Fifth Avenue Bike Lane Below 23rd Street Gets Thumbs Up

The creation of a shared bike lane along Fifth Avenue got a green light from the Transportation Committee of Community Board 7 at a recent meeting, held at the board’s offices on July 26.

Sam Sierra, the committee chairperson, explained that the bike lane – presented to board members by representatives of the city’s Department of Transportation — would start at 23rd Street and run to 65th Street, along Fifth Avenue.

“Nothing changes for the drivers on the road,” he said. “Shared bike lanes have marks on the road, indicating to drivers that this route may be used for bicycles. It won’t have [its own separate] lane with dotted lines.”

Sierra added that motorists would not be ticketed if they happened to pass into the lane.

Gene Aronowitz, a Sunset Park resident and member of Transportation Alternatives, said that the shared lane  would be, “A significant improvement in the safety of all cyclists, including delivery personnel. Lots of people bike, including me, to go shopping and banking. There are lots of cyclists already on the street.”

Indeed, Aronowitz said he had done a survey of restaurants along Fifth Avenue and discovered that 56 percent of them delivered food by bike only and another 16 percent delivered food by bike and by one other type of vehicle, which means that 74 percent of restaurants use bicycles.

Although some people have raised concerns about the safety of a shared bike lane, Aronowitz cited a study done in San Francisco. “It showed that it significantly improved safety and kept cyclists away from parked cars and two feet away from oncoming or passing traffic. A shared lane is an effective safety precaution,” he said.

Once the lane is completed, there will be some type of bike lane stretching from Dean Street to 65th Street. Aronowitz said he would like to see it travel all the way through Bay Ridge to the Greenway.

“It should go all the way down to the end of Fifth Avenue,” he said. “It brings you almost to the Greenway adjacent to the Shore Parkway Greenway. It would provide a real network of bicycle lanes in Brooklyn.”

The shared bike lane also has the support of the Sunset Park Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District.

“We were concerned because Fifth Avenue is very narrow, busy and crowded. The experts feel that by having signage it would make it safer for everyone,” explained Renee Giordano, executive director of the BID. “Obviously we want to be on board. We weren’t going to stand in the way of making it safer for our own people.”

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