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Skillman Ave/43rd Avenue Workshop Gets Mixed Reviews, Full Board to Vote on DOT Proposal in June

CB2’s Safety Plan Workshop on May 21. (Photo: Nathaly Pesantez)

May 22, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez

Community Board 2 held a workshop Monday to solicit ideas from the public as to how to make Skillman and 43rd Avenues safer for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.

The workshop was held in response to public outcry over the Department of Transportation’s controversial plan to install protected bicycle lanes through the two avenues that would result in the loss of 116 parking spaces along the 20-block stretches.

The purpose of the meeting was for the board to gather suggestions from the public and send them on to the DOT to be evaluated and reviewed.

“I want everyone to feel like they’re being heard,” said Denise Keehan-Smith, Community Board 2 Chair and head of its Transportation Committee.

The suggestions, she said, would be forwarded to the DOT ahead of Community Board 2’s June meeting, where the full board will take a vote on the proposal.

While the meeting was conceived by the community board, the DOT was present during last night’s workshop. “We’re here to observe and listen,” said Nicole Garcia, DOT Queens Borough Commissioner.

More than 100 attendees participated in the workshop including residents, business owners and those who live outside of Sunnyside. Attendees spent just over an hour sitting at separated tables either examining the details of the DOT’s proposal page-by-page or engaging in a larger conversation on cyclists, cars, and parking in New York City.

Many, however, felt that the workshop would not bring about any change and left dejected. Others viewed it as worthwhile.

Janet Roberts, a Sunnyside resident in her 60s, said her table was largely against the protected bike lanes due to the difficulties in finding parking.

Roberts said her group came up with suggestions like installing the protected bike lanes through Northern Boulevard instead, or to use the money required for the project to help bring additional buses during rush hour on Queens Boulevard.

Attendees at CB2’s workshop on May 21. (Photo: Nathaly Pesantez)

Frank Trotty, who has lived in Woodside for 50 years and owns real estate on Skillman Avenue, said the workshop was a “waste of time.” Trotty, who is against the plan because of its potential effect on business, claims the majority of the neighborhood is against the city’s plan, and has made itself clear.

But Patricia Dorfman, the executive director of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce and an outspoken critic of the plan, said the workshop was “excellent,” and showed that the city’s proposal was “not a done deal.”

“Everyone spoke sincerely,” Dorfman said of her table. “People were very open to a lot of things.”

Some suggestions her table came up with included changing the timing of the traffic lights to allow pedestrians to cross first, and moving the bike lanes to another corridor.

Many at the table, however, including Dorfman, still questioned the plan’s origins, and claimed the DOT is trying to move quickly to expedite the plan’s implementation.

Attendees at CB2’s workshop on May 21. (Photo: Nathaly Pesantez)

Macartney Morris, Chair of the Transportation Alternatives Queens Activist Committee, who sat at the same table as Dorfman, said he repeatedly took to addressing “misinformation” said at the table, along with inaccurate descriptions of the DOT and the project’s timeline.

He noted, for example, that the plan was in response to Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer’s call for safety improvements following a cyclist’s death in April 2017.

He also said the proposal just followed on from past DOT initiatives concerning the two avenues. He said the DOT had painted bike lanes on both avenues a decade ago, demonstrating that the agency’s proposal was a long time coming.

Morris said the workshop, at the very outset, was meant for one purpose—to “come out against the plan.” He said that Keehan-Smith’s decision requiring the removal of pro-bike lanes flyers from the tables indicated hostility toward the plan.

There was no mention, however, of removing flyers prepared by Queens Streets, the name of Dorfman’s new group, which called for parking to be saved.

“How is this democracy in action or community engagement when one point of view of a Sunnyside resident was blocked, meanwhile other engagement was allowed?” Morris said. “For anyone who cares about safe streets in Queens, last night was particularly frustrating.”

Juan Restrepo, Queens Organizer for Transportation Alternatives, said the meeting was difficult to gauge.

He added that the workshop, while appearing to give another opportunity for the neighborhood to weigh in, was delaying the implementation of the plan.

“You’re constantly adding one additional step,” Restrepo said. “Before, it was that people wouldn’t feel they’ve been heard unless there was a town hall.”

Community Board 2 will vote on the DOT’s proposal on June 7 

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69 Comments

Sunnysider for life

Question to transportation alternatives. You said jvb and Denise supported the Skillman and 43rd Ave. bike lane and now after some local backlash recuse their support. Does transportation alternatives believe Jimmy is a traitor?




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lulu

I have stopped shopping at any place with those QueensStreets signs. But today I noticed they are no longer displayed. Hmm.




