Brooklyn CB 7 Committee Unanimously Endorses Protected Bike Lanes for Fourth Avenue

A full board vote is set for next Wednesday, with the first phase of implementation on track for the spring.

The plan calls for protected bike lanes, with the redesign of 27 blocks using low-cost materials slated for this spring, ahead of a full street reconstruction set to begin in the fall. Image: DOT
The plan calls for protected bike lanes, with the redesign of 27 blocks using low-cost materials slated for this spring, ahead of a full street reconstruction set to begin in the fall. Image: DOT

The addition of protected bike lanes to Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn gained momentum last night, with the Community Board 7 transportation committee voting unanimously in favor of NYC DOT’s redesign.

That sets up a full board vote for next Wednesday, with the first phase of implementation on track for the spring.

An earlier DOT redesign, implemented with low-cost materials in 2012 and 2013, improved safety but did not include a bikeway. With Fourth Avenue slated for a full capital reconstruction between 65th Street and Atlantic Avenue, Council Member Carlos Menchaca has pressed the city to get the design right and make Fourth Avenue a safe north-south bike route for western Brooklyn.

DOT’s updated design calls for curbside protected bike lanes linking Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, and Park Slope [PDF].

DOT has been gathering feedback and refining the project since May, presenting at churches, schools, and community centers.

Much of the additional detail presented last night involved curb management and parking. To cut down on double parking, DOT identified several commercial blocks of Fourth Avenue were parking meters and/or loading zones should be added.

The redesign would proceed in phases, starting as soon as the spring with a version using low-cost materials between 38th Street and 65th Street. That would be followed by two capital projects, one starting in the fall between 8th Street and 64th Street.

Image: NYC DOT
Image: NYC DOT

The second capital project, slated for the summer of 2021, could extend the protected bike lanes from 8th Street to Atlantic Avenue, but DOT isn’t ready to commit. DOT Bicycle Program Director Ted Wright said last night that the agency is “working hard” on fitting bike lanes as far north as possible.

Map: NYC DOT
Map: NYC DOT

Another segment of the bike lanes won’t be fully protected: Between 38th Street and the Prospect Expressway on the northbound side, the parking lane that provides protection will be a rush-hour traffic lane between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. on weekdays.

Traffic studies from 2012 and 2013 make DOT hesitant to get rid of the rush hour traffic lane, Wright said, but the agency is looking into ways to keep cars out of the way, including a concrete curb, which the city used for the first time this year on Park Row outside City Hall.

“This is something that bothers us,” Wright said of the rush hour travel lane.

Though the meeting was largely drama-free, the parking changes elicited some pushback from committee members. But the counter-request was for meter limits longer than two hours — the intent being to provide long-term parking for residents. Since the meters are in effect for business hours (7 a.m. – 7 p.m.) DOT’s Ted Wright said it wouldn’t be an issue.

Five members of the public came to testify, all speaking in favor of the project.

Colin Powers, who lives in the neighborhood and both drives and bikes, said he anticipated that traffic will slow on Fourth Avenue as a result of the redesign, but that he still wanted it to happen.

“I was at the vigil for the 14-year-old killed on his bicycle a couple weeks ago,” Powers said, referring to Edwin Ajacalon, who was struck while biking at Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street last month. “I really believe that, morally, we can’t allow another death like that to happen.”

The full CB 7 board meets next Wednesday, December 20, at 6:30 p.m. at the board office, located at 4201 Fourth Avenue (enter on 43rd Street).

  • Matt Jones

    2021 before there’s anything on the 8th St to Atlantic Ave. stretch is a huge disappointment.

  • BortLicensePlatez

    Why no 2-way contraflow?? I seriously don’t understand why all bike lane construction doesn’t do that; especially because I thinks it makes bike haters feel like they keep “their” space, psychologically….

  • J

    For a capital project, this still has some really weak efforts to reclaim space and tighten turn radii, which would reduce turn speeds and be more in line with Vision Zero. Even in this groundbreaking Vision Zero project, the DOT default is still to give space to cars unless someone can prove it’s needed for something else. The default in countries that truly prioritize safety, walking, and cycling is that cars only get the space that is absolutely needed. The following shows what a more Dutch approach would look like. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bd33ab9d7c74002194fa8e70988d26a521fa0422bdee3949f2ef12049f886255.png

  • William Farrell

    Earlier they said NB would go to Carroll and SB would begin at Dean. I will ask why that is no longer the case when they present to CB 6.

  • William Farrell

    A few reasons come to mind. One is that this arrangement allows DOT to maintain the current lane configuration. To fit a two-way bike lane on one side would mean getting rid of the parking, which would then beget adding a physical barrier other than parked cars (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it becomes more politically difficult and expensive). There are also issues with two-way bike lanes regularly crossing streets in the contra-flow directions. It makes it harder to phase the signals and ensure that everyone can cross safety. For this reason, two-way bike lanes are often adjacent to long stretches with few or no cross streets (think parks and water bodies).

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

DOT has reportedly modified plans for an Amsterdam Avenue road diet north of 110th Street. On Thursday the project will be presented to CB 9 for the second time. Images: DOT

This Week: Amsterdam Avenue, Fourth Avenue, Queens Boulevard

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Three big street redesign projects are on the calendar. Queens Community Board 6 will take up the Rego Park phase of DOT's Queens Boulevard redesign; Manhattan CB 9 will get a look at a revised plan for bike lanes and road diet on Amsterdam Avenue north of 110th Street; and DOT goes to Sunset Park for the second workshop about the redesign of Fourth Avenue.