As of now, the journey down Brooklyn’s 4th Avenue by bicycle is not what you might call “peaceful.” Truck traffic whooshes by, car doors spring open, potholes threaten to snap your already fraying nerves. All of that might change, and soon, if the DOT follows through with its plans to install protected two-way lanes between Dean Street in Boerum Hill and 65th Street in Sunset Park.
“The chance to redesign one of New York City’s ‘Great Streets’ may only come about every fifty years, and so it’s critical we get it right,” Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said in a statement. “The dramatic surge in cycling, combined with safety changes that have dramatically improved Fourth Avenue’s safety and livability, have simply transformed the way Brooklynites see this street.”
Discussions among the impacted community boards — 2,6 and 7 — will be held in the coming months. As of press time, the DOT was unable to say whether any parking spots will be sacrificed in the redesign, the primary thorn in the sides of those who committed to spending their twilight years opposing bike lanes.
The plan is retooled from earlier proposals, which would have built on recent tweaks to include wider medians, altered signal timings and other pedestrian safety measures. But because major street upgrades are a once-in-a-generation event, the DOT had the foresight to consider the massive increase in cyclists since the original plan was conceived in 2011. As the agency itself points out, “the street has become dramatically safer and more livable while the desire for better cycling infrastructure in New York has grown. Given the demand for safer bike routes, and the fact that street reconstruction would last for generations.”
The new design would include parking protected bike lanes on both sides of the street, replacing the prior plan’s 13-foot parking lanes with five-foot curbside bike lanes, a 2.5-foot buffer and an 8-foot parking lane. Concrete islands will also be added at pedestrian crossings.
Additionally, another two-way protected bike path is also planned for the Brooklyn Bridge Bike path at Park Row, a treacherous little slice of street that forces cyclists to shoot from the Brooklyn Bridge directly into the frenetic mess of Park Row and Centre Street. Worse still is the option for getting on the Brooklyn Bridge. Gothamist’s Nathan Tempey reports that the technically correct route from Battery Park is “to cut west on Maiden Lane and north on Church Street to Warren Street.” Most cyclists, though, simply opt to ride against traffic, an objectively terrible idea between the police cruisers, news vans, hot dog vendors and panicked drivers perennially competing for space.
The new proposal would also include a new crosswalk and additional safety modifications, and..additional parking. Your move, cranky NIMBYs.