June 10, 2019 By Shane O’Brien
Police in Queens have responded to an incident in Sunnyside which saw one of the area’s protected bike lanes defaced with graffiti.
The words ‘f*** the bike lanes’ were scrawled upon a stretch of 43 Avenue in protest of the DOT’s decision to redesign the roadway to make way for protected bike lanes. The offensive language and the nature of the protest caused outrage among several Sunnyside residents.
Council member Jimmy Van Bramer apologized to residents who saw the profanity at 41-00 43rd Ave. and vowed to clean the bike lane as soon as possible.
“I’m really sorry your kids would be forced to see this. We will get it cleaned up ASAP,” Van Bramer wrote on Facebook to a parent who posted the photos to social media.
Officers from the 108 Precinct painted over it later in the day.
Cristina Furlong, a member of the bicycle advocacy group Make Queens Safer, commended the 108th precinct for their swift reaction to the crime.
“I’m just really glad it got cleaned up really quickly by the 108th precinct. I’m not too fazed by it because it was an opportunity to expose the tactics of the people who are against the bike lanes. It was a juvenile thing and there were families with children who were walking by.”
The protected bike lanes have been a hugely contentious issue in Sunnyside and the project has given rise to an intense debate. Manny Gomez, a member of Queens Streets for All, whose group opposed the implementation of the new lanes, joined Furlong in condemning the vandalism.
“We don’t want something like this to happen. I guess whoever did this was upset at the bike lanes, but that’s not the way to do it,” Gomez said. He said that Queens Streets for All was set up so people could speak out in a respectful manner.
The DOT put in the protected bicycle lanes in August on Skillman and 43rd Avenues. The lanes resulted in the reduction of about 120 parking spaces and the loss of a travel lane on segments of both avenues.
Advocates say the bike lanes have led to greater safety; opponents say the opposite. Additionally, some merchants along the avenues argue that their business has taken a hit.
The graffiti Saturday follows the high-profile incident where thumbtacks were reportedly placed on 43rd Avenue in November.