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Sunnyside resident

There you go, that’ll show ‘em! This is some of that good ol’ TA crazy right here. Boycott a nice small business community because Lulu can’t ride in a special bike lane.
I’ve been talking to our mom & pops about this situation for 3 months now. Do you know that they all want a protected lane? They are pushing for a protected lane on Northern Blvd. because they will lose business, in the long run, if their customers lose parking. Northern is a big box chain street with parking lots. Think.




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Patricia Dorfman

“Coming to the Table” reprinted with permission, Woodside Herald, also at http://woodsideherald.com/uploads/Woodside_Herald_5_25_18.pdf
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Op Ed by Patricia Dorfman



Community Board 2 drew a large crowd of over 115, divided into table groups, for its Safety Meeting on Monday evening, May 21, at Sunnyside Community Services on regarding the Department of Transportation proposal for protected bicycle lanes and safety changes on 43rd and Skillman Avenues in Sunnyside and Woodside. 


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Most attendees, no matter their point of view, attended with an expectation of loud disputes, but although most tables featured arguments and spirited exchanges, the event was surprisingly orderly. Board members of the CB2 acted as facilitators at each table to try to allow everyone to speak, pro or con. If opposed, attendees were asked for specific suggestions as to what safety measures might be helpful to submit to CB2.


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Some present from Transportation Alternatives, a pro-bike, anti-car lobby with which the DOT is working, were frustrated because they felt that the meeting was another “delaying tactic” as one mentioned. One complained that the Community Board mind must be already made up to hold such an event. The Board will officially vote on the plan at its Thursday, June 7, regular public meeting, and then the matter goes to Councilman Van Bramer.


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CB2 Chairperson Denise Keehan-Smith scheduled the meeting after the DOT did not conduct second Town Hall after its reduction to 116 of parking space loss, from a beginning at 158. Most in attendance who opposed to the plan did so due to the proposed loss of parking. One woman opposed to the plan spoke gloomily that the proposal as a “done deal” and the Community Board would be toothless in its advisory role. 


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Macartney Morris, Transportation Alternatives Queens Volunteer Leader, made a case that despite criticism for a rushed process, the protected bicycle lanes had been progressing incrementally for over ten years. He also reiterated that both Councilman Van Bramer and CB2 Chairperson Denise Keehan-Smith had committed publicly to protected bicycle lanes. 

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Chairperson Keehan-Smith stopped attendees from handing out materials beyond their tables. Many of those opposed to the plan, such as QueensStreets.net, an alliance of businesses, churches, schools and over 2000 residents in the area, brought specific suggestions such as staggered signals times, delayed green for drivers, “no through trucks” signs, and enforcement for all. The alliance had distributed over 1000 flyers urging attendance at the event, and asking for online or written petition signatures.
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Chris Wattenbarger, a statistician who lives on 41st Street, created his own print out critiquing each slide of the city’s PowerPoint. Among his points were that narrowed lanes would cause a school bus or large truck to completely block the street, and a own proposal in which no parking would be lost.
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Nicole Garcia, the Queens DOT Commissioner, with other members of her team, observed quietly as did Matt Wallace, Chief of Staff of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, and members of Assemblyman Brian Barnwell’s staff.


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My own view, (as part of QueensStreets.net) is that bicycles have gained in popularity and riders are understandably demanding more space devoted to their vehicles. The city promotes bicycles, making car use more difficult and costly. But as Western Queens population expands and mass transit worsens; generations of driving residents are simply not able to change their lives quickly by government order.

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Businesses say that without car customers, they cannot survive. Churches, schools, and residents in the proposal corridor, overwhelmingly oppose the loss of parking spots to create more space for bicycles. 

For the DOT to continue to present data which purports to show Skillman and 43rd as excessively dangerous, and bike use heavy here, weakens the case for what long term might garner more support. If danger is really the issue, why is Northern Blvd. not first up for overhaul? More likely is that the proposal is preparing for volume not yet present.
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The choice of Skillman and 43rd Streets, relatively pleasant byways, seems to have been made because they are still pleasant byways, not because they lawless.


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The avowed intent is, as described by the DOT, to create a seven-mile “bike highway” from Forest Hills to midtown to ease the way for more cyclists. That concept brought joy to bicyclists and made many dream of an active, easier, free, non-polluting, autonomous commute. 


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But to drivers, seniors, businesses, churchgoers, workers, many parents, it conjures up a spectacle of masses of cyclists racing through without stopping who largely do not dwell, pray, go to school or trade here. Their gain would be our loss. Parking loss, already scarce, has inflamed and unified opposition. 

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Before accepted by most as a common good for the environment, recycling, which forces by law all of us to a devote a lot of time we might prefer to spend doing something else, was also a radical change. But the city took a more resident-friendly and transparent approach in implementation. This process of this proposal has been clumsy.

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Taking away street space from local use for a bike highway is taken as more usurpation of land by others, already in process. Additionally, the administration still seems to conduct their transport primarily in the way they wish us to move past.



