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Manhattan Community Board Backs DOT Plan for More Protected Bike Lanes

The city needs even more of these kinds of protected bike lanes. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

A Manhattan community board has strongly backed a protected crosstown bicycle route in Midtown, part of the city's latest effort to improve east-west bike travel across the central business district of the city.

Community Board 6's Transportation Committee voted unanimously on Monday to back a new set of paired protected lanes on 52nd and 55th streets, which had been presented by the Department of Transportation's Senior Transportation Planner Acacia Dupierre earlier that night.

It is likely that the full board will back the proposal as well. The route would become an integral part of bike network, linking Manhattan's four major north-south protected lanes. Acacia said the city has seen triple the number of cyclists, and reduced crashes, on its east-west lanes on 26th and 29th streets, which were installed last year. The lanes also came with changes to loading and no-standing zones on the congested core blocks, which improved curb turnover, reduced double parking, and preserved emergency access and dropoff space, Acacia added.

As on 26th/29th, most blocks of 52nd/55th have the width for a parking-protected bike lane on the south curb, an 11-foot travel lane, and an 8-foot loading or parking lane on the north curb. Notably, some intersections will have offset crossings, where painted bulbouts, bollards, or plastic delineators will push turning car traffic out toward the center of the street, so that as they complete their turns they see the bicycle traffic crossing in front of them. This configuration reduces speeds and improves visibility, protecting everyone.

“I like it,” said CB6 member Brian Van Nieuwenhoven, capturing the general enthusiasm for the proposal, which could be completed by the end of the summer.

CB6 has strongly supported traffic mitigation measures for the original L-train reconstruction plan, including the existing 12th and 13th Street bike lanes, but also 14th Street "busway" with improved frequencies and HOV restrictions on the Williamsburg Bridge.

Transportation Alternatives is leading a Bike Train along the 13th Street lane on Thursday at 5:30 p.m, meeting at First Avenue. The ride will end at 5:45 p.m. with a press conference prior to the MTA open house on the revised L train plan at 6 p.m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe, 328 W. 14th St.

Rich Mintz is a nonprofit fundraising consultant, safe streets activist, and member of Manhattan Community Board 6.

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