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Photo via Google Maps
Photo via Google Maps
P.S. 213 in Bayside

While the city works to install a safety project outside of a Bayside school, local community members with a list of concerns are speaking out.

A protected bike lane, lane narrowing and other changes are being made outside of P.S. 213. Located at 231st Street and 67th Avenue in the Oakland Gardens section of the neighborhood, the school is one of the locales impacted by the city Department of Transportation’s (DOT) larger safety project for Bayside and Douglaston.

Cathy Grodsky, the school’s Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) president, spoke on behalf of the concerned community at the Nov. 6 Community Board 11 meeting.

The new street configuration and bike lane barrier will make already hectic drop-off and pick-up conditions worse, the PTA president claimed. And in the winter, when snow is pushed out of the roadway and into the barriers, children will be unable to exit a car or bus safely and make their way to the sidewalk to enter the school, she continued.

Photo via DOT/Proposed plan

Photo via DOT/Proposed plan

“This project will be completely unsafe for our children,” Grodsky said.

Additionally, the Bayside school also houses a P.4 student population, which consists of 60 autistic children who exhibit flight-risk behaviors, according to Grodsky. The projected configuration, which narrows the travel lane by one foot and flips the no parking lane and the bike lane, will create “unacceptable and dangerous” conditions for these learners.

“Simply put, your child will not be able to get into the school safely and the major traffic concerns we already have during arrival/dismissal will only be made worse,” reads a flyer Grodsky and other community members have begun distributing.

“This is just unacceptable and it needs to be stopped,” Grodsky said to board members. “While the city has done studies on bike lanes and bikers, not studies have been done on the effect of a bike lane directly in front of an elementary school.”

Grodsky told board members the entire school community is in agreement on the issue and has been working with local elected officials.

“There are 19 school buses that pull up in front of our school,” she said. “On a good day, it’s chaos. And now the city has made a bad situation worse.”

The DOT presented the plan to Community Board 11 in June as part of a larger safety project proposal, which can be seen in its entirety here. Community Board members voted unanimously in favor of the “Alley Pond” segment of the project in June, while support for the Northern Boulevard segment, which has been under heavy community scrutiny, has since been revoked.

Photo via DOT/The entire scope of the plan

Photo via DOT/The entire scope of the plan

Board chairperson Christine Haider said that CB11 “will look into it” and will support the school in their cause.

“Sometimes our hands are tied by the agencies, as we’ve experienced recently,” Haider said.

A DOT spokesperson said the city agency began installing the project last month “after receiving positive feedback and a significant amount of community support, including unanimous support from the local community board.”

The project is an upgrade to the existing lanes and creates “safer conditions for all street users, especially bicyclists who can use protected bike lanes along the park from Joe Michaels Mile to the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway,” the spokesperson continued.

“As part of our work on this project, we recently met with representatives from P.S. 213 to get feedback and we will be in touch with them and other local stakeholders, including the Community Board, with any next steps,” the spokesperson said.

Grodsky said she is in the process of drafting a petition against the project and is urging concerned residents to contact the DOT.

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