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Advocates Praise Queens Blvd Bike Lanes, Though Critics Remain

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Jan. 11, 2016 By Christian Murray

Bicycle advocates throughout Queens turned up in big numbers at Community Board 2’s monthly meeting last week to express their support for the controversial bike lanes that were installed on Queens Boulevard last summer.

The lanes, which remain a hot button issue, were denounced by some speakers Thursday who claimed that they have increased congestion and have made driving conditions worse.

However, most of the speakers came out in favor of the bike lanes, claiming that they have made their lives safer. They thanked the Board for voting to approve them.

The bike lanes were installed last summer on Queens Boulevard between Roosevelt Avenue and 73rd Street in Woodside as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero campaign. The Queens Boulevard bike lanes are expected to extend seven miles by 2018 – from Roosevelt Avenue to Union Turnpike – as the administration aims to shed the thoroughfare of its the nickname the “boulevard of death.”

Pat O’Brien, Community Board 2 Chair, recognized the bike lanes are a contentious issue.

“The only reason this Board entertained the option and voted the way we did is because we received the commitment from the DOT to have a dynamic process that would evolve, where they would take input, where they would revise, modify and improve [where needed].”

O’Brien said that adjustments will be made where needed. He said that the DOT has already been working with the Board.

William Kregler, a Woodside resident, said at the meeting that the bike lanes were built at the expense of drivers and said it is “murder out there.” He railed against them at CB 2’s December meeting.

But more speakers came out to support the lanes.

Josh Weitzner, a Sunnyside resident and bike messenger, said, “the bike lanes have made my life so much easier.” He said that the lanes are outside of the flow of traffic (on the left side), which protects riders from being hit by car doors.

Weitzner said that he has lost teeth and has holes in his chin due to being struck by car doors while riding. He also said he sustained a broken wrist on one occasion.

Paul Gilbert, a Woodside resident, said he is an avid bicyclist and was hesitant to ride on the boulevard until the changes were made.

“I use it all the time and go to businesses on the boulevard more than I ever did,” he said.

Astoria resident Juan Restrepo argued that the bike lanes are making people safer. He also noted that the Queens Boulevard bike lanes were named by the bicycling organization People for Bikes as one of America’s best bike lanes of 2015.

However, the Community Board has heard several complaints in recent months from residents near the Big Six towers in Woodside concerning traffic on Queens Boulevard between 60th Street and 65th Street.

The complaints have dealt with pedestrians being struck by cyclists while crossing Queens Boulevard at 60th Street after cyclists fail to stop at traffic lights. Another involves the loss of a lane in the service road between 63rd and 64th Streets on the south side of the Boulevard.

That section of Queens Boulevard has several stores and there is no parking along that stretch. When trucks stop illegally to unload their deliveries or someone unlawfully parks to run into a store, traffic gets backed up.

DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg visited this section of the boulevard with O’Brien and Councilman Van Bramer last week.

Jason Banrey, who represents Van Bramer, said the department is looking into restoring some parking spaces and adding signs and painted lines to alleviate these problems.

email the author: news@queenspost.com

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Bill

Queens Boulevard & Vision Zero: The Road to Ruin

Our elected and appointed officials were too busy patting each other on the back last week with the overflow of statistical data regarding the version zero programs to mention even one negative impact it has had on the communities and commuters it affected. At best, they failed to realize its impact on the commuters (including bus riders) and the community. At worse, they knew of the problems and still plowed through with it while wasting millions of taxpayer’s dollars in the process.

To begin this saga, Politicians needed a punch line to get the campaign started. The labeled Queens Boulevard the “Boulevard of Death” by simply citing the total number of deaths over 35 years and implying it was just speeding motorists that caused it. The accumulation figure and one year high 13 years ago is a piss poor attempt to justify these ill conceived programs.

First, Queens Boulevard is not the most dangerous roadway in New York City. Accidents, injuries and deaths are not solely from the actions of car drivers. A closer review of all the facts including jaywalking (crossing against the traffic light, not crossing in crosswalks, crossing between cars or in the middle of the block instead of at the corners), inattentive pedestrians (cell phones), intoxication of both drivers and pedestrians, unlicensed drivers, etc… would show a more complete and clearer picture on how these accidents occurred.

