Sunset residents and elected officials call for protected bike lane

Have the wheels stopped turning?

Sunset Park residents have long asked the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) for a safe Fourth Avenue bike lane. Members of the popular Facebook group Sunset Parker, residents, and elected officials have made those calls louder. But DOT doesn’t seem to agree with the idea.

Founder of Sunset Parker Tony Giordano sent a letter to DOT on August 21 asking that it consider concerns that had been raised regarding plans to widen the center median of Fourth Avenue as part of its safety reconfiguration, specifically requesting a protected lane for bikers.

“We ask that DOT do a serious study of creating a protected bike route along Fourth Avenue both north and south bound,” said Giordano in the letter. “DOT has told us that Fourth Avenue is not wide enough to have a protected bike lane, yet last year they proposed one for a section of Sixth Avenue in Manhattan and we found that it was slightly less wide than Fourth.”

However, according to the DOT, a protected bike lane on Fourth doesn’t seem like a viable option.“Because of the road configuration and number of vehicles along Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park, a protected bike lane would be very difficult to include with the ongoing capital project,” a DOT spokesperson told this paper.  “Not only is this a major vehicular corridor, the street has large concrete medians that cannot be moved because they are ventilation ducts for the R train. DOT will continue to explore ways to improve the north-south bike network in Sunset Park.”

Councilmember Carlos Menchaca has also requested that a discussion be had regarding the bike lane. “Last spring, we went out to the community and started talking about it and getting serious ideas on the table,” Menchaca told this paper. “What we want to continue to do is make a very clear proposal to DOT about the bike lane and ask them to come back with an analysis so we can all see the same type of data. That’s the next step.”

Sunset resident Rob Aguilar, who has long lobbied for the bike lane, shared his frustration at the lack of progress. I’ve sat in meetings that we’ve requested with the DOT commissioner where he’s basically flat out said no to the protected bike lane,” he said. “I really commend Carlos for stepping up and fighting for it. It’s an uphill battle that’s been frustrating at times, especially when a neighborhood like Marine Park gets a protected bike lane without asking for it. We’ve been asking for one for years and Sunset Park gets ignored.”

“DOT deceptively subtracts from Fourth Avenue their planned wider median so that we do not meet the needed dimensions,” Giordano contested in the letter.  “We are saying a bike lane is more important than a wider median since the safety of pedestrians can better be provided for with safety bollards.”

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