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So let’s us hope that those who mean well with on-the-ground concerns keep talking as they did at the CB2 event. Dan Glasser of Stray Vintage, a store on Skillman, who needs deliveries to operate, said afterward,  “It was great to see our neighborhood residents, business owners and cyclists working on ideas to make our streets safer. I hopped around a few tables and had some really productive discussions with a few cyclists.”
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(addendum: GreenStreets.net is not against bike lanes. Most of us like bikes and bike lanes. It is the “bike highway” that makes pedestrians feel less safe. If parking needed by residents, businesses, churches and schools were not removed, we would, in a NIMBY-esque fashion be all for it, such as on Northern Blvd. which is a byway seeming in need of safety for all. Most stores seem to already have parking.)




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Woodside Resident

Hello Ms. Dorfman,

I am a Woodside resident who strongly supports the DOT’s Skillman/43 Ave safety plan, but who also strongly supports local businesses. Could you please share the data that supports this statement: “Businesses say that without car customers, they cannot survive.” I assume that nobody believes the DOT plan would literally end all car customers, but rather reduce the number as parking is somewhat reduced. I’m genuinely curious to hear how big an effect business owners believe this would have and the evidence leading them to that belief.

I don’t have hard data on this myself. Anecdotally, however, I can say that when I meet friends to go to local cafes, restaurants, or bars, nobody has ever driven here to meet me, even if they do own a car. I’ve been living here since 2010, for context. I don’t doubt that some people do drive to local businesses, I just wonder what proportion. I also wonder the negative affect of parking on local businesses; my neighbors with cars are more likely to do their shopping outside of the neighborhood. I don’t have a car and do almost all of my shopping on Skillman and other local streets. It’s not uncommon for me to see neighbors with cars unloading big loads (much more than I could carry as a local-business supporting pedestrian), from Costco or other non-local stores. Has this affect been considered by local businesses how fear this plan? Would a more pedestrian and bicycle friendly neighborhood be a net-gain for local businesses?

It seems to get lost in the divisiveness of bicycles that this plan is also about pedestrian and motor vehicle safety, and the DOT plan has show how their proposal would improve this. 283 injuries (61 pedestrian and 34 cyclists) from 2012-2016 on Skillman and 43rd Aves is significant. I would appreciate seeing the data that shows how effects on local businesses would be negative, and significant enough, to oppose the DOT’s evidence-backed proposal.




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John O'Reilly

With the financial interests of Uber, China investors, and the former DOT director in charge of the bicycle ride share program at stake, you know there’s a heavy thumb on the DOT scale in favor of this program. The most recent “data” published by DOT shows that just one half of one percent (0.05%) of NYers use bikes for commuting. Commuting to Manhattan over the East River bridges declined in 2017 versus 2016. Most users of bike lanes are delivery people: why should businesses who rely on bicycle delivery be favored over businesses that rely on available street parking? Given that the guiding principle of the DeBlasio administration is money and more of it, DOT will cram the bike lane plan down the throat of Sunnysiders, like it or not.




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John O'Reilly

The DOT stats show that all of Queens had just 5,200 daily bicycle commuters. That’s just 0.002% (or one-fifth of one percent) of the population of Queens. If the bike lanes look empty, it’s because according to the DOT hardly anyone is riding a bicycle to commute.




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Tony

Eurozone didnt say to eliminate cars and force the elderly to use bikes. I think the idea is that if incremental able bodied people can be encouraged to bike, it will lead to less congestion. If you really need a car, thats great because the people who dont HAVE to drive will be more likely to be off the road




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Gustavo Orellano

Skillman & 43rd avenue. 7 years – 1 fatality.
“SAVE LIVES” “Profits over lives” “VISION ZERO PRIORITY” “This is a safety issue” “PEOPLE ARE DYING!” … 1 fatality – 7 yrs – 3am – drunk driver – cyclist ran a red.. Nope, sorry, you don’t get to call Skillman & 43rd a “priority zone”. The TA propaganda machine is out of control. Infowars style. I can guess why they exclusively post on this anonymous site and ignore the Facebook comment section. Brave activism fellas;)




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Mythoughts

Given it’s such a controversial issue why not put it to a vote by all Sunnyside and Woodside residents? That would allow everyone to have a say, not just those who speak most loudly.




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Voice of the Public

I don’t understand. This a public street being designed to help the public (pedestrians, bikers, cars) move around safely. Where you store your private asset should be your own personal problem & not a burden on public policy. You are not entitled to free parking.




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Sunnysider

Car owners are entitled to free parking. Look up. There are “alternate side of the street” signs that direct us where/when we can park, for free. If we don’t move our cars during street sweeping hours, we will get a ticket. The city entitles us. I hope you understand this.




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Tony

you are entitled to free parking? thats crazy talk, its public space. Taxpayers are subsiding your private car storage on private city property. Parking is not a right, you can pay for a parking lot if thats important




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Sunnysider

NYC Parking enforcement is close to a $500 million dollar/per year industry. The city wins. I’m not trying to harsh your peyote induced philosophy on how “parking is not a right” .. but, it sure the hell is. I exercise that right everyday. If you want to talk about the 10th of a penny we each spend on public roads- well, we all use the roads to walk, bicycle, skip, run… and in your case, hackey sack with your buds.




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Tony

you sound like a person who feels the world owes you something




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Anonymous

Weird, you’d think the person who wants to completely change the parking rules throughout all of NYC would feel that the world owes them something.




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ann

The only flyer I saw on my table was one prepared by Transportation Alternatives, though the name was not on it. Very sneaky, since it would have seemed CB 2 had provided it. The Chair was right to say it could be given out at the end of the meeting, but not during. I did not see any other flyers.
When Jimmy van Bramer called for safety interventions, he did not specifically ask for protected bike lanes and a huge redesign of our streets. The idea that Skillman and 43rd Avenues are ‘too wide’ and ‘dangerous’ is ludicrous, as is the idea that they endanger pedestrian safety. No one wants this ugly redesign of street corners.
The ‘facts’ provided by TA are highly questionable. Many of their mis-statements have come to light in these discussions. The constant reference to a biker’s unfortunate death in an intersection conveniently ignores the fact that a bike lane would not protect bikers in intersections.
As a pedestrian, my main safety concern in the past few years is bikers. Cars would do more damage, but 95% of drivers do not run red lights but 95% of bikers do. All the near-misses I have experienced come from bikers – wrong way, not in bike lane, no green light. If you want to improve safety, let’s start with making the bikers obey traffic rules.




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Woodside Resident

Hi Ann,

As a Woodsider who recently took up cycling because I finally got too fed up with 7 train delays, I’ll agree that traffic laws should absolutely be better enforced for bikers. I hate it when people are cycling the wrong way or breeze through red lights.

I’m not sure I can agree that “95% of drivers do not run red lights but 95% of bikers do,” however. I see plenty of bicyclists stopping (and I do myself). I also see plenty of cars speeding through red lights or doing rolling stops at stop signs. I’d love to see more enforcement of these laws, also. Can’t say I’ve ever seen a driver ticketed for that here. As a pedestrian, I can honestly say (knock on wood) that I’ve never had a real scare in this neighborhood with a cyclist almost hitting me. I can’t say the same about cars. I wonder if the sheer number of cars has made us take for granted their traffic infractions, while the comparatively small number of bikes stands out more in our memory?

Regardless of our anecdotal experiences, the data shows only 0.42% of pedestrian fatalities were from cyclists from 2002-2017. If you Google it, there’s a report on the nyc.gov site. It shows a total of 10 pedestrians have died after being struck by bicycles in that time period. The number for cars? 2,345. I don’t want to belittle any near misses anyone has had with cyclists. They can be dangerous and they absolutely shouldn’t happen. But we should keep things in perspective; cars are a far bigger risk in NYC.




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Greg

Ann,
Get your facts straight. The redesign proposed by the DOT does protect bikers in intersections. Have you gone to 108th precinct meetings to voice your concerns for more bike enforcement? Are you willing to pay higher taxes for more police presence on our streets? Do you call out cyclists like I do when you see them running red lights? If car drivers were not running red lights, texting while driving, engaging in crosswalk violations, and speeding, would that have an effect on how others use the road and follow the rules?




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Tony

sometimes, i roll through the red light before it turns green, especially at right turns. I know the drivers are chomping at the bit to cut me off, so i try to go before they can. Theres no safety reason for a car to run a red light. Please stop with the “whataboutism” and whining about others disobeying reds




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Bereal

See, you presume the law is not meant for you. You “roll through” red lights. You might as well do what ever the bike equivalent of gunning it is. Unless there is a life or death reason, you are a scofflaw because you have no respect. And I’m sorry, but no one in a car is slavering to cut you off, there is no competition.




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K Mac

How can anyone in favor of the bike lanes justify the DOT investing all the time, money, effort and resources into making Sunnyside “safer” but not Northern Blvd where 5 CHILDREN HAVE BEEN KILLED WALKING? I truly can’t fathom this. You don’t NEED protected bike lanes in Sunnyside, you WANT them. You want to make YOUR commute THROUGH OUR neighborhood easier. 5 children, WALKING?!!! Nothing is being done there but yes please let me hear more about your demands of the bike lane.




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Tom Rorbn

I know a ton of people in favor of both things on Northern and Skillman. And both will happen.




