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Workshop on Skillman/43rd Ave. Bike Lane Proposal to be Held, Ideas Excluding Protected Lanes Also to be Discussed

Skillman Avenue by P.S. 11 (Photo: November 2017)

May 7, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez

Community Board 2 is hosting a workshop later this month as a follow up to the Department of Transportation’s controversial plan to install protected bicycle lanes—and an array of other safety features– on Skillman and 43rd Avenues.

The workshop, which will take place at Sunnyside Community Services on May 21, aims to generate ideas from the public as to how to make Skillman and 43rd Avenues safer for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. The event is open to all, and will begin at 6:30 p.m.

The meeting centers on the DOT’s proposal for safety improvements on Skillman and 43rd Avenue, which primarily features protected bike lanes and a reduction of parking spaces along a roughly 20-block stretch of the corridor.

The event is solely being organized by Community Board 2; the DOT is not involved.

While many vouch for protected bike lanes to be implemented, the proposal has seen much resistance from a mix of residents and dozens of business owners since November, when the DOT presented a proposal that would have eliminated 158 parking spaces.

The DOT has since held a town hall and revised the plan twice, with the latest version showing a reduction of 116 parking spaces.

But the board has still expressed skepticism over the plan, with CB2 Chair Denise Keehan-Smith urging the DOT for a scaled-back approach to the two avenues.

The upcoming workshop, Keehan-Smith said, will be a chance for residents to voice alternatives and come up with a different take on safety improvements.

“We want to hear some safety ideas other than simply putting in a bike lane,” she said at Thursday night’s Community Board 2 meeting. Ideas she suggested as examples include painting the existing lanes green, changing the traffic light sequence, and installing speed bumps.

The feedback given at the workshop will be consolidated and discussed with the Transportation Committee and DOT in June, the same month the committee and full board will likely vote on the DOT’s proposal.

“We just want to hear from everyone,” she said. “As you all know there’s strong opinions on both sides, so we would like to have our own take—take a look at it and see what we can come up with.”

Event Details

Date: May 21,

Time: 6:30 p.m.

Location: Sunnyside Community Services, located at 43-31 39th St

The event is open to all.

 

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61 Comments

Sunnysider

Ask any cyclist in this neighborhood and they’ll all say the same thing, ” why are they pushing for a protected bike lane here?. Skillman and 43rd are the safest part of my commute.”
The “we need safer bike lanes” argument is weak and untrue. Do your homework, the data speaks for itself. The DOT and TA need to sell it that way but in actuality they are playing the long game. This is a city-wide mandate to push people on bicycles/decrease car congestion. It gives the De Blasio admin & deep pocket real estate developers a transportation alternative to the rising, overcrowded train commute. Cramming in more “affordable” housing(i.e., sunnyside yards) without tweaking our transportation infrastructure, like adding buses or railroad cars, would be a mess for them. It’s not about safety, it’s about giving bicyclists their own lane to encourage this form of transportation, which I truly believe is a great thing.
BUT, there are 2 problems here: The DOT & TA exploiting distraught widows to sell us this citywide agenda. Disgusting. Y’all should be ashamed of yourselves! And, the DOT dropping the ball on choosing which manhattan-bound street to propose it on. Northern Blvd. or Queens Blvds are both great choices for a a variety of reasons. They’re both direct routes to the bridge. They’re both wide, with customer parking in place. They’re both in need of a signal timing change to slow traffic.
I’m in support of clean and safe transportaion, but the DOT needs to do a better job with picking the locations for these protected lanes. They’re to blame.




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Mike

As a Sunnyside resident and regular bike rider I strongly support protected bike lanes on Skillman and 43rd Ave. I don’t see how the loss of a relatively small amount of parking outweighs the significant safety and mobility benefits of DOT’s current proposal. Right now the project only removes 66 out of the almost 700 spaces on the two corridors. That leaves well over 90% of the current parking on Skillman & 43rd Ave still in place.

Throughout this process, DOT has acted in good faith taking concerns of all parties into consideration. This was demonstrated by their revised plan adding an additional 52 spaces back relative to the original proposal released in November. They’ve already essentially met the project’s opponents on CB2 half way.

