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Sunnyside Resident Produces Video, Calls on DOT to Scrap the Protected Bike Lanes

The protected bicycle lane near 48th Street and 43rd Avenue following the 2018 redesign (Photo: QueensPost)

March 6, 2020 By Shane O’Brien and Christian Murray

A long-time Sunnyside Gardens resident has produced a video calling on the Department of Transportation to remove the protected bicycle lanes from Skillman and 43rd Avenues and return the corridors back to the way they were prior to their overhaul in 2018.

Dorothy Morehead, a local realtor and member of Community Board 2, said that she made the video to highlight the effect the 2018 street redesign has had on Sunnyside residents and business owners.

She argues that the redesign has hurt local businesses, made the area less safe, increased traffic congestion, and made it difficult for fire trucks and emergency vehicles to traverse the two avenues–putting people at risk.

She is calling on the DOT to come back to the community and reevaluate the plan. She wants the avenues to go back to the way they were before the protected bike lanes were installed. She said that the previous bike lane was safe and effective.

Skillman Avenue before the 2018 redesign (Google). The avenues had regular bicycle lanes– as opposed to protected bicycle lanes.

“The impact on this community and the impact on the businesses just can’t go unchallenged,” Morehead, who has lived in the neighborhood for 50 years, said in an interview. “These redesigns are mainly for the bikers and it is not fair to the rest of the community.”

Morehead hired a filmmaker and spent $4,000 on the video. Work began on the project last fall and was completed this week.

The film includes interviews with members of Queens Streets for All, a group comprised of nearly a dozen Skillman Avenue business owners and residents who remain opposed to the 2018 redesign. It also includes footage taken from a drone, which Morehead uses to support her arguments.

The video takes issue with many components of the redesign—such as Skillman Avenue being reduced from two lanes to one between 49th Street and 54th Street. It also discusses the narrowing of the two travel lanes elsewhere, with the people interviewed saying it has led to congestion—particularly when vehicles double park.

The video even questions whether the redesign has led to increased safety at all.

Queens Streets For All from Eric Strang on Vimeo.

The redesign has been controversial from the get go—pitting bicycle safety advocates against many business owners and long-time residents. The final plan was rejected by Community Board 2 on June 7, 2018, and Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, former Congressman Joseph Crowley and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer opposed it.

Van Bramer, however, later changed his mind and advocated for it.

Mayor de Blasio, however, ultimately made the decision and the redesign went into effect in August 2018.

The plan saw the removal of 116 parking spaces in the area. Additional spots were later taken for a loading zone and to increase driver visibility at turns.

The redesign also saw the installation of more than 30 pedestrian islands, which have shortened crosswalks and increased visibility. The plan is viewed by the DOT as an important part of a network that provides cyclists with protected bike lanes from Forest Hills to Midtown.

The DOT says that the redesign is working and that it has increased safety. The agency has no plans to make changes.

“DOT is committed to maintaining its successful redesign of Skillman and 43rd Avenues, with protected bike lanes that provide safe connections for cyclists commuting in western Queens neighborhoods and to and from the Queensboro Bridge,” a DOT spokesperson said Thursday.

“The redesign also includes other design elements that calm traffic and make the corridors safer for all street users. Since the redesign, traffic injuries have been down along both avenues,” the DOT spokesperson added.

There have also been videos lauding the redesign by bicycle advocacy groups. Streetfilms, a group formed in 2006 that produces films documenting street safety, put out a video arguing that the corridors are safer.

A spokesperson for Transportation Alternatives did not want to comment on Morehead’s video. However, bicycle advocates say that many of the arguments presented in Morehead’s video are unfounded.

Morehead’s video is based on the many anecdotes she has received from Sunnyside business owners and residents.

The video features a number of prominent western Queens residents and business owners opposed to the design, including: Brent O’Leary, a civic leader who is running for City Council; Patricia Dorfman, the leader of Queens Streets for All and a longtime member of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce; and Rick Duro, the leader of the Sunnyside United Dog Society.

“It’s been a real burden, especially on small businesses,” O’Leary said in the video, noting that business is down 20 percent. “All of their business is down. The restaurant owners are telling me they’re down.”

The video includes footage of FDNY vehicles struggling to turn onto Skillman Avenue from 51st Street– where the firehouse is stationed–due to the reduction of a travel lane. FDNY Engine 325 is located at 41-24 51st St.

Morehead’s video also features Oumaya Saab, a local disabled resident, who says she had to sell her wheelchair-accessible car because there is no room for a ramp due to the protected bike lanes.

Morehead contends that the redesign came about following a fatal crash, which would not have been prevented by the redesign in any case.

She said that protected bike lanes were introduced following the death of Gelacio Reyes, a cyclist who was killed by a drunk driver at 3 a.m. on April 1, 2017, at the intersection of 39th Street and 43rd Avenue.

The video notes that a protected bicycle lane would not have saved his life.

Police confirmed that Reyes was hit by an drunk driver and that he was struck while riding through a red light.

There was, however, another incident about 10 days later at the same intersection. David Nuñez, a cyclist, was badly injured when he was hit by a box truck turning right on to 39th Street.

The location where Gelacio Reyes was killed by a drunk driver while riding his bike at around 3 a.m. on April 1, 2017. The protected bicycle lane had yet to be installed (Queens Post)

Morehead contends that the resign has made the roadway more dangerous for cyclists—an argument that the DOT disputes.

