Nov. 19, 2018 Staff Report
About 100 people turned out Sunday to protest the DOT’s controversial redesign of Skillman and 43rd Avenues, a little over a week after dozens held a community bike ride in support of it.
Yesterday, several business owners and long-time residents opposed to the redesign joined together at 51st Street and 43rd Avenue, where they demanded that the DOT return the streets back to the way they were prior to the design’s implementation.
They called on the DOT to rip out the protected bicycle lanes, return sections of the avenues back to two lanes, and to restore the 120-plus parking spaces lost. They say small businesses have suffered since August–when the changes were rolled out–and argued that the redesign has made the streets more dangerous.
“Some businesses that have been around for 10 years have just had their slowest month ever,” said Gary O’Neill, owner of Aubergine Cafe and a member of Queens Street for All, a group of merchants and residents that formed in opposition to the redesign.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, Nov. 10, supporters of the DOT redesign hosted the Sunnyside Family Fun Ride at Lou Lodati Playground. They rode the two avenues and said that the redesign has made the avenues safer. They wanted to highlight what a positive impact they have had.
They thanked the DOT for the design changes.
“We really just want to show the neighborhood that we’re thankful for this, and it’s something that’s going to improve safety for all,” said Evan O’Neil, one of the event’s organizers.
The DOT said the plan was put into effect to increase safety for bicyclists and all road users. The agency said the redesign calms traffic on Skillman and 43rd Avenues and also provides shorter and safer pedestrian crossings.