Lafayette Street Protected Bike Path Gets Unanimous CB 2 Committee Approval

By Danielle Tcholakian on March 7, 2014 5:36pm 

 The protected bike path will run from Lafayette Street and Prince Street to Fourth Avenue and 14th Street.
The protected bike path will run from Lafayette Street and Prince Street to Fourth Avenue and 14th Street.
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DNAinfo/Danielle Tcholakian

GREENWICH VILLAGE — A protected bike path and narrower traffic lanes are coming to Lafayette Street and Fourth Avenue, the Department of Transportation said at a meeting Thursday night.

The stretch of roadway — from Prince Street and Lafayette Street in SoHo to East 14th Street and Fourth Avenue near Union Square — already has a buffered bike lane, with the bike path separated from moving traffic by a painted buffer.

The DOT's proposal would turn the one-way northbound bike path into a protected lane, sandwiched between the sidewalk and a column of parked cars, and would also narrow the two lanes of traffic from 12 feet to 11 feet to slow cars, said Preston Johnson, DOT project manager.

After seeing the proposal, Charlie McCorkell, owner of Bicycle Habitat on Lafayette Street, said it looked like it would benefit pedestrians as much as cyclists.

"Lafayette Street is exceptionally wide, which is a problem for older pedestrians," McCorkell said. "This is going to help people who don't walk so fast: You can cover two lanes before you have to face cars."

The DOT plans to narrow the traffic lanes by removing 25 parking spots, replacing them with turn lanes, pedestrian islands and parking buffers. The agency plans to create 28 new parking spaces on nearby side streets to replace the ones that will be lost.

Community Board 2's Transportation Committee unanimously approved the changes at a meeting Thursday night.

Chris Holbrook, general manager of the Hyatt Hotel in Union Square, praised the project at the meeting, saying it's "great for guest safety and their entire experience with the hotel," as well as a boon for the hotel's employees who travel to work by bike.

While McCorkell, the Bicycle Habitat owner, was also pleased with the project, he said he was disappointed that it didn't extend half a block south to his shop, where thousands of people arrive on bike each year.

The city cannot add a protected bike path there because of a firehouse across the street, a respresentative said.

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