She claims that there have been more than 30 crashes involving cyclists since the protected bicycle lanes were installed.

She said her statistics are based on the eyewitness accounts of business owners and residents who share crash information with one another through a WhatsApp group. She said that many residents also send each other photos and videos of crashes.

She said she has no faith in DOT statistics—since many incidents go unreported. She said that the business owners and residents who have been in the area for years know best.

“I don’t believe their statistics,” Morehead said referring to the DOT. “I don’t believe a word they say.”

Skillman Avenue and 51st Street following the redesign (Photo: Queens Post)

The video draws on several problematic incidents, including some that the Sunnyside Post has independently reported on.

For instance, Amin Siad, owner of Fresh N Save on Skillman Avenue and 50th Street, told the Sunnyside Post last fall that he regularly sees FDNY trucks stuck on the avenue, particularly when big trucks block the roadway to make deliveries.

The area outside Siad’s supermarket was reduced from two lanes to one– to make room for a protected bicycle lane–and many argue that it has been the source of big problems.

Large trucks often struggle to find space to unload and often double park. While it is not legal, residents say that the drivers often have little choice but to double park in order to make a delivery. By double parking, the corridor often gets blocked.

Fire trucks constantly face problems turning left from 51st Street onto Skillman Avenue, according to Siad. He said that he has witnessed fire trucks being unable to go down the single lane outside his store and instead take an alternative route.

Siad said that DOT installed a loading zone in front of his supermarket to help alleviate the problem but the issue still persists.

via John McGarry on Facebook (Click on photo for video)

“The loading zone hasn’t really helped,” he said. “We still get congestion and if a 10-axle truck is parked how are the [FDNY] supposed to get by? It’s really difficult.”

Other residents also noticed problems by Fresh N Save.

Eamonn Carr, who lives on Skillman Avenue between 51st and 52nd Street, said that emergency services are regularly blocked due to the narrowing of the roadway.

Bicycle safety advocates, however, argue that the redesign by 50th Street works and that the problem stems from illegal road users.

“When we are not following the regulations that the new street has, things are not going to work,” Juan Restrepo, a Queens organizer for advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, told NY1 when the news outlet reported on the story in October 2018.

The DOT said at the time that it had worked with the FDNY on the plan and it was safe.

Morehead believes her video is providing a service and illuminates a problem that a growing number of Queens residents face.

“Most of all, we want our voices to be heard,” she said. “This was top down decision making in city hall and was not what the people of Queens wanted.”

She said she wants residents in other Queens neighborhoods to see how Sunnyside and Woodside have fared.

“Protected bicycle lanes are planned for Astoria and Forest Hills and I want to show those people what it has done here.”


The following video was produced by Streetfilms, a bicycle advocacy group.

Street Transformations – Sunnyside Lanes (Skillman & 43rd Avenues) from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.

email the author: [email protected]

91 Comments

Click for Comments 
Julie Fotheringham

The existence of bike lanes does not make people on bikes break traffic laws. Bicycles, E-bikes, or electric scooters going the wrong way or running red lights are a danger to law abiding cyclists as well.

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u b capt obvious

Chris Froome, thank you capt obvious. Who doesn’t already know what kind of damage a car can do? Duh. What people don’t know, and it is obvious by how few cyclists follow the rules of the road, is what kind of damage an idiot on a two wheels can also do.

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Please don't call me boomer

Most people take mass transit or drive to work. NYC will never be a bike city. The bike lanes are underutilized. I’m retired and walk around Sunnyside at all different times of the day starting at 7:00 am when I walk my dog. I barely see any people on bikes on Skillman, Barnett, or 43rd Ave.

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Sunnyside Resident

It’s funny how the pro-bike lane advocates never really talk about or address the issue of the lack of regulation and enforcement of safe usage of the bike lanes. Why do they think it’s ok to run red lights, go in the wrong direction, ride on the sidewalk when the bike lane is right there, etc. The sanctimonious self-righteous response is that is just “boomers” complaining falls far short of what is actually happening.

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Erik Baard

I support the protected bicycle lanes for many of the reasons well articulated by others in this comment section. I only ask that we forgo cheap shots like “okay, boomer.” I’m not a boomer, but we gain nothing by introducing age bigotry and dismissal to this debate. I’ve seen voters and even candidates younger than myself who unfortunately have decided to invest time and money into undoing the safety and aesthetic improvements brought about by protected bicycle lanes.

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Tea Lady

I am for keeping the bike lanes but the bikes must be insured as the cars are and riders need driver’s licences. Motorized including electric bikes or other contraptions cannot use the bike lanes. The speed limit for bikes must be 15 MPH. There must be a lot more speed bumps on the streets, including for bikes. Bikes must stop at red lights. Bikers must wear helmets. These rules must be enforced by the police with the help of traffic cameras.

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The price is wrong

After watching this disingenuous video, I would normally repeat the cliche about insanity and doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. But that isn’t nearly enough to describe the bumbling organizers of Queens Streets for All, the incongruous and poorly organized group who appear to have created a fact-free echo chamber where they actually believe the untruths they incessantly attempt to repeat into reality. They don’t seem understand that they’re only hurting their supporters by prolonging their needless ignoble battle against street safety.

Nearly two years ago, after the redesign they did not want was approved, rather than calling it a day, backing down, trying to adapt and prepare businesses for a slight change in the street layout, they started a hyperbolic political catastrophization campaign to attempt to label the redesign a complete emergency – not just to business viability, but to safety, to human life, and even as something that would destroy the neighborhood. They planned a swift deluge of complaints, sought out press for negative news stories, and put on immense political pressure in the early days even before the plan was finished being implemented in order to try to halt or reverse it before the safety benefits could be quantified.

