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Amid spike in cyclist deaths, DOT accelerates Fourth Avenue bike lane plans

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The new bike lanes will link 64th Street to 1st Street from northern Bay Ridge and Sunset Park to Gowanus and Park Slope.

A bike lane and pedestrian path painted on a road. Shutterstock

Two weeks ago, Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a plan to build more than 80 miles of protected bike lanes by the end of 2021, following a spate of cyclist deaths in NYC. Today, city officials announced that as part of that $58.4 million plan, more than four miles of bike lanes will be completed this year along Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn.

Though the Brooklyn bike lanes have been planned for years, and some progress has been made, it will now be accelerated due to this year’s 18 cyclist fatalities—13 of which have happened in Brooklyn, according to Department of Transportation (DOT).

“I could not be more pleased than to see the Fourth Avenue lane come to fruition in Sunset Park this year,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said in a statement. “For decades, Fourth Avenue was seen more as a local highway; with protected bike lanes this year and Citi Bike coming soon to Sunset Park, we will continue its extraordinary transformation into a neighborhood boulevard.”

The new bike lanes will link 64th Street to 1st Street from northern Bay Ridge and Sunset Park to Gowanus and Park Slope. Part of the Fourth Avenue bike lanes have already been installed between 1st and 15th streets and between 60th and 64th streets in Sunset Park. The new additions will bring protected bike lanes on each side of the avenue, updated parking regulations, and new pedestrian islands at intersections.

The Fourth Avenue bike lanes, first announced back in 2017, had been delayed due to MTA construction work along the R train tracks, through Fourth Avenue, up to Bay Ridge, but most of that project (aside from the section between 57th Street and 60th Street) is supposed to be completed in the fall, which will allow the bike lanes to be installed there before the end of this year, the DOT says.

Transportation advocates celebrated the announcement.

“We’re heartened by the news that the Department of Transportation will complete work this year on the 4th Avenue protected bike lanes,” Eric McClure, executive director of StreetsPAC said in a statement. “We urge NYCDOT to move quickly to finish the remaining segment between 1st Street and Atlantic Avenue as soon as possible, and to extend a protected route to the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, and south into Bay Ridge, as well.”

The DOT also announced that it has committed to re-evaluate safety along Third Avenue—since two of the recent cyclist fatalities have happened there—and that it will prioritize other sections along the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, with construction expected to start in 2020.

Back in June, Brooklyn Community Board 10 had voted against a section of bike lanes to be installed as part of a network in the southern portion of the borough, but as local politicians encouraged them to, the DOT decided to ignore that decision and move forward with their plans.