Bicyclists celebrated a milestone Wednesday: 100 miles of protected bike lanes installed on city streets in five years. The newest lane is on Fountain Avenue in the East New York section of Brooklyn. But with 25 cyclists killed on city streets so far this year, compared to ten in all of 2018, officials say more must be done.
The city is now giving bikes the green light, an approach called the green wave. The Transportation Department is changing the timing of some traffic lights to accommodate cyclists instead of motorists. On many, streets the traffic signals have been synchronized to accommodate cars and trucks traveling 25 miles an hour. Now, however, certain lights will be timed for traffic traveling at 15 miles an hour, the average speed of cyclists.
"To give bikes the ability to travel at a good speed, to not hit too many red lights. It makes cycling safer," said Polly Trottenberg, the Department of Transportation commissioner at a news conference.
The DOT re-timed traffic lights on Hoyt and Bond Streets in Brooklyn for cyclists last December.
They say the signals on 43rd Avenue in Sunnyside, Queens and Prince Street in SoHo will be adjusted for cyclists before the end of the year.
While some drivers are concerned the new timing will increase congestion, cycling advocates say the changes will make streets much safer.
"On a neighborhood street, like Hoyt Street and others that you see throughout Brooklyn, it's really inappropriate to be driving much faster than 15 miles per hour to begin with," said Joe Cutrufo of Transportation Alternatives.
Cyclists on Hot Street say they haven't noticed a big difference so far.
"I ride here every day, but I haven't really thought about it," said one cyclist.
Trottenberg singled out areas of Brooklyn that have transitioned from manufacturing zones to residential neighborhoods as needing more traffic safety measures.
"We are in the process of a super aggressive installation of speed cameras," said Trottenberg.
The plan, she said, also includes even more bike lanes down the road.