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K Mac

Shouldn’t children’s fatalities be priority? FIVE while walking. Not running a red light and going the wrong way. Since 2016 Northern Blvd has had a proposal and nothing done. Sunnyside had a plan within months of Mr. Reyes death. The DOT should be ashamed for not doing more on Northern Blvd




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Woodside Resident

Hi K Mac,

I’m glad you are passionate about improving safety on Northern Blvd. I totally agree. I don’t know why that 2016 proposal hasn’t proceeded. Maybe someone on this board has more info? Regardless, I will contact Council Member Van Bramer’s office and the DOT to express support forwork on Northern Blvd. Hope you’ll do the same. Absolutely agree that protecting children is an urgent priority.

Regarding this Skillman/43rd Ave plan, I can’t speak to why the DOT moves more quickly on some projects than others. NYC is huge, though, and if you check out their active project list, it’s massive. I’d also keep in mind that the Skillman/43rd Ave plan isn’t just about bike lanes; it’s about vehicle and pedestrian safety. Thankfully there haven’t been the child fatalities that Northern Blvd has seen, but the data shows 283 injuries (61 pedestrian and 34 cyclists) from 2012-2016, in addition to the two cyclist fatalities. With schools and lots of pedestrians on Skillman and 43rd Ave, I think the measures to make crossing easier (pedestrian islands) and slow traffic are essential for improving safety. I don’t think support for the Northern Blvd proposal precludes support for this one.




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Tom Rorbn

They BOTH should be a priority. I don’t understand the logic here? Transportation Alternatives, Make Queens Safer, numerous neighborhood groups and Council Members are calling for making Northern safer. We all support that. I’m glad you see that as a urgent matter as well. No one is denying that. Why is in your mind only ONE allowed to be done? Makes no sense in a city of 8.6 million people.

The city is huge. The DOT is huge. There is a lot of money and a lot of potential future lives to be saved EVERYWHERE. There is a citywide strategy going on now. NYC DOT just committed to a ton of fixes in Long Island City just over the bridge. Both Skillman/43rd and Northern are priorities. But the city can work on so much stuff at once. They are still working on making Queens Boulevard safer. Working on fixing the roads in Park Slope where those two young children were killed. I just read they are working on fixing the Grand Councourse in a style like Queens Blvd. They are putting in Leading Pedestrian Intervals all over the city. This is on-going.

SO glad you are very worried about Northern. It needs more attention then the initial treatments it got. But complete illogic that it is the only thing that can be worked on.




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Greg

K Mac,

Are you in a competition with South Boston to see which neighborhood has the the most clannish jamokes? What is this about “our”streets? Sunnyside streets belong to all New Yorkers whether or not they live in the neighborhood. Do you realize you are paying for bike lanes in other cities with your federal tax money. It’s true, look up the Surface Transportation Program. That’s right, your paying for bike lanes that Red Sox players are riding on.




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Eurozone

Pro parking people are making it worse for themselves in the long term.

Bike lane or No bike lane, parking will be shit & its only getting worse. Use your heads for just one second. If you introduce other forms of transportation, people who don’t need their cars anymore, will get rid of them therefore opening up more parking spots.

Additionally, why don’t the anti-bike lane; pro parking people organize a way to create a fund & build a parking enclosure somewhere in the neighborhood instead of complaining like entitled babies.




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K mac

Yes the seniors can all get shiny new bicycles and stop whining like babies. People lived here before you. It just shows you only care about your commute. The “give up cars” argument is nonsense. Doesn’t work for all, or most even.




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A Woodsider

Seems that the ” entitled babies” are the bicycle riders. All entitlement with NO responsibilities. NO training, NO insurance, NO license, NO protective gear, NO fees, NO fault when involved in accidents, either with cars or people walking! Where bike lanes are placed in a community should be voted on by the residents, ALL residents. Car drivers, motorcycle drivers, bike riders and people who walk. That would be the fair thing to do!




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Tom Rorbn

Seems like this expected entitlement for FREE on-street parking is the real “baby” issue here.




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A Woodsider

Asked the question of five 5th graders, from four different schools. They had no idea what I was talking about. What does how a representative democracy works have to do with this issue? Haven’t we recently “voted” on how funds would be used in our community? JVB even had “lessons” on how to “vote”. Do the same for this issue.




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Tartine6666

This meeting was extremely constructive, asking the community for alternatives to the drastic DOT plan.

Once again, there is much one can do to keep our community safe ( helmets, staggering lights, speed bumps, enforcement by police etc)

Bringing up the biker killed on 39 and 43rd Ave is not a good example as the argument leaves some key elements out. Not fair!

On the other hand, 5 children were killed on Northern Boulevard…. were is the outcry for them?




