BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO
Members of the Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA) voiced opposition over the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) plans for bike paths along Juniper Boulevard North at the group’s monthly meeting on Thursday night.
According to JPCA President Robert Holden, the DOT proposed two options for bike lanes along the street surrounding Juniper Valley Park.
“These kinds of things are going to disrupt us for a while,” Holden said. “They’re trying to take neighborhoods that don’t really need or want bike lanes, and they’re trying to actually destroy that area around the park.”
According to Holden, the bicycle routes were originally requested by the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) back in 2011 in an effort to expand the existing bike route network in Ridgewood while providing cyclists with easier access to surrounding neighborhoods.
Option A of the DOT’s proposal calls for the creation of a two-way, 9-foot-wide bike lane located between the curb and the parking lane along the eastbound side of the boulevard. A 3-foot-wide painted buffer would also be installed to separate the bike lanes from the parking lane. A total of 10 parking spaces would also be lost under this version of the plan.
“It would be a traffic jam like Metropolitan Avenue, and we don’t want that,” Holden added.
The plan also drew outrage from JPCA members who expressed concern over traffic tie-ups and cyclists who disobey traffic laws. Phil Wong of the civic group Elmhurst United shared his own experiences driving next to similar bike lanes along Queens Boulevard.
“The cyclists that use the bike lanes don’t look at the traffic lights. They think the traffic light is not for them,” Wong said. “Vision Zero pays for these bike lanes, but it was slapped together in such a hurry that many of the details were not figured out.”
The second alternative, or Option B, would create two standard bike lanes on either side of the street similar to the ones recently installed along 80th Street. Under this plan, the current 12-foot-wide painted median at the center of Juniper Boulevard North would be reduced to a 4-foot-wide buffer so as to accommodate the new bike lanes.
When asked to choose between the two plans, JPCA members reluctantly voted for Option B during the meeting, despite vocalizing their desire to have no bike lanes surrounding the park.
“This plan, although it’s not great, is much better than Option A,” Holden explained. “We were told that we have to pick either Option A or B. We don’t really want bike lanes, but if the mayor is pushing it and we have to take it, then we’d rather take Option B.”
Holden believes that Community Board 5 members may be leaning in favor of Option A, but plans to fight the DOT should this version of the plan go into effect.
“If they try to throw this at us, we’ll go to court,” Holden argued. “We’re not going to let them do this.”