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Van Bramer Says No to DOT’s Skillman, 43rd Aves. Redesign

39th Street and 43rd Avenue (DOT)

June 20, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer has rejected the Department of Transportation’s proposed redesign for Skillman and 43rd Avenues, according to a statement he provided exclusively to the Times Ledger.

In a long statement he released today, Van Bramer said the city’s plan, which includes installing protected bike lanes on the two avenues and eliminating about 120 parking spaces, can’t proceed.

“I don’t believe we can move forward with this DOT plan at this time,” Van Bramer said to the paper.

The Council Member began his statement by saying that the most important duty of an elected official is to protect lives, and to respond and improve safety “each time someone dies in a crash on our streets.”

He noted that he remains a supporter of a protected bike lane on 43rd Ave., as he demanded after the death of Gelacio Reyes last April. He also recalled that he stood next to Flor Jimenez, Reyes’ widow, when he made the statement.

“After Gelacio Reyes was killed, I called for a protected bike lane on 43rd Avenue,” Van Bramer said. “I continue to believe a protected bike lane would make this street safer.”

Van Bramer then said that the DOT’s initial community outreach on the plan was “disastrous,” which made the entire process “more painful.” But the Council Member says community engagement was certainly held during the seven months since the agency released their initial plan.

“We had that process, often difficult, and sometimes ugly,” he said. “But we had it.”

While the plan has seen three versions, and has seen support from many residents, both new and old, Van Bramer noted that it still failed to gain enough support among residents, community institutions, elected officials, and Community Board 2.

The Council Member reiterated a stance he’s long held—that bike lanes make streets safer for everyone. He added that he rejects the “vilification of cyclists”.

But the conversation on making streets safer, he said, must not stop.

“…[W]hat has emerged from this process is apparent near unanimity among opponents of this plan for a protected bike lane on Northern Boulevard in CB2,” Van Bramer said. “That’s some progress, but I hope we can continue to do more to build even more support for comprehensive street safety measures, including protected bike lanes.”

Van Bramer’s announcement comes after the Sunnyside Post requested comment from him six days ago on the DOT’s plan. It also comes close to two weeks after Community Board 2 voted no to the agency’s proposal.

The Department of Transportation office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but said in a statement to Streetsblog that its plan is the correct one for the area, and that two-way protected bike lanes solely on 43rd Avenue “would not work.”

The DOT studied a two-way protected bike lane on 43rd Avenue, as Van Bramer called for in his announcement, but said it would lead to more conflicts between street users, slower vehicle traffic, and likely just as much parking loss as the Skillman and 43rd Avenue plan already on the table.

“For all these reasons, the Skillman/43rd Avenue redesign remains the best plan for protecting all street users while addressing the growth of cycling in communities across Queens,” the agency said.

Seth Stein, a spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio, said the office would have “more to say on this soon.”

Transportation Alternatives also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Queens Streets, a group of businesses and neighborhood organizations against the DOT’s plan, said it was pleased to hear Van Bramer support their call.

“We do not favor changes proposed for either Skillman or 43rd Avenues, however, because all of our concerns apply to both avenues equally,” the group said in a statement. “If another plan is to be considered, we ask for the opportunity to give input in advance, and once again request that Northern Blvd. we studied as a possible site for protected bike lanes.”

 

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62 Comments

Too many cars

These officials are going to get beat like Crowley. They are out of touch and so are many of the businesses who say no to bikes. They need to evolve or they won’t last. Bikes and pedestrians bring way more business than the one person who drives to skillman for a cookie.




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Immoral Society

stop constantly smoking cigarettes and getting drunk and maybe you’ll be fit enough to benefit from bike lanes.




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Weak statement, Jimmy

Let’s hope he’s working behind the scenes to keep our FDNY response times quick & our small businesses thriving. Reading this statement, you wouldn’t think that he cared.




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Jimmy wants these lanes installed.

READ BETWEEN THE LINES PEOPLE. This is a blatant whisper to the dot and deblasio to move forward anyway. I urge you to read the whole statement.
I’ve been a supporter of JVBs for a long time. I genuinely think he is a good man. But he was late on this call and this weak ass statement does absolutely nothing for us.




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M. Casey

Yes, it is clear he favors the lanes. He probably should have talked to his constituents before inviting DOT to develop such a major plan. Just fix the intersection if it is dangerous, don’t handicap the entire neighborhood.




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Gardens Watcher

You both make good points. But JVB did not throw his support FOR the lanes, at least not now and not as designed.




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Sean

Why is no one talking about all the communities ruined by bicycles? Everyone seems to be turning a blind eye to the successful prosperous cities that went to the toilet once the bicycles came to town? Life was good and fine with horse and buggy, then the pennywheeler shoes up. My friend the hay salesman saw his profit down 17%! Not to mention “Bicycle Face” — so scared!




