The wheels are in motion for a revolutionary, two-way bike lane along Prospect Park West that would not only aid cyclists but, supporters say, would also calm the southbound speedway.
The Department of Transportation unveiled the plan to Community Board 6 on Thursday night, telling the group that it plans to remove one lane from the three-lane throughway between Grand Army Plaza and Bartel Pritchard Square in order to make room for the multi-directional biking path alongside Prospect Park.
Very little parking would be lost in the deal — but one lane of car traffic would be removed.
As a result, the cycling route won’t just help bikers by providing a needed two-way link between Park Slope and Windsor Terrace, but will also benefit pedestrians on the bike-filled Prospect Park West sidewalk, and drivers, Transportation officials said.
“Prospect Park West needs traffic calming, and it needs to be more accommodating to all users,” said Josh Benson, the agency’s acting director for Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs.
Despite efforts in 2007 to reduce traffic speeds by changing the timing of stoplights on Prospect Park West, more than 15 percent of drivers roared down the straightaway at speeds exceeding 39 miles per hour last month — nine miles per hour above the speed limit, according to a Department of Transportation study.
But by nixing one lane of traffic on the 49-foot wide street — where 58 accidents involving motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians were reported between 2005 and 2007 — the agency is confident it can slow drivers.
“Prospect Park West has excess capacity and that allows people to speed,” said Benson, who noted a similar phenomenon before a lane of vehicular traffic was removed from each direction of Ninth Street to make room for a bike lane.
“If we take away that excess capacity, that will take away their ability to pass, which almost always brings speeding down.”
The design will only cost drivers a few parking spaces, according to the agency. At intersections, raised concrete islands will establish the start of the bike lane and provide refuge for pedestrians crossing the street.
Transportation officials have not yet determined the cost of the project, which could begin in the late summer and be completed as early as September — but the agency estimates that it will be less expensive than a similar bike lane on Ninth Avenue in Manhattan that cost $400,000.
Biking advocates celebrated the city’s plans for the wide street — which activists have long suggested should be converted into a two-way throughway.
“It’s a pretty good package,” said Transportation Alternatives spokesman Wiley Norvell. “You get safer access to the park — and the chance to put in an innovative bike lane in one of the densest cycling communities in the city.”
Community Board 6 District Manager Craig Hammerman also cheered — especially because the bike lane will give cyclists who reach the terminus of the Ninth Street bike lane a protected route while they pedal towards Prospect Park’s only bike-friendly entrances at Grand Army Plaza and Bartel Pritchard Square.
“This will exponentially increase the number of pathways for both recreational bicyclists and commuters,” said Hammerman.
©2009 Community News Group
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