When these simplistic schemes did not work, and presumably once the group were made aware of the redesign’s success and permanence, Queens Streets took a dark and disturbingly conspiratorial turn. In the face of serious injury statistics showing the avenues are objectively much safer, they claim an undercounting conspiracy. When faced with the reality that emergency response has not been limited, they just ignore the facts and continue repeating their dangerous claims.

Which leads us, improbably, to this ridiculous video. Aside from being a complete waste of $4K, all of this stupidity has a huge price for Queens Streets’ constituents – about a dozen or so businesses on Skillman Avenue, as mentioned by the article. The reputational harm to the organizers and main players has surely led to an approximately 20% decrease in business revenue from customers appalled by the group’s antisocial behavior.

Skillman Avenue in 2020 has one of the lowest commercial vacancy rates in Western Queens, a rate that has been steadily declining over the last 15 years. This shows that this is a great place to do business, and also one where competition is getting increasingly stiff, perhaps to the tune of 20%. A business chamber worth its dues would recognize this and help its members address challenges to growth in a rapidly changing market. Instead of this, our local chamber has engaged in a yearslong campaign to scapegoat bike lanes and the cyclists that use them.

The startling decline in the professionalism, ethics, and integrity of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce has led to this situation and seriously damaged what was left of the legitimacy of the institution. The time is likely right for the formation of a new, more forward-looking, and progressive chamber. Will anyone step into this leadership void?

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Sara Ross

I will say what I have been saying since DOT and Mayor Do Nothing put the bike lanes all over this city: drivers of vehicles support NYC and NYS with billions of tax and fee dollars in insurance, inspections, drivers licenses, traffic violation, meters and parking garages. People on bikes pay NOTHING for DOT to paint and pave their lanes. I was driving around Queens last week – Forest Hills, Kew Gardens and Middle Village and every street had sunken manhole covers, pot holes, lousy paving jobs and cracks in the road, but yet bike lanes were paved and smooth. Jewel Avenue and Main Street need paving and fixing desperately!! People on bikes don’t get tickets for going through stop signs, red lights, zig zagging in and out of traffic and other normally ticketed violations. They don’t have to drive around looking for a legal parking spot.

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Queens commuter just trying to get to work/home safely.

“Queens Streets for All” (except it’s not for all).

Advocates for removing the bike lane argue:

The previous design was safer. (Obviously they do not bike. If they did, they would definitely not want to ride on a 4 foot wide bike lane where they could get doored on one side and could get sideswiped by moving traffic on another.)

The redesign creates congestion
(congestion which is caused mainly by other motor vehicles, mostly delivery vehicles, illegally double parked.)
This could easily be resolved by eliminating all regular metered parking along the blocks where there are businesses and make it all only for commercial vehicles and truck loading and unloading.

Emergency access is being impacted (probably due to the illegally parked/double-parked vehicles. I’m pretty sure the redesign accounted for large turning vehicles, which is why FDNY reviewed and approved the design, and why they usually eliminate parking at the corners, but there are usually cars illegally parked at these corners, which is the cause for delayed emergency services.)

Traffic accidents are increasing.
(They argue that DOT’s statistics are not reliable, but they take word accounts from a handful of people who would only benefit from the removal of the bike lane and claim their words are reliable.)

Businesses are getting hurt.
(how many of their customers were actually driving and not walking or taking the train? I feel their supposed “20%+ loss of business” is exaggerated. Plus, with more available and accessible bike lanes, businesses do have the potential to get new customers by bike (assuming you were providing a viable resource in the first place, as more and more businesses are being shut down due to online competition). Lastly, why should hundreds of cyclists who use these bike lanes daily not be able to get their own safe travel lanes because you think you’re entitled to have your own public space dedicated for your handful of customers?)

“They should focus on the majority of the road users”.
Only 50% of households in the Sunnyside area own a car, that means the others are either pedestrians who walk or take the train, or are cyclists.

Roads have been dedicated mainly to motorists for decades. on this stretch, they get 2 travel lanes and two lanes for parking their private property on public land.

The city wants to dedicate 6-7 feet of the 45-foot wide road for bikes and motorists go nuts as if they should be the only ones with safe means of passage, even though everyone, even those who do not own a car, pay for the maintenance of the very roads motorists believe only belongs to them.

You are not entitled to public space for the storage of your private vehicles. If you own a car, you shouldn’t rely on storing your private property on public space. Either park it in a garage or buy a house or apartment that has its own garage/driveway.

The residents of Sunnyside are fortunate enough to have public transit a couple of blocks away, yet think they are entitled to have space on the road dedicated for their 4000-pound hunk of metal, and cyclists should get close to nothing.

What a great waste of $4000.

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Chris Froome

dude talks about 30 pound bike and a 150 pound person being a danger, wiat until they hear what cars can do . All i hear are angry boomers

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Edd

So, I hope this gets posted and not blacklisted. JVB is to blame for these bike lanes, along with the hipsters taking over sunnyside. If you don’t recall grandpa’s candystore and or a c-town on the corner of 45th and 43rd ave you are a hipster and are the cause for increase rent and these stupid bike lanes. Listen I’m all for environmental protection i get it, but bike lanes should share the roads with cars. There are no bike lanes in Colombia or Peru Etc. You share the road with all motor vehicles at your own risk. Stop shoving these bike lanes down our throat. I laughed so much the morning of that beautiful message was spray painted on the bike lanes. It was a great day to start my Saturday morning. However, if a biker ever comes within my life or a loved one of mine i promise that biker will not have a nice day. I’ll pray for that individual. I hate bike lanes and I advocate for the destruction of these bike lanes.

