Protected Bike Lanes Essential All Along Manhattan’s 5th and 6th Avenues

TransAlt Study Shows Bicyclists Need a Safe Corridor in the Heart of Manhattan

Transportation Alternatives is calling for a Complete Street redesign of Manhattan’s Fifth and Sixth avenues, with protected bike lanes, dedicated bus lanes and expanded pedestrian space. The street safety advocacy group made the call during a press conference Thursday with Manhattan elected officials and local stakeholders, in response to the NYC Department of Transportation’s recent announcement that it will build a protected bike lane on Sixth Avenue from 14th Street to 33rd Street.

“Biking is about to get a lot better in Manhattan, and that’s a testament to the leadership of the de Blasio administration,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “Now we need a plan to fix the rest of Sixth Avenue, and dangerous Fifth Avenue, which sees even higher levels of cycling than Sixth. People on bikes need a safe route through the heart of Manhattan.”

TransAlt demonstrated that need by releasing its “Fifth and Sixth Avenue Bicycle and Traffic Study,” which contains a summary of counts of bicycles and motor vehicles using both avenues from Canal Street to 59th Street during the spring and summer of this year. Bicycles made up more than 10% of the vehicles in motion on the two avenues, with one in every 4 bikers riding a Citi Bike.

“This report shows that New Yorkers want and need to ride bicycles to reach destinations along Fifth and Sixth avenues. The high level of bike use found by these counts is taking place in spite of very heavy motor vehicle traffic and poor cycling conditions on these two key avenues,” White said.

The study also found twice as many women biking in protected lanes on Eighth and Ninth avenues, compared to the unprotected lanes on Fifth and Sixth Avenues -- evidence that biking levels would rise dramatically on those corridors as well if cyclists were protected from traffic. Providing safer infrastructure ensures more equitable access to the streets for all New Yorkers.

Joining TransAlt on Thursday were City Council Members Daniel Garodnick and Corey Johnson, Assembly Member Deborah Glick and staff from the office of State Senator Brad Hoylman. Also in attendance were Barbara Randall, Executive Director of the Garment District Alliance and Jennifer Brown, Executive Director at Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership.

“This report clearly illustrates the need for additional cyclist infrastructure,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “According to the data, a high percentage of road users on Fifth and Sixth Avenues were on bicycles. They currently ride in traffic, and this is dangerous for both cyclists, motorists and pedestrians. I’m pleased that the Department of Transportation has begun to move forward with a bike lane on Sixth Avenue, and I urge them to engage Community Board 5 in a conversation about a potential bike lane on Fifth Avenue. I want to thank Transportation Alternatives for its advocacy on this important issue.”

"Complete streets on Fifth and Sixth Ave will help reduce traffic crashes and improve safety for all who use them," said Council Member Daniel Garodnick. "The collaboration here at all levels demonstrates a simple truth: everyone wants safer streets, and working together, we can deliver them."

Assembly Member Deborah Glick said, “I am delighted that the Department of Transportation is creating a protected bike lane on Sixth Avenue from 14th Street to 33rd Street. As the city continues to become more congested, we must ensure that pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers remain safe, and protected bike lanes have proven effective for all. I look forward to a safer street redesign along Fifth and Sixth Avenues.”

State Senator Brad Hoylman said: "I'm a regular Citibike user. But like thousands of other bikers in New York, I find Sixth and Fifth avenues extremely treacherous, which is a shame because they are two of the best streets to get around my district. I'm grateful to NYC DOT for planning a protected bike lane on part of Sixth Avenue. Yet, in order to make biking safer for everyone we need to finish the job and install a protected bike lane for the rest of Sixth Avenue and Fifth Avenue. I look forward to working with NYC DOT, Transportation Alternatives, as well as my colleagues Council Members Garodnick and Johnson and Assembly Member Glick to make this a reality."