Community District 11 got one step closer to expanding its network of bike lanes last week as the Department of Transportation presented a revised proposal to Community Board 11’s Transportation Committee, which included the addition of a route along Corporal Kennedy Street and Springfield Boulevard, as well as a “calming corridor” on 33rd Avenue. However, the plan includes fewer protected bike lanes and less floating parking than CB 11 had asked for.
This comes after CB 11 unanimously approved an extensive proposal back in January, which called for a significant number of protected bike lanes and floating parking.
The new proposal from the DOT took that plan into consideration, but in some spots, was not able to carry out the exact requests.
In the January proposal, CB 11 had recommended that Springfield Boulevard between 56th Avenue and the Central Queens Greenway not be used, citing safety concerns. It had also opted to exclude large portions of Corporal Kennedy Street. Gretha Suarez, a planner for the DOT, explained that discontinuing a bike lane for a long stretch of a road could be dangerous.
“Bikes aren’t like cars, in that you can’t just abruptly end a guided path, because it will be very disorienting for the cyclists,” she said.
That was also the case at 56th Avenue and Bell Boulevard, which some had previously objected to as a potential site, due to the malls that run down the boulevard. While most of the committee seemed willing to budge on that point, Eileen Miller, who lives nearby, was not having it.
“There’s only room for one car to go through there,” she said. “So where are you going to do it? Right next to the car? That doesn’t make any sense at all to me.”
Miller was not the only one to voice concerns of that sort. But Transportation Committee Chair Victor Dadras told the Chronicle later that can often be unproductive.
“I don’t want to force anything on anyone,” he said. “But we also need to be a little more open to not just saying ‘Yes, no, I don’t like bikes,’ or ‘I don’t like cars.’”
Some of those sentiments showed face during the discussion of the “calming corridor” on 33rd Avenue.
“The aim here is to create a low-stress bike infrastructure in a pedestrian-friendly environment, and to slow down vehicles,” Suarez said.
To do so, speed limits would be lowered, streets would be narrowed in some spots to lower traffic volume and shared bike and car space would be clearly marked. It would also retain street parking.
Still, some committee members were not pleased, as a bike lane on 33rd Avenue had previously been shot down. “Why would you include that in your plan if this is not what the majority of the community wants?” asked board member Jena Lanzetta.
Asked about that, Dadras said, “It’s not even a bike lane!” Later, he added, “I think it’s reasonable.”
It is not yet clear if the proposal — if implemented — would interfere with the state DOT’s upcoming renovation of the Oceania Street Bridge. Whether the plan will be implemented is still up to the committee, which will continue to meet this summer. The full board would vote on it in the fall, and, if approved, CD 11 could see new lanes as early as this fall, or even next spring, DOT officials said.