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RESIDENT 46.

Bike lanes cause traffic and is dangerous. The city, queens county, vanbramer #vanbramerout -tax writeoff loving advocates like transportationalternatives and bogus bike groups all make MONEY from bike lanes. They get grants and tax writeoffs and incentives. ITS ABOUT MONEY-NOT ABOUT LIVES.

Contactors are also pushing it. They make millions.

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Rosamond Gianutsos

Like Dorothy Morehead, I am also a 50+ year resident of Sunnyside, and a member of the Community Board. I have come to respect and admire her contributions around environmental issues. However, she is wrong when it comes to the bike lanes. The DOT uses data collected in a systematic way through police reports and citizen calls to 311 / 911. It is not a matter of faith or belief. Instead of (or in addition to) anecdotal reports to a WhatsApp group, call the incident in and get it onto the Open Data portal https://opendata.cityofnewyork.us/. I use the Skillman / 43 Ave bike lanes many times a week and am immensely grateful for them and other protected bike lanes. “Shared” (unprotected) bike lanes are fraudulent offering no safety. I have been knocked off my bike on 39th Ave twice – once by an NYPD patrol car making an illegal U turn in front of a double parked car. With protected lanes, that can’t happen (both the double parking and the U turn). It was just luck that I was not KSI (killed or seriously injured). Finally, the data consistently show that protected bike lanes make the streets safer for all road users – even drivers.

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Fire Marshall Bill

SS, please do explain how one crosses 43rd ave or skillman ave without having to cross the bike lane….it runs through the crosswalk, or hadn’t you noticed? Common sense is stopping on your bike when the light is red, end of story. There’s no debate. Bikes have to follow the rules of the road and these bike lanes have brought out reckless behavior in many cyclists, as if they are entitled to do whatever they want, that the rules of the road do not apply to them.

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Chris Wattenbarger

One thing your article fails to mention is this. Gilbert Reyes was one person killed on this corridor in some 20 years. With in 2 months of the road redesign there were two fatalities that would not have happened if the roads had not been redesigned. If the death of Reyes was reason to put in bike lanes. The death of the two young people caused by the bike lane is more than reason to take them out.

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Fire Marshall Bill

SS, you aren’t very bright are you? How is one supposed to cross the street without stepping into the cross walk? The bike lane leads up to it, and as so few of these fools stop for red lights….there is the problem. obey the damn traffic laws. You wanted a bike lane? You got it, and with it comes the responsibility of using it safely. Also, having a car parked on city streets isn’t free. Another ridiculous notion, by the bike nuts. Parking meters, registration, DMV fees, tolls, inspection, etc. Lots of that $ goes back to help upkeep the roads. Maybe bikers, all 25 of them that use the Sunnyside lanes, should get charged some fees to cover the costs incurred in building the lanes.

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SS

Don’t let your dog walk in the bike lane and don’t step into the bike lane without looking first, and there shouldn’t be any injuries as a result. Common sense, that seems to be not-so-common.

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Queens Resident

The other danger is that they are giving bike lanes the right-of-way at intersections as if they were pedestrians on a crosswalk. Drivers weren’t ever trained to check on what’s coming up behind us when turning. We’ve always had the right-of-way on the right, aside from pedestrians crossing, but they move slower and are easier to see because they are right in front of us or within our peripheral. It is very difficult to see if a biker is zipping up behind me while making a turn. I can’t safely check in front of me for pedestrians and behind me for bikers at the same time. There’s a section of the road near Ditmars on 21st Street that is not well lit. I have come very close to turning directly into a bikers at night. It’s the same issue when making a left from a one-way street. In Manhattan on the corner of 58th and 2nd (and also 57th), there is a bike lane on the left. For left turns here, the drivers are given a blinking yellow arrow, and the bikers (coming up on the left) are given a green light. That means that drivers making a left turn need to watch for pedestrians in front of them and bikes coming up behind them at the same time. It’s a recipe for disaster. It gives the bikers a false sense of safety. I’ve worked in this area for years and have seen several accidents at this corner already. It’s only a matter of time before someone gets killed. At night, it’s even worse. Some bikers don’t have lights and the reflectors barely work because they are BEHIND us. I cannot understand how the city could possibly think this is smart or safe.

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Rob

That protected bike lane is beautiful! Makes me want to visit Sunnyside, and perhaps move there.

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Agreed, reducing cars increases traffic

Everyone know, the less cars are on the street, the more traffic. It’s just science. Silly liberals.

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Claire

Those that could should use the bike lanes to travel. They are important in helping decrease the spread of the corona virus by avoiding crowded trains and buses.

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Skillman

@Timothy G – My comment relates to the one lane for the vehicles instead of two because it’s causing a lot of congestion and the major problems that affect everyone.

