CB 11 working for safe cycling lanes 1

The city Department of Transportation is planning to install standard bike lanes in Community District 11, but the board wants safer infrastructure.

The city Department of Transportation wants to bring more bike lanes to northeastern Queens, and Community Board 11 has vowed to work with the agency until the plans are as close to perfect as possible.

“We need to do our due diligence when it comes to each individual bike lane, because I do spend a little bit of time looking at the proposed bike lane spaces and roads and there are some issues that are going to come up,” said Paul DiBenedetto, a member of the board’s Transportation Committee, at the Nov. 1 virtual meeting. “I think it’s very important that we commit as a board to look over every foot, every block of the proposed bike lanes in the future.”

DiBenedetto pointed to the Northern Boulevard bike lane as an example. The board voted in favor of the proposal in June 2017, but realized just weeks later that the blueprint included “substandard safety details,” and tried to rescind its approval through an October resolution. The DOT went ahead anyway, and CB 11 is still trying to alter the lanes, which cross exit ramps for the Cross Island Parkway.

The committee reported to the full board Tuesday evening that the DOT’s proposal was a “nice first draft,” but not what the neighborhood needs.

The DOT proposed installing standard and shared bike lanes to connect the various parks throughout the community district. Committee Chairperson Victor Dardas stated he and his panel members found that to be disturbing. The group, he said, wanted the lanes to be protected.

The DOT did not present the plans to the board that evening, but had met with the committee two weeks earlier. Dardas said the proposal aimed to link “a few east-west routes and a few north-south routes to mostly park connections.”

The committee requested that the city consider expanding the routes to commercial corridors and transit hubs, as well.

Dardas announced that he could be putting together a transportation subcommittee to build upon the DOT’s proposal.

“It’s all in the name of safety and improved bicycle infrastructure,” Dardas said.

Though the board did not vote on any bike lane proposals, two members of the public spoke in opposition to expanding any cyclist infrastructure in the area.

Steve Stein said having more bike lanes than bus lanes would be detrimental, especially compared with the unusually high amount of construction happening throughout northeast Queens.

“We’re a mess,” he said of the roads. “You want to add to that? It’s just going to make a mess. We’re a driving community. Everybody’s got cars.

“It’s a good idea, but it’s a bit much to take up a lot of the streets that are very narrow and there’s no parking to begin with. What are you going to do, take out the parking?”

Stein suggested that the DOT conduct a survey before installing new infrastructure to ensure the community wants more bike lanes.

The second speaker, Melissa Madden, raised concerns the cyclists don’t tend to follow the rules of the road. She said the problem should be addressed before building more infrastructure that would further allow cyclists freedom to continue neglecting traffic laws.

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