By Bill Parry
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) is calling on the city to halt construction of a bike lane on Northern Boulevard after a car drove onto a Jersey barrier Thursday morning. The incident occurred near the Alley Pond Golf Center in Bayside; however, Avella’s office was unable to provide more detail on the incident.
The location of the bike lane, which stretches from Douglaston to Bayside, has caused concern in both neighborhoods after the city Department of Transportation ignored Community Board 11’s approved bike lane plan and installed one of their own. Avella fired off a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg urging them to abandon the current plan and implement the one suggested and approved by Community Board 11.
Avella’s letter reminds the Mayor and Commissioner that “community members, along with myself, forewarned against the proximity of the bicycle lanes with the heavily congested traffic lanes for fear of accidents similar to this one. The bicycle lanes, and cement divider, create a dangerous merging situation.”
Avella also pointed out the negligence in DOT’s decision to expedite construction of the lane without alerting the community of the new traffic pattern.
“In addition, there have been no precautions taken, including warning signage to warn motorists of a change in traffic pattern,” he wrote. “As an active truck route, this negligence is putting motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists at severe risk of being involved in an accident, the odds of which are obviously increasing on a daily basis.”
Avella’s office was trying to confirm reports by constituents of four accidents since the installation of the new bike lane began last month.
“Do the police reports say anything in support of the conclusion Avella has drawn and is broadcasting? Is there evidence that the bike lane was the cause?” a DOT spokesperson asked in response to the letter. “This project is a direct response to a cyclist being killed on this section of Northern Boulevard, a Vision Zero Priority corridor. These barriers did their job to protect those in the bike lane from accelerating turning vehicles. When a motorist drives up on a barrier at a conflict point with cyclists or pedestrians, it shows how important our work is. The current location is an active construction area. In the next few days we will be installing additional safety treatments like reflective tape and flexible delineators that have been part of the design from the beginning of this project, to increase protection and awareness for all street users. We expect most elements of the project to be completed by next week.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr