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Transportation & Environment

Request by Department of Transportation for the installation of crosstown protected bike lanes at 52nd and 55th Streets.

WHEREAS, The New York City Department of Transportation ("DOT") has proposed the installation of an eastbound protected bicycle lane on 52nd Street and a westbound protected bicycle lane on 55th Street; and

WHEREAS, Community Boards 4 and 6 have approved the sections of these bike lanes proposed to the east and west of Community Board Five; 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, Currently the number of bicyclists using each street without a protected bike lane is over 100 during the peak hour each day, an unusually high amount for a street without protected cycling infrastructure; and

WHEREAS, The existing condition for most blocks on each of 52nd and 55th streets consists of one lane of moving vehicle traffic measuring an extra-wide 18 feet across, with 8-foot parking lanes on each side of the streets for a total 34-foot width; and

WHEREAS, The existing condition for the atypical blocks of 52nd St between 6th and 5th Avenues, and of 55th St between Lexington and Park Avenues consists of a slightly narrower street, requiring the removal of 27 parking spaces on the south side of 52nd St and 14 commercial loading spaces on the south side of 55th St to create a buffered bike lane there; and

WHEREAS, DOT presented these overall conditions as optimal for installing protected bike lanes without needing to remove a lane of either moving vehicles or parking, utilizing the extra width available in the moving lane and/or the striped bike lane; and

WHEREAS, DOT presented these overall conditions as analogous to the conditions that existed on 26th and 29th Streets prior to last year’s installation of bike lanes on those streets; and

WHEREAS, DOT proposes to install a new 4-to-5-foot-wide bicycle lane on the south side of each street, protected by a painted buffer zone and a standard 8-foot-wide parking lane; and

WHEREAS, DOT proposes to maintain the existing 8-foot-wide parking lane on the north side of the streets while reducing the time allowed for commercial loading on this side of the streets from 3 hours to 1 hour; and

WHEREAS, Past DOT studies generally have demonstrated that narrower driving lanes and floating parking lanes calm motor vehicle traffic and inspire slower and safer driving, leading to an overall decline by 15% of total crashes, a 15% decline in serious motorist injuries, a 21% decline in serious pedestrian injuries, and a 3% increase in cyclist injuries compared to a 61% increase in cyclist trips on streets receiving these redesigns; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five specifically requested detailed information on the effects of the installation of similar protected bike lanes on 26th and 29th Streets last year; and

WHEREAS, DOT presented their findings from the implementation of the 26th and 29th Street lanes, which included a 61% increase in cycling on these streets, no significant change in automobile travel speeds on those streets (both streets demonstrated slight declines in travel speed from 2017-2018, in concert with the general declines in travel speed throughout Midtown during this time), and an elimination of lengthy double-parking on both streets (prior to implementation, 12% of all double-parked vehicles remained stationary for more than 30 minutes; after implementation there were zero vehicles observed stationary for more than 30 minutes and nearly 100% of vehicles stopped for less than 15 minutes); and

WHEREAS, DOT proposes to design this 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 to create new intersections for pedestrians, vehicles and cyclists through the installation of vehicle separation zones with delineators and signaling for Leading Pedestrian Intervals; and

WHEREAS, A specific and legitimate concern was raised concerning the potential for the more than 1200 nightly theater patrons spilling out into the bike lane after each evening’s performance on a particular block between Broadway and 8th Avenue; and

WHEREAS, While Community Board Five is generally supportive of the redesign of these particular streets, and has consistently been supportive of the growing bike lane network, many board members continue to raise serious concerns about scofflaw cyclists and 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, Particular objections and suggestions have been directed to each agency, and constitute the third and fourth collective resolutions of the Board; therefore be it:

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends approval of DOT’s request for the installation of a protected bicycle lanes on the south side of 52nd and 55th Streets; and be it further

RESOLVED, Community Board Five insists that the DOT 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, 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 insists 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 the use of these
streets after their redesign, including but not limited to the number of total vehicles (cars and bicycles)
using the street after the redesign, compared with the equivalent time period before the street redesign,
along with residential concerns, and pedestrian safety statistics.

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