The city Department of Transportation had a great chance to serve the needs of residents but, true to form, it passed it up. That’s disappointing but not a surprise — they weren’t asking for a bike lane, after all.
The residents in question live in the Flushing neighborhood of Queensboro Hill. There’s a supermarket there, at 59-11 Main St., that could use a loading zone on the street. Delivery trucks don’t like to unload in the small parking lot on 142nd Street, because it’s hard for them to maneuver safely. So they just double park — making it hard for everyone else, from drivers to lone pedestrians to mothers with baby carriages — to maneuver safely.
Everyone in the area agrees the answer is a loading zone on the commercial side of 142nd. Queensboro Hill Neighborhood Association President Don Capalbi says that’s the way to go. Community Board 7 says that’s the way to go. District Manager Marilyn Bitterman says that’s the way to go. The owner of the store says that’s the way to go.
The DOT says no go.
As Capalbi put it, the decision is “alien to reality.”
But alien to reality is often par for the course for the DOT, an agency whose mission apparently changed somewhere along the line from keeping the streets safe and well maintained to the social engineering of installing bike lanes where they’re not wanted in an effort to Europeanize America’s premier city.
(Not that all bike lanes are bad; of course they’re not. But too many are installed without a hint of regard to the costs — like heightened danger to pedestrians from emboldened bikers who don’t always follow the law; the loss of traffic lanes and parking spaces; and the loss of business due to the reduction of parking.)
The DOT makes changes to traffic and parking rules over the objections of those most affected all the time. In Ozone Park, where the agency tried to make the convoluted corner of Crossbay Boulevard, Liberty Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard safer, it has instead made a bigger mess, one that’s killing a stretch of businesses on Liberty. A bipartisan legislative trifecta — City Councilman Eric Ulrich, state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. and Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder — wants the DOT to try again. In Glendale, residents are hoping the agency will change its plans to redo the Cooper Avenue underpass before work begins. In Jamaica, plans for the corner of Hillside Avenue, Home Lawn Street and 169th Street are puzzling at best. The list goes on.
The unelected DOT should listen more to the people it serves, especially in a case like that in Queensboro Hill, where there’s simply no logical reason to not do what the citizens are asking.