A bevy of new and improved bike lanes will be hitting Ridge streets as early as June, thanks to the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT).
Community Board 10 voted overwhelmingly in favor of the project (30 to five) at its April meeting, at Shore Hill, 9000 Shore Road, after voting down a 2011 DOT proposal to add bike lanes to Bay Ridge Parkway. Following that, the board had submitted its own list of streets where it wanted to see bike lanes with DOT coming back with this plan last summer.
The plan the board approved will add bike lanes on eight separate streets, some extensions of existing bike lanes, and others brand new
Most board members praised the proposal’s functionality and cited the neighborhood’s need for clear-cut bike lanes.
“DOT will say – and I share this sentiment – that these lanes will strengthen roadways while adding visibility and making roadways safer,” said District Manager Josephine Beckmann.
Jayne Capetanakis, chair of the Traffic and Transportation Committee, agreed.
“There is no doubt that there are more cars than bicycles on the road at this time and also that there have been bicycle paths that need to have a clear designated marking for the cyclists that do choose to use [our streets],” Capetanakis said. “It’s not going to solve the problems associated with double parking and congested streets but what it’s going to say is that we’re sharing our streets and that we’re making it visible so that we can make it safe for everyone.”
Streets that will see extended or new bike lanes are: Sixth Avenue from 67th Street to Fort Hamilton Parkway; Fort Hamilton Parkway from Sixth Avenue to 101st Street; Marine Avenue from Colonial Road to Fort Hamilton Parkway; 68th Street from Third Avenue to Sixth Avenue; 68th Street from Shore Parkway to Third Avenue; 72nd Street from Colonial Road to Sixth Avenue; and Seventh Avenue from 66th Street to 67th Street, which is an alternate route around the Gowanus Expressway for cyclists.
To accomplish this, DOT will designate between seven and nine feet of roadway width in each direction for parking. The remainder in each direction will be either a shared lane for cars and bikes (ranging from 10.5 to 13 feet wide), or on wider streets, a specific designation of five feet for bicycle traffic – all with painted symbols and no planned parking removals.
Still, some board members had reservations, especially around Fort Hamilton Parkway and 92nd Street to 101st Street, because of the accident-prone nature of the intersection, and also about 72nd Street from Colonial Road to Sixth Avenue, because of the proximity of two schools.
“At 73rd Street and Sixth Avenue, I’m already afraid to cross,” said Kathy Khatari, citing P.S. 102 at 211 72nd Street and P.S. 170 at 7109 Sixth Avenue as red flags. “Now you’re going to put another thing in there. You’re putting children at risk, and I don’t know how you’re going to squeeze in a bike lane.”
Allen Bortnick contended that the lanes would be a waste, as most cyclists ignore the ones already in place.
“I live at the corner of 72nd and Shore Road and they put in a bike lane there,” he explained. “During the spring, summer and fall, I spent a considerable amount of time across the street and believe me when I tell you that five bicycles a day turned off Shore Road onto 72nd Street there. It’s not a bicycle path. It’s not needed there and I see no sense to it at all.”
Still, Capetanakis stressed, it’s a visibility issue.
“If all the drivers that pass through the whole day only see those five bicycles that came up from 72nd Street, then we’ll know we kept five people safe,” she said.