West Side and Sunset Park Community Boards Advance Bike Lanes and Plazas

A capital reconstruction of this pedestrian plaza on Ninth Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets got a positive vote from Community Board 4's transportation committee last night. Photo: Google Maps

Last night, two community boards in Sunset Park and Manhattan’s West Side voted to support bike lanes, bike parking and permanent pedestrian plazas. As a result, Sunset Park will be receiving shared lane markings on Fifth Avenue, the permanent reconstruction of a plaza at Ninth Avenue and 14th Street will move ahead, and bike lanes and on-street corrals are on track for the West Side of Manhattan.

In Sunset Park, Brooklyn Community Board 7 voted to support the extension of shared lane markings on Fifth Avenue from 23rd to 65th Streets. (On Fifth Avenue between 23rd and Dean Streets, there are already bike lane and sharrow markings.)

The proposal received a supportive transportation committee vote in July, but stalled after a 15-9-10 vote at the full board in October. CB 7′s first vice chair, Daniel Murphy, reintroduced the sharrows resolution last night, and it passed, 23-5, with seven abstentions.

“We always planned to reintroduce it, it was just a question of when,” Murphy said, adding that a few board members who opposed the plan in October switched to support it this time around. “We didn’t get angry. We got rational,” he said. Murphy said he doesn’t believe this will delay DOT’s ability to install the markings this spring. Streetsblog has asked DOT to confirm an implementation schedule.

In Manhattan, Community Board 4′s transportation committee passed a resolution in support of the permanent reconstruction of a 9,000 square-foot plaza on Ninth Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets. DOT will add street trees on the east side of the plaza; the committee is asking DOT to add greenery to the center of the space, as well.

The Ninth Avenue protected bike lane, which shrinks to a standard painted lane at this location before becoming a buffered lane on Hudson Street, is often full of double-parked cars and trucks. “They told us there is not enough space on the avenue to create a protected bike lane,” committee co-chair Christine Berthet said. “We’re definitely not happy about it.”

A median pedestrian island on Ninth Avenue at 15th Street will be removed and replaced with a curb extension. The design will include cobblestones to match the aesthetic of plaza spaces on Ninth Avenue as it approaches Gansevoort Street.

Further north on Ninth Avenue, the city’s first bike parking corrals next to a protected bike lane are moving forward after a unanimous 11-0 committee vote. Casa di Isacco restaurant will maintain a four-rack corral on Ninth between 39th and 40th Streets, Pomodoro restaurant will maintain a seven-rack corral on Ninth between 38th and 39th Streets, and Ora Thai Cuisine will maintain a seven-rack corral by a pedestrian island on Ninth between 35th and 36th Streets. All three locations replace floating parking spots between the bike lane and vehicle lanes, according to Streetsblog reader Detta Ahl, who attended the meeting.

A fourth bike corral, containing four racks, is planned for 21st Street at 8th Avenue, where it will provide corner daylighting and will be maintained by Organic Avenue. All four corrals will feature planters and flexible bollards. Blocks that will be getting corrals will have their existing sidewalk racks removed by DOT, at the request of the committee, which unanimously passed a resolution supporting bike corrals at all four locations.

The committee also heard a proposal from DOT to extend crosstown bike routes, which are a mix of on-street lanes and sharrows, west of 8th Avenue. Lanes on 39th and 40th Streets would extend to Ninth Avenue, and lane couplets on 43rd, 44th, 54th and 55th Streets would extend to 12th Avenue and the Hudson River Greenway. On 55th Street, a seldom-enforced rush-hour no parking zone will be converted to a no-standing zone to allow for a bike lane. All of these lanes received supportive votes from the committee.

A proposal to extend lanes on 48th and 51st Streets was voted down, 10-1. Committee members were concerned about the impact of water tunnel construction on those streets. Some were also unhappy with DOT’s proposal that cyclists accessing the greenway from westbound 51st Street use the sidewalk for one block of 12th Avenue to connect with the greenway entrance at 52nd Street.

“We felt it was totally premature to vote on that,” said Berthet, who would prefer that DOT remove parking on 12th Avenue instead of directing cyclists to the sidewalk. The issue will be delayed until one year before the completion of water tunnel construction work, at which point the committee will address it again.