Elected Officials Join Call for Midtown Fifth Avenue Bikeway

For the second time, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Council Member Dan Garodnick, and State Senator Brad Hoylman called on DOT to make walking and biking safer on Fifth Avenue in Midtown.

Fifth Avenue is the most heavily cycled southbound avenue in Manhattan, even though it doesn’t have a protected bikeway. Image: Google Maps
Fifth Avenue is the most heavily cycled southbound avenue in Manhattan, even though it doesn’t have a protected bikeway. Image: Google Maps

Three Manhattan elected officials are again calling on DOT to make Fifth Avenue a complete street.

In an October 20 letter, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Council Member Dan Garodnick, and State Senator Brad Hoylman urged Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg to reconsider the DOT plan to expand transit capacity on Fifth in Midtown without installing a protected bike lane [PDF].

DOT installed a bikeway on 15 blocks of Fifth, between 23rd Street and Eighth Street, over the summer. But between 34th Street and Central Park, the only protected bike lane east of Eighth Avenue and west of Second Avenue is the southbound segment on Broadway.

DOT has an opportunity to fill a gap in the Midtown bike network and give pedestrians some breathing room on Fifth between 61st and 34th streets, but so far the agency’s plans are limited to an additional bus lane.

Hundreds of volunteers formed a human protected bike lane earlier this month on six blocks of Fifth in Midtown to call attention to unsafe riding conditions. Now, electeds are again speaking up.

“There are huge gaps in our bicycle infrastructure, and the lack of complete streets in Midtown Manhattan is one of the most glaring examples,” the letter says. “It is concerning, then, that while the DOT is considering enhancements to bus lanes between 34th and 60th Streets — an improvement we strongly support — the agency is not also taking the opportunity to implement additional safety features such as installing a separated bike lane and pedestrian islands.”

Brewer, Garodnick, and Hoylman previously called for pedestrian- and cyclist-oriented redesigns of Fifth and Sixth avenues in a 2015 letter to Trottenberg.

Manhattan Community Board 5 passed a resolution in 2013 asking DOT to study transit priority, protected bike lanes, and pedestrian improvements on Fifth Avenue. But earlier this month the board endorsed the DOT plan for a bus lane with no accompanying improvements for biking and walking.

“Installing a complete street for just these 15 blocks is inefficient,” the elected officials write. “Commuting conditions north of 24th Street in Midtown Manhattan along 5th Avenue — which are some of the most perilous in the city — would benefit even more from a complete street redesign effort.”

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Garodnick Endorses Complete Streets for Fifth and Sixth Avenues

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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 […]