City Planning to Extend Brooklyn's Fifth Avenue Bike Lanes to Sunset Park

By Alan Neuhauser on May 31, 2012 8:56am 

Fifth Avenue, as it appears today.
Fifth Avenue, as it appears today.
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DNAinfo/Alan Neuhauser

SUNSET PARK — The city is considering extending miles of new bike lanes along one of Sunset Park's busiest commercial thoroughfares this summer, the Department of Transportation and Brooklyn Community Board 7 said Wednesday.

The lanes would be installed on Brooklyn's Fifth Avenue, along a 2.3-mile stretch between 23rd and 65th streets, the DOT said in a letter to CB7 district manager Jeremy Laufer.

The lanes would be installed between the shoulder and vehicle lanes on the northbound and southbound sides of the street, and would extend the lanes that already exist on Fifth Avenue north of 23rd Street.

"The treatment would be similar to what currently exists on a stretch of Fifth Avenue from Dean to Carroll streets," a DOT spokeswoman wrote in an email Wednesday.

"We believe the extension is feasible," added DOT Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Joseph Palmieri, in the community board letter, noting the lanes could be installed in as little as two months.

Palmieri based his findings on a feasibility study the DOT conducted in the fall of 2010, the letter stated. It found that 894 cyclists rode Fifth Avenue between 26th and 27th streets on weekdays, and 775 cyclists rode it on weekends, according to the March 20 letter. Between 53rd and 54th streets, there were 502 weekday cyclists and 560 weekend cyclists, the study showed.

Nevertheless, neighborhood residents have voiced concerns about the proposed bike lane extension, Laufer said. Among the most notable concerns is the fact that Fifth Avenue narrows south of 23rd Street.

"Fifth Avenue, remember, is a commercial street that depends on commercial trucks for deliveries," he stated. "There's no loading zones on Fifth Avenue, so trucks have to double park. With a bike lane, they might have to park across the double-yellow line."

Double-parked trucks could slow traffic and create congestion, some residents said.

"If someone is double-parked, then you have to drive in the bike lane, or you have to bike in front of the cars," said Steve Orellana, 20, a stock clerk at Bi-Rite Drugs on Fifth Avenue near 41st Street.

An example of the proposed design for bicycle lanes on Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn.
An example of the proposed design for bicycle lanes on Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn.
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NYC Department of Transportation

"If there's a biker, and you're driving behind him, you go super slow."

Other residents, however, said they would welcome the bike lanes.

"Every restaurant here has a biker, and all these guys are up on the sidewalk," said Rod Sturdivant, 50, who lives on 41st Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues.

Bike lanes, he argued, would make it easier for police to enforce laws that prohibit riding bicycles on sidewalks. "If they can use the street, then they can make them use the street," he said.

Community Board 7 and the DOT will hold a public meeting on the issue, Laufer said. A date has not yet been set, but it is expected to take place in June.

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