DOT Extends Sixth Avenue Protected Bike Lane Plan to 8th Street

A rendering from DOT's November proposal for a protected bike lane on Sixth Avenue. The plan now includes raised pedestrian medians. Image: NYC DOT
DOT’s November proposal for a protected bike lane on Sixth Avenue included painted pedestrian zones. A new version of the plan calls for raised concrete islands instead. Image: NYC DOT

DOT is extending its plan for a protected bike lane on Sixth Avenue six blocks and will include some concrete pedestrian islands in the project. Previously, the plan called for a protected bike lane between 14th Street and 33rd Street with painted pedestrian islands at intersections. The revised plan extends south to 8th Street and will include some raised concrete islands.

The Manhattan Community Board 2 transportation committee voted unanimously for the new iteration of the project last night. DOT’s Hayes Lord said work on the project will likely begin in June and wrap up by the end of the summer.

The new design will replace the existing painted bike lane on Sixth Avenue with a six-foot-wide parking-protected lane and a three-foot buffer. The raised pedestrian islands will be narrower than usual, since DOT isn’t going to claim more space by removing a general traffic lane.

The concrete islands were added by DOT at the request of the Community Board 4 transportation committee, which withheld its support because the plan lacked sufficiently safe design at intersections. The Community Board 5 transportation committee endorsed the plan in November but said DOT should have gone farther to prioritize safety and transit.

DOT Project Manager Preston Johnson said larger pedestrian islands and a dedicated bus lane would not be included due to the heavy traffic on Sixth Avenue. “It’s very hard for us to find another space without compromising another user,” Johnson said.

While the plan now extends six blocks further south, committee vice chair Maury Schott chided DOT for not putting forward a proposal that includes the rest of Sixth Avenue down to Canal Street. Previously, DOT has said that a section extending to Canal Street is on the table for 2017, and an extension north of 33rd would be considered after that.

Johnson was non-committal about a bike lane below 8th Street. “We want to be able to work there as well,” he said. “But like I said, the difference in the street width just creates different conditions that we want to look at closer.”

Schott said the committee supports a continuous protected bike lane starting at Canal, knowing full well this will probably entail the removal of a general traffic lane. “I think I express the opinion of a lot of people in the community that one of the biggest problems we’re having now is that we’re between and betwixt,” he said. “The reality is that the drivers and the cyclists and the pedestrians are dealing with constantly changing conditions. There are places where cyclists are properly served, there are places where they’re not served at all, there are places where they are not properly served — which is, I think, what a lot of people would say Sixth Avenue is now.”

Like Community Board 4, CB 2 also wants more protected signal time for pedestrians and cyclists to cross without potential conflicts with turning drivers. The committee’s final resolution asked DOT to include a leading pedestrian interval, which the plan already has at the 14th Street and 23rd Street intersections, at 11th Street by P.S. 41.

The full board will vote on the plan on January 21.

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