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Bikes Are Hub of City’s Plan

Bikes Are Hub of City’s Plan

When the L-train tunnel closes for repairs in 2019, disrupting subway travel between Brooklyn and Manhattan for 225,000 daily commuters, the city will look to the lowly, human-powered bicycle to be a part of the solution.

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A new five-year New York City transportation plan includes a proposal to create protected bike lanes on a section of Delancey Street on the Lower East Side that connects to heavily used bike lanes on the Williamsburg Bridge.

The plan, to be released Wednesday, also calls for a new, indoor, city-owned secure bicycle parking site on the Manhattan side of the bridge, near connections for four other subway lines. The site could serve as a prototype of a new kind of bicycle-storage system near transportation hubs.

The city says a small but growing share of city commuters ride bicycles to work or school—2.5%. Groups worried about the plan to close the L-train tunnel for 18 months welcomed the effort though they said it was only the start of a broader discussion.

“Everything needs to be mustered: additional direct bus service, bikes, ferries and private cars, any and all possible modes of transportation that can be brought to bear” said Felice Kirby, a leader of the L Train Coalition, a group concerned about the shutdown.

City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said cycling in general and the bike lanes on Delancey Street were key to the five-year plan to reshape the transportation system at a time the city faces pressure from a record-high population. The cost of the plan wasn’t available.

“All city agencies,” she said, “are grappling with problems caused by economic growth and job creation that other cities would envy.”

The plan focuses on promoting walking, biking and mass transit, especially in less affluent neighborhoods far from subway stops, while cutting car travel and congestion caused by trucking, she said.

Transportation planners envision stepped up electronic and video monitoring of trucks to identify traffic-clogging double parking and overweight vehicles.

The plan also calls for variable parking fees for cars—to be paid via a new smartphone app to be released soon. Fees could be greater in high-demand areas to free up parking space, or lower in other areas where parking was a less urgent problem, officials said.

Some new initiatives, including a study of design changes to make left turns safer at 100 intersections, were added to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan to eliminate deaths and injuries in auto accidents.

On Tuesday, Mr. de Blasio said the city was on track to add 75 bike lane miles this year. The total includes 18 miles of protected lanes, where bikes are separated from pedestrians and vehicles.

The two-way Delancey Street protected bike paths would run from Allen Street east to the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge, under current city plans.

Under a pilot project, parking for dozens of bicycles would be made available next year, officials said, inside the Delancey and Essex Municipal Parking Garage, a 24-hour-a-day facility on Essex Street. Nearby is a subway stop on the F, J, M and Z lines.

Similar secure bicycle parking will be provided in warm weather at transit hubs next year as part of the pilot. The sites would mirror bicycle parking near transit centers in Europe and Asia, some with spaces for thousands of bikes.

“Cyclists do not need to worry about finding an open secure rack near their destination or having their bikes stolen or vandalized,” in the parking sites, the plan noted.

The commissioner said she hoped to see large-scale bicycle parking included as New York Penn Station and the Port Authority Bus Terminal are redeveloped.

Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group, said his group had been discussing bike parking with the city for about a year.

“They are looking to showcase what New York doesn’t have yet,” he said, “modern secure bike parking at least at busy transit hubs. This is a step in the right direction, as is the proposed bike lanes on Delancey Street.”