Garodnick Endorses Complete Streets for Fifth and Sixth Avenues

The next time someone tries to tell you that complete street designs with pedestrian islands and protected bike lanes are controversial, point them to what’s happening on Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Avenues in Manhattan, where a united coalition of parents, business owners, elected officials, and community boards are begging DOT to design streets in the image of the already-remade First, Second, Eighth, and Ninth Avenues.

Think Fifth Avenue could be safer and better for bus riders, cyclists, and pedestrians? Dan Garodnick does. Photo: Canon/Flickr
Think Fifth Avenue could be safer and better for bus riders, cyclists, and pedestrians? Dan Garodnick does. Photo: Canon/Flickr

Advocates for a redesigned Fifth and Sixth Avenues are furthest along. Last week, they secured the endorsement of Council Member Dan Garodnick. “Complete streets help to reduce the conflicts that exist every day between cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians in Midtown Manhattan,” Garodnick said in a statement. “The Department of Transportation should be looking to repeat their most successful strategies wherever they can, and Fifth and Sixth Avenues — with significant crashes annually — are ripe for review.”

The campaign has already received backing from Council Member Corey Johnson and Community Boards 2, 4, and 5. It’s also gathered the support of numerous business improvement districts and small businesses. Next month, Transportation Alternatives is hosting a “walk, bike, shop” event along Fifth and Sixth Avenues to thank local merchants for their support [PDF]. Next up: securing meetings with Council Members Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez, who cover the area’s final southernmost blocks.

That momentum has spilled westward, where an effort led by parents and staff at PS 41 to expand the West Village slow zone has grown into a complete streets campaign for Seventh Avenue. Last Thursday, CB 2’s full board followed the lead of its transportation committee by unanimously endorsing a resolution asking DOT to study a complete streets redesign for Seventh Avenue, Seventh Avenue South, and Varick Street. In passing what could be considered a model resolution for boards wanting safer arterial streets [PDF], CB 2 asked DOT to consider pedestrian islands, narrowed car lanes, protected bike lanes, bus lanes, bus bulbs, leading pedestrian intervals, and split-phase traffic signals.

Seventh Avenue is also likely to come up at the next meeting of CB 4’s transportation committee, which covers the avenue through Chelsea, scheduled for October 15.

“There’s so much support from the community boards, from the electeds, that DOT will really have the chance to be bold,” said Transportation Alternatives organizer Tom Devito. “It’s clearly a testament to a shift in the belief in what our streets are for.”

  • Complete Streets Rule!

  • Jesse

    5th and 6th in Midtown desperately need this. It would be great also if DOT would experiment with center-running bus lanes and huge pedestrian islands to facilitate boarding. I’ve seen this design in cities with good BRT and it works really well when the bus doesn’t have to keep stopping for turning drivers.

  • J

    This is some fantastic grassroots momentum. Hopefully DOT can move these projects quickly from community approval to implementation. With Hudson Street, it took 2.5 years from CB approval of community-developed plan to project implementation, and by that example, this could be implemented by April 2017. Hopefully, DOT can speed the process up:

    At some point, though, there is enough community support to just say, “DOT, please make all of our streets complete streets: give the highest priority to pedestrian comfort and safety; create a connected low-stress bike network; and create a network of arterials that prioritize public transit service.” This way, DOT can do planning at a larger, more comprehensive scale, instead of waiting for CBs to develop projects, one by one.

  • BBnet3000

    Please let them be real bike paths, 1st and 2nd Aves are such a drag.

  • Clarke

    I can see the sharrows now….

  • Emmily_Litella

    Yes, put back the Koch lane on 6th Ave. Lets build up our transportation reslience before the next oil shock.

  • Matthias

    This is good news. 6 Av is terrifying.

  • Glenn Havinoviski

    If we are looking at proper bike lanes on both sides as well as maintaining some semblence of vehicle flow, center-running BRT would be a good choice. Depending on location and the roadway + sidewalk envelope, as well as whether it is 1-way vs 2-way operations along the avenue, an attractive BRT solution that maximizes room for bike lanes on both sides might have stations with a wide single center island allowing for left-hand boarding, along with buses that have both left hand and right hand entry (i.e., the successful HealthLine BRT in Cleveland). In orher words, essentially rubber-tired light rail vehicles, which can work for both center lane and curb lane BRT facilities.


TA, Manhattan Pols Urge DOT to Commit to Fully Redesigning Fifth and Sixth

Last month DOT announced its intent to add a protected bike lane along 19 blocks of Sixth Avenue. A coalition of advocates, business groups, community board representatives, and elected officials think the city can do better. At a press conference next to the Flatiron Building this morning, they called on DOT to redesign the entire length of Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. In a […]