CB 5 Committee to DOT: You Oughta Take a Traffic Lane Outta Sixth Avenue

The DOT proposal for Sixth Avenue adds a protected bike lane but doesn’t remove any motor vehicle lanes. Image: NYC DOT

Like their counterparts at Community Board 4, members of the Manhattan Community Board 5 transportation committee think DOT’s proposed redesign of Sixth Avenue isn’t bold enough. Unlike CB 4, the committee voted for the plan anyway in a unanimous decision last night.

The proposal would add a protected bike lane from 14th Street to 33rd Street, narrowing the avenue’s four motor vehicle lanes without eliminating any [PDF]. Committee members were concerned that the plan won’t slow traffic and lacks various treatments that would better protect pedestrians, like wider sidewalks and raised concrete islands.

“This seems to me to prioritize traffic over pedestrians,” said committee chair Alan Miles.

DOT’s Ted Wright said other community boards are not as eager for more drastic changes. “I wish more community boards were asking for radical things,” he said.

“We ask every time you come here,” Miles quipped. “You’re always concerned about parking spaces.”

Despite wanting more from the redesign, the committee expressed a commitment to move forward with any and all improvements DOT proposes. The project now moves to the full board. Meanwhile, CB 4, which covers the west side of the project area south of 26th Street, is expected to reconsider the proposal in January.

Sixth Avenue has a high injury rate, and a Transportation Alternatives study released in September found that cyclists account for 10 percent of all traffic on the street. “We think it’s critical,” Janet Liff, who lives in the neighborhood and helped lead TA’s volunteer campaign for a safer Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue, told the CB 5 committee. “As you said, if it’s not perfect it can be improved incrementally over time.”

While Liff said she would like to see a dedicated bus lane added as well, she agreed with the committee members’ assessment that “the perfect should not be the enemy of good.”

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