Protected bike lanes have been installed in cities throughout the world ,including right here in NYC, and have already demonstrated significant safety benefits across the board. They are the gold standard for street design for cities serious about a 21st century approach to public safety, mobility, and environmental quality.

https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2016/11/why-protected-bike-lanes-save-lives/508436/

Anecdotally I feel much safer riding in a protected bike lane than I do exposed to traffic dodging double parked cars, and would be thrilled to see this plan go forward.




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george kelly

how can they even count the parking spaces? there’s so many different size cars and you can’t make the car parkers make the spaces even. I try and put tapes on the ground with nombers, but they don’t do it right. I parked my car in 1977 and havn’t moved it sense.




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Frank

hi,
First, as per the article, DOT is cutting 116 spaces (not 66 as you mentioned).
Second; there are not people dying every day like bike lane supporters claim. There are accidents, because of lack of education for the most part. Someone was killed on 43th and 39th were (as per an article I read here in the Sunnyside Post) both driver’s and cyclist’s judgment had failed. The biker did not stop on the red light and a drunken driver hit him.
The argument is not whether we want safer roads or not (we all do want safer roads) but creating a year-round inconvenience to alleviate a seasonal problem is not the right thing to do. The DOT has not provided any other alternatives.
CB2 Chair Denise Keehan-Smith makes a valid point and suggests a great idea (which I also had thought of and mentioned here in a few comments). She proposes to paint green the actual bike lanes, changing the lights sequence, and installing speed bumps. I would not install speed bumps but instead, I would reinforce the existing traffic rules for everybody bikers and drivers).




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Mike

Hello. The 66 spots I cited refer to the residential corridors between 39th Street & Roosevelt Ave on both Skillman and 43rd. This number was highlighted on slide 27 of DOT’s latest presentation to CB2 last April. I did not intend to mislead anyone. I focussed on this portion of the plan because it is clearly the most contentious area that concerns many Sunnyside residents & businesses. My point remains that over 90% of the current parking on the residential portions of 43rd & Skillman will remain, even with the protected bike lanes.

http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/skillman-ave-43rd-ave-apr2018.pdf

As for painting the bike lanes green or adjusting the light sequences, neither would change my fundamental problem with current lanes since they would not prevent cars & trucks from using the bike lanes as standing zones. This forces cyclists to veer in and out of moving traffic and makes me uncomfortable even as a relatively experienced cyclist. I also know it discourages other people who would otherwise like to try bike commuting to even bother. More enforcement of all traffic laws would be nice, but realistically traffic police aren’t going to patrolling each block of 43rd and Skillman 24/7. That is why I believe an infrastructure fix like protected bike lanes are the best solution.




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Mythoughts

From counting likes and dislikes on here more people support protected bike lanes than oppose. No one can say the community is against this; clearly there are local people on both sides. I would love a protected bike lane although I am sympathetic to the concerns about parking.




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Gus Orellano

You’re using this anonymous comment section to prove neighborhood support?
Ready? Go onto the Facebook link for this article, read the comments and compare. 90% of locals are opposed to these lanes. Most people posting here in support of the lanes are phoning it in from other areas. They don’t comment on FB because that will give up their location. TA has a vast network of trolls.




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Frank

The supporters are a group of well-intended individuals that are organized to achieve their agenda. They go from location to location where town halls are openly discussing whether the community wants the bike lanes or not. I assisted to a town hall in Sunnyside and I was shocked by the number of non-Sunnyside residents that were expressing their support. A few of them did it openly by grabbing the mic and expressing how good they feel when the bike through Sunnyside on their way to Manhattan. That’s is like you should paint your house the color I like better!




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Chris

You’re right, Frank. Only people who live in the neighborhood should ever have a say about the safety of people passing through the neighborhood. While we’re at it, let’s just wall off Sunnyside so nobody can ever come!




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Michael micharl

Degenerate liberal idea is going to ruin beautiful Sunnyside. There is enough bike lanes and everyone is safe. Bikers create safety problems. They never obey the traffic rules, always speeding. If u want to bike, go to NJ or CA and get the hell out of Sunnyside.




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Carbie Barbie

Wow! Degenerate? You’re really going for degenerate because of some bike lanes?




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Happy urban hippy

Why so car obsessed when it’s so walkable here and we have decent public transportation. Bikes take up a lot less space then cars, are better for your health and better for the environment.




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Fan of Doughboy park

I’m with michelle michale. Can you even image a time when there were people with progressive ideals living here??? If there’s one thing that makes a community successful — it’s a lack of transportation options.