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fire marshall Bill

Before the bike lanes I never came close to getting mowed down by a bike. Since the bike lane it has happened numerous times…..when I have the light. Too many cyclists flaunt the law and give you a big middle finger when you call them out on it. I also have a dog and I can promise you that if he is ever hit by one of these miscreants disobeying the law the bike will have to be surgically removed from his ass. Transportation alternatives is a complete joke. fight for a bike lane and then forget it’s even there, unless a biker gets hit. How about educating the idiots that don’t follow the rules of the road. We need more enforcement so that these fools (cars too) understand their responsibility on the roads of our community. For all the people that dont think the bike lane has affected businesses, why not do some research and see what they made in the year before and after the bike lane debacle. Or, even better, go talk to them and see how they are doing.

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Comfiesippers

I was against these bike lanes at first. Then I decided to buy a bike to avoid riding the subways. My biggest safety concern each day is other bikers. Bikers need to slow down, be aware of pedestrians, be aware of car doors opening and OBEY THE RULES OF THE ROAD. My commute from Middle Village to 39th and 5th is 35 minutes now. Never going back.

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Gary Taylor

Rego Park business owners are also suffering for 2 years now . Any support we can give to SunnySide to help get the Mayors Attention let us know. Queens Blvd in Rego Park has become a nightmare , parking is a joke . Double parking is out of control !! All this has been communicated to DOT but like your video has stated so articulately, no follow up meetings !!

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JDH

I live near Windmuller Park. I did have a fear of riding a bike in NYC, but I enjoy riding my bike in the bike lanes. I’m for safety for everyone, but here’s what I’ve noticed since the bike lane change:
-Just as double-parked cars should be fined for violations (specifically when the driver is not present at all), cyclists who don’t stop at red lights/stop signs should also face severe penalties. Bikers should have a license plate system for this reason. To the commenters asking about elderly, children and dog walkers; these people can’t react fast enough to a cyclist not following the law. I also see many cyclists ride the wrong way on the path, and then I and others get cussed out, for riding the correct way. These cyclists go fast, don’t stop and don’t respect the law just as some car drivers do.
-While going to the Fresh n Save, yes, I notice EVERY-SINGLE-TIME I go to shop, I see the NYFD have issues going down Skillman. I’ve also seen ambulances have issues when there’s afternoon traffic on Skillman Ave. When there were two lanes, this was not such a common issue, as it is today. This is not safe.
-I’m indifferent about the parking issue. I don’t have a car, but mainly because it’s so difficult to park in this area. The bike lanes made it worse, but again, it was always terrible. Besides, there were much more serious issues that I mentioned, than finding that golden parking spot. Given a more practical road to redesign, I would be for a safe bike lane, despite the reduced parking.
I like the idea of bike lanes. However, Skillman for being the busy street that it is, should not have been a street redesigned from two lanes, to one.

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Claire

Get rid of that new bike lane. Dot created a dangerous situation. It is not practical for the neighborhood.

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DB

Ironically, the group Queens Streets for All really only cares about Queens Streets for Drivers.

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Peter B.

So lets get this straight, a bunch of folks who have opposed this from the beginning declare they do not believe actual safety statistics and then make a vanity video that actually shows most of the problems are with other drivers. There has been a bike lane on that street for years and years, they are just mad they can’t double park in it anymore.

Lets see everyone’s financial statements for he past 5 years. Amazing how businesses claim “this is terrible for us,” but then offer no actual proof. Same thing happened on Queens Blvd when Ben’s Best closed. His business model was wrong for the location. He had been hemorrhaging business for years, then when he finally closed he blamed the new bike lane. Postcript: 5 new businesses have opened or are about to open on that same block – including in Ben’s spot. Give me a break.

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Guest

-The bike lanes have have not led to a 20% decline in business, there is no data to back that claim. There are a wide variety of factors that could have impacted those businesses, if those statements are even factual at all. And they do not represent all businesses along the corridor.

-Emergency vehicles can use the bicycle lanes to pass traffic, and the intersections have additional clearances now.

-People with limited mobility now have shorter crossings.

-Traffic is traveling at slower speeds and bicyclists now have protection from drivers.

-People on bicycles are also members of the community, and were more vulnerable to serious injury than most others prior to implementation. Other road users also benefit from increased safety.

The change has been an improvement in regards to public safety and the data backs it.

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reina

Great video! Same issue on Qns Blvd where buses,EMT and fire trucks have hard time on the local route. I’ve seen while riding the Q60 trucks or cars double park and they have to swerve into the bike lane cause it’s just one lane. Now they plan to continue the bike lane to the end of Qns Blvd going into the most congested part 71st Ave traffic and Kew Garden Interchange 2 areas that have high vehicle traffic and bus usage.

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Olafur Thordarson

Wow, what a nice bicycle lane! Congratulations Sunnyside. I just love Sunnyside and go through there to admire the neighborhood and it’s famous Garden City planning. This lane is awesome.
In QNS I bike more through nearby Astoria as a means of commuting, several times a week. I find QNS particularly challenging compared to the other boroughs; drivers go fast, drive obliviously in the unprotected bike lanes (ex 28th Street) and open their car doors without checking for traffic. They run red lights and don’t use their turn signals and so on.
I notice that for the safety of cyclists and pedestrians this bike lane solves many of the issues involved with dangerous drivers. Yes many drivers are excellent, considerate and patient. But many are not.
Since it is new, there are design issues pointed out, that could be solved. Such as handicap parking, delivery and firetruck turns and so on. These are fair points to review and can be solved in time by making minor modifications to the scheme.
Pedestrians will get used to having to look for a bicycle when they walk across on a red light (New York habit that most people have). People will get used to the bike lane in due time.
Most NYC businesses that are failing do so because of internet competition and extraordinarily high rents. Please look at the landlord rent hikes before blaming cyclists.
Again congratulations Sunnyside. What a beautiful bike lane! Now more residents will be safer when cycling. And many actually now have an opportunity to go around cycling in more safety.

