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Parents and Children to Celebrate New Protected Bike Lanes in 3-Mile Ride This Weekend

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.

via Sunnyside Family Fun Ride on Facebook

“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.

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19 Comments

great point

If only there was some way to safely separate “the buses and numerous car services” you mention from bicycle traffic. Like giving bikes their own lane, a “bike lane” if you will…maybe one day.

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Carbie Barbie

This is going to be so sad–they’ll be aghast at the tumbleweeds blowing through the wreckage of all those businesses the bike lanes have destroyed and shocked by how our neighborhood has fallen into disrepair!

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ann

How are the bike lanes safe for children? Now filled with speeding motorcycles, delivery scooters, electric bikes hurtling along, and bikes going the wrong way (despite installation of ‘wrong way’ red signs). The wrong way riders and the lack of stopping for red lights makes the bike lanes dangerous for pedestrians too.

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BR

Be careful, our supposed safe bike lines are now filled with debris- leaves, sticks,litter
Lanes will be wet due to heavy rain on Friday.
A cyclist’s nightmare.
Cyclists on Skillman are now riding in the middle of the street due to these conditions.
Hope nobody gets hurt.
Typical city mis-management.
Is JVB riding?
This memo is from an avid cyclist.

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Critic Al

Seems less safe to me. Pedestrians have to look twice when crossing a street with a bike lane. The streets feel narrower as a driver. There’s more of a chance of people getting hit exiting or entering a car. Bikers and motor scooting delivery people don’t follow the rules. I’d say 35% of bikers do. The suburban commuter driver is a menace as well. 40mph , weaving in and out. Idiots. Good luck everyone.

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Scuba Steve

Al, it may seem less safe at the same time as actually being far safer. Narrower space for driving forces motorists to be more careful, to slow down, to look before they turn, etc. As speeds decrease so too do dangerous crashes and injuries.

As a cyclist I do find it annoying when others don’t follow the rules, but again it’s still a much safer design for everyone when you limit the amount of damage cars can do.

Just last night, for example, I was biking on 9th Avenue in Manhattan and was passed by a cyclist who ran a red (almost getting hit by a turning car in the process). Sure enough a few blocks later I catch up to the guy after he’d actually been hit by a turning car. He was standing up and appeared unhurt and was arguing with the driver who I would argue was likely not at fault. The citibike was mangled but it appeared that he was hit at less than 10mph. If the avenue hadn’t been redesigned to reduce speeds and the driver had been speeding, we could very well have been looking at another fatality.

It’s very simple. This kind of design saves lives. The suburban drivers trying to take the Sunnyside shortcut have also slowed down or stayed on the expressways where they belong. We now have pedestrian, cyclist, and car friendly streets in Sunnyside and this is what is being celebrated!

Is the design perfect? No. Does it dramatically decrease rates of collisions and serious injury, effectively making the street safer for everyone? YES, it absolutely does.

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Critic Al

Scuba, I hope it proves to be safer. We all need to learn new habits in this new environment. I tell my kids to look both ways before crossing any street. One way or two. I tell them about how they need to be aware of bicyclists and the rest who use these new lanes. And I remind them there are a lot of idiots out there in cars, on bikes and walking who will cause accidents because of their ignorance or lack of concern.

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Scuba Steve

The numbers will invariably bear this design out as a far safer street than what we previously had. Definitely agree that kids should be taught the correct way to cross the street. As a serious cyclist and pedestrian (only a casual driver) I’d say predictability is the number one way to stay safe, and this includes being visible. There are dark stretches on Skillman that should be better lit. They are dangerous now, even if they’re safer than they were a few months back. Let’s fix this!

Pro-tip from a long-time safety advocate: the pedestrian unfortunately does NOT always have the right of way. Cross in the crosswalk, getting hit even a few inches outside of the crosswalk nullifies your right of way even when you have the light. Also, while pedestrians have the right of way during our signal, beginning a crossing after the light has begun to blink “don’t walk” nullifies your right of way which makes zero sense on Broadway in the city which starts blinking before you get to the median (a driver friendly loophole). Regardless, right of way is quite hard to prove, 25% of pedestrian injuries/fatalities occur while they have the right of way AND the light, and because the NYPD often take the word of the driver over the injured or deceased, you very frequently see no charges – infuriatingly even in the case of hit and run. The less time you’re in the crosswalk the better. This is another reason why you want the safest design possible, not incremental change as advocated by parking advocates. The shorter crosswalks are the absolute key here, and we’re all safer because of them.

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Sunnyside Resident and Parent

With 25,000 more workers coming to LIC possibly due to the Amazon headquarters, these bike lanes are a welcome necessity to an overly crowded public transit system and streets clogged with cars spewing carbon monoxide everywhere. I am looking forward to the bike ride and if I could bike all the way to work on a full protected bike lane, I probably would because it would be cheaper, faster and more healthy for me.

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Les Grossman

Bike lanes are great for outsiders andpeople like Evan who dont live in the neighborhood….not so great for residents.Police escort???

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Locals love it!!

Speak for yourself, Les. It’s quite clear that the local support for this plan is much wider than the manufactured outrage by a few neighborhood deplorables.

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rules of the road

maybe the kids can teach the adults proper etiquette when riding in the street. red light means STOP and ride with the flow of traffic, not against it, thatwould be a good start.

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Arvin

What a brilliant idea!!!..How lovely to ride bicycles with children on congested city streets!!..I suppose the buses and numerous car services will take the day off!!

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