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K Mac

None because it doesn’t fit the agenda. They want to bike through our scenic neighborhood, they don’t want to be on Northern or Queens Blvd, so they will ignore those lives lost while using Mr. Reyes, the 1 bicyclist fatality, to push the bike lane they WANT. I would be enraged if I were one of the victims parents on Northern Blvd. Enraged, that they are forgotten about, that STILL nothing has been done there.




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Steve

Why does anyone think this part of Queens is a special flower? These types of safe street designs have been installed all over the city and the effect on businesses has been positive. Besides, this is about safety and saving lives. Enough of this already.




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Anonymous

Sunnyside is a special flower. If you lived here you would know that. We don’t want to see the neighborhood ruined by aggressive overdevelopment.




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I actually live in Sunnyside

If protected bike lanes help business (increase profits) then please explain T.A.s mass produced signs saying “lives > profits”




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A pro-lane Sunnysider

As someone who has lived in Sunnyside for over a decade and also works neighborhood, TA does represent my interests. I support the protected bike lanes 100%. And for those who say, cycling should be regulated and cyclists should be treated like drivers (be licensed, etc), yes, I’m in favor of that as well. I can’t stand “bike salmon.” I believe everyone should be mandated to wear protective gear, and cyclists should observe red lights unless there are no cars or pedestrians in sight. But if cyclists are going to be policed more closely, then so should cars. Several times a day, cars (including police officers) run the 43rd Av traffic lights (esp. at 48th St). Cars are ALWAYS double parked on 43rd Ave (including police cars) even when there are available spots to pull in to. And this is what makes 43rd very dangerous and the protected lanes especially necessary: the constant veering out of the lane and into traffic because of double parked cars.

I found it completely disingenuous of that Queens Streets organization to paper 43rd and Skillman decrying a “parking shortage alert” while omitting the key piece of information that it would be for bike safety measures that would potentially save lives. It also doesn’t surprise me that their flyers were allowed and the pro-lane ones weren’t because it’s obvious that the Board has made up its mind and is basically going through the motions.

As much as the Chamber and Sunnyside Gardens residents would like to market it as such, Sunnyside is not an isolated village, town, or county. It is a neighborhood that is a vital corridor between Manhattan and greater Queens for cars AND cyclists. And as overcrowded and unreliable as the 7 train has gotten, for many Queens residents (both in and out of Sunnyside), cycling is increasingly becoming a primary means of commuting to and from work. It is preposterous to assume the changes would solely affect our community. The 43rd and Skillman Avenues are city streets that belong to cyclists as much as cars and pedestrians all across the five boroughs NOT just Sunnysiders.




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fdsafsdaf

I’m looking forward to the pedestrian safety improvements. I might even buy a bike if the lanes make it safe enough.




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A Woodsider

Bicycles should be licensed, insured and regulated, just as cars and motorcycles. Why are the operators of bicycles held less accountable than the operators of vehicles? Share the road, share the responsibilities. As long as a “bicycle driver” cannot be identified and held accountable, while a vehicle driver can be held accountable the problems will remain as is. As far as everyone being “fairly heard” regarding bike lanes and where they should go why not put the issue to public vote?




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JO

so my 15 year old needs a licence and registration for his bicycle? Can I put him on my policy?




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I actually live in Sunnyside

If your going to send your 15 year old out in NYC traffic he should definitely have a lisence. Pass a basic permit test that shows he knows and understands the laws before you let him engage in traffic on moving vehicle.




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BeReal.

Good idea. Protect him with knowledge and insurance. Give him protective gear, such as skaters wear or even more. Make him wear bright reflective gear, too. If he is going to be out there with professional traffic he needs to be prepared. I got my learners permit when I was sixteen.




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MorrisGoHome

““You’re constantly adding one additional step,” Restrepo said. “Before, it was that people wouldn’t feel they’ve been heard unless there was a town hall.””

Hi.

That’s what happens in a democracy. People actually get to speak and come up with ideas for solution that meets the needs of all parties.

Welcome to Queens.




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Patricia Dorfman

We had them, but QueensStreets.net distributed no flyers at the meeting that I know of.
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Note: I am no longer Exec. Dir. of the Chamber, resigning after four years, mainly due to exhaustion 🙂 I am helping with QueensStreets.net, an ad hoc alliance of many groups, including the Chamber, we all started, working to save parking, fairness and safety for all. I ride a bike but see every day the stress of drivers. I hope the current extremes of opinion result in all realizing that everyone wants to get to and fro in one piece, on foot, two wheels or four. Businesses, schools, churches, and residents desperately seek to retain parking not out of malice, or heedlessness to advantages of pollution free, cheaper travel, danger bicyclists are in, but to exist, operate or earn a living. We cannot lose parking.
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The Chamber is in better hands than ever now with no baggage, new, younger and very talented leaders, and the essential board member remain! https://sunnysidepost.com/sunnyside-chamber-of-commerce-elects-new-president. The Chamber’s “small town in the city” slogan was well exhibited last night as people spoke their minds frankly, no matter what the their views. I learned a lot from Macartney Miller!
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Thank you for timely article. (Please read the Woodside Herald, too, on Friday.) Thank you Community Board 2 for conducting the very useful exchange, which many us, no matter what our point of view, feared going in was going to be Smackdown Live.




