Are they just feeding cyclists a line?
A panel of local transit watchdogs endorsed a city proposal to add unprotected path bike lanes along Seventh Avenue in Park Slope on Dec. 15, despite members and area residents worrying that painting some stripes along the stretch will only give cyclists a false sense of security on what is really a terrifying obstacle course of motor-vehicle mayhem.
“I don’t see this working on Seventh Avenue,” said Matt Silverman, who co-chairs Community Board 6’s public safety committee, which voted alongside the transportation committee. “There’s constant cars coming in and out, constant doors opening.”
The committee members nevertheless voted 9–2 in favor of the Department of Transportation’s plan to paint on bike lanes along Seventh Avenue between 15th and Carroll streets, after which the road narrows by 10 feet and it would add shared-lane “sharrow” markings — which let motorists know they’re in the mix with bikers but don’t physically separate the two — to Park Place.
The Seventh Avenue lanes would help fill the four-block gap between bike lanes on Fifth Avenue and Prospect Park West, and form a connection with existing bike lanes on Carlton Avenue, transit reps said.
The plan won’t nix any existing traffic lanes or parking spots, but does include a 4-foot-wide painted medium, intended to narrow the width of car lanes and encourage motorists to drive more carefully.
But locals are worried that stationary vehicles will pose just as much of a problem as speeding ones — delivery truck drivers and other motorists frequently double-park right where the proposed lanes will merge cyclists and vehicular traffic, according to one citizen.
“What are you going to tell all the people double-parking on Seventh Avenue?” said transportation committee member Pauline Blake. “That double-parking isn’t allowed?”
The city won’t do anything about it, a rep for the transit agency said, but insisted savvy bikers will have the good sense to navigate around the hazards.
“Cyclists are used to this type of thing,” said Ted Wright, director of the agency’s bike and Greenway programs. “The smart cyclist is going to slow down, wait for traffic to go, and go around.”
Residents were also concerned about the area around Methodist Hospital, between Fifth and Seventh streets, where there is heavy traffic including constant taxi drop-offs and deliveries.
“To add bikers there, people with no helmets, nothing … you’re going to have pedestrians being hit, your going to have bikers getting hit,” said Slope resident Denisa Tomlinson.
The reps claimed the bike lanes won’t attract more riders to the area, however — they’ll merely safeguard the roughly 382 weekday and 708 weekend cyclists the city estimates are already navigating the hellish stretch.
“We’re responding to existing cyclists on the street,” said project manager Preston Johnson. “What we’re doing is organizing the street, so people know where they’re supposed to be, and where you’re going to see a cyclists.”
The full community board will vote on the plan next at a meeting next month, and those members are on board, construction is slated to begin in spring 2017.