By Mark Hallum
Residents of eastern Queens turned out in force Sunday to take advantage of an event sponsored by state Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Flushing) and Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens) to provide free bicycle helmets to the community through the city Department of Transportation’s Vision Zero project. Tents were set up on the basketball court of PS 46 Alley Pond School at 64-45 218 St., where Vision Zero was fitting children and adults with brand new helmets, as well as educating them on how a helmet should fit.
According to the Vision Zero website, bicyclists and pedestrians are either seriously injured or killed by vehicles every two hours citywide. Vision Zero is the mission to prevent deaths by stricter enforcement of traffic laws, redesigning of high-risk thoroughfares, new street signs and public outreach.
“It is incredibly important that we take proactive measures to bike safely whether we are going around the neighborhood as a leisurely activity or commuting. With the Kissena Velodrome and Eastern Queens Greenway in the heart of the neighborhood, I want to make sure our community knows we are working to make protective gear accessible to ensure their everyday safety,” Rozic said.
Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives Paul Steely White said bicyclist deaths in the city so far this year have already surpassed the 15 killed in 2015. Flushing resident Michael Schenkman, who died in August on Northern Boulevard in Bayside, was No. 16 for this year.
“This year the Department of Transportation will distribute over 20,000 bicycle helmets to promote safe cycling throughout New York City. My district is home to two very popular parks, Alley Pond and Cunningham Park, both of which include portions of the Long Island Motor Parkway that are frequented by cyclists,” Grodenchik said. “People enjoy cycling in the streets, in the parks as well as in bike lanes year round, and as ridership continues to grow, it is important that we encourage rider safety.”]
Rozic works with transit activists on a regular basis and reached out to a network of groups within her district to get the word out for the event, resulting in a turnout of more than 1,000 residents on the day of the giveaway.
“Cycling has quickly become a popular alternative form of transportation for millions of residents and tourists,” Queens DOT Commissioner Nicole Garcia said. “With the many choices cyclists have in the form of trails, greenways and our growing bike network, DOT is proud to partner with Assemblywoman Rozic’s office to ensure every New Yorker is properly equipped for a safe ride each time.”
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall