Bicyclists may soon be better protected from bicycle accidents on Fifth Ave between 23rd Street and 8th Street in Manhattan. Yesterday night the Community Board 2 endorsed a project from the New York Department of Transportation (DOT) to create a protected bike lane on Fifth Avenue between 23rd Street and 8th Street. The Community Board 2 also asked the DOT to extend the protected bike lane until Washington Square.
According to statistics from the DOT, the actual non protected bike lane that runs down Fifth Ave from 23rd Street to 8th Street gets more bike traffic than any other Manhattan avenue. Unfortunately the bike lane is often obstructed by double parked vehicles, forcing bicyclists to get in heavy traffic to ride around it. It is usually in this type of situation that bicyclists are exposed to a high risk of being struck by a car. Between 2010 and 2014, 1 person died and 24 of them suffered severe injury on this specific segment.
The new proposal will not only prevent bicycle accidents but also pedestrian accidents. In addition to switching the bike lane with the parking lane, the DOT also proposed the installation of painted pedestrian islands as well as the installation of two split-phase signals. Split-phase signals offers a separate crossing phase for cyclists and pedestrians at intersections where motorists are making a left turn. The CB2 also endorsed these two proposals. They additionally asked that the painted pedestrian islands be cast in concrete. The CB2 members also asked the DOT to consider adding loading and unloading areas to avoid double parking.
The DOT will present the project to the Committee Board 5 later this month. The board members of CB2 are expected to cast their votes on March 23rd.
While this proposal is well received by bicyclist and pedestrian advocates, many of them believe more should be done to improve street safety on the rest of Fifth Ave. On November 15th, 2015 6 Manhattan representatives wrote The New York City D.O.T. for a more expansive street redesign. The asked for a complete remodeling of the entire Avenue as well as Sixth Avenue.
Download the DOT PDF proposal here