They used the same excuse with the Queens Boulevard bike lane program in order to waste $100 million dollars for (at most) 100 bicyclists. These officials mislead the public by saying that no vehicle lanes were taken away to make bike lanes. The fact is that the true “Phase I” of the bike lane project started when the DOT took away the left lane of the east and west service road under the ruse of “safety” by striping over them. The DOT confiscated these lanes in order to put in bike lanes. Besides these areas being empty and unused most of the year, this weekend’s snow storm is another clear reason we need the lanes back for plowing and emergency vehicles.

Another misconception is that these bike lanes were meant for everyone, including bike riding families. This perception was portrayed by the staged bike trip with kids and parents (along with elected officials) in the summer and put on Youtube for all to see. The fact is that these bike lanes are meant for commuters outside of community (Manhattan, Astoria. Rego Park, Forest Hills, Jamaica, etc…). It was specially designed to be the most direct bike route in and out of Manhattan into Queens.

By the way, the tan colored buffer zone in the DOT plans are slated to be filled in with concrete to widen the traffic dividers between the main and service road. These widen islands were designed to be used by both pedestrians and bicyclists. This concentrating of pedestrians and bicyclists into these areas will most certainly increase accidents between them.

Because of these changes, we no longer have a rush hour problem on Queens Boulevard. We now have a rush day and rush evening problem that is affecting everyone who lives along or uses Queens Boulevard. To say that deaths along Queens Boulevard are decreasing because of DOT’s changes is wrong. The reason is the lower speed rate (25 mph) and traffic jams most of the time. So deaths by vehicles will certainly decrease for now. But with our ever increasing population fueled by irresponsible development along Queens Boulevard, accidents and deaths between pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles will eventually begin to uptick. By then, all those who will benefit financially and politically from these mega-deals will be laughing it up in their retirement mansions.

There are solutions and the space available to correct these problems now and address all concerns. Yet there seems to be more of a mentality of “circling the wagons” by those responsible in hopes to weather the storm of criticism then have to acknowledge mistakes made in order to fix them.

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Bill

Vote on this issue:
POLL: Do you like the bicycle lanes on Queens Blvd …
sunnysidepost.com/2016/01/11/poll…the-bicycle-lanes-on-queens-blvd
I

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Michael M

Almost all of the bike path doesn’t take any lanes away from the cars: They still have three lanes on the boulevard as they always have. So I don’t really see the argument against it.

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Peter B.

If you want to be angry at someone, be angry at all the people using Queens Blvd to get to the 59th Street Bridge, and those opposed to tolling that bridge. The problem with Queens Blvd isn’t bikes or bike lanes, its cars and people trying to avoid paying tolls. The traffic to the QBB is insane and is choking local roads, polluting the air and putting people in danger. Toll the QBB and lower the toll on the Midtown Tunnel and the Triborough as called for in the MoveNY plan, and many of those cars clogging Queens Blvd will instead be on the LIE and Grand Central where they belong. Construction and development is lighting up like crazy along the Boulevard. It seems that each time I ride down it I notice a new site. There are about a dozen buildings in one state of construction or another in the 2 miles between Sunnyside and the Queens Center Mall, and in this same edition of the paper is an article discussion likely further development. We need to design alternatives to moving people down Queens Blvd to handle all of this increased local population and business development. That means bike lanes and bus lanes – whether you like it or not they are much more efficient ways of moving people. Continuing to clog Queens Blvd with cars [often with a single occupant] driven in from points East, which belong on a highway, is the real problem. Solve that problem or the Boulevard will become a parking lot no matter what you do with bike lanes.

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Anthony

I can’t agree more with most of you on here, especially fake Donald Trump. I live on Queens Blvd in Forest Hills and I think my strip has even more shops and businesses than Sunnyside and all of the metered parking spots are taken all day long, I cannot imagine what chaos will ensue with most of that parking taken away just to have two empty bike lanes. What can we do about this??? How can we get the lunatics behind this off of this nonsense? HELP!