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Timmy G

@skillman- So your nightmare is merely navigating and crossing the one lane street?!? Come on folks you sound ridiculous.

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Truth

Check their comments on the video on Vimeo. They claim it is just a toy and don’t need permission. Which is not true.

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Video killed the bicyclist

Yes when are the Citi bikes getting here? Can’t wait.
(Willing to shoot a video for $100.)

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SuperWittySmitty

The ultimate goal is top have fewer cars on the roads; the real problem is that the minority of residents who own cars have gotten used to having streets to drive and park on, while the rest of us, the majority, walk on the sidewalks and occasionally get run over by cars that are going too fast and or are being driven recklessly.

This is inevitable as privately owned cars become less and less necessary and as gas turbine engines become a less efficient use of dwindling petroleum resources. Right now not everyone can envision how our city will look in 50 years but you can bet there won’t be as many cars on our streets and there will be more pedestrians and bike riders.

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Jerry

Why is Rick Duro (Leader of SUNNYSIDE Dog Association of SUNNYSIDE) against bike lanes. Are the bike lanes unsafe for dogs?

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El loco

Coronavirus is sweeping the world and Dorothy Morehead and her merry band of conspiracy theorists are worried about bike lanes. Get your priorities straight DoMo.

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Jim

I use this corridor several times a month to get from Jackson Heights to LIC and/or Manhattan. It’s really lovely having the protected lanes and just watching out for pedestrians and street crossings. If there were a complete network (protected lanes all the way), my wife and children would also be using it.

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Tree of Liberty

The bike lanes are worthless and have not sped up my cat food delivery.

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Julie Fotheringham

I can understand how for Ms. Morehead, who’s been in the neighborhood for a very long time, change could be perceived an impingement. I’m a cyclist and 10-year Sunnyside resident, who appreciates riding on the new bike lanes to commute safely to work. This video only interviews people who support Ms. Morehead’s agenda, with the voice of people who actually ride bicycles conspicuously absent. Her claims need to be backed up. It’s not clear to me how the bike lanes are responsible for double parking rather than the vehicle that is double parked. I don’t understand why this advertisement is granted so much space in the Sunnyside Post.

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Aviator

Neighbors: Please let the FAA know who exactly has been flying drones in the flight path to La Guardia. They will absolutely follow up. The office to call is in Farmingdale, and the video provides all the detail law enforcement need to protect our safety.

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ABoondy

socialist democrats are the real problem. they don’t care who they hurt as long as they push their agenda. they protect themselves from any and all accountability and never take any responsibility when things go south. this is just one small example. it also doesn’t help when the mayor is a complete idiot. someone should just replace him with a tree stump, as it will probably do more work than him to help this city.

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Skillman

@Seamus I don’t drive – I’m a pedestrian who lives on 51st Street and sees the congestion every day! Why the one lane?

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Timmy G

@Merry Chang ( I know this is just one of several alias’ you’re using to post on this comment stream) – To quote you “ It’s now more dangerous to cross the street…you have to check the traffic light, check to see if a car is coming even though the light is green or if a car is making a turn…and now also to see if a bike is coming at you, regardless of the green light”. You’re suppose to “check” to see if it’s safe to cross the street even before bike lanes were apart of the safe crossing equation..You just put this process into effect after the bike lanes were installed? Really???

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Jacob

Beautifully filmed video. Great job Dorothy! These bike lanes are complete trash and put pedestrians and cars at risk. Bike riders are reckless and do NOT obey any traffic laws. I was hit by a bike on 45 and Skillman in the fall who ran the light. He has the nerve to laugh! These lanes need to be demolished and the lanes need to be stopped on 31 and Crescent in Astoria

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Carbie Barbie

I don’t have a bike or a car. I support the bike lanes.

If trucks are double parking, enforce the traffic regs. Or expand that delivery spot for the market.

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Tommy

Pretty frustrating to see this — it’s the worst kind of community organizing: wealthy people coming together with their unchallengeable resources to make public services worse for the non-wealthy, in favor of their own private interests. Sad to see this in NYC, especially in the modern political environment where we all need to be more aware of the overall American experience.

The silver lining is, it seems to me the more this kind of selfishness continues, the harder the reaction will be among the non-wealthy, and the more support there will be for pro-community measures. Higher taxes on the wealthy, more affordable housing (dare I say flooding the area near Sunnyside Gardens?), bike lanes everywhere.

Good luck to all in Sunnyside Gardens and the like trying desperately to prevent progressive change — you are making your own bed.

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Sunnyside YIMBY

the bikes “speed as if they are on the road”.
They ARE on the road, you dullard.
And they can only be going faster than the cars if the cars are stuck in a traffic jam.
So glad that CB members are now term-limited.

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Pousses&pushups

It is obviously, glaringly apparent that these bike lanes are causing both dangerous conditions and are unfair to local merchants. And driving along the avenue, you’ll see more bikes on the regular streets than on the bike lanes!! It was an experiment gone awry. Now give the streets back to cars, emergency vehicles, fire trucks, sanitation trucks, etc!

