6 Manhattan Electeds Ask DOT for Complete Streets on Fifth and Sixth Ave

DOT has put out a plan to add a protected bike lane on Sixth Avenue from 14th Street to 33rd Street [PDF], and Manhattan electeds want more. A letter from State Senator Brad Hoylman and five other representatives calls for a more thorough complete street redesign along all of Sixth Avenue and Fifth Avenue from Greenwich Village to Central Park.

In addition to Hoylman, Assembly members Deborah Glick and Richard Gottfried, City Council members Dan Garodnick and Corey Johnson, and Borough President Gale Brewer signed on to the letter to DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione, calling on the department “to take necessary steps to study and implement Complete Streets infrastructure on Fifth and Sixth Avenues as swiftly as possible.”

Members of both Community Board 4 and Community Board 5 have asked DOT for a bolder design in its Sixth Avenue plan. Since green lights were lengthened on Sixth Avenue in Midtown in conjunction with the pedestrianization of several blocks of Broadway a few years ago (signal time was basically reallocated from Broadway to Sixth, increasing average vehicle speeds [PDF]), it should be possible to repurpose a full traffic lane relatively painlessly. But the current plan does not include raised concrete pedestrian refuges, wider sidewalks, or bus lanes, and the bike lane is not as spacious as it should be:

Image: NYC DOT
Image: NYC DOT

DOT also has yet to commit to redesigning Fifth Avenue. So far the agency’s timetable calls for a second phase protected bike lane segment on Sixth between Canal Street and 14th Street in 2017, but only a study of Fifth Avenue and the rest of Sixth Avenue up to Central Park. The elected officials want a commitment to redesign more of the avenues.

“Redesigning the entire Fifth and Sixth Avenue corridors — south of Central Park down to the Village — as Complete Streets will improve safety for all road users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorized vehicles,” the letter says.

Update: A DOT spokesperson says that the department is listening to the concerns of elected officials and will take the letter into account when considering next steps: “We thank the elected officials for their correspondence and continued support on the project that DOT is currently developing on 6th Avenue, between 14th Street and 33rd Street. We are aware of the current petition and campaign for 5th and 6th Avenues and will review the next steps for both corridors.”

  • BBnet3000

    A narrow protected lane full of pedestrians that begins and ends abruptly and dumps you into high volumes of angry auto traffic. We are still stuck in the 2009 “build a demonstration segment and put out a press release about it” mode while other cities have moved on to seriously planning for expanding comfortable cycling.

    When can we stop doing pilot projects for a proven mode of transportation?

  • Nobody is standing in the way of this transition except DOT.

    This is basically the opposite of the supposed reality that Christine Quinn claimed was going on. You don’t have a reckless DOT implementing bold changes without community input. You have DOT implementing almost nothing in these districts while every stakeholder screams for bold changes.

    This is somebody’s cynical idea of good process. (Likely the people who think we should have more cars, more lanes, more parking)

  • Alexander Vucelic

    electeds need to order DOT ti build 50 annual miles of protected bike Lane instead of DOTs current Mandate of 5 miles. There are 6,000 miles of city streets at 50 miles a year, ten years means a bare 10% of of City would Have protected bike lanes.

  • BBnet3000

    Yes, but this should not be the only tool they use. It’s too bad no other approach has emerged under Vision Zero, such as the removal of high levels of through traffic from neighborhood streets. It would appear that the design aspect of VZ is little more than a median building program and has no network-level goals.


  • Alexander Vucelic

    true true true

    however, we are dealing with a Robert Moses ingrained culture. It took decades to instill the obsession with mass motoring. it will take time to instill a broader mindset.

    I went out to Sheepshead bay and the Bronx the other day ( via bike of course ). I can honestly say, The Bronx is as horrifically car centric in design as the worst parts of LA. Sheepshead Bay could also be any inner ring suburb of LA. Those people going to be a long time coming before they riding their baksfiets in high heels & flowers day skirts to bring home a baguette with kiddies riding alongside.

    I’ll argue a dense network of JSK style protected bike lanes and complete streets is the medium term goal we should be pushing. Yes – push for eliminating free parking and eliminating high speed motor lanes always.

    Let s get JSK style complete streets on the full lengths of:

    Atlantic Blvd
    Queens Blvd
    Grand Concourse
    St. Nicholas Ave..
    every single Manhattan Avenue from Battery to 125th

    we’d attract the ‘strong and fearless’ plus ‘enthused and confident’ plus a smattering of ‘interested but concerned’ and we’d have 20% of the population cycling most of the time/ That would be huge.

    I’ve ridden extensively on high quality European bike infrastructure – it’s amazing, but it ain’t hapoening here in the short term.

  • rao

    Four lanes of traffic is not efficient or safe. It is highwaylike. This is a golden opportunity to relieve a dangerous condition by taking out a lane. If you want to drive on a highway, there are places to do that. Midtown should not be one of them.

  • J

    The city developed a few decent tools under JSK to quickly pilot new ideas and projects. These pilot projects have been successful, so the logical next step would be to scale up the ideas and pilot new ideas as needed (bike boulevards, protected intersections, etc.).

    However, since JSK left, DOT has pretty much stopped innovating at all, and are still implementing projects with the toolkit built under JSK, and building small, cheap pilot concepts quickly in a hostile political environment, with little thought to network. This continues despite a sea change in political support for bicycle infrastructure.

    The city needs protected intersections, bike boulevards, and more innovative traffic calming, beyond the current tools. The city also desperately needs a bicycle master plan.

    Why is DOT dragging its feet?

  • J

    This. If this city is at all serious about actually achieving VIsion Zero, they will have to stop trying to preserve fast car travel at all costs.

    The #1 metric at DOT is still: “Will traffic still move at a reasonable pace during rush hour?”

    This is incredibly backwards, since designing streets that way produces streets that encourage speeding and aggressive driving at all other hours of the day, which is the exact thing that is killing New Yorkers.

  • AnoNYC

    The sidewalks along these streets badly need to be widened too.

  • BBnet3000

    Four northbound moving lanes is the same as the West Side Highway.

  • J

    Building protected bike lanes in 5th Ave, south if 23rd should be a piece of cake, as there is already a buffered bike lane there. It also already connects to the Broadway protected lanes.


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