You are reading

Two Traffic Signals to be Installed at P.S. 11 on Skillman Avenue, Town Hall on Bike Lanes Making a Comeback

Skillman Avenue by the school (Photo: November 2017)

March 5, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez

The city will install traffic signals right by P.S. 11 on Skillman Avenue in a move that comes after the school, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and other advocates demanded their installation last month.

Two traffic signals will be up in front of the school at 54th Street and Skillman Avenue, according to Van Bramer’s office. The full traffic signals will be installed on both legs of 54th Street and Skillman Avenue, which splits into two streets divided by a block. Both signals will be coordinated to avoid any queue backups on any of the approaches. The lights are expected to be installed by May.

The location of the upcoming traffic lights on 54th Street and Skillman Avenue.

Van Bramer and the school called on the Department of Transportation to implement traffic calming measures near the school, located at 54th and Skillman Avenue, last month. The lack of traffic lights there, he said, were an accident waiting to happen.

“The point of traffic calming around schools is not to wait until a tragedy happens,” Van Bramer said. “This is about preventing a tragedy. This is going to make all of the kids at P.S.11 safer, and its going to make everyone around that area of Woodside safer.”

DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia said in a statement that the two signals will “make it easier for everyone in the community to cross, especially the growing number of students who are heading to and from school or visiting the Woodside Library.”

Last month’s demand was not the first time advocates pushed for traffic calming measures by the school. Parents and teachers at the 1,000-seat elementary school requested a traffic light at 54th Street and Skillman Avenue last year, but the request was turned down by the DOT.

The issue was brought to the spotlight once more, however, after the DOT unveiled controversial plans in November to install bike lanes through 43rd and Skillman Avenues, which would pass directly in front of the school. An emergency PTA meeting at P.S. 11 in December saw multiple parents and staff furiously lash out at the agency for introducing a plan for bike lanes that failed to include the safety measures they demanded. Some even claimed the DOT’s plans would bring more danger to students.

“Parents will no longer be able to pull up to the curb to drop off and pick up their child,” the PTA said in December. “Students will now have to cross a bike lane and the street.”

A town hall scheduled the next day for the DOT to present updated bike lane plans, and for the community to weigh in on them, was abruptly cancelled after P.S. 11’s emergency meeting. Van Bramer said the town hall would be postponed indefinitely until the school got the traffic lights he and other parents called for.

But with the crucial traffic lights underway, the town hall will be making a come back.

“With these traffic calming measures being installed in front of P.S. 11, the DOT plans to move forward with the town hall,” Van Bramer said.

The town hall’s date has not yet been selected, Van Bramer said, adding that it’s the DOT’s town hall and that they can convene one anytime they want.

As for his stance on bike lanes through 43rd and Skillman Avenues, Van Bramer says he will reserve judgement until he hears from the community at the town hall.

“I’m going to listen to the arguments and we’ll see what the best way to proceed is,” he said. “I respond to thoughtful—passionate, yes—but thoughtful and reasoned arguments about this project, and so I’m not going to give a position right now.”

He added that people on both sides of the issue make valid points either for or against bike lanes.

“I know that the people who are opposed to the bike lanes want children and seniors to be safe. I know they don’t want anyone to be hurt, but they have legitimate concerns about how it might affect businesses and parking in the community,” Van Bramer said. “And for those that are in favor, I believe they want to see small businesses thrive and do well and continue to help drive our very successful neighborhood.”

Nicole Garcia, the DOT Queens Borough Commissioner, said the agency is working on determining the town hall’s date, adding that it will be “sooner rather than later”.

Update 3/7 2:30 p.m. : Article updated with more information on the traffic signals and information from the DOT on the next town hall’s date.

email the author: [email protected]

34 Comments

A Woodsider

The crossing guards should stay. Just as they reinforce crossing Skillman, 56th Street and Roosevelt Avenue. If it were not for the crossing guard , along with the light, there would be a lot of dead people!!!! Over many, many years, 40 some odd, I have seen many, many kids and adults, and cars do crazy things at that crossing! The crossing guards are a must around schools, even with lights!

Reply
Tony

39th Avenue currently have bike symbols. Yet, it is very dangerous since it is so narrow and two way traffic. Not sure who decided that 39th Avenue was wide enough! That needs to be changed if the councilman is looking at bike and vehicle safety improvements. Eliminate 39th Avenue as a bike lane.

