BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | The Department of Transportation’s proposed Eighth Ave. protected bike lane and sidewalk extension from 38th St. to 45th St. has been approved by Community Board 5.
According to D.O.T., the plan is to paint 10-foot-wide sidewalk extensions along the avenue and create a northbound protected bike lane separated by a series of plastic bollards. Three feet of buffer space to the east of the bike lane would further protect cyclists from traffic. The traffic lane to the immediate right of the buffer space would be an alternating taxi lane and left-hand turn lane at 39th St., 41st and 43rd St. Sts. The proposed plan would also extend metered parking until midnight along the avenue between 38th and 45th Sts., with vehicles allowed to use parking spaces for five-hour intervals.
Outside of the Port Authority Bus Terminal, at 41st and 42nd Sts., the scheme changes a bit, with D.O.T. planning on creating a taxi boarding island to the east of a curbside bike lane and painted sidewalk. In other words, along this stretch, the bike lane and pedestrian space would flip, so that the taxi boarding area would be the one adjacent to motor-vehicle traffic.
According to the community board’s resolution, D.O.T. found that only 25 percent of taxi pickups at the Port Authority Bus Terminal use the existing curbside taxi stand. The plan also proposes banning left-hand turns at 42nd St. and consolidating M20 bus stops at 39th and 41st Sts.
In its resolution, C.B. 5 insisted that the Police Department minimize the number of concrete barriers it installs and instead use plastic bollards whenever necessary, so as not to impede safety but also to maximize pedestrian space. The board also called on D.O.T. to return to the community board after the creation of the bike lane and extended sidewalk with data on the number of cars and bicycles using the section of Eighth Ave. with the new bike lane section.
The resolution notes that some community board members are concerned about dangerous cycling activity, in general, throughout the borough. Since the beginning of this year, 15 cyclists have died on the city’s streets.
C.B. 4 is slatted to vote on the proposed plan at its next full-board meeting on July 24.