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Transportation & Environment

NYC DOT proposal to install a protected bike lane on 6th Avenue from West 35th Street to Central Park South

At the regularly scheduled monthly Community Board Five meeting on Thursday, April 09, 2020, the following resolution passed with a vote of 36 in favor; 1 opposed; 1 abstaining:

WHEREAS, The New York City Department of Transportation ("DOT") has proposed the installation of a northbound protected bicycle lane on Sixth Avenue between 35th Street and Central Park South; and

WHEREAS, The Vision Zero program mandates a multi-agency effort to improve safety measures for all road users and reduce traffic fatalities; and

WHEREAS, DOT has recognized parts of Community District Five as especially busy thoroughfares within the city's bicycle network, and the project site has been designated a Vision Zero Priority Area; and

WHEREAS, DOT reports that the stretch of Sixth Avenue between 35th Street and 59th Street has produced 547 total injuries and 37 fatalities or serious injuries in the most recent 5-year period recorded; and

WHEREAS, Currently the number of bicyclists on Sixth Avenue is approximately 3,500 (per 18 hours) each day; and

WHEREAS, Currently the protected portion of the Sixth Avenue bike lane ends at Herald Square and the unprotected lane north of 35th Street is frequently blocked by stopped vehicles; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five has repeatedly called for DOT to redesign this section of Sixth Avenue to better prioritize pedestrian and cyclist traffic and safety; and

WHEREAS, DOT proposes to remove one moving vehicle lane (out of five) from Sixth Avenue from 35th Street to 59th Street, and create a parking-protected northbound bike lane along the west side of the Avenue and pedestrian islands and other safety improvements at intersections; and

WHEREAS, DOT proposes to create left turn lanes with split-phase signaling at the majority of intersections where a left turn is possible (41st, 42nd, 45th, 49th, 51st, 53rd, 55th, 57th, and 59th Streets); and

WHEREAS, DOT proposes to create offset crossings at the remaining intersections where left turns are possible but less common (37th, 39th, 43rd, and 47th Streets); and

WHEREAS, DOT proposes to remove a net total of 43 parking spaces along this stretch of 24 blocks, with 100% of the net loss of parking spaces due to the installation of left turn lanes at the previously identified intersections; and

WHEREAS, DOT proposes to generally update the common 3-hour commercial loading zones to new 1-hour loading zones (as has been done on all recently approved complete streets redesigns); and

WHEREAS, DOT promises to work with local stakeholders (including CB5, local businesses and property owners) to identify necessary changes or exceptions to the parking regulations and bike lane design along this route; and

WHEREAS, DOT finds that the space currently available for vehicle through-traffic will be impacted only minimally by the proposed changes; and

WHEREAS, DOT proposes to design the necessary infrastructure according to now-standard principles: to paint the newly-created bicycle lane with green-colored paint, accented with white-colored markings to indicate the proper direction of bicycle traffic; and

WHEREAS, DOT has confirmed that the infrastructure put into place for these proposed changes is temporary and can be altered or removed if necessary; and

WHEREAS, Members of the public and Community Board Five gave extensive comments about the DOT proposals via a remote committee meeting on March 23rd; and

WHEREAS, A specific concern raised by members of the public was the lack of a corresponding southbound cycling route through Midtown (no southbound lane exists between 2nd Avenue and Broadway, and the Broadway lane is often unusable for cyclists through Times Square); and

WHEREAS, While Community Board Five has consistently been supportive of the growing bike lane network, many board members continue to raise serious concerns about dangerous cycling activity throughout Manhattan and insist that these concerns be addressed by both DOT and NYPD as the city continues to upgrade its infrastructure to allow for more cycling activity; and

WHEREAS, It is the consensus view of Community Board Five that the status-quo efforts by DOT and NYPD at encouraging safe cycling behavior and preventing dangerous cycling behavior have not succeeded and are not sufficient; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five is generally supportive of the expansion of pedestrian space and cycling infrastructure, and has specifically requested DOT redesign this section of Sixth Avenue with those needs in mind; therefore be it:

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends approval of DOT’s request for the installation of a northbound protected bicycle lane and the associated sidewalk, parking and traffic flow changes on Sixth Avenue between 35th and 59th Streets; and be it further

RESOLVED, Community Board Five requests that DOT accelerate efforts to identify and install a safe southbound cycling route through the core of Midtown (ie, on either 5th, 6th, or 7th Avenue or some combination thereof), as the existing Broadway lane is insufficient; and be it further

RESOLVED, Community Board Five insists that the DOT and other appropriate city agencies (including but not limited to the Department of Consumer and Worker Affairs, the Department of Small Business Services, and the NYPD) initiate as a matter of urgency more substantive and longer-term efforts at teaching and advocating for safe cycling behavior, including but not limited to delivery cyclists, Citibike users, cyclists riding at extremely high speeds, and illegal e-bike users; and that these efforts must go significantly beyond the current temporary deployment of “Street Ambassadors” for a period of weeks during and after the installation of new bike lanes; and be it further

RESOLVED, Community Board Five insists that the NYPD revamp its approach to the enforcement of
illegal and dangerous cycling behavior (with a particular focus on wrong-way cycling), by making street
safety a higher priority for its officers, to end its reliance solely on “ticket sweeps,” and to find a way to
incorporate regular and predictable enforcement of traffic safety laws for cyclists into the standard daily
patrolling duties of officers in Manhattan; and be it further

RESOLVED, Community Board Five requests that DOT return to CB5 after the installation of these
proposed bike lanes as soon as practical after significant data can be collected related to this section of
Sixth Avenue, to update us as to the effects of the new infrastructure.

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