City installs a bike corral instead of a stop sign at a dangerous LIC intersection, bypassing community approvals

Photo by Angela Matua/QNS

They wanted a stop sign; the city gave them a bunch of bike racks.

Residents of Dutch Kills, a neighborhood within Long Island City, are saying that the Department of Transportation (DOT) installed a bike corral at a dangerous intersection instead of requested traffic safety measures.

Thea Romano, president of the Dutch Kills Civic Association, said residents discovered a bike corral about four weeks ago at the intersection of 29th Street and 39th Avenue — the same intersection where a 7-year-old boy was hit by a minivan last October and an area where residents have repeatedly asked the DOT for a stop sign or traffic light.

According to a spokesperson for the DOT, a traffic study was conducted earlier this year for an all-around stop sign and “concluded that this location did not meet the warrants for a stop sign.”

Instead, the agency removed two parking spaces and installed a bike corral in front of Dutch Kills Centraal, a gastropub on the south corner.

“The installation of the bike corral helps to slow left-turning vehicles at the intersection, enhancing safety for pedestrians,” the DOT spokesperson said.

Romano argued that the corral does nothing to alleviate the hazardous intersection.

“[The bike corral] doesn’t stop the speeding cars coming on 39th Avenue,” Romano said. “[There are] constant crashes, people speeding down 39th Avenue. Some people stop on 29th Street, some don’t. Some stop in the middle of the intersection and it’s too late.”

Florence Kolouris, the district manager for Community Board 1, said the board was completely bypassed during this decision. When installing bicycle corrals or any traffic safety measures, the DOT usually comes to the community board to hear input and receive a formal recommendation from the board.

Kolouris said the board denied the bicycle corral in that same spot in 2014 after many residents showed up to a community board meeting and expressed their opposition. This time, the board found out about the installation from a resident.

“I actually got a telephone call from a constituent,” Kolouris said. “DOT never let us know they were doing a traffic study, never let us know they were installing it.”

In October, a 7-year-old boy crossing that intersection was hit by a minivan. Romano said that area has always been dangerous and that the Dutch Kills Civic Association has filed a FOIL request to learn the exact findings of the DOT study.

“Bike racks are needed in Dutch Kills, but put them on the sidewalks,” Romano said. “We can’t lose any more parking. It’s our commercial area. Businesses have to do business.”

The DOT spokesperson said the agency is currently conducting a study for daylighting the intersection and is looking into adding speed humps along blocks in the area.

“The more I hear it, I want to hit my head on the wall,” said Liz Goff, a Dutch Kills resident. “How could you possibly stop people from speeding by installing a bicycle corral? We’re not trying to make this us against him. We want to know why DOT did this.”

The Dutch Kills Civic Association is holding a press conference at the intersection at 6:30 p.m. on May 13 to demand that the DOT remove the bike corral and install stop signs instead.

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