Community Board Panel OK’s More Protected Bike Lanes in Midtown

The city needs even more of these kinds of protected bike lanes, 13 groups demand in a letter to the city. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
The city needs even more of these kinds of protected bike lanes, 13 groups demand in a letter to the city. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

A Manhattan community board panel has backed a city plan for protected bike lanes on 52nd and 55th streets.

The CB5 transportation committee supported the proposal on Monday night after Department of Transportation officials formally presented its plan [PDF] for paired east-west lanes similar to those on 26th and 29th street, which have proven popular for cyclists.

The new lanes on 52nd and 55th streets will close a hole in the bike network. Photo: DOT
The new lanes on 52nd and 55th streets will close a hole in the bike network. Photo: DOT

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.

The CB5 committee vote follows a similar vote by neighboring CB6 earlier this month, also in favor of the lanes.

According to DOT, almost 1,000 cyclists use 55th Street now as a crosstown route every 12 hours, so agency officials argued that the protected lane was needed simply to keep up with demand. The agency also spoke of a gender imperative, as women cyclists are far more likely to choose that form of transportation if a roadway has a protected bike lane.

The agency also touted the overall safety record of roadways with such protection for cyclists: 15-percent drop in crashes with injuries, plus a 21-percent drop in pedestrian injuries.

Nonetheless, some members of the committee called for stepped-up enforcement of cyclists.

The vote comes as many other community boards fight DOT street safety efforts. Community Board 9 in West Harlem, for instance, has opposed a safety redesign of Amsterdam Avenue for two years. The board is holding a press conference today amid outrage after a pedestrian was killed on the still-unsafe strip on Friday night.

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