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DOT Proposes Installing Protected Bike Lanes In Midtown, Manhattan

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – After an increase in cyclist deaths in New York City, the Department of Transportation wants to put protected bike lanes in Midtown.

As CBS2's Alice Gainer reported, the bike lanes would be in between curbs and parked cars.

The DOT says the lanes are being considered only on wide, crosstown streets where they won't impact vehicle traffic.

"It's very dangerous," one cyclist said.

"I cycle for my commute and I can't tell you how many times I've been almost hit," another added.

The DOT says cycling fatalities increased in 2017. There were 23 deaths, compared to 18 in 2016. Nine deaths occurred in Manhattan, while five were in Midtown.

"We certainly feel a sense of urgency in light of what we saw, unfortunately, with cyclist fatalities last year," DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said Wednesday.

Now, the department is putting in fully protected bike lanes in some areas – meaning lanes that are protected by parked cars or buffers.

In December, it announced these kinds of lanes would be going up on 13th Street as part of the L train's Canarsie Tunnel closure. They're also planned for the East 20s, and now, crosstown streets in Midtown are being proposed.

"The streets that we're looking at, they have one travel lane but it's very wide – it's around 18 feet. So it does allow for double parking, and drop-off, and pick-ups, and deliveries," said Trottenberg.

But some parking would be lost – potentially two to three spots per block, because the DOT also plans to add turn lanes.

"Through vehicles will stay in the through lane, turning vehicles will move toward curb to make their turn," Office of Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Senior Dir. Sean Quinn explained. "Sort of helps the traffic flow a little bit better."

Some have concerns.

"There is limited parking as there is already, but people's safety is more important anyway, right?" one man said.

"I think it's great. I think connecting the East with the West of Manhattan has always been a challenge," a woman added.

The DOT plans to involve community boards in the process and will make adjustments as it goes along. Wednesday night, it's meeting with Community Board 4.

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