By Suzanne Ma
LOWER EAST SIDE — New bike lanes leading to and from the Williamsburg Bridge will provide cyclists with a safer commute, keeping them away from accident-prone Delancey Street, a Department of Transportation spokesman said.
Delancey Street, a major east-west thoroughfare that cuts across the Lower East Side, connects to the Williamsburg Bridge and is a popular route for cyclists heading to and from Brooklyn.
But it's also a dangerous one.
From 1995 to 2005, there were 94 collisions involving bicycles on Delancey Street from the Williamsburg Bridge to the Bowery, according to Transportation Alternatives, a road safety group that has advocated for bike lanes on the stretch since 2008.
In early January this year, 74-year-old Fuen Bai of the East Village was struck and killed by a school bus on Delancey Street near Ludlow Street.
The new lanes will be marked with green paint and signage along Rivington Street between Pitt Street and the Bowery, on Stanton Street between Christie and Pitt streets, and on Suffolk Street between E. Houston and Delancey streets.
Upon exiting the Williamsburg Bridge, riders will access the lanes by turning north on to the Suffolk Street lane and connecting with the east-west lanes at either Rivington or Stanton streets.
"We want to encourage cyclists to use these new lanes," said Department of Transportation spokesman Josh Benson, at a community meeting last week. "We understand many cyclists like to use Delancey, but we'd like to discourage that behavior."
The DOT argues that the proposed bike lanes — with construction set to begin in May — will provide a safe, peaceful and viable alternative.
But Transportation Alternatives spokeswoman Marin Tockman remained skeptical.
"How can we really improve the safety of our community when Delancey still remains a danger?" she asked at last week's meeting.
The DOT’s Benson said there are no plans to construct bike lanes on Delancey.
"You've got to try [the new route]," he said. "This is not a circuitous route. It's safe, direct. It's comfortable."
The DOT says nearly 4,000 cyclists cross the Williamsburg Bridge every day.
That's five times greater than the number of cyclists making the same journey in 2000.