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Roger

Not sure where you’re getting your info but I strongly disagree. The bike lanes on Skillman and 43rd have been a great asset to the businesses and aesthetic of the neighborhood. They’re not busy, but they’re safe. It’s a great way for nearby neighborhood cyclists to visit our charming blocks.
Your friend, the hay salesman, needs to adapt to the times. It’s 2018, 3% of NYers cycle to work everyday. We need bike lanes!




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Roger

I just did, thank you for reminding me.
Did I say 3%? It’s actually 0.8% of NYers bike to work. Clearly, Deblasio needs to accommodate these riders over car owners. How will they get to work with a protected bike lane?




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BR

Kudos to JVB for the doing the right thing.
Watch out -this is far from over.
My call is that DeBlasio approves this project.
We are all to blame for letting this A**H**LE becoming Mayor.
Next time around, all citizens should make sure to vote.
Special interest groups are running this city.
Not the silent majority.




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I grew here, you flew here

First he giveth then he taketh away.
In this case, it was a responsible move by our beloved Councilman. Thank you for hearing our neighborhood.




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Jim Flood

I’m from woodside so I Dont really count, but I love that jvb is doing right. I would love to give him a big kiss right on the lips. Thank you jimmy. Love you, keep up the good work




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Dietmar Detering

Congratulations to Jimmy van Bramer for all the positive responses he is getting for his flip. However, I would like to state that I see an unfortunate pattern here, whether it is his positions on housing proposals in his neighborhood, on supporting the Fire Department plans for using an industrial building on 43rd Street as a repair facility, or on protected bike lanes:
Jimmy van Bramer is not a Progressive, but a Populist, and not a leader, but an opportunist. His behavior on critical issues is not to lead the public opinion but to wait and see how opinions develop and then yield. If in doubt, count on his NIMBY instincts. (And yes, I am sorry to say the above. He and his office are actually very responsive to constituent concerns and he appears to be a good _representative_ of _local_ concerns and positions.)




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Jimmy's neighbor

How many people on the cb2 board ride a bicycle regularly?

Seems like another case of the Sunnyside old guard saying “not in my backyard”!




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Mcasey

Why the new guard always wants to get rid of the old guard is beyond me. No one is against bikes or protected lanes. We just want to incorporate them in a way that doesn’t damage the good things people have worked hard to build here. We need evolution not revolution.




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Jimmy’s neighbor

Honest, maybe naieve, question: why is this very vocal group in the neighborhood so protective of their cars and spots? Do they drive to work? Drive to run errands in the neighborhood? It can’t be that so many people are driving around the city, because in most neighborhoods there’s nowhere to park. Do these people not use public transit? And if not, why?

Are local businesses genuinely afraid that fewer parking spots will be bad for the bottom line? The beauty of the shops along 43rd and Skillman is that they’re in a heavily residential area, within easy walking distance for all of us who live here.

It seems so obvious to me that more bikes and fewer cars is a very good thing for the quality of life and pedestrian safety in this neighborhood. What am I missing?




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Sunnyside res

It’s not about parking! This is what TA wants everyone to think. There are so many issues. One particular being lower response times from the fdny. Only people who actually live here would care about that




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Jimmy’s neighbor

I live here, so I care, which is why I asked the question.

If there are “so many issues”, could you please list them in an effort to educate those of us who don’t yet see this issue your way?




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Sunnyside res

They have been listed numerous times at countless meetings, don’t just come here to discuss this now…




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Anon

Jimmys neighbor –
1. FDNY response delays
2. Hurting our mom and pops
3. The potential accidents of our school children pouring out into these lanes.
4. Making a scarce parking situation a nearly impossible parking situation.
These are the major issues that I see. This would go away if the dot just worked on installing these on Northern Blvd. instead, where none of these issues would be relevant.




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Theorem Ox

5. Increased difficulty in servicing the needs/wants of businesses and residents in the neighborhood

Probably would be #2 on Anon’s list above if we’re sorting by relative adverse impact.

Think carefully about:

– How groceries, pharmacies, restaurants and other stores around the city are restocked. Consider the volume of materials transported.

– How garbage and recyclables are handled around the city. (And don’t forget that Sanitation only handles certain kinds of residential waste! There’s a whole gaggle of companies handling business-generated waste, residential waste not handled by DSNY and hazmat disposal)

– How does the United States Postal Service and private couriers deliver packages? (Even letters and smaller parcels are delivered to mail relay boxes around the neighborhood for your mailman to deliver on foot…)

– How technicians dispatched by electric, gas and telco companies arrive to their job site.