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Greenpointer

That safety comes after saving parking in the list of items you’re working for says everything. Definitive statements like “we cannot lose parking” are not only false, it shows that you have no intention to making any meaningful compromise, even in the interest of the safety that you purport to care about. Businesses, schools and churches are all better served by living constituents who are able to come and go safely. These institutions do not live and die because on the availability of parking spots, they live and die on the health and well-being of the residents they serve. Certain constituents do need the ability to come and go by private vehicle, but many who drive simply don’t. If turnover isn’t calibrated correctly, then change the amount of time vehicles are allowed to remain. And guess what those drivers become when they exit their vehicle? Pedestrians. Safety improvements like those proposed by the DOT improve life for everyone. Pretending that the loss of parking spots is going to have a more detrimental affect on your neighborhood than the potential death and maiming of your neighbors is callous and short-sighted.




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Greg

Patricia ( and also Manny Gomez),

The DOT has put up plenty of numbers, statistics, studies etc. to back up the need for safer streets for all. Vision Zero has reduced collisions and deaths in NYC and other cities around the world. There is no arguing that. There are no studies done that show loss of business due to bike lanes. However, businesses do go out of business when they are running an outdated model for a changing city and a changing neighborhood. Not planning for change is planning to fail as they say.

If you are so worried about loss of business, have you suggested to the DOT that they add more metered spaces on the side streets to compensate for the loss of business parking? If not, why?

Unfortunately, businesses (and residents) are counting on something that can be taken away at any time because parking is not an absolute right. That’s a bad business plan is you ask me.

Meanwhile, you and the Chamber have made unsubstantiated claims with nothing to back them up. How many people drive to area businesses? How many people work at local businesses that actually need/not want to drive here? Why are we encouraging people to drive and park in the neighborhood when we have so many bars? Parking for bars equals drunk driving. Bike lanes cause congestion? Please put some legitimate numbers/studies out to back up your claims. Also, why do you and business owners keep pushing for lanes on Northern or Queens Blvd? Even a basic level of research shows that 3 travel lanes and buses get reduced to 1 travel lane with added bike lanes due to the loading island required for the buses. Not to mention the proliferation of cars exiting and entering parking lots on both streets.

The fact is that the majority of people in the neighborhood want a car (myself included), but don’t need one. Less than 30% of residents have a car commute. And, the majority of people in Sunnyside are not car owners, but everyone is a pedestrian who can benefit from the DOT’s plan. Also, let’s not forget the other 8 million New Yorkers who pay for and have full use of Sunnyside streets.

Furthermore, this is not being forced on us from Manhattan as you stated in one of your op-eds. The DOT’s strategic plan has been up since 2016, and a mayor was elected who has given them a mandate to carry it out. The DOT’s plan for Sunnyside should not come as a surprise, as they clearly state one of their main goals is to connect outer-borough bike lanes with the East River bridges. In addition, the plan clearly states why it is imperative that NYC moves more people towards sustainable transportation while saving lives.

While you are welcome to give your opinion, the DOT is not going to listen to misinformation, uniformed viewpoints, or people who are using their position in the community as a bully pulpit. Fortunately, CB2’s vote in non-binding and acts as an opinion. It will most likely be overturned, and with good reason, as the DOT did recently in Harlem.

Thanks




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Tom Rorbn

Wait. Did I read that correctly? “The stress of drivers”???

Drivers kill hundreds per year. Bicycles and people walking across the street? None.

I still can’t believe we are defending free parking in this community. It is not a right. We need to redesign our streets. Maybe drivers will be less stressed if they are physically prevented from driving badly (please note my household has a car)




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Fedupwithit

Most resid nets and business owners do not want the plan implemented at all. It marine our frustration at learning that TA people who do not live in this neighborhood were all over the place trying to sway opinions in their favor. Their aggressive demands for other people to change are anathema to an open discussion. One man had to be told to stop interrupting people who did not agree with his pro-plan view so many times he eventually clapped his hands across his mouth to keep himself from speaking. Obviously, he came to shoot down the non-professional point of view. Our discussion ended peacefully only due to excellent facilitation skills by our CB2 rep. It is getting awfully tiresome listening to strangers who tell you changing your life will be god for you when really, it is good for them. The unmitigated gall! People resist being taken over, no one should be shocked to encounter the phenomenon.




