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Sunset Park will get protected bike lanes by the end of the year, DOT says

The project has been expedited due to the mayor’s Green Wave program.

Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park will have protected bike lanes by the end of the year. The city’s Department of Transportation has made significant progress on the project, according to DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and Councilmember Carlos Menchaca.

“We asked DOT if it can be expedited, and DOT responded with good news,” Menchaca said at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

Protected bike lanes, which separate cyclists from vehicular traffic with physical barriers such as stanchions or parked cars, offer an extra layer of safety for bicyclists.

The announcement comes during a particularly dangerous time for Brooklyn cyclists. Eighteen people have been killed while biking so far this year, and 13 of those deaths occurred in Brooklyn. Last year, 10 cyclists were killed citywide over the course of the whole year.

“We’ve needed a protected bike lane on Fourth Avenue for a long time, and I am proud to stand beside the Department of Transportation to announce its arrival by year’s end,” Menchaca said. “This is a victory for our neighbors and members of the cycling community who live and work in and around Sunset Park.”

The city will take the following measures to enhance street safety:

  • Installing curbside, parking-protected bike lanes on each side of the avenue
  • Painting new pedestrian islands at intersections
  • Updating parking regulations and expanding metered parking

Two portions of Fourth Avenue — a section located between 64th Street and 60th Street in Sunset Park and another one located between First Street and 15th Street in Park Slope — have already been completed, DOT said.

The section of the avenue located between 15th Street and 38th Street is slated to be completed this fall, along with the portion running from 38th Street to 57th Street. DOT officials are working in cooperation with MTA New York City Transit on the latter section, because the MTA is currently doing above-ground work on the R subway line, which runs beneath Fourth Avenue.

The three-block stretch of the avenue between 57th and 60th streets won’t be completed until 2020 because of an MTA NYC Transit project.

DOT hasn’t even touched the portion of Fourth Avenue located between First Street and Atlantic Avenue, where the agency “has not solved all of the design challenges,” Trottenberg said.

Still, officials and bike advocates said there is a lot to celebrate, particularly for Sunset Park residents.

“This really is an incredible win for the neighborhood,” said Danny Harris, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, who added that bike lanes give local residents “more options” in transportation.

“We’re trying to get people out of their cars,” said Menchaca, an avid bike rider. Sunset Park is particularly suited for bike lanes, according to Menchaca, who described the neighborhood as a “walk to work community.”

The protected bike lanes are part of Green Wave, an ambitious project Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last month in Bay Ridge in which DOT will install bike lanes along 80 miles of city streets over the next few years.

Councilmember Brad Lander, who represents Park Slope, said he was thinking on Wednesday of Em Samolewicz, who was killed on Third Avenue and 35th Street on July 29. He wondered aloud what might have been, “if we had gotten this done sooner.” Perhaps if there had been a bike lane on Fourth Avenue, Samolewicz might have been riding her bike on that avenue instead of Third Avenue, he speculated. “Every project is probably saving lives.”

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