Addition of bike lanes, subtraction of parking spots hurts local businesses

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Central Queens businesses are under attack by the city Department of Transportation as it removes parking spaces along Queens Boulevard and adds bike lanes. These changes are supposed to spur bicycle riding but have instead caused a drop in business for stores along Queens Boulevard with the fear that local businesses will go out of business. Already, Ben’s Best Delicatessen has closed due to loss of business since people can’t park so they can patronize the store.

When the city adds a designated bike lane to an area, it takes away parking spaces, which is the worst thing one can do to any community in Queens. This is hurting businesses and thus the economy of Queens. How bad things will become will be seen in the coming months. There are about three spots on each block where delivery trucks can park during the day while delivering to stores. If a customer parks in one of these spaces, the driver gets a big ticket. The tickets and the lack of parking are driving customers away. There are plans to reduce the loading zone hours down from 7 p.m. to 4 p.m. but will the signage be clear enough so that people will not get tickets?

The whole idea of this plan is to get people to ride bicycles and yet to cut down on accidents and injuries and deaths. The city currently releases figures which say that accidents and deaths are down, but when one drives along Queens Boulevard, one sees few if any bicycles in the bike lanes at any given time. In fact, one can see delivery trucks or cars double parked on the street so that traffic has to go into the bike lanes in order to keep moving.

The DOT keeps on adding to the problem. It now wants to extend the bike lanes eastward along Queens Boulevard to Union Turnpike. Sadly, this project will take away 220 parking spaces on this one-mile strip. This will be horrible for an area already short on parking spaces. The same problems for shopkeepers and car drivers should happen here that have happened to the west and hurt businesses. This is going on in the Community Board 6 area, which has voted against the plans.

In Sunnyside, Community Board 2 has voted against similar plans on Skillman and 43rd avenues. A large public hearing brought out people for and against the plan with the same arguments made for protecting people from accidents as opposed to hurting neighborhood stores.

In eastern Queens, there is another bike lane proposal along Utopia Parkway from 26th Avenue down to the Grand Central Parkway. While the loss of parking near stores does not seem to be a problem here, the narrowing of the road to one lane seems necessary and is a worry. Then the proposal to make the median an area of flowers seems improbable since the city does not take care of the trees and tree pits along other median strips in Queens.

Even further to the east along Northern Boulevard, the Douglaston Civic Association recently held another march against the protected bike lane that was built on the north side of Northern Boulevard. Community Board 11 has made another proposal to replace this bike lane. This area of Northern Boulevard has very heavy traffic, which is made worse by the loss of one lane of traffic for the bike lane.

It seems that while trying to solve one transportation problem, the city has created more problems. Let’s hope for a solution.

Good and bad news of the week

There has been much talk about immigrants, who they are, why they come and what good are they to a country. It seems that the rescue of the Thai boys’ soccer team was made easier due to an immigrant named Adul Sam-on, 14, who left Myanmar. He speaks five languages and acted as the interpreter for the Wild Boars, as the boys’ soccer team is called. His parents sent him to Thailand for a better life and he helped save the lives of 13 people.

Posted 12:00 am, August 4, 2018
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Reader feedback

Scottt from Astori says:
Bike lanes are not the reason businesses are hurting, but just for the sake of argument, let's pretend it is true. Let's pretend that you are right, and that bike lanes absolutely put Ben's Best out of business and are hurting other businesses in the area.

It is also true that bike lanes save lives. Queens Boulevard was once aptly named the boulevard of death. Since the addition of the bike lanes there have been ZERO deaths. ZERO. There used to be several per year. The evidence is overwhelming that without those bike lanes many people who are alive today would be dead instead.

I don't know how you feel, but I feel that a human life is priceless. Even the life of a complete stranger has more value than all the money in the world. I would make literally any sacrifice if I knew it could save someone's life.

If you feel the same way, why do you think it is more important that we should keep a deli in business than save lives? What's the problem with spending an extra few minutes looking for parking or sitting in traffic if it is literally and indisputably saving someone's life?

I would rather see every single business go belly up than even one person die just because they wanted to ride a bicycle. Why is it that you don't feel the same way? Are you really so selfish that you would rather have people die than deal with a minor inconvenience? You're already so wealthy and living so luxuriously that you have your own car to drive around in. It's too much to ask that you lose a few parking spots so we cyclists can travel with a little less chance of ending our very lives on a trip to Queens?
Aug. 4, 8:45 am
anon44 from queens says:
Recently, a woman was riding a bike in the bike lane and was killed by a sanitation truck. I hope you get injured and think differently and also hope that you lose your job in some way that makes it related.
Aug. 4, 7:15 pm
Alan from Sunnyside says:
The argument that losing parking spaces hurt businesses does not pass muster. Loading Zones are far more important to businesses and parking concerns usually prevent them from being implemented in the most business friendly way. The business community can and should be using this as an opportunity to get what they need instead of what they want, which in many cases pits them against the vast majority of their own customers. Some business groups get this while others do not. An argument against safety is always going to be bad business.

Also, the idea that cyclists always need to be using the lanes heavily at all times is no argument against them. The mere presence of a bicycle lane on a block makes it safer. On queens boulevard the bike lanes save lives by making pedestrians and cyclists more visible while slowing driving speeds. This has worked all over the world, it is working in queens and it will continue to do so.
Aug. 4, 10:05 pm
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Aug. 5, 10:49 pm
liza from Flushing says:
We have enough problems with not enough traffic lanes than to satisfy a handful of people that want to ride a bike specially on busy streets during heavy traffic times. First of all they should have plates and know the rules of the road. These people on bikes ride thru red lights, ride on sidewalks, they knock people over, dont have lights nor horns. they come right behind you without warning causing one to the ground if you happen to turn not knowing they are coming behind you and they run away. These bike lanes are totally unnecessary on busy streets. They are the cause of many road accidents and their own deaths. Our bus drivers are frustrated with them, I have seen them ride right in from of the buses and regular traffic. Also there is a helmet enforcement to save their brain and they dont use it and police is not enforcing it.
Aug. 6, 3:14 pm
Tom from Queens says:
While bike lanes are great in Manhattan, they are underused in Queens. Some bicyclists even avoid using the lanes and ride on the sidewalks instead.
Those who don't care about the businesses usually don't live in those neighborhoods. If businesses close, the economy of the neighborhood suffers. When the local economy suffers, the demographics of the area changes. When the demographics change, the city becomes less attentive of the area. When the city becomes less attentive, the neighborhood infrastructure becomes neglected.
Aug. 7, 4:31 pm

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