Queens bike lanes: a need or a want?
by Cynthia Via
May 17, 2011 | 4298 views | 0 0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With Bike Month underway, Queens residents are growing more supportive of bike lane expansions than in previous years.

A March Quinnipiac Poll last year showed a slim majority in Queens disapproved of the lanes, but this year the same poll shows 53 percent of Queens residents approving.

Despite this, Queens has a lot of catching up to do. From 2007 to 2010 there was a 58.8-mile expansion of bike lanes in the borough, compared to Brooklyn’s 89.2 miles.

In 2010, a bike lane was added in Astoria from Hoyt Avenue to the RFK Bridge. The proposal was met with much opposition because residents and businesses were worried about parking spaces, but passed after four presentations

However, according to Queens Department of Transportation Commissioner Maura McCarthy, in most cases bike lanes don’t take away parking spaces.

“Separate spaces for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers keep everyone out of each other’s way and out of harm’s way,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, in a statement.

The DOT works with advocacy groups and community members to propose bike lanes. The dotted lines on the NYC Bike maps are potential bike lanes that can move forward. “Right now bike lanes are part of a safety plan,” McCarthy said.

Two weeks ago a motion to implement bicycle lanes and a traffic calming measure on 44th Drive from Vernon Boulevard to Thomson Avenue passed with an overall vote by Community Board 2 members in Woodside.

The re-design was for a .61-mile high-crash corridor. A study was done before submitting the proposal, which determined that speeding would be reduced by one-third. The community specifically requested the traffic calming measure on 44th Drive.

DOT recommended taking one travel lane out, which would slow traffic by turning it into a bike lane, creating simpler and safer turns.

This area has caused many accidents for pedestrians and for cyclists. Problems from long crossing distances, faded markings, multiple pedestrian/vehicle conflict points, and low vehicular volumes on wide streets, often persist.

CB2 Chairperson Joseph Conley also plans to add more bike racks below the 7 train on 40th and 43rd streets to accomodate the high volume of cyclists.

The overwhelming logic is “if you build it they will come,” but David Rosasco, who spoke at the last CB2 meeting, often sees empty bike racks, which he said brings the question of how many people are actually biking in the tri-state area?

“I might be a minority in this, but I think we should put the money somewhere else,” said Rosasco. He wants practical solutions like fixing potholes, repainting streets, and adding wheelchair access. “Just because a few demand it does not mean we should put it in.”

Rosasco concedes that in certain spots it’s acceptable for safety reasons. Still, for him there is an overwhelming movement to make roads narrower, to restrict traffic and reduce parking space.

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras favors bike lanes in areas that make sense and do not cause or create additional hazards.

“People are getting hurt in my district, both pedestrians and cyclists,” she said. “We need to find a solution that works, and if bike lanes are the answer then that is a plan we need to get behind.”

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