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It’s Happening: Fourth Avenue Protected Bike Lane Slated for Implementation This 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

Brooklyn Community Board 7 voted 30 to 5 last night in favor of DOT's plan for protected bike lanes on Fourth Avenue. The agency plans to install the first segment of the project, between 38th Street and 65th Street, in low-cost materials this spring.

Protected bike lanes on Fourth Avenue will provide the first safe, convenient north-south bike connection for the neighborhoods of western Brooklyn. The northern segment, between 38th Street and Atlantic Avenue, which CB 6 endorsed last week, will begin installation in 2019.

There wasn't much dispute at last night's meeting, according to attendees. Only a few board members spoke against the project.

"You had a couple of board members who actually went out of their way to self-identify themselves as people who drive," Bay Ridge resident Brian Hedden, who runs the Bike South Brooklyn Twitter account, told Streetsblog. "Both of these people came out strongly in favor of bicycling and pedestrian safety."

Just a few years ago, Fourth Avenue was a six-lane arterial roadway -- the kind of high-speed street that inflicts a disproportionate share of traffic injuries and fatalities.

A DOT redesign in 2012 trimmed the number of motor vehicle lanes and expanded medians, greatly reducing the pedestrian injury rate. While it was safer for walking, there was no space for biking.

Before the city committed to a capital reconstruction of Fourth Avenue that would foreclose the possibility of a bike lane for decades, Council Member Carlos Menchaca intervened, pressing DOT to revise its plan. Last May DOT came back with a version that included parking-protected curbside bike lanes.

The four-mile reconstruction of Fourth Avenue is now shaping up as a watershed that lives up to its billing as a flagship Vision Zero project. What used to be a dangerous, traffic-choked street, hostile to kids walking to school and terrifying to bike on, is on track to become one of the most important bikeways in the city by the end of next year.

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