– How elementary school students and those with special-needs are transported to more distant schools they are enrolled in.

Remember – Buses and service vehicles also use the exact SAME roadway as bicycles private passenger vehicles. Beware the laws of unintended consequences…




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Greg

As an outside (Brooklyn) observer, I am surprised at this decision. Although I was hoping JVB would side with our cyclists, Im humbled by this neighborhoods effort. Unfortunately you still have Bill to sway.




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Gardens Watcher

Ah yes, Mr. Bill. Who is so obsessed with being labeled a “Progressive” and ramming his vision of the future of NYC through despite what the community and the other local, state and national representatives have to say–whether it’s these bike lanes, using local hotels as homeless shelters or the big one in his dreams: Sunnyside Yards Project. It’s obvious to all that he wants some accomplishment feathers in his cap as he tries to move onto the national stage.




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Anonymous

If you want to sway Bill, get out the checkbook. For all his “I am a Sandinista” b.s. He’s more a simple hack. Don’t get get me wrong I prefer simple hacks to avowed communists.




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Thanks

Van Bramer finally made the right decision. But I still blame him for pushing for the bicycle lanes on Queens boulevard. They are a mess for drivers and business owners. I guess his friends and husband love them.




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Val Yubrand

Now just wait until Northern Blvd loses two lanes and traffic slows to 20 mph and see how many of you support the bike lanes there.

The future is bikes. The city is at a critical mass of cars, and the days of entitled free and subsidized parking are nearly over.

Here we have an opportunity to make the street safer for the casual biker and maybe even get people to give up there cars. But the theme of modern America is MINE MINE MINE.




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Gustavo Orellano

“Northern Blvd loses two lanes and traffic slows to 20 mph” YES PLEASE!
I think everyone wants a slower and more controlled Northern – 1 death per year in the last 6.
I can’t agree with the connection to this and “the theme of modern America”. The local leaders and residents actually want to find a solution(Northern or Q Blvd)for a protected bike lane. No one is anti-protected lane, just anti on Skillman/43rd. That’s not “mine, mine, mine” .. That’s compromise.




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Jimmy Van Dreamer

Gustavo have you ever heard of a metro card? The subways were built to move commuters!! Roads and highways were built to accommodate cars, This is NYC not Hanoi and we have a very efficient transit system!!!




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Brian Howald

The first roads in New York City were paved in response to calls by wheelmen (an archaic term people (men?) who bike) for more surfaces on which to ride. Our nation’s first bike path opened on Ocean Parkway in 1894, a street upon which the capital redesign of Queens Boulevard is based. Here’s a good article explaining how bikes predated cars on our streets: https://www.vox.com/2015/3/19/8253035/roads-cyclists-cars-history

In response to this point, those who are ignorant of the history of our streets will often respond that the streets changed over time to accommodate cars. Yes, they did, and at a time when most people didn’t drive, which for New York City has been all of recorded time since New York households that own cars have always been a minority. If our roads changed before – and they have changed many times – certainly they can change again to accommodate a mode of transportation that is less polluting, less injurious, less demanding of space and time, and connects with other modes (walking and transit) in a much easier way.

The minority who drive have never had to explain why they receive 80% of our city’s road space nor why they react with the same fury and loss as the Egyptians did at the loss of their firstborn children whenever someone tries to repurpose a parking spot or lane for a better purpose. The sense of entitlement to every square inch of street space by drivers is astounding.




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Chris Wattenbarger

On the question of road use division. Bike riders are by DOT stats 3% of the population and should therefore have 3% of a street. Thus on a 50 foot wide street cyclists would get 1 and 1/2 feet. That works for me. we can narrow the bike lanes.




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Anonymous

Their sense of entitlement is no worse than your sense of self righteousness. Better purpose, indeed.




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Mcasey

Neighborhood streets should not be turned into highways for anyone! We live between two big boulevards, which were designed for regional traffic. That is where bikers commuting to the city should be. Anything else diminishes the quality of life of the thousands that live here for people who don’t. That makes no sense.




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Brian Howald

5 feet of green paint is a highway, but eight lanes of space for motor vehicles a block away is a boulevard? What impressive mental gymnastics.




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Mcasey

I use a phrase from either DOT or TA’s own vocabulary. I read in an early story about the lanes that the goal was a “bike highway,” from Forest Hills to Manhattan. It stuck with me. And the city calls the eight lanes, it used to be twelve, a boulevard. Not my nomenclature, theirs.




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Mary Jane

We live in a Northeast city where it’s cold and snowy at least 25% of the year, many times it is a much longer, colder and snowier winter. We should not have dedicated lanes for a mode of transportation that is seasonal for all but most of its ardent adherants. The city loves to publish cycling stats for beautiful May days, where are the stats for Jan, Feb and March days where it is 30, 20 windchill and snowy? We need more money for mass transit, more buses with dedicated and enforced bus lanes are so much better for all of our citizens.




