By Alex Robinson
Scores of children and parents rolled through Travers Park in Jackson Heights Saturday afternoon for a bike bonanza hosted by advocacy group Make Queens Safer.
The event was held in partnership with the city Department of Transportation and a number of other organizations to educate families about street safety.
“So many times it takes a tragedy to get people talking about these things,” said Jackson Heights resident Veronica Marino, whose 11-year-old daughter participated in the bike bonanza. “[This] event was an impressive educational experience that helped us all create healthy habits.”
The fair had a number of educational and safety awareness activities, including a class for children learning to ride their bikes, a free bike repair station and a neighborhood traffic study, which was conducted by students from neighboring IS 230.
DOT opened a bike helmet giveaway at 10 a.m. to a line that wrapped around Rory Staunton Field and dolled out 723 helmets by the end of the day.
“The outreach in the neighborhood was a tremendous success,” said Theresa Barry, director of special events for Vision Zero, a DOT initiative to lower car crash fatalities. “People are taking it upon themselves to be responsible street users, and I find that encouraging.”
More than 70 children waited in line to swap bikes they had outgrown for ones that fit them, according to Recycle-a-Bicycle, a nonprofit that ran the service.
“We’re overwhelmed by how great it went,” said Christina Furlong, a co-founder of Make Queens Safer. “It was well beyond our expectations.”
Concerned parents formed Make Queens Safer about a year ago in order to try to put a stop to the borough’s steep rise in pedestrian deaths the year before. The group reached out to elected officials, schools and the DOT to raise awareness about the issue and the push for the city and state governments to act.
Mayor Bill de Blasio recently signed 11 laws associated with his Vision Zero initiative into law, aimed to eradicate traffic injuries and deaths.
“I applaud Make Queens Safer for putting together this important event,” said City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), who attended the bike bonanza. “Providing the tools and knowledge on how to safely navigate the streets of our neighborhoods can help reduce accidents and improve the quality of life for all members of our community.”
Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.