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fake Donald trump

Whoever believes this fairy tale about praise for the bike lane isnt plugged into the public opinion from the neighborhood. NOBODY LIKES THIS IRRESPONSIBLE DANGEROUS MESS OF A PROJECT. its a failure, a stupid idea,and these fairy tale stories of praise are a smoke screen to cover up the disaster thats been created. Get real this bike lane was a major disruption of traffic, business and safety issue. Its going to be real useful when the snow hits. Have to say they got the picture right this time,NOBODY USES IT, instead of the picture someone manufactured on a computer with all the bikes. I have worked on q.blvd for weeks and rarely see a bike. One every few hrs. Its time to fess up and admit the screw up.

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Wolfsbane

Did he stop and provide his identity information so he could provide restitution for the damage he did? If not, he should be arrested for hit and run.

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Oldschool Sunnysider

ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS for a few hundred plastic pylons, a few thousand gallons of paint, a couple of street signs and lights?
ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS!!!!

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Peter B.

Relax and breathe. That is not the cost of the current installation. That is the cost for the complete project – over 6 miles, including the final capital build out that will happen in 2018.

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Anonymous

In all probability Mr. Weitzner biked right in to a car door in the process of being opened. No one is at fault in this situation except DOT who didn’t consider this looming accident when designing the bike lanes. A rider can’t be expected to know when someone is about to get out of a car and a driver can’t be expected to know when a bike is in the blind spot. I’ve heard bikers say drivers are “stupid” and drivers say bikers are “—holes” but both are wrong. Blame the DOT for expecting too much from both populations.

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Peter B.

Sorry but this is wrong factually and legally. Under New York Law it is illegal to open your door without first checking to see if anyone is approaching from behind. That is what your mirrors are for, not to mention simply turning your head and looking over your shoulder before you open the door – easy to eliminate any blind spot if you try. And bikes do not go that fast, that bike would have been approaching the car for several minutes and would have been clearly visible to anyone checking their mirrors

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Anonymous

Not only is the community suffering from traffic but businesses are struggling also. All the mom and pop stores losing business which in turn will make them close.

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VelvetKnight

Literally every complaint in the comments above (except possibly the sidewalk one) has been said about every other major bike lane in the city, from Kent to the Manhattan avenues.

And a year later, they’ve all been shown to increase ridership, decrease the number of crashes and injuries for drivers, bikers and pedestrians, and have no significant effect on traffic – except on the avenues with separated bike lanes, which have actually helped the flow of traffic.

Given that, perhaps it’s a bit too soon to judge.

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WoodsideMom

I have yet to see a single person riding in the bike lane during rush hours, AM or PM. I do see lots of traffic congestion between 60th St & 65th Pl though. Great job DOT! Made it that much harder for pedestrians to cross the streets there. Cars blocking the “box” at 60th St and driving through the red light there. I take great joy in dodging them as I try to cross fromNorth to South every night. NOT!

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Del Toro

Why couldn’t they take the space from the sidewalk and make a bike lane there? The sidewalks are huge, nobody walks up and down queens blvd that much. Were they afraid of losing parking revenue? OK, forget about taking space from sidewalks, but did they have to make the darn bike lane so wide? Plus what’s up with that yellow/tan area? Are there supposed to be pedestrians walking there? Come on, get rid of this nonsense and make a bike lane only on one side of the blvd and it doesn’t have to be this wide.

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fake Donald trump

Whoever thought of this bike lane should be drug tested. One bike every 2 hrs. Great idea, screw up traffic for thousands of cars for a few bikes a day. They really dropped the ball on this, and the 6 people who like it, congrats, you got your way. Wait until the cold hits and nobody rides their bike,what a waste. The city/state must have spent millions on this catastrophe

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Peter B.

I rode on there today, in just the 20 minutes on a late saturday afternoon, on a 50 degree overcast day, I saw a dozen other riders. You can be as snarky as you like but we need this lane. No longer am I dodging drivers speeding up to enter the BQE with no regard for my safety. I can get past the car shops without worrying about the double parking and cars coming out of those garages, as I work my way slowly up the hill to Cavalry I no longer have impatient cars flying past me, and as I come back down that hill back home, I no longer have to worry hitting a pothole at speed and being dropped in front of a car. Can’t wait for it to be extended East.

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