Last night, Transportation Alternatives hosted over 40 people for a meeting kicking off a campaign to bring bike and pedestrian improvements to Manhattan’s Fifth and Sixth avenues. These crucial north-south corridors for biking and walking represent a gap in Manhattan’s existing bicycle network and often lack the space necessary to accommodate safe walking.
“The turnout at last night’s packed meeting is an indication of how much the community wants safety improvements that benefit the majority that are biking and walking along Fifth and Sixth avenues,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “Local residents, businesses and commuters turned out to our campaign kick-off meeting to begin the community-driven process that will make Fifth and Sixth avenues safer for everyone – bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers. With community demand for safer, more livable Fifth and Sixth avenues reaching a fever pitch, the community will surely win improvements similar to those ushered in by New Yorkers in other neighborhoods.”
Fifth and Sixth avenues south of 59th Street are two of the busiest avenues in New York City. The New York City Department of Transportation’s Screenline Bike Counts found that Sixth Avenue is the most biked street in New York City. According to the same count, Fifth Avenue has the most bicycle traffic of any southbound avenue in Midtown. During rush hours, pedestrians are often forced to walk in the street to make up for inadequate sidewalk space.
Amidst the high pedestrian and bicycle volumes, Fifth and Sixth Avenues also see a large volume of trucks and other commercial vehicles, which are more than twice as likely as passenger vehicles to kill or seriously injure bicyclists. Protected bike lanes and pedestrian safety improvements are an essential way to keep these busy avenues safe for everyone.
According to the DOT, fatalities and injuries decline by 50 percent for all street users when protected bike lanes are installed. On Manhattan’s Ninth Avenue, the installation of a protected bike lane was a boon for all street users. All injuries decreased by 56 percent, injuries to pedestrians fell 29 percent and injuries to bicyclists dropped 57 percent.
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