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).

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Will the Sixth Avenue Protected Bike Lane Get Done in 2016?

|
DOT presented a plan for a protected bike lane on 19 blocks of Sixth Avenue to the Manhattan Community Board 4 transportation committee last night. From 14th Street to 33rd Street, the design calls for carving out a six-foot bike lane and three-foot buffer protected from moving motor vehicles by a lane of parked cars [PDF]. Sixth […]