The city hopes a new road configuration will help cyclists and motorists share Lafayette Avenue — but the Fort Greene group that petitioned for the street redesign fears it won’t do enough to protect bicycle-riders.
Bike advocates working under the name Make Lafayette Avenue Safer wish the city would stripe a cycling-only path on the thoroughfare in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill rather than turning one of street’s two moving lanes into a “shared” route that’s open to both bikes and cars.
“We wanted paint down,” said the group’s co-founder Ali Loxton. “Right now Lafayette Avenue is a free for all, but we’re looking at this as a step in the right direction.”
The city backed away from a previous plan to convert one automotive lane into a full-time bike lane last year after outcry from neighbors — but Community Board 2 prompted the city to reintroduce a traffic-taming plan for Lafayette Avenue after Loxton and group co-founder Hilda Cohen collected 1,600 signatures in support of a cycling path.
Representatives from the Department of Transportation told Fort Greene residents last week that they expect motorists will respect cyclists traveling ahead of them in the shared route by not passing inside the lane — and argued the communal path is the sole solution for Lafayette Avenue.
“The only way to create a bike lane would have been to remove a lane from the street,” said project manager Preston Johnson. “We looked at the impact of the lane removal and it would have severely degraded the intersection and we decided it was not an option for this project.”
Along with the communal lane for cars and bikes between Fulton Street and Classon Avenue, the city will alter the timing on the traffic lights to sync with motorists traveling at around 20 miles-per-hour — potentially slowing speeding that neighbors say is endemic on the roadway.
Community Board 2’s transportation committee signed off the on the plan in a 7–2 vote, but bikers say they will press on for a cycling-only lane.
“I hope this isn’t the end,” said Loxton. “I hope there will be a new bike lane.”
But some Fort Greene and Clinton Hill residents say cyclists should uphold their end of the bargain by adhering to traffic laws on Lafayette Avenue before the city makes any more pro-bike changes to the roadway.