DOT Proposals Peddle More Protected Bike Lanes - Manhattan Express | Manhattan Express

DOT Proposals Peddle More Protected Bike Lanes

The proposed protected bike lane design for Columbus Circle. | Courtesy of NYC DOT

BY MION EDWARDS | Cyclists and pedestrians in the upper westernmost territory of Community Board 4 (CB4) coverage could be looking at a safer travel route, in the form of two proposed protected bike lanes.

Taking place at the Hotel Trades Council on W. 44th St., June 20’s monthly meeting of the CB4 Transportation Planning Committee (TPC) saw presentations from the Department of Transportation (DOT) on two proposed protected bike lanes: Eighth Ave. and W. 56th-58th Sts./Columbus Circle, and 10th & Amsterdam Aves., W. 52nd-72nd Sts.

The TPC voted in favor for the DOT’s first proposal, to have the protected bike lane extensions from Eighth Avenue (W. 56th-58th Sts.) and Columbus Circle.

This is not, however, the last stop for implementation.

“DOT will present the proposal to Community Boards 5 and 7 in the coming weeks. We will work to incorporate any feedback into our final plans and hope to implement the project later this year,” a DOT spokesperson said.

Given the history of the proposed routes as dangerous spots for pedestrians and cyclists, the DOT’s presentation was welcomed as an overdue course correction.

“In 2014, DOT published its Pedestrian Safety action plans as part of the Vision Zero initiative. Eighth Avenue and 57th [St.] were listed amongst the most dangerous corridors/intersections,” said committee co-chair Christine Berthet.

“Since then,” Berthet added, “Manhattan Community Board 4 and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal have been asking DOT to improve safety at 57th Street and Eighth Avenue for both pedestrians and cyclists.”

TPC approved the proposed plan for the future bike lane.

“This project accomplishes this goal by adding a split phase signal to turn west from Eighth Avenue to 57th Street, and addresses another board’s request: provide a safe way for cyclists to reach the park and the Upper West Side. We are delighted,” Berthet said.

In his presentation, Patrick Kennedy, DOT senior project manager, said the projected bike lane would be able to reduce injuries for cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians.

According to the presentation, with the implementation of existing protected bike lanes, pedestrian injuries decreased by 21 percent and injuries to cyclists increased only 3 percent, despite a 61 percent bike volume increase.

Members of the community also showed their appreciation for the first proposal with a round of applause.

“I bike with my toddler,” said a 49th St. resident who often travels that route with his child, adding, “I’m so happy you’re fixing it.”

Community residents voiced their concerns and praise during the meeting. The only concern for the first proposal was a desire by residents for its vertical elements to more clearly signal drivers of a bike lane.

“I live on West 61st and Amsterdam and I’ve been bicycle commuting for the last 30 years in Manhattan. I think it’s great that we are starting to see some more bike lanes coming in,” said James Miller.

The TPC as well as members of the community had strong apprehension about the second proposed route, stretching from 10th & Amsterdam Aves. (W. 52nd-72nd Sts). The committee made the decision to delay approval until the DOT returns in July with corrections dealing concerns about safety issues, speed signals, and the split phase signals.

Existing conditions on Amsterdam Ave. | Images courtesy of NYC DOT

The proposed protected bike lane design for Amsterdam Ave.

“The board’s utmost priority is pedestrian and cyclist safety. In this case, the lack of pedestrian refuges built in concrete, and the lack of a full complement of signalized protection gave us pause,” said Berthet.

In response, the DOT said they look forward to working with CB4 to address their questions and concerns about the proposal.

At the meeting, there was a reoccurring theme of cyclist and pedestrian safety.

“Cyclist safety is paramount for us. We have been the strongest proponents of 100 percent protected bike lanes since DOT installed the first one ever in our district on the lower part of Ninth Avenue,” Berthet noted, adding, “The bike lane will be installed in an area where three major schools and a hospital are located. Calming the traffic, shortening crossing time without compromising safety.”

Open to the public, CB4’s next TPC meeting takes place on Wed., July 18, 6:30 p.m. at 500 W. 41st St., eighth floor (btw. 10th & 11th Aves). For more information, visit nyc.gov/html/mancb4.

“I live on West 61st and Amsterdam,” said James Miller, “and I’ve been bicycle commuting for the last 30 years in Manhattan. I think it’s great that we are starting to see some more bike lanes coming in.” | Photo by Mion Edwards

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