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Republican Cyclist

Here’s an actual republican argument for bike lanes:
1) cyclists are rugged individualists. they don’t need Saudi oil or government hand outs to pave, salt, plow, patch roads nearly to the degree motorists do.
2) bikes make financial sense. cyclists $ave money the more they bike. the city $aves money the more people bike.

Your fake republican argument seems to be:
1) this is different i don’t like it
2) cyclists are jerks and i don’t like them

This has nothing to do with Republicans/Democrats. It has to do with change.




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Frank

The problem won’t be resolved. Bike lanes will only reduce 20% of the number of accidents. This means, that 80% of accidents will always happen, with or without the bike lanes! In the meantime, business will lose sales, ask Solomon Moses, owner of Stix Kosher restaurant; and Jay Parker, owner of Ben’s Best Deli in Forest Hills (just to name a few). If you want an aesthetic change in Sunnyside, with bike lanes you will get t it. But if you want to solve a safety issue, then bike lanes are not the solution. You would hardly notice the difference. The problem is education (graphics and signs like those hanging next to the traffic lights that tells you thinks like No Left Turns, paint the bike lanes green, etc.) and reinforcement of traffic rules, especially throughout the proposed corridor.




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Brian Howald

This would be like if Republicans held a town hall on gun safety, but excluded any comments supporting gun control.

If you want greater safety, you can’t oppose proven safety measures. Otherwise your words are just thoughts and prayers.

Or, in this case, half-baked or already standard ideas offered disingenuously as a delaying tactic to give a veneer of seriousness to the opposition.




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Jolene

The opposition is serious. We don’t want a bike highway running through the neighborhood. It detracts from our standard of living. Bikers’ aggression both on the road and in public arenas has made them undesireable members of the community. That does not mean we are professional traffic managers. We are pressing the people who know how to do that to do it somewhere else, not on Skillman and 43rd Avenues.




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Brian Howald

“Bike Highway”
“Biker’s aggression”
“Undesirable members of the community.”

Whoa there.

The bike lanes are 5-6 ft. wide each. The travel lanes are twice that. Meaning that right now there are four car highways each on Skillman and 43rd Aves! Somebody’s got to fix that!




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Jolene

The roads are designated as avenues. The term “bike highway” came from an early story in which advocates described their goal as having a bike highway. Bikers are highly aggressive. What else would you call a group of people who demand society change to suit them despite the needs other people have? Their agression shows on the roads where people are intimidated by them because they make their own rules, and certainly in meetings on the issue, and here on this website. I was pro-bike until the last year when their hatred of cars and car culture was made clear to me. Hatred has no place in negotiations.




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Chris

“What else would you call a group of people who demand society change to suit them despite the needs other people have?”

Good job, you just admitted that you believe your right to park is more important that a cyclist’s right to safety! Yet you wonder why “pro-bike” people hate car culture.




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Local Sunnysider

Fantastic idea. Why implement a divisive bike lane if we can find a way to improve cyclist safety without upsetting the majority of the community.




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Carbie Barbie

You seem to like speaking for everyone. “We,” “No one here agrees with you,” and “our standard of living.”

It seems to obvious to say, but lots of people disagree with you. You don’t speak for the whole neighborhood.




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Jolene

Of course not. I only meant to point out that you keep bringing up the private property/public space issue and no one takes the bait. That’s all. We all have a right to our opinion but if you want to advance your agenda find a better venue for it. It is not gained no traction here. All the best.




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Carbie Barbie

“Find a better venue for” my comments?

Better than, say, a comment section?




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Me

Carbie, Maybe if they allowed garages and driveways on “precious” and “landmarked” sunnyside gardens (aka rundown crap with no proper regulation or oversight) then people wouldn’t clog the streets and with driveways on each building you’d have the space free for bike lanes or whatever nonsense you are trying to promote.

If you want to start talking about parking permits etc maybe you should start with bikers, unlicensed, unregulated, bikers running wild all over the place, you don’t even know which way to look when you are crossing the street anymore because a biker might be pedaling down the wrong way. You want revenue, start by getting it from bikers and pulling over unregistered bikers.




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Carbie Barbie

I’m for parking permits.

I’m also for stricter traffic enforcement–both bikes and (especially) cars and motor vehicles.

Everyone has seen cyclists flout traffic laws, but I’m willing to bet that if you’re honest with yourself, you’ve seen many more cars (etc) do it more.

