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Brooklyn CB 6 Overwhelmingly Endorses Fourth Avenue Protected Bike Lanes

DOT plans to install the 4th Avenue protected bike lane in temporary materials ahead of a full street reconstruction. Image: DOT

Brooklyn Community Board 6 endorsed the DOT plan for protected bike lanes on Fourth Avenue last night, with a nearly unanimous vote. For a community board that balked at the initial redesign of Fourth Avenue a few years ago, it was a remarkably strong statement of support.

Stretching four miles from 65th Street to Atlantic Avenue, the Fourth Avenue redesign [PDF] would fill the need for a safe, direct north-south bike route linking the neighborhoods of western Brooklyn. The project calls for curbside protected bike lanes and concrete pedestrian islands at most intersections, though there are some gaps in parking protection for the bike lane where car traffic volumes are highest. Along with the overhauls of Queens Boulevard and the Grand Concourse, it's one of the de Blasio administration's flagship Vision Zero projects.

The northern section, above 15th Street, is CB 6 turf. Community Board 7, which represents the bulk of the project area extending down to 65th Street, is expected to vote on the project at its full board meeting next Wednesday.

Council members Carlos Menchaca, who represents Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park, and Brad Lander, who represents Park Slope, have both strongly supported the redesign.

DOT plans to install the project in temporary materials this spring between 65th Street and 38th Street. Between 38th Street and Atlantic Avenue, implementation with low-cost materials is slated for spring 2019. The short-term version will be followed by full capital reconstruction scheduled for the 2020's.

The CB 6 transportation committee endorsed the redesign unanimously last month. After that meeting, DOT said it would extend bike infrastructure all the way to Atlantic Avenue. The current presentation calls for a southbound protected bike starting at Atlantic, but says DOT will conduct a traffic study to determine whether to pursue a northbound bike lane above Carroll Street.

CB 6 transportation co-chair Eric McClure presented the plan to the full board last night to positive reviews. No one voted against the project, and there were two abstentions.

Since Fourth Avenue already received wider median islands and a reduction in travel lanes in 2013, adding protected bike lanes won't affect the number of motor vehicle lanes. Putting down pedestrian islands and other measures to improve visibility at intersections will reduce the number of parking spaces, but that wasn't a big sticking point for the board.

"I love the idea of protected bike lanes," board member Mark Shames told his colleagues. "As much as I dislike losing the parking, I think this will work."

It's worth remembering that a few years ago, CB 6 voted against a bike corral on Columbia Street because it would replace a single car parking space.

Speaking at the start of the meeting, Brad Lander said he hoped DOT would expedite the northern segment of the project and install it concurrently with the Sunset Park segment.

"Everybody benefits from a whole bike lane more than half a bike lane," Lander said.

Next week's CB 7 meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at 4201 4th Avenue (entrance on 43rd Street).

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