July 17, By Nathaly Pesantez
A transit advocacy group is petitioning for protected bike lanes in two Sunnyside thoroughfares, one of which was the location where a cyclist was killed by a drunk driver in April.
The group, Transportation Alternatives, is calling for the city to install protected bike lanes, or physically separated lanes from car traffic, on 43rd Avenue and Skillman Avenue. Both throughways currently have painted bike lanes only.
“43rd Avenue and Skillman Avenue are integral bike connectors in Queens,” the petition reads. “Thousands of cyclists use these streets to commute to or from the Queensboro bridge.
In April, Gelasio Reyes was cycling home from work when he was killed by a drunk driver who struck him at the intersection of 39th Street and 43rd Avenue.
Ten days later, another cyclist was struck by a truck on the same intersection, and was taken to the hospital in serious condition, the Sunnyside Post reported.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer called on the Department of Transportation to conduct an investigation on the intersection days later.
“Two cyclists killed or seriously injured in 10 days in the same intersection is not where we need to be when it comes to realizing Vision Zero,” Van Bramer said in April.
Transportation Alternatives reached out to Flor Jimenez, the widow of Gelasio Reyes, for her support in creating the petition.
Over 340 signatures have been collected as of Monday afternoon.
“I think its indicative of how much people care about this,” said Juan Restrepo, a spokesman for Transportation Alternatives. “We need a network of protected bike lanes that will safely take someone from point A to point B.”
In a July 12 letter to Restrepo, the Department of Transportation addressed its plans on the two throughways.“The Bicycle and Greenway Program is currently exploring options to improve safety for cyclists and other road users on Skillman Avenue and 43rd Avenue,” said DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia.
Safety enhancements for the route are being developed, with ideas to be shared later in the year, according to the letter.