Nov. 6, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
Local families will take to the streets this weekend in a bike ride celebrating the recently installed protected bike lanes on Skillman and 43rd Avenues.
The Sunnyside Family Fun Bike Ride will take place at midday on Nov. 10, starting and ending at the Lou Lodati Playground on Skillman Avenue. The 3-mile route is designed to go through virtually all the freshly installed protected lanes on the two avenues.
The ride will pass through three parks, two schools, a library and the Skillman Avenue business corridor. Officers from the local 108th Precinct, additionally, will be on site to escort riders.
The event was planned by a group of local parents over the course of several weeks as a way to commemorate the installation of the protected bike lanes—a controversial plan that continues to captivate Sunnyside since the Department of Transportation first unveiled its plans for the two avenues last year.
The organizers note that the city’s plan includes shorter pedestrian crossings and narrower roads that all work to reduce speeding and enhance safety.
“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.
O’Neil, a former Sunnyside resident who now lives in Long Island City, commutes almost exclusively by bike and public transportation, and frequently cycles to Sunnyside to pick up his young son from school.
“There’s a much greater sense of safety,” he said about the protected bike lanes.
O’Neil recalled cars constantly swerving into the lane in the prior configuration, and said he and his son were almost sideswiped by a turning truck near the intersection of 39th Street and 43rd Avenue.
“That’s the kind of interaction the new design renders almost impossible,” he said.
While O’Neil is aware that the new protected bike lanes have been a source of ire to many, with opponents voicing concerns over the loss of parking, its potential impact on business, and, as of late, safety issues with increased congestion in some parts, his experience with the new configuration stands “much in contradiction to the predictions of doom,” he said.
“The roads are always going to be a crowded and contested space,” O’Neil said.
Organizers are anticipating 20 to 50 people at the free ride, and are encouraging people of all cycling abilities to attend.
All children under the age of 14 must bring and wear a helmet during the ride.
Little Friends Nursery School, the event’s sponsor, will also hand out free water bottles and coloring books on bike safety to young participants.
The Sunnyside Family Fun Bike Ride will gather at noon on Nov. 10 inside Lou Lodati playground at 41-15 Skillman Ave. The ride will begin at 12:30 p.m. A rain date is scheduled for Nov. 17. For more information visit the event’s Facebook page.