CLINTON HILL — A new buffered bike lane — set off from vehicular traffic by a striped painted section — could be coming to Clinton Hill and Fort Greene by this summer, officials said.
The Department of Transportation presented a plan to add a buffered bike lane to Lafayette Avenue between Fulton Street and Classon Avenue on Tuesday night at Community Board 2’s transportation committee meeting.
The proposed street design calls for removing a travel lane, and adding a three-foot-wide painted buffer outside of a five-foot-wide bike lane to the the one-way eastbound street.
The new buffered bike lane would sit between a travel lane and a parking lane on the north side of the street, and be separated from traffic by a striped line.
The proposal would shrink the width of the parking lane on the north side from 10 feet to nine.
The removal of a travel lane would also allow the DOT to create an “extra large” 12-foot-wide parking lane on the south side of the street, which the agency says would deter double parking on the bike lane. Drivers would theoretically be able to double park in the larger parking lane instead of on the bike lane.
The current street design features a 10-foot-wide shared lane where both cyclists and drivers can travel, but cycling advocates say shared lanes, also called “sharrows,” create more dangerous conditions for cyclists.
Sharrows were added to Lafayette Avenue in 2012, following a crash the previous October in which two cars collided, jumped the curb and crushed two bikes under their tires.
Nobody was hurt in the crash, but local activists demanded a protected curbside bike lane, where the parking lane sits on the outside of the bike lane.
At Tuesday's meeting, DOT’s Director of Greenways Ted Wright said it would be hard to fit a protected bike lane on the street due to its width. He also said a protected bike lane could potentially have an impact on bus traffic.
“I am a huge fan of protected bike lanes,” said Wright, a former Fort Greene resident. “But I think this treatment at this point is the safest treatment for the corridor.”
He said the plan would open up a “safe eastbound connection between all bridges and Downtown Brooklyn.”
Wright compared the new street design to the buffered bike lane that currently exists on Dekalb Avenue, although he acknowledged the two streets have a “very different feel.”
The new street design would also improve CitiBike circulation at the five stations on Lafayette Avenue, according to Wright.
Right now, fewer bikes are being returned to those stations because cyclists are less likely to travel east on Lafayette, Wright said. A safer roadway would increase bike traffic and would bring more bikes back to those five CitiBike stations.
Part of the plan for the street redesign also involves adjusting signal times and raising the speed limit from 20 mph to 25 mph, which Wright said would alleviate traffic congestion.
The DOT wants to roll out the new street design by this summer, Wright said.
CB 2’s transportation committee approved the proposal unanimously and requested the DOT present its plan for a buffered bike lane to other community groups before moving ahead with the street redesign. The committee also asked DOT to look into added measures to deter double parking in the bike lane.