Manhattan Community Board 6's transportation committee voted unanimously last night to approve a protected bike lane from 49th to 59th streets along 1st Avenue, closing a particularly deadly 10-block gap along the otherwise protected road.

The redesign, in which cyclists will be separated from traffic by a lane of parked cars, will replace the less effective "sharrows" that currently suffice. The plan will also include curb extensions, pedestrian islands and median extensions in order to reduce crossing distance, and would reduce five traffic lanes to four. If built as proposed, 1st Avenue will be home to the longest continuous on-street protected bike lane in the country, stretching to six miles.

The changes can't come soon enough: That 10-block segment has been the site of five pedestrian fatalities since 2009, and 16 serious cyclist and pedestrian injuries between 2009 and 2013, according to DOT data. For comparison, 10 people total were killed over the same period on the other 115 blocks between 1st and 125th Street.

Parking protected lanes have proven effective in reducing crashes: Since the installation of lanes at 9th Avenue, 8th Avenue, Broadway, 1st Avenue, 2nd Avenue, and Columbus Avenue, injuries have gone down by 20 percent. This is an appropriate time for a protected lane on 1st Avenue, since the DOT reports that cycling volume has increased 38 percent over that segment.

According to Streetsblog, residents also requested that DOT alter signage at 1st Avenue and 48th Street, where eastbound drivers tend to run a stop sign as they cross the bike lane onto 1st Avenue, and also requested adding protected lanes to 2nd Avenue.