Finally! Fourth Avenue to get protected bike lanes

Finally! Fourth Avenue to get protected bike lanes
Department of Transportation

The city aims to install two protected bike lanes along four miles of Fourth Avenue from Boerum Hill to Bay Ridge.

The proposed path would run between Dean and 65th streets and separate cyclists from traffic with a buffer of parked cars. Activists have pressed the city for such a lane for years, claiming it would curb accidents on the bustling thoroughfare, but the Department of Transportation shot down the idea in favor of expanding medians along stretches of the roadway. Now locals are ecstatic that the city has reconsidered, said one community activist.

“It’ll make the ride so much safer. I’m absolutely jubilant,” said Sunset Parker Tony Giordano, who has pushed for the lane since 2014. “This has really been a David and Goliath battle. We’ve been advocating for this for years.”

Fourth Avenue would feature a cycling path on each side of the thoroughfare from Boerum Hill, through Gowanus, Park Slope, and Sunset Park, up to Bay Ridge. It would be a vital connector between the Downtown area and Southern Brooklyn, said one Park Slope bike enthusiast.

“There’s not a protected north-and-south route from the southern part of Sunset Park up to Atlantic Avenue, so I think this will be something that will be of great benefit to people who bike,” said Eric McClure, co-chairman of the Community Board 6 transportation committee. “I think it’s great news.”

The path proposal is an amendment to the city’s 2016 plans to raise medians to two feet above the roadway and widen them by four feet on either side with added greenery and benches at some intersections.

But Brooklyn has seen a spike in commuter cycling, and the city decided a bike lane was a better use of the space, said the commissioner of the Department of Transportation.

“The dramatic surge in cycling, combined with safety changes that have dramatically improved Fourth Avenue’s safety and livability, have simply transformed the way Brooklynites see this street,” said Polly Trottenberg. “Before we undertake construction that will transform the corridor for decades, we look forward to engaging with elected officials, neighborhoods, and community boards to consider changes to our original plans.”

In the next two weeks, the city will begin spelling out its plans at Community Boards 2, 6, and 7. But the bike lane does not require approval from community boards or City Council to proceed.

Installation of the bike lane will likely begin this year.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.