FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release #17-013
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Gloria Chin/Scott Gastel 212-839-4850
Vision Zero: DOT Considers Changes to Its Redesign of Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn
DOT will consult with local communities to develop adjustments to original plan, including the potential addition of protected bike lanes from Bay Ridge to Boerum Hill
Begun in 2011, redesign of one of the borough’s major corridors has already dramatically reduced serious crashes involving pedestrians -- by as much as 68%
Commissioner Polly Trottenberg today announced that the New York City Department of Transportation would this month begin working with local communities to develop a modified plan for Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue, which could now include the addition of protected bike lanes.
“The chance to redesign one of New York City’s ‘Great Streets’ may only come about every fifty years, and so it’s critical we get it right,” said Commissioner Trottenberg. “The dramatic surge in cycling, combined with safety changes that have dramatically improved Fourth Avenue’s safety and livability, have simply transformed the way Brooklynites see this street. Before we undertake construction that will transform the corridor for decades, we look forward to engaging with elected officials, neighborhoods, and community boards to consider changes to our original plans.”
Among the “Great Streets,” major New York City thoroughfares prioritized by the de Blasio Administration for their high concentration of vehicle and pedestrian traffic, Fourth Avenue was previously targeted by DOT for major safety improvements. Starting in 2011, DOT changed signal timing, narrowed travel lanes, banned certain left turns, added new tips at center medians and made crosswalks shorter, brighter and more visible. With changes to state law in 2014, DOT later lowered Fourth Avenue’s speed limit to 25 MPH and added speed cameras in several school zones. These changes have made the corridor dramatically safer, reducing serious pedestrian crashes by as much as 68%, according to DOT data.
Surrounding Brooklyn community boards – Community Boards 2, 6, and 7 -- had approved DOT’s previous enhancements to Fourth Avenue in 2011, with capital construction to begin in 2017. During this time period, however, the street has become dramatically safer and more livable while the desire for better cycling infrastructure in New York has grown. Given the demand for safer bike routes, and the fact that street reconstruction would last for generations,
DOT is asking the community to consider a new design. DOT will host a workshop, and will schedule follow-up presentations with Community Boards and local stakeholders starting this month. (See graphic of potential redesign below).
The major change for consideration would be the addition of new parking-protected bike lanes on both sides of the street. A recent DOT study, Cycling in the City, illustrates the dramatic surge in cycling in New York City in recent years, with Brooklyn showing 83% growth in daily cycling between 2010 and 2015. At the same time, another DOT study shows that streets with protected bike lanes provided significant safety benefits for all street-users --pedestrians, cyclists and motorists – with total injuries on those streets down by an average of 20%.
A Fourth Avenue bike lane would be a critical north-south thoroughfare from 65th Street to Dean Street, connecting Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, and Park Slope to Downtown Brooklyn, adding eight protected lane-miles to New York City’s 1,100-mile bike-lane network. DOT will work to ensure that any proposed changes developed through this community process would maintain the pedestrian safety benefits of the earlier plan, including pedestrian refuge islands. As in the original plan, greenery and art installations would be incorporated into the proposed new design. Many of the improvements, including the new bike lanes, could be installed on portions of the corridor as soon as this year, with major capital construction to follow.
"I applaud DOT Commissioner Trottenberg for progressing Vision Zero in communities from Bay Ridge to Boerum Hill,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “Fourth Avenue has the potential to be a truly 'great street' with meaningful enhancements. I look forward to working with residents and local stakeholders in a collaborative process focused on the safety and prosperity of this corridor."
"I support the Department of Transportation's proposed recommendations to update the traffic design along 4th Avenue,” said State Senator Kevin Parker. “We have to continue to protect pedestrians and cyclists. Safety is the number one priority, and these modifications are a good way to ensure that our roads and traffic devices work favorably for everyone."
“I welcome continued Department of Transportation consultation with the community to arrive at a plan for 4th Avenue that truly meets community needs,” said State Senator Jesse Hamilton. “The best transportation solutions incorporate neighborhood feedback, while assuring safety and convenience for all street users. I commend the DOT for continuing consultation and showing necessary willingness to further develop plans for Fourth Avenue in line with our community's vision.”
“Thank you to the NYC Department of Transportation for engaging with the community regarding the proposed revisions to the plan for Fourth Avenue,” said Assembly member Jo Ann Simon. “The more the community is engaged in the plan for this busy and vibrant corridor in our community, the better. We will be living with these design changes for generations to come so it’s important that we get it right.”
“Sunset Park deserved better and we got it!” said Council member Carlos Menchaca. “New safety ideas for Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue came directly from residents who’ve seen dramatic improvements since its 2011 reconfiguration. Crashes are down, pedestrians are safer, and a once intimidating speedway has shown its potential to better serve everyone. I thank the DOT and Sunset Park’s Community Board 7 for accomplishing something government seldom does: pausing a large construction project, listening to the people, and considering additional options like pedestrian safety islands and protected bike lanes. Our community deserves a government that’s committed to progress but always ready to listen. On Fourth Avenue, we should extend the design progress already made and add all we’ve learned from Vision Zero.
“The 4th Avenue proposal is the most recent example of the future of transportation in our city,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “Safer, more accessible corridors should be the norm, never the exception. A protected bike line, along with other safety improvements, will continue to build on the progress Vision Zero has made here in Brooklyn. All of us – pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists – stand to benefit from an inclusive approach to transit.”
About Vision Zero
In January 2017, after three successive years of declines in traffic fatalities, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced New York City would make an additional $400 million investment in Vision Zero – for a total of $1.6 billion over the next five years. DOT is implementing its most aggressive street redesign safety program, an increased investment in street redesign and traffic-calming measures citywide. Other Vision Zero changes announced by the Mayor include ensuring NYPD crossing guards at every post, faster replacement of street markings, intersection upgrades in the bike-lane network, more left-turn calming efforts, brighter lighting and more equipment at each police precinct to catch speeding.
For more information about the de Blasio Administration’s Vision Zero initiative, please see www.nyc.gov/visionzero