By Henry Euler
As a member of Community Board 11, I supported the plan developed by board member and retired engineer Bernard Haber for a bike lane along Northern Boulevard between 223rd Street in Bayside and Douglaston Parkway, commonly known as the “Alley.”
Mr. Haber’s plan, which was approved by the board, would have the bike lane share the north sidewalk with pedestrians. The sidewalk would be widened to accommodate both the bicycle riders and the pedestrians. The New York City Dept. of Transportation’s plan, on the other hand, will have the bike lane take up one lane of westbound Northern Boulevard through the “Alley.”
Mr. Haber’s plan is not only feasible and cost-effective, it would be much safer for the bicycle riders as they navigate past entrances and exits by the Cross Island Parkway. All westbound lanes of Northern Boulevard under his plan would be preserved for motorists, thus easing the flow of traffic, which is often very heavy in that location. Parking on the north side of the boulevard by the golf center would also remain an option under the plan.
As a board member, it is necessary to take into consideration the impact any project would have on all segments of the community. In this case, that not only includes the bike riders, but also the motorists who use that portion of Northern Boulevard, as well as the local residents, the pedestrians and the local businesses.
At the board meetings on this issue, there was vigorous and heated discussion of where the bike lane should be placed in the “Alley” section of Northern Boulevard. There were strong opinions voiced by all involved, including the board members, residents, civic leaders, and the bicycle enthusiasts. I must commend Board Chair Christine Haider for her leadership during these hearings. She insisted that we follow certain established protocols regarding when we needed to listen and when we got to express our opinions. This helped to maintain order and led to the board’s final vote. The board voted by a large majority to approve Mr. Haber’s plan.
It was my hope that the DOT would postpone the implementation of their plan for the “Alley” bike lane until a thorough review could be made of the plan approved by the board. However, the DOT has already marked a westbound lane of Northern Boulevard with bike lane lines. Motorists will no longer be allowed to use that lane.
The community board represents all of the people in the area, and although our role is advisory, our vote should stand for something. Mr. Haber’s plan also had the approval of Sen. Tony Avella. Time will tell how the DOT plan for the bike lane will impact on our shared community.