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sunnysidian

i think a lot of the issues people have are the bikers. true there are bikers who do not follow the rules of the road, but thats why we need more cops around to stop them. the other issue i see in this video is the firetrucks not being close enough to the sidewalk to extend the ladder. i can see that being an issue, and the only thing i can say is that the bike lanes should not have begun over by ps11. the bike lanes on skillman should of started on 49th street all the way down to 39th street on skillman. but i also believe all those business between 50th and 57th there should be no parking allowed for any resident. only trucks like UPS, USPS, food delivery trucks for those businesses should be allowed to park there temporarily. those streets were always very small and congested and those business need their deliveries made. the real issue is that Sunnyside is starting to show overcrowding. i think we all know this. sunnyside was treated like the new Long Island. So large families are coming here with their large SUV type cars taking up way too much space. Sunnyside is a small community and it should be treated as such. Cars do not belong here. Meaning, all these cars we have here, do not belong here. there are people in this community that have more than one car. why? your taking up so much space. we need smaller cars/ fewer cars. this is a walkable community. if your job is over an hour away and you drive, why are you living in sunnyside? live someplace else that is closer to your work. you should not be moving here thinking you can treat it like the new long island. we have limited space here and it’s getting worse. try and find a parking spot after 5pm here. it’s very difficult. which is why my family sold our car, we dont need one if we’re living in Sunnyside. we can get anywhere via train and bus. but i think the families that have been moving here over the past 10 years are the real issues. bringing more than one car, bringing their large cars and just occupying too much space.

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Enoque

The Protected Bicycle Lanes were a bad idea from the start. Especially dangerous on 43rd. Avenue in front of PS 150 and on Skillman Avenue. They are rarely used by Westbound Commuters who seem to prefer riding dangerously on Westbound Queens Boulevard and there is rarely any Bicycle Commuter riders on Skillman Ave. except to avoid the intersection of Queens Boulevard at Van Dam Street. All in all it is a failed experiment which has hurt local businesses and polarized the Community. There are many Sunnysiders that will no longer vote for Democrats due to this.

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Merry Chang

I am not against bike lanes; just the design of the ones put in place on Skillman Avenue; I’ve personally witness the fire trucks trying to make the turn onto Skillman Ave and the congestion. It’s now more dangerous to cross the street…you have to check the traffic light, check to see if a car is coming even though the light is green or if a car is making a turn…and now also to see if a bike is coming at you, regardless of the green light….

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The Vorvon

I gotta agree. This is not an article. This is a press release with a few sentences tacked on the end to make it seem like an articke.

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Sunnyside Calling

The protected bike lanes were a stupid idea for this area from the get-go and every day I see the effects: Bike riders traveling traveling in the wrong direction, blowing through stop signs and lights and, in general, demonstrating that they have no business riding a bike at all. They ignore pedestrians completely. I was hit by one traveling in the wrong direction and her only comment was “Dude… .”

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Oscar

Double parking, speeding and idle cars are the real culprit when it comes to traffic safety. Cars do more to prevent fire fighters and ambulances from getting to a location than bikes and bike lanes.

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Jill

Yes, bike lanes need to be monitored and sometimes altered to suit the community. But the answer is not to get rid of them. Its like bail reform. We can take a look at it, amend it if needed but certainly not go back to cash bail for minor offenses.

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EL FURS

Thank you for this reasoned and rational review!.It falls on deaf ears.
I got a friend that drives a DOT truck,solo replacing and /or installing all the myriad of signs we have on our streets. He tells me that DOT hires new college “CITY PLANNER” graduates at an entry level rate,usually from OUT OF STATE> THEY plan all these “VISION ZERO”improvements. The DOT field engineers get these plans and conclude that the majority of these changes are not practically feasible on our city streets. There is no one to address these issues because these contracted planners are gone having completed their plans……In all the printed discussions about bike lanes and traffic calming etc., it’s never stated that all these painted lines, arrows and new traffic directives imposed on such a diverse populace in NYC might be the cause of these fatalities. Consequently, drivers in NYC are totally confused. There are folk here from all over the world ,most having grown up with driving regulations they learned from their countries of origin…..so this oxymoronic VISION ZERO program creates further confusion leading to more accidents.
I’ve been driving in NYC for 40 years and there has never been such issues as today. What to do? Wilhelm is on his way out! New Yorkers must carry on !

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What Sunnyside needs is

– Parking lots (no the $15 per hour. Affordable parking areas, for all the cars on the street)
– Bike lines alone. No bike line, cars parking, cars running.
– Traffic controllers at intersections (is much neccesary than ticket controlers that only care if a car is +2 hours parking) a..h..ls drivers need to stop.
– Same for a..h..ls bikers that go everywhere but the line.

And business owners enemy is not a bike line, is their rent.

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Marion J Drage

The redesign is a nightmare! I am a pedestrian, a driver, and a biker. The single lane leads to congestion and noise. There are many drivers who have NO patience and honk when there is NO PLACE for you to go. You can’t get out of the way for fire trucks. There’s no place to go. If there was a high volume of bikers a safe lane would be important. There IS NOT.

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Donald Aridas

If the issue is that bicyclists are not obeying the law, then enforcement is the answer. If double parkers are the issue which prevents firetrucks from using certain streets, then enforcement is the answer. The video documents scooters which are illegal and operating illegally in the bike lane as an issue. Again, enforcement is the answer. What efforts have been made by the local police precinct? This video does not present any facts regarding injuries to roadway users pre- redesign vs. post re-design. And as for the firetrucks not having ladders tall enough to reach the top floors of buildings, the bike lane is wide enough for a fire truck to drive into it. Sounds like more scare tactics.

