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DOT Continues to Ignore Dangers it Created on Brooklyn’s Fourth Ave

The Department of Transportation is still willfully endangering cyclists on Brooklyn's Fourth Avenue.

1:50 PM EDT on September 18, 2023

Photo: Dave Colon|

On Fourth Avenue between 10th and 11th streets, illegal parking where a bike lane used to be makes for a dangerous cycling experience.

The Department of Transportation is still willfully endangering cyclists on Brooklyn's Fourth Avenue.

A cohort of elected officials and advocates is once again demanding that the agency stop exempting itself from a city law that requires the construction of a temporary bike lane whenever an existing one gets eliminated during construction — as it has been eliminated in multiple locations on Fourth Avenue.

In a June missive to the DOT, elected officials and street safety organizations, called on the DOT to "reinstate Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue protected bike lane during the avenue’s reconstruction," said a letter from Council members Lincoln Restler, Alexa Aviles and Shahana Hanif, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, state Sen. Andrew Gounardes, Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon and Borough President Antonio Reynoso, Bike New York, Transportation Alternatives and Bike South Brooklyn.

Last October when the Department of Design and Construction began work on a "Great Streets" project to add a landscaped median, street furniture and hardened pedestrian refuges to Fourth Avenue between Eighth and 64th streets, the DOT came under fire for exempting itself from city law and allowing itself to fully eliminate the bike lane. The DOT said it had to get rid of the vital cyclist safety sluice for multiple blocks at a time wherever the DDC work was being done, in order to create a second lane for motor vehicles, allegedly to prevent one-mile long traffic jams from forming if only one motor vehicle lane was left.

But as they've pointed out before, the elected officials and advocates say that the DOT's decision to remove the parking lane just created a lane where drivers double park, reducing the road to single lane without even providing the extra travel space the agency said it needed to carve out for motor vehicles.

"During current construction to improve long-term safety and ongoing traffic calming measures, which we support, we have witnessed drivers illegally parking in the curbside travel lane in the construction zones, reducing travel lanes to only one, and dangerously forcing bicycles into the travel lane as well," the letter states. "We urge DOT to work to ensure curb lanes be preserved for safe cyclist passage through the construction zones." (Signatories of the letter say they have not received a response from DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez.)

At the moment, the work on the median eliminates the bike lane between Eighth and 11th streets and 61st and 64th streets, resulting in some tight squeezes if you try to bike in the area and there's any traffic at all.

On Fourth Avenue between 63rd and 64th streets, the parking protected bike lane is gone, but drivers still park in what is supposed to be a travel lane next to the curb. Photo: Dave Colon

The advocates and elected officials also took aim at a common problem on the block, cars that are illegally parked in the painted pedestrian islands. Drivers parking on the paint has been a constant problem since the bike lane has gone in, with both civilians and police officers enjoying the practice of illegally parking on the pedestrian space.

The painted islands are supposed to give pedestrians more space to cross, and add daylighting to the block so drivers turning right off of Fourth Avenue don't plow into people crossing north or south, as happened to one cyclist this month at 20th Street.

"We also ask that DOT deploy quick-build physical elements to keep the painted street-corner islands clear of illegally parked cars during the construction phase," they wrote.

The letter signees also asked the DDC and DOT to give an update on when the project is supposed to actually finish. When it was pitched at the end of 2017, the Great Streets project between Eighth and 64th streets was supposed to begin in fall 2019, with a second phase of the capital work from Eighth Street to Atlantic Avenue beginning in fall 2021. A 2020 update to the project pushed the beginning of the first phase and second phases back to 2020 and 2022 respectively, but the capital work on the northern stretch has not started.

The Department of Transportation declined to respond to questions about this.

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