Also, bikes don’t kill people at anything like the rates of motor vehicles. In fact, if you’ve got some data or evidence of bikes killing people in the city, I’d like to see it.

And, for the record, I don’t cycle.




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Sunny

Make the bike lanes on queens Blvd . Not skillman or 43rd aves . Problem solved




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Tony

the part of Queens BLVD that crosses Van Dam and back to Skillman is super busy. Its safer to ride on Skillman




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Willamena

Then get off your bike and walk it through the rough spots. Everyone else goes around obstacles or changes their behavior for road conditions. Why do bikers find this anathema?




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fdsafsdaf

They should take all the suggestions and throw them in the trash.

Most residents walk and don’t own cars, and the pedestrians safety improvements are necessary. Also, you’re never going to have a truly safe street for people on bikes unless you have dedicated lanes. So, removing them from the plan is a non-starter.

Things like speedbumps or speed cameras would be nice, but sorry, nothing in the existing plan can be removed.




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EUGENE M QUINN

How do you ride without a bike lane? Children did it for years. You want your own expressway to wherever you are going. That is liberal selfishness. Stop was tax dollars on stick figures and green paint.




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Carbie Barbie

You mean like the “expressways” that cars drive on?

Selfishness is wanting a free piece of public land to put your object on.

If I plop bookcases, and boxes of my crap on a set of wheels and leave it out on the street in a parking spot, is that okay?

How about if I set up a tent in a different parking space each night? That cool with you?




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Annoyed!

Bicycles should be required to be licensed ( with visible identification), insured, registered (like a car or motorcycle) and follow ALL rules of the road. THEN people can discuss special “bike lanes”, and their “rights” as bicycle riders! Put all these ideas and plans up for vote during local elections! Majority rules! I am ANNOYED with having to “walk defensively” around the streets of Queens and the rest of New York City! VERY FEW bicycle riders follow rules!




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Happy hippy

Yeah, let’s register pedestrians and tax people who want to use sidewalks. See how silly that sounds? Same thing with pedestrians not following the rules. Cars are the only ones that kill people daily in this city.




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Tony

its false equivalency really. you can reason that cyclists be licensed. the reason we require motorists to be licensed and insured as opposed to pedestrian sand cyclists is that motorists can cause more damage and injury




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Reasonable Ronald

I’m just so glad that the community board is finally going around the experts and their proven track record of success. That’s the right thing to do!




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Anonymous

“Experts with proven track records ”
Tell the truth, did you type this with a straight face?
They have a proven record of spending millions of dollars to correct traffic problems that don’t exist.
See 41st and Greenpoint or 39th, 50th, and Greenpoint. If I was a cynical person I would think the only reason for the changes at these intersections was to generate kickbacks. But I’m not a cynical person, and the Deblasio administration is beyond reproach. The change just south of 50th Ave and 39st is going to result in a head on collision sooner rather than later but I’m not an expert. I have seen the recent near misses and it’s just a matter of time.




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Steve

This area needs protected bike lanes. The idea that the community board can prohibit the community from suggesting them is anti-democratic.




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fdsafsdaf

Here is my other suggestion:

Remove two lanes from Queens Boulevard (one in each direction). Turn the parking lane into a 24/7 metered parking lane (instead of being a traffic lane during rush hour). Increase the width of both sidewalks and add protected bike lanes on both sides of the boulevard. Build concrete pedestrian islands in the new parking lane, to shorten crossing distances. Plant trees in the new parking lanes as a traffic calming measure, and to decrease the noise and air pollution from the boulevard itself. Change the hours for parking under the viaduct so that residents don’t have to move their cars until 9am (8:30 would also be fine). Also, change it so that parking under the viaduct becomes free after 7pm while the parking on the street (on the boulevard) becomes free after 10pm (if residential parking passes becomes a thing, perhaps overnight parking under the viaduct should be reserved for residents only).

The reason the boulevard should be scaled back is that it’s frequently used and a pseudo-expressway for people who live on Long Island so they can avoid the toll on the midtown tunnel. Reducing the capacity on the boulevard should push people from LI back onto the LIE or force them to take mass transit. Meanwhile the reduction in traffic on QB should reduce traffic around the the bridge.

If you want to take it a step further the lane closest to the viaduct could be a HOV/Bus lane during rush hour. This way residents in Queens who have to take express buses have a faster way into Manhattan.