3
17
Reply
Sally G

Agree. There isn’t even enough room to draw a solid bike lane, only a bike symbol because there isn’t enough room for a car and bike to pass and you have to swerve into ongoing traffic when driving and there is a bike on your left. Imagine 2 bikes and 2 trucks or cars at the same time going opposite ways!

2
1
Reply
SuperWittySmitty

What the oughta do is eliminate cars and trucks from some of these streets and avenues and dedicate them solely to pedestrians and bicycles. Over the years, we’ve given up SO MUCH space to motor vehicles. Given that MOST residents do not own a car and do not use a car. let’s start taking some space back, beginning with the free storage space we’ve provided for the thousands of drivers who use their car once or twice a week.

3
8
Reply
Glasser

Bicyclists also have the option to use 39th avenue, which is 1 avenue north of Skillman. They can bypass Skillman from Q blvd. and go 1 extra block. The city created bike lanes going both ways(from woodside ave – 39th, I believe) This is primarily a residential ave… scenic and slower for those who are worried about speeding cars.

4
12
Reply
Nameless

Why not create bike lanes in the left lane of QB? That would be better than on Skillman. No highways on local streets.

4
13
Reply
vote out van bramer

Additional traffic lights and dedicated bike lanes sadly won’t stop the next tragedy. What this city needs to do is start ticketing bikers who fail to follow the rules AND suspend the licenses of drivers who can’t drive. Simple as that. I’ve seen too many bikers who run red lights at full speed or go the wrong direction. There are also too many terrible drivers out there. Most of the terrible drivers I noticed are T-plate Ubers/taxis.

7
28
Reply
A horse is a horse of course of course

Now you want to vote him out! You had your chance in November. Probably didn’t know about the elections, huh?

Reply
Glasser

I’m a Sunnyside resident & business owner. We’ve had a small mom & pop on Skillman Ave for just about 12 years. I can say with absolute certainty that this TA agenda will hurt our business. We will lose business if our customers cannot find parking. Most of us on Skillman have longstanding customers that drive in from all parts of Queens, Long Island & Brooklyn. People that have supported our bars, cafes & shops, for years. Taking spots away will take business away. simple. And it’s not just the loss of biz, but where will we park? Our car is a lifeline for our business. We load in & load out multiple times a week and then hope to find parking(which can be up to an hour on certain days)
I understand why bicyclists want to feel safe on their commute. But this proposal is flawed. Hopefully TA can work with us on a plan to protect our cyclists without reducing our parking.

15
34
Reply
Me

I agree with this 100%, but it sounds like they are pushing small businesses out of this neighborhood or at least inner streets and they just want to develop queens blvd instead. Maybe they need to make certain areas loading/unloading zones for some stores?

Reply
Travis Pickle

Saw the bike nazis at the parade on Sunday. They looked just as smug and childish as I expected.

17
44
Reply
SuperWittySmitty

When I saw you at the parade, you looked the same as always: confused and somewhat bewildered.

55
8
Reply
Cristina Furlong

I’m really happy to hear that the PTA, staff and students of P.S.11 have waged a successful campaign for the much needed traffic lights. It’s disheartening that its up to community members like them to put in hours of meetings, research and lobbying. School safety should be a priority, and there should be obvious and accessible ways for EVERY school to find the proper resources from DOT and DOE. Has anyone ever tried for an answer from Department of Education/School Safety? It doesn’t exist. Yet.

Now that same school community must recognize that a protected bike lane is part of a safety improvement project that will slow traffic, reduce car/bike interaction and provide a reliable and safe means of transportation for local trips in the area. Surely, there are scores of future bike commuters at P.S.11 among its staff and students.
They also must come to terms with the fact that double parking is illegal and contributes to crashes and road rage..which contributes to crashes, when an impatient driver guns the gas after a traffic jam.
Please take this next step with us “bike people” who are actually “safe streets” people and consider the importance of changing a car-culture which is killing too many New Yorkers, into a multi-modal form of transportation.

And, alas, the parking spots…I like to say that DOT is the department of transportation- Not parking. But they’ve got a job listing for parking analyst now…

Please understanding that parking is not a right in New York City. It can be had for a price, and it can be had by driving a few blocks from your destination. Some aren’t able to do that due to disability, age, weather or wellness factor–they should get priority. Not those who register their out of state vehicles nor the taxi’s, and for hire vehicles that should be renting space.