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My home town

Enough, how do you know the neighborhood has changed for the better?How long have you lived in Sunnyside? Very few bikes use the lanes.

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Drones Are Illegal

This video is illegal. You need FAA permission to fly a drone of any kind, anywhere in the city of NYC. It puts pedestrians in danger. The video shots from above are beautiful and make the lanes look gorgeous, thank you so much. But the FAA needs to know that someone broke the law.

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ABoondy

how do you know they didn’t? what proof do you have? or do you just like spreading lies? just another socialist democrat pushing their agenda. you are the problem with our neighborhood.

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TL;DR

This article/press release was way too long and disturbingly reinforces the dangerous misinformation campaign being run by the malicious Queens Streets for All group. Here is a short synthesis for those who do not want to read all of it.

Sunnyside Resident Produces Video, Calls on DOT to Scrap the Protected Bike Lanes
March 6, 2020 By Shane O’Brien and Christian Murray

A long-time Sunnyside Gardens resident has produced a video calling on the Department of Transportation to remove the protected bicycle lanes from Skillman and 43rd Avenues and return the corridors back to the way they were prior to their overhaul in 2018.

The DOT says that the redesign is working and that it has increased safety. The agency has no plans to make changes.

“DOT is committed to maintaining its successful redesign of Skillman and 43rd Avenues, with protected bike lanes that provide safe connections for cyclists commuting in western Queens neighborhoods and to and from the Queensboro Bridge,” a DOT spokesperson said Thursday.

“The redesign also includes other design elements that calm traffic and make the corridors safer for all street users. Since the redesign, traffic injuries have been down along both avenues,” the DOT spokesperson added.

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Joe

I constantly see high speed ebikes on the bike lane not to mention a good majority of bike riders using the car lanes, side walks and going in the wrong direction.

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Edward Stall

I am a life long resident of Sunnyside, 60 years, and am not a fan of the bike lanes. I’m less of a fan of the weak minded and easily incited blowhards who have high jacked the subject with statements like “The community did NOT want this and these anti car, bully, self righteous, hypocritical hipsters should not be able to dictate to us how we live.” The person who posted this quote sounds like the bully who obviously has a disdain for the new young people moving into the area and feels he is the one who should dictate how “we” live. I’ve met plenty in the community who want and don’t want the bike lanes.,

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Paddy o'doodle

There is no happy medium in this situation. The good first: Make a protected lane and the biker is protected. The bad : a- the pedestrian isnt ptotected. If your not used to this because you drive neither a car or bike and you step off the curb and pow! A biker flys down and
Knocks you into tomorrow.
B- makes a 2 lane street a one lane street. Now if you have to parallel park it becomes a no lane street.
C- impossible for trucks , buses, ambulances, emergency vehicles to make turns. Im sorry but bikes just shouldn’t be used for a main source of transportation nor a extended trip type of transportationin this area. Its too overpopulated.
They Should be used for short quick local trips And for exercise This is ny, its not other countries. What works somewhere else doesn’t always work here.

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Gardens Watcher

Thanks Dorothy for documenting the problems. After a year, it is reasonable to evaluate the impact on the neighborhood and the public safety for everyone.

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Anonymous

Robust community process? Everyone in the process said no. The DOT put in the bike lanes anyway.

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Joseph DiAmbrose

Beautiful job done on this. Hope somebody listens. But if they were stupid enough to do this in the first place then I have very little hope as they are following this with the stupid bus route redesign

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Independent thinker who votes

Great Job! Thanks for telling the truth about this “protected” bike lane that has gotten mlre cyclists hurt since it’s inception. The community did NOT want this and these anti car, bully, self righteous, hypocritical hipsters should not be able to dictate to us how we live.

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ENOUGH

This is completely outrageous. Lies upon lies upon lies followed by denial of NYPD crash statistics. Just shows what kind of people were against the lanes and why the city was right to install them over their loud but incorrect objections.

After trying to derail the robust community process undertaken by DOT these awful people have tried to hold the neighborhood hostage for the last year and a half, but this is enough and must be the final straw. You have no credibility to restart a discussion about street safety after all you’ve done to undermine it. Just move on, Dorothy, Pat, etc.

Or better yet, just move already. Take this as a sign that this is not your neighborhood anymore. Times change. This neighborhood has changed for the better and you’re embarrassing yourselves.

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IDontEvenHaveADangBike

Give it a rest already. Most people who live here do NOT own a car and the streets are much safer now.

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Woodside Resident

Oh my goodness, give it a rest please. Time to move on. The bike lanes are a success: Skillman is safer and lots of businesses are thriving (e.g. the Turkish Market is expanding, Alcove is crowded as ever and opening a new place on Skillman, multiple new businesses have come in…). I’ve been living here for about 10 years and I’m so glad the DOT finally put protected bike lanes on Skillman/43rd. It’s a dramatic improvement.

Most of the “problems” could be addressed by creating more loading zones, more frequently ticketing the entitled drivers who park illegally in them/illegally double park, and putting in more metered parking on the side streets for businesses. Unfortunately many car owners feel they’re owed free storage on public streets, so they fight for their needs over what benefits the community.

What we really need now are Citibikes in Sunnyside/Woodside. Still a few years away I hear, unfortunately, but having some docks would be wonderful for the neighborhood and support the local economy.

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