Aug. 24, 2014 By Christian Murray
A group of about 60 bicyclists took a tour around Sunnyside Saturday, visiting six “bike-friendly” bars/restaurants in the neighborhood.
The event was put on by Transportation Alternatives, a group that advocates for safer streets, which marked Sunnyside as the first “Bike Friendly Business District” in Queens.
Julie Roberts Dubovsky, co-chair of the Queens division of Transportation Alternatives, said yesterday that there are 70 businesses in Sunnyside that are “bike friendly”—a number that led it to give the neighborhood its own designation.
She said that bike friendly business districts tend to be more vibrant and boost retail activity by more than 10%– which is good for both store owners and cyclists alike.
The 70 businesses were deemed “bike friendly” for supporting Transportation Alternatives’ campaign for a safer Queens Boulevard.
Transportation Alternatives is calling on the Department of Transportation to study—and ultimately—redesign Queens Boulevard, and has been soliciting the help of local businesses and the community board. In 2013, six people were killed on Queens Boulevard and more than 150 pedestrians and cyclists were injured.
The advocacy group is also calling for a dedicated bike lane on Queens Boulevard, which it believes is a realistic goal.
The event kicked off at Bliss Street Plaza (46th and Queens Blvd) and the cyclists—and some pedestrians—then went on to Aubergine Café, Bar 43, Café Columbia, Go Natural, Arriba Arriba and Jack’s Ale House in support of these bike friendly businesses.
The event took place at the right time—since the Department of Transportation has been installing bike racks throughout the neighborhood in the past two weeks—from Queens Blvd to Skillman Avenue.
Outside each venue, there were mountains of bikes everywhere as the riders went inside to purchase food/drinks to show their support for bike friendly business.
Elected officials Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and State Sen. Mike Gianaris were there to promote the initiative, with both politicians lauding the city’s vision zero campaign and voicing their support for more bike lanes.
Van Bramer, who was on his blue bicycle, completed the tour—bouncing from venue to venue.
A spokeswoman for Transportation Alternatives is hopeful that a dedicated bike lane will come to Queens Blvd and that traffic engineers will figure out a way like they did with many streets in Manhattan.
“No one would have thought that bike lanes would have gone there [years ago],” she said.
Gianaris, who also said that installing bike lanes on Queen’s Blvd is a realistic goal, said it is about changing people’s mindset. “Streets are not just for cars but they are for cyclists too,” he said.