New bike lanes through Bayside and Douglaston already have ‘a lot of problems,’ community board members say

Photo by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS

A newly installed bike lane spanning a busy venue in Bayside and Douglaston continues to make certain community members bristle.

Community Board 11 member Joan Garippa informed attendees at the Oct. 2 general meeting that at around 7 p.m. that same night, a car had driven up onto the bike lane barriers installed along Northern Boulevard in the vicinity of Douglaston Parkway.

An NYPD spokesperson confirmed the incident. A 70-year-old male driver was operating the vehicle; there were no reported injuries.

The board previously voted in favor of the city Department of Transportation’s (DOT) bike lane proposal in June, but later presented their own plan in July and officially rescinded their stamp of approval on Sept. 11. Still, the city agency has moved forward with the plan and construction on the lanes began in September.

“Quite obviously, we’re going to have a lot of problems if we already have a car impaled on the stanchion,” Garippa said.

Bernard Haber, the Transportation Committee co-chairperson and retired engineer who created the board’s revised plans, proposed the board send a written resolution to DOT outlining their disappointment in the city agency’s proceedings in the last few months. The resolution passed with a few votes against.

“There was no delay to make a detailed review,” Haber said. “They told us, on Aug. 11, their bike lane is going forward, regardless of what the community says.”

In the resolution, Haber also pointed out that 26 of the 40 members of the board saw the plans for the first time at the June meeting and “did not realize the sub-standard safety details on the DOT plan and the impacts on the community.”

“We live in a democracy where the will of the people rules,” Haber said. “Government entities are subject to the will of the people.”

Board member Roy Giusetti also made a motion that the board send a separate letter to the city agency outlining their concerns in the wake of the accident. This motion also passed with a few votes against.

“This needs to be monitored,” board member Laura James said. “There’s not enough signage around it to warn people that there’s a change in the traffic pattern.”

James said she also heard from an acquaintance that a pedestrian was seen walking outside of the barrier in the street due to confusion as to where they should go.

During discussion on the board’s Capital and Expense Budget priorities for fiscal year 2019, Haber suggested adding as a capital project the board’s bike lane proposal, which would place the bike lane on an extended sidewalk. DOT officials previously estimated the plan could cost upwards of $10 million and take years to implement.

“We’re looking for a high priority on this submission,” Haber said. “The board has this submission, and we’ll see what happens.”

In previous statements, DOT representatives said the two-way protected bike lane “adds vital traffic calming” to the venue, which is a Vision Zero priority corridor.

“The barriers are there to protect cyclists,” a DOT spokesperson said. “We will discuss the incident with the NYPD once the details are known.”