The DOT should also see if it’s possible to make the parking under the viaduct more compact, so sidewalks (with trees) can be restored on that side of the street.




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Happy hippy

What you said made a ton of sense. Especially the part about express bus lanes and trees.




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Tartine 6666

It’s not the community board who doesn’t want them.
It’s the community. The people who actually live here.




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CB2 is a disappointment

That’s not true. Plenty of people who want the bike lanes live here. (Me and my husband included.)

This is an absolutely ridiculous plan. Maybe we could start having “workshops” for the community to design bridges and tunnels. Better, maybe we could start doing it ourselves! Surely these things take no developed skills…




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Peter Beadle

This is a deeply troubling action and one that surely violates the First Amendment. How can a government body hold a workshop, but as a precondition to participation you are forced to agree not to discuss something that is wholly relevant to the purpose of the workshop? At the last “workshop” everyone was given an opportunity to share their views and even propose alternatives. There would be nothing stopping those with other ideas from proposing them at the next workshop either. But to hold a public workshop that refuses from the outset to permit discussion of the DOT’s own proposal – the one created by actual road engineers and urban planners – is not only a violation of people’s free speech rights, but is an absurd way to analyze the matter and form policy.

This act becomes the latest exhibit in the case for ignoring Community Boards when it comes to making safety changes to the designs of our streets. Which is a shame. I believe there can and should be a place for a Community Board to examine the issue, ensure there is a robust public debate and ensure that City agencies are listening to the community so that the best choices can be made – choices based on engineering and factual data, while taking community concerns in to consideration. This does none of that. Instead it creates an improper process seeking to elevate one set of voices over another. In short this is sham.




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Me

I would love to be able to commute by bike, but there is not a single area in whole of western queens that you can safely bike without being worried if someone will hit you or if you will hit someone. The bike lane nonsense has to be addressed properly. Simply drawing biker graphics on the road does not somehow magically make bikers safe. Forget about a bike lane, half of what’s done in our area is just putting arrows on the travel lane. Don’t get me started with Skillman ave, people cannot park or unload their stuff safely without worrying that they’ll get a biker clipped. Have you ever pulled over on skillman when there are bikers coming? What are you supposed to do? Block the whole car lane so you don’t block the bike lane? If bikers really want a bike lane, they need to be willing to go around and take the long way, we can dedicated certain roads, and restrict bikes to those roads only, and enforce that restriction. If there is a bike lane on Skillman, bikes should not be allowed on queens blvd, period. If you have business on queens blvd, get off your ass and walk your bike, then walk it back down to skillman or wherever there is a bike lane, and then ride your bike.

There are areas in Long Island City with completely protected bike lanes, and that is the proper way to do bike lanes. Everything else is just for show and total BS. Including what they did to Queens Blvd. They took up a whole lane, and then some, made “bike lane” with a “walk path” that nobody uses. How do you protect bikers from a driver who doesn’t see that flimsy plastic marker and hitting them because it was in a blind spot when they approach a ramp/exit between express and local lanes?

Anyway, I don’t care about the fight between supporters and opponents but if it’s being done, it needs to be properly done.

PS: If DOT is not involved, good luck getting them to listen to the ideas that come out of this meeting. We can talk all we want among ourselves, DOT will come in and do what they want in the end. They didn’t even answer questions in last townhall meeting, they shoved the “facts” down people’s throat and said “we know what we’re talking about” with no solid statistics or proof.




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Tony

I mean, isnt the whole point of Skillman, is that its relatively LESS used than the nearby Queens BLVD?




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JT

“We want to hear some safety ideas other than simply putting in a bike lane,” .
Denise LOVED a bike lane a year ago, now rallies against it.
Anyway – the plan includes much more than “simply putting in a bike lane.” or did she not attend any of those meetings?




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Jolene

There is a bike lane, they are proposing a bike highway. Very different.




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Concerned

A bike lane workshop that excludes protected bike lanes? Sounds like the CB 2 has made its stance clear and is uninterested in hearing from “everyone.” A green lane or speed bumps would have saved Gelasio Reyes’s life. More and more families (actual families, with young children in a bike seats on the back of adult bikes) ride 43rd Ave. The avenue needs a protected lane.




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ann

What a constructive idea! People have many other ideas for promoting safety for everyone, which DOT has been deaf to.




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