I’m grateful for Jimmy Van Bramer’s willingness to adapt, change and never quit seeking solutions that benefit all parties. Also, as one of New York’s leading progressives, I hope he continues to be progressive in thinking about transportation in our borough. The high rises are coming, fares go up, trains get delayed, and people need to get places. We can do it!

29
21
Reply
A Woodsider

Finally! After how many years?? Bike lanes do not belong on Skillman. There is one on Queens Blvd. They go in the same direction! When Bicycles have license plates and insurance then they can have a say!

25
38
Reply
Me

Here, here! When bikers pay for insurance or actually start getting ticketed for running red lights, riding on side walks, using cross walks as their own roads, then we’ll talk about giving them a dedicated lane. I believe most law abiding bikers will agree.

8
3
Reply
Me

WHAT? Why can’t JVB push for a traffic light at 42nd st and 46th ave?
Please don’t make this sound like a huge success of the local politicians because DOT or whoever decides to install traffic lights don’t care about anyone, they keep claiming there isn’t enough traffic to install lights, and brush it off. It’s a blind hill, and cars speed up every day on 46th st, kids try to cross against intersection where the crossing lanes are almost non existent anymore. At least they should make that intersection 4 way Stop sign.

Reply
Nina

Skillman is too small and too short for a major influx of bike traffic. People commuting from Forest Hills shouldbstay on the main thoroughfare, Queens Blvd., which has been significantly altered to the detriment of people all along it just for their convenience. No kind of highway at all should go through a largely residential neighborhood. Stay on the main thoroughfare!

19
35
Reply
SuperWittySmitty

I love the bike lane on Skillman and use it all the time. I’d rather see a decrease in vehicular traffic on that road- many of us are pedestrians and NOT drivers! Too many people going too fast and not respecting the tranquility of our neighborhood. Vehicles should stay on the main thoroughfare (Queens/Northern Blvd.) and off our local streets!

38
17
Reply
Nameless

No. I live here locally. I have never hit anyone or anything. A biker from another part of Queens has no right to push me off local blocks. Anywhere else in America you bikers would be jeered out of the conversation. You want change? Start with yourself. Ride slowly. Wear protective gear.

12
37
Reply
Peter Beadle

This isn’t something new. There is a bike lane right now that carries 1,400 people per day, but since its not protected drivers double park in it all the time forcing riders in to car traffic. Incidentally, some of those drivers who park in that bike lane are the parents at P.S. 11. I am glad the lights are being added and Jimmy was right to fight for them. But a protected lane that stops people parking in it and risking the lives of cyclists is needed. Something Jimmy himself recognized and called for at his own press conference after the death of Gelascio Reyes. There are bike lanes in front of schools all over the city and there isn’t an epidemic of kids getting hit by bikes, that is a strawman argument, its simply not true. And indeed there are some kids who ride to school and this would make them safer. Experience has shown that everywhere protected bike lanes have been installed, safety for ALL road users has increased. Almost ironically, most stats show that safety for pedestrians and even drivers improve at a higher rate than cyclists. So I am hoping people will support this, lives are at stake.

37
10
Reply
IanMCC

Actually, the bike lanes on Queens Blvd. end at 49th St., so they can’t stay on the main thoroughfare past that if they’re not suicidal. That’s the whole point – to use Skillman as a safe connection through Sunnyside to LIC and beyond. If you want to argue that more bike infrastructure should be added to the western portion of Queens Blvd. instead, that’s one thing, but just telling people to stay there on a 4-lane highway completely unprotected isn’t a solution.

22
2
Reply
Nameless

They should not end on 49th St. why should people who live in Forest Hills and further out pass through a local road on their way to the city?

3
16
Reply
Cristina Furlong

Ian, Queens Boulevard has a bike lane. AND- the capital plan is coming which will make it even more safe and more beautiful.

13
Reply
SuperWittySmitty

No, it doesn’t. You’re thinking of the bike lane in Woodside that begins at 47th street. I use that one when I leave Sunnyside and stay on the Skillman Avenue bike lane when riding in Sunnyside. Like many bike riders, I ride safely and follow the rules of traffic.

16
3
Reply
A horse is a horse of course of course

So… If I got you right. You want bike lanes on major roads, and not on quiet safer streets. Good logic.

Reply

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

Recent News