Tonight is the last chance for Sunset Parkers to make their voices heard on a controversial revamp of Fourth Avenue.
Community Board 7 will vote tonight on a city plan to redesign Fourth Avenue by reducing parking at intersections, expanding metered parking, establishing new loading zones, and installing parking-protected bike lanes on both the north and southbound lanes of the avenue, from 65th Street to 8th Street, and eventually to Atlantic Avenue.
The Department of Transportation plan includes narrowing the 13-foot-wide parking lanes in both the north and southbound lanes to eight feet to make room for a two-and-a-half-foot-wide buffer and five-foot-wide bike lanes. The avenue would retain its two north and southbound travel lanes, but would also see the addition of loading zones and the removal of four parking spots per block — nixing 225 total spaces in CB7’s district, according to the city — to make room for the pedestrian islands. The proposal has been in the works for years, and builds on safety improvements that the agency made to the street in 2012. An agency rep said at a presentation last week that the department added the bike lanes to the proposal at the behest of local elected officials and community members, who specifically called for bike lanes at a series of three community workshops it hosted between May and July in Park Slope and Sunset Park.
But cycling advocates have been calling for the protected bike lanes on Fourth Avenue for years, arguing that it’s the most convenient route to Downtown, but that it must be safer for cyclists. The Department of Transportation previously told the activists that the avenue was too narrow for protected bike lanes, but finally agreed to add the bike lanes to the proposal earlier this year.
The revised plan has been controversial, with some locals calling the bike lanes “rolling gentrification.” And others recently railed against a similar board-approved city plan to add bike lanes and remove parking spots on several streets between Seventh Avenue and the waterfront, which locals complained could increase double parking and make the roads impassable for emergency vehicles. Construction on those bike lanes will begin next spring, according to the Department of Transportation.
The first phase of the Fourth Avenue project would begin next fall, and the second phase — which would extend it to Atlantic Avenue — would begin by summer 2021, according to the agency.
The community board’s vote tonight is not binding, according to the district manager, who added that the agency wants the board’s support but that the vote most notably offers a last chance for locals to voice their opinions of and concerns about the plan.
The board will meet at 6:30 pm tonight at 4201 Fourth Ave. at 43rd Street.