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NYC DOT Installs Controversial Bike Lanes On High-Traffic First And Second Avenues In Manhattan

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There's more bike bedlam in New York City, now that the Department of Transportation has installed new bike lanes in heavy traffic areas.

Residents said they're wondering what officials were thinking when they installed the lanes on First and Second Avenues from 34th to 59th streets.

It's an area already so congested at rush hour that cars can barely move, reports CBS 2's Marcia Kramer.

"I don't think it's going to work," Bruce Silberblatt said.

Silberblatt's group, the Turtle Bay Association, took pictures showing how the First Avenue approach to the 59th Street Bridge was already congested.

"It was bedlam," Silberblatt said. "Anybody trying to ride a bike is taking their life in their hands. It's that dangerous."

CBS 2 scoped out the area and spotted other potential dangers. Buses come down 48th Street and travel one block to 49th to turn around. They have to cross the new bike lane twice within one block.

A Second Avenue bike lane is next to the Israeli consulate, leaving many wondering what would happen if a man on a bike were a terrorist.

There's an even bigger problem on the stretch of First Avenue between 48th and 49th streets. The DOT's own flyer said that there's supposed to be a protected bike lane, with an additional lane where cars are supposed to be able to park.

However, for traffic coming from 48th Street and from First Avenue, there's no place for cars to go.

When asked about the potential problems with that plan, the DOT backed off the idea.

"That's a narrower section, and it's going to be tweaked to fit in that section," said Joshua Benson, director of bicycle and pedestrian programs for the DOT. "It's not going to look exactly the same as the other portions."

In the end, it may simply be about who the streets are for, what percentage of people who use the streets are bicyclists, and what percentage are driving automobiles.

"It's a tough number to pinpoint, but where we've already installed the new bike path, we see somewhere around 10 percent of the traffic is bike traffic," Benson said.

Opponents might argue that the 90 percent who use cars and buses should rule the road, especially in an area with such high levels of congestion.

Bike advocates said they'd like to see the bike lanes on First and Second Avenues extend all the way to 125th Street.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

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