City transit bigwigs announced plans to complete the last leg of the Fourth Avenue protected bike lane project, pledging to fill in the fourteen-block gap between First Street and Flatbush Avenue where the lane abruptly ends and ushers riders into speeding traffic.
The move comes over a year after the lane was originally installed between 64th Street in Sunset Park and First Street in Park Slope. Officials with the Department of Transportation at the time told local community members that they could not extend the lane past First Street due to heavy traffic in the area that would require an additional study.
Local cyclists and elected officials, who have long pushed officials to complete the route, hailed the move as a small step closer to a complete bike network in the neighborhood.
“The city’s network of protected bike lanes is only as strong as its weakest link, we’ve all experienced the frustration and fear that come with bike lanes that end abruptly and dump cyclists into mixed traffic,” said Joe Cutrufo, a spokesman for the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives. “Fourth Avenue has been a priority for years, so it’s a relief to see this gap finally being filled.”
Park Slope Councilman Brad Lander also lauded the soon-t0-be completed lane as one that will help cyclists get towards the borough’s busiest transit hub, Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center.
“Hallelujah!” Lander tweeted Tuesday. “Connecting the Fourth Avenue bike lane north to Flatbush is critical for making it a real, safe commuting route with network connections.”
The Department of Transportation said on Twitter work will begin in late August.
In the works for years, the Fourth Avenue project has been plagued by delays since its inception — partly due to the length of the path as well as to allow for various Metropolitan Transportation Authority construction projects in Sunset Park. The original implementation was expedited in Summer 2019 following a rash of cyclist deaths along Third Avenue in Sunset Park.
Furthermore, even when the lane extends to Flatbush Avenue, there will still be gaps in the bike lane — such as a five-block stretch between 18th and 13th Streets where several temporary construction sites force cyclists to merge into speeding traffic.
A spokesperson for the Department of Transportation said the city is working to fill those gaps as soon as possible, but could not provide a specific timeline.