By Tara Kyle
CHELSEA — One of the protected bike lanes along the city's west side — a boon to cyclists but scourge of some local business owners — may grow north to 34th Street under a new Department of Transportation plan.
The plan, which would extend the Eighth Avenue lane currently running from Bank Street up to 23rd Street, is slated for fall 2010 and was presented to Community Board 4 by the DOT in June. Members voted last week to send a letter supporting the plan to the DOT.
An average of 75 injuries to pedestrians, bicyclists and people traveling in cars occurred between 2004 and 2008 on the stretch of Eighth Avenue from West 22nd to West 34th streets, according to the DOT. They are hoping that extending the protected bike lane ("protected" paths are physically separated from vehicle traffic by barriers), they can lessen the number of accidents.
Local businesses owners, however, are hoping that the DOT won’t repeat what they see as past mistakes the agency made when instituting the Ninth Avenue protected bike lane.
“Ninth Avenue was a disaster,” Tony Juliano, president and chairman of the Greenwich-Village Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, told DNAinfo in reference to the neighborhood’s other protected bike lane, implemented in 2007.
Juliano said that the city’s failure to survey local businesses in advance of planning the Ninth Avenue lane led to complaints of “significant losses” throughout the area.
Chief among the concerns for business owners are diminished taxi access, availability of parking for delivery trucks and the presence of barricades that may block signage.
Design modifications made with the input of area store owners can help reduce the negative impact of the lane and even find ways to enhance business, Juliano said.
These adjustments can include extending left turn lanes at some corners, making left turns illegal at others, setting aside some parking for deliveries only and changing parking restrictions on adjacent side streets.
The DOT’s proposal to CB4 references “potential side-street loading zones” at West 26th Street, West 29th Street and West 30th Street. An existing loading zone is present at 31st Street.
Over 1,200 cyclists per day currently use the 8th Avenue lane, according to the DOT.
Community Board 4's transportation committee chair could not be reached for comment. The DOT did not reply to questions by deadline.