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PN

Someone from another table (an older gentleman wearing a gray shirt and gray hots and roughly 6 feet 3) came to my table to harass anyone in support of the bike lanes. That’s not how this was supposed to work.




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Fedupwithit

The vital corridors are Northern and Queens Blvd. I saw your one Queensstreets flier on my table, where some on that committee were sitting. No one is being disingenuous. This who plan came about from a top-down movement. It is obvious the city, the DOT are n the thrall of TA extremists. The plan came to the community board as a if it was a fait accomplishment. Well, now you are hearing from the people that live here, yet you disdain our input. That does not foster a spirit of cooperation.




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Carbie Barbie

Hi,

Calling people extremists doesn’t foster a spirit of cooperation either.

How do you know the TA people were not from the neighborhood? It seems like there’s a lot of support for the idea in the neighborhood too. To be fair, there’s opposition, but many people also support the lanes and better driving enforcement.




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Bereal

Well a bunch of architects say part of Sunnyside is a special flower. Sunnyside Gardens is a landmarked housing development from the 1920s. We have existed for decades as a haven for working class people.




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Bereal

The heated rhetoric about people valuing parking spots over lives, the overreach, the short tempered dismissals of your opponents, the absurd arguments about private property vs public space, it all sounds extreme. Two people out of 12 at my tablesuppirted the lanes. One lived here, the other in Astoria. So say 1 out of 11 who live here support it. A tiny minority. Let other tables report there percentages and we can see. By the way almost everyone opposed the bike lanes because as pedestrians they had bad experiences with bikers.




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Woodside Resident

I can imagine it must be frustrating when it feels to you like “being taken over”. It’s also disappointing when people are uncivil. I wasn’t at this meeting, although I was at the first town hall. I thought most people were respectful and courteous, but I was dismayed by a small number (on both sides of this issue) who were disrespectful at times.

However I must disagree, as a Woodside resident myself, when you say that most residents do not want the plan at all. I think we should keep in mind that the town hall and this work shop draw only the people who are most committed and vocal about this proposal. I suspect the vast majority of Woodside/Sunnyside residents haven’t even heard of it, to be honest. Most residents don’t cycle. Most residents also don’t own cars. This plan does have safety benefits for all community members, however. 283 injuries in traffic accidents from 2012-2016 on Skillman/43rd Aves isn’t negligible. To my mind, the DOT has convincingly shown that this proposal would decrease that number. On the other hand, I haven’t seen any data justifying the fears of local business owners. The loss of some parking in the community has drawbacks for some residents, for sure, but it seems pretty clear to me that this proposal is for the greater good of people here.




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I actually live in Sunnyside

You obviously have done your research and have a strong predetermined view. One fatality occurred in the past 10 years on the proposed lanes, and the driver blew a red light. This isn’t a safety issue, but rather a need to fill the $100 mil. Deblasio allocated towards his 7 mike bike highway through small neighborhoods.




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Sally G

Van Bramer should put a bill into the City Council requiring helmets and a reflecting vest for all bike riders on NYC street bike lanes. That will make a difference for their safety. Let us start there!




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fdsafsdaf

Go away.

You’re essentially blaming the victim if you think people on bikes need to wear reflective vests so people can see them better. How about slowing down??? Skillman isn’t a racetrack, people shouldn’t be speeding through there at the speeds they currently do.

If people are so worried about parking, get RID OF one of the travel lanes and implement 60 degree parking on the street (you’d even have room for a two way bike lane if this was done). You’d have plenty of parking and cars from Long Island wouldn’t be flying through the neighborhood trying to get to their free bridge.

Most of the parking that is being eliminated due to the plan is NOT because of the bike lane, it’s due to the pedestrian safety improvements that NEED to happen.

The needs of pedestrians that live in the area come first before the road capacity needs of people who don’t live here. Only 30 percent of households in the Sunnyside/Woodside area own a vehicle… 30 PERCENT. I would also argue that the majority of those who own a vehicle still walk and use transit to get where they need to go.




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Bereal

The angled parking sounds great to me. Good idea. One lane would be fine, who wants regional traffic coming into a residential neighborhood anyway. It, including protected bike lanes, belong on Queens and Northern Blvd. we want to live on a safe and peaceful traffic island. It seems like with only one lane of traffic pedestrians would be much safer, too.




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Bereal

I drive at 20 miles an hour in my neighborhood, 25 elsewhere in the city. We have slowed down, we have painted lanes everywhere, passed out bike maps, etc. It is not blaming the victim to ask bikers to obey safety practices, if I can’t see you I might hit you and I don’t want that to happen. If I can’t anticipate your moves, I might hit you, and I don’t want to do that. We need to help each other avoid accidents, why do you fight that?




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Marie J

Imagine the plans if our Councilman becomes Queens Borough President in 2021!




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