," transportation committee chair Shirley Secunda said of the plan, noting that it will keep the same number of car lanes while slowing drivers down, upgrading the bike lane, and improving signal timing at crosswalks. "Right now it’s in terrible, terrible shape and very unsafe," she said. “It’s a tremendously wide street and the way the street will be reconfigured would allow for shorter crossings."

The plan also results in a net addition of three on-street parking spaces, with adjustments to outdated no-parking regulations outweighing the spaces removed for new pedestrian islands and mixing zones. Secunda's resolution calls on DOT to look at loading zone needs, with an eye to possibly establishing paid commercial parking to keep delivery dwell time to a minimum.

One member of the public wasn't satisfied. Zella Jones, head of NoHo-Bowery Stakeholders, Inc., urged the board not to move forward with the plan. “We like bike lanes. We want a protected bike lane in NoHo," she told Streetsblog. "But it’s bad planning."

Crews have already begun work on a repaving project that will include a protected bike lane on Lafayette Street and Fourth Avenue. Photo: Stephen Miller
Crews have already begun work on a repaving project that will include a protected bike lane on Lafayette Street and Fourth Avenue. Photo: Stephen Miller

Jones said DOT Deputy Borough Commissioner Nina Haiman walked the project area with her earlier this month, but she remained unsatisfied with the proposal.

Jones claimed that fire trucks turning onto Lafayette from a fire station on Great Jones Street would have trouble navigating a street with a protected bike lane, though Secunda reported that FDNY had not flagged this as an issue with DOT. Jones also said she was concerned about building construction scheduled for the area. "An interrupted bike lane will provide more danger than safety," she said. At the transportation committee meeting on March 6, DOT staff said construction detours similar to those in place on protected bike lanes on First and Ninth Avenues would be installed near construction sites on Lafayette in cooperation with each project's construction manager.

"We reviewed this in your committee, no?" CB 2 chair David Gruber asked Secunda. Jones said she had proposed amendments to the plan endorsed by 80 NoHo residents and businesses, and Secunda added friendly amendments to the resolution in an attempt to placate those concerns. After a brief discussion, the committee voted unanimously for the plan before moving on to other business.

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