C.B. 5 O.K.’s 52nd, 55th Sts. protected bike lanes

BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | Midtown will soon become easier terrain for cyclists.

At its April 11 full-board meeting, Community Board 5 passed a resolution in favor of two protected crosstown bike lanes in the 50s — one eastbound on 52nd St. and one westbound on 55th St.

The proposed bike lanes would be 4 to 5 feet wide and protected by a small buffer zone, plus an 8-foot-wide parking lane. Creating the bike lanes would require the removal of 41 commercial parking spaces on the south side of 52nd St., plus 25 on the south side of 55th St. within C.B. 5, which stretches from Eighth Ave. to Lexington Ave.

Community Board 5 has given its advisory approval to crosstown protected bike lanes for 52nd and 55th Sts. They will look similar to this recently installed one in the 20s blocks, which is protected by a small buffer zone, plus a “floating” parking lane. (Courtesy D.O.T.)

Along with painting new green bike lanes on the two streets, the Department of Transportation would improve intersections for pedestrians, vehicles and cyclists by installing Leading Pedestrian Intervals (giving pedestrians a few seconds head start at crosswalks) and vehicle-separation zones with delineators (white plastic flexible posts).

According to studies by D.O.T., narrowing driving lanes and creating “floating” parking lanes (set at a distance from the curb) calm traffic and result in slower and safer driving. Streets with protected bike lanes have 15 percent fewer total crashes and 21 percent fewer pedestrian injuries than streets without them, according to D.O.T.

According to C.B. 5, the number of cyclists currently using both streets without a protected bike lane is more than 100 during peak hours, which is an unusually high number of cyclists for streets without protected bike lanes.

But giving advisory approval for a bike lane resolution was atypical for C.B. 5. The board also called on D.O.T. to do a better job educating the public about and advocating for safer cycling behavior. The efforts must go beyond the agency’s current “Street Ambassadors,” the board added.

“It needs to be more than the current plan that happens right now because what is currently going on doesn’t seem to be effective,” said board member David Sandler.

C.B. 5 only represents the middle portion — between Eighth and Lexington Aves. — of each proposed bike lane. Community Boards 4 and 6, which represent the other sections to the west and east, respectively, have both also given their advisory approval.

According to D.O.T., construction on the bike lanes will begin this summer.

6 Responses to C.B. 5 O.K.’s 52nd, 55th Sts. protected bike lanes

  1. These bike lanes are idiocy, they're wreaking havoc with traffic all over the city. In the picture above, one stopped vehicle blocks all traffic on the street. This is unacceptable.

    On the Avenues, the combination of bike lanes (which are unnecessarily wide), the floating parking lanes, and double parking delivery trucks are narrowing what should five traffic lanes down to two, causing huge backups.

    I suspect the city, in it's Jihad against cars, intentionally wants to cause intractable traffic jams.

    • "they're wreaking havoc with traffic" — Yes, that's the point. There seems to be no other way to get drivers out of cars and reduce carbon emissions. Car drivers could have taken it upon themselves to change their habits, but the didn't. Capitalism could have supported mass transit over vehicles, but it didn't. So, government has to step in and do the job. The populous would prefer a better solution, but you've left us no choice. We must make your lives as horrible as car drivers have made ours. Sorry, but this is what it has come to.

      • Does not make any sense what you are saying. by impeding commerce and deliveries people and folding their business' Also people are avoiding Central Business District and half the store spaces are empty. The Bike riders' are not helping Commerce and are not Mass Transit.

        • I can't speak for 52nd street, but I work on west 55th street. The proposed bike line wouldn't actually make car lanes narrower. By removing half the parking spaces it would seriously improve traffic. 55th is FAR too narrow for 2 parking lanes, and nothing obstructs traffic quite like someone trying to parallel park.

          Forget carbon emissions for a second, Manhattan is the most densely populated county in America. (66,940 people per SQ mile, according to wikipedia) We also have one of the best mass transit systems in the world. Anything that gets personal vehicles off our streets is a boon for NYC businesses, residents, tourists, everyone.

          I wouldn't recommend it for other cities necessarily, but in Manhattan my only issue is that we didn't go after traffic sooner.

          BTW, I haven't been on a bike since the early '90s

    • For the record, I’m a 40yrs plus every day nyc bicyclist, but this extremist one sided (Transportation Alternatives) driven “bicycle utopia” impractical assault against motor vehicles, has gone too far and will backfire.

      These ideologues are trying force their ideas on the rest of us.

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