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Immoral Society

Why isn’t clean air isn’t on your list of things we need? Isn’t that our most basic need?




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LIC

Hurrah! FINALLY, the seasonal, good weather needs of cyclists is noted. The mortality and maiming of cyclists, as well as raising pedestrian collision issues, are never put forward. Over six hundred serious cyclists hospitalized, hundred die every year. Every year. Mass delusion. For safety, long runs for exercise, in parks, and stay off the roads on bikes.




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Simon Phearson

The thing is that Skillman/43rd were the alternative we got instead of protected lanes on Northern. It doesn’t make sense to say that Skillman/43rd needs to be “reserved” for “locals” and Northern for “regional commuters,” unless there’s a serious proposal to calm Northern and make it a safe place to bike.

As long as Northern is unsafe, cyclists will be on Skillman/43rd. They’re going to be there whether the “community” wants them or not. They’ll just die and be injured more often. Meanwhile those streets will remain dangerous for these “locals” you seem to care about.




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Sunnyside res

Stop, 1 fatality in which 2 people disobeyed the traffic laws, the driver and the cyclist. Northern, 5 children killed WALKING. Which is more dangerous? Which needs improvement??? Stop with this safer skillman nonsense, its disgusting to the actual victims families on NORTHERN! TA should be pushing for Northern, its a win win for everyone. Right, safety for all???




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Simon Phearson

I absolutely think Northern needs to be calmed. Happy to agree that it should happen before Skillman/43rd gets a protected bike lane, if ever.

The problem is no one is bringing up Northern as an alternative because they think it’s a real option. They’re just bringing it up so that they don’t have to seem like they’re just naysaying. The DOT is just barely squeezing Queens Boulevard through. They’re not anywhere near ready for the flak that they’ll get if they come for Northern, too. It’s not a realistic option.

And, look, Sunnyside is a great neighborhood here. I think it’d feel even better with narrower streets and safer crossings.




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Mcasey

People who choose to ride a bike when they don’t feel safe are not too smart to my way of thinking. I stopped riding a bike when I realized I justcould not compete. Walk if you hate all the other options. That’s what I did.




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Gardens Watcher

I happened to be driving down Skillman at 8:45AM yesterday, going the speed limit and stopping at red lights. The cyclists were blowing past me, passing each other outside the bike lane, and more than a few running through red lights and few wearing helmets. What is safe about any of that? That’s not vilifying cyclists, that’s reality.




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JVKramer

Jimmy Van Bramer-
Gelacio Reyes would not have been saved by a protected bike lane as he RODE THROUGH a RED LIGHT and was killed in an INTERSECTION!!!
If ptotected bike lanes make the streets safer for all, put them on NORTHERN BLVD. where 5 people/children have been killed simply crossing the street!!!




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Sunnyside res

Facts and data, right cyclists? This is the actual facts and data! People killed walking, yet #saferskillman is what you “want” not need!




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Sunnyside Calling

Protected bike lanes will do nothing where these accidents happen: Intersections.




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Brian Howald

Have you ever heard of a protected intersection, designed to reduce the risk of injury or death to cyclists caused by turning vehicles at an intersection. The current redesign of 4th Avenue in Brooklyn includes such intersections to protect people on bikes. They could easily be added to the proposed plans for Skillman and 43rd Avenues if you think the plan could be made safer. By all means, tell DOT you demand protected intersections to solve this flaw in the plan. I’m sure they’d like to hear from you.




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Too many cars

wrong- stand at the corner for 5 minutes and you’ll see all the cars blowing through the light on the way to QB.




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Mcasey

Thank you, Jimmy! You came down n the side of people, not “authorities.” Consent of the governed!




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Al

Northern Blvd needs a total overhaul anyway, so it makes more sense to put the bike lanes there.
Even tough bike lanes are totally stupid to begin with.




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Jimmy Van Dreamer

What’s next?..A protected bike lane on the L.I.E, BQE and Grand Central Parkway?..Stop the madness!!!..Skillman and 43Ave were never intended to have bicycle traffic. Why don’t these people take the bus or use the train as a means of commuting?..Keep the bicycles in the parks where they belong!!




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Too many cars

i stopped riding the subways – they don’t work. biking to manhattan is easier and FASTER than the 7.




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Sunnysider

Once again, PROUD to be this mans neighbor and constituent. Thank you JVB!




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David Miller

Bravo Van Bramer! You have my all my support in your future political endeavors !… The community has spoken. Thank you for supporting the community!




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