The bike lane debate shows no sign of abating in Queens.
In western Queens, nearly 100 people gathered last week to rally against the bike lanes on Skillman and 43rd avenues in Sunnyside and Woodside. Meanwhile, state Sen. Tony Avella held a news conference at the intersection of Northern Boulevard and Douglaston Parkway to air his concerns over the thoroughfare’s controversial bike lane.
While well-intentioned, the implementation of these bike lanes by the city has caused outrage among residents in the borough. On one side, we have those who contend they need the space to safely cycle through the busy streets. On the other, we have others who maintain the bike lanes create safety issues for drivers and pedestrians. Adding to the heated conversation, bike lanes have also replaced some precious parking spots, which are in short supply. especially in western Queens.
Mayor Bill de Blasio pushed the bike lane plan for Skillman and 43rd avenues in an effort to keep people safe despite strong opposition from Sunnyside and Woodside residents.
Between 2012 and 2016, 283 people were injured along these two corridors, including 34 bicyclists and 61 pedestrians, according to the city Department of Transportation, with the remainder being motorists. Bike lanes can certainly help limit the number of injuries in the area, even if they aren’t always practical.
Meanwhile, the bike lane installed last summer along Northern Boulevard between Douglaston Parkway and 223rd Street last summer is the source of ongoing dissension.
The DOT said the two-way protected bike lane on the north side of Northern Boulevard delivers “critical safety benefits for the community and all street users.”
After the bike lanes were completed, the Douglaston Civic Association sent a letter to the DOT opposing the bike lane plan.
And now, with Avella leading the charge, residents are claiming that the bike lanes have not increased safety in the area. He is calling for stanchions to be installed to narrow the bike lane by about 20 to 30 feet and provide an easier connection to the sidewalk and deter cyclists from making a left turn against traffic on Douglaston Parkway.
And the DOT seems receptive to making some changes to better define lanes for cyclists and vehicles to boost safety. Changes are expected to be completed within the next few weeks.
The bike lane controversies are not going away. Our community boards and lawmakers must continue working with the DOT to find a more amicable solution. It’s up to them to make peace and go forward with the best possible plan, with input from all parties.
©2018 Community News Group
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