This week, Bayside-based state Senator Tony Avella continued the call against the city Department of Transportation’s (DOT) safety project for the roadway between Douglaston Parkway and 223rd Street. The project includes plans to take away one westbound lane of traffic to build a two-way protected bike lane, meant to protect cyclists on the active corridor. Construction is ongoing.
In a letter addressed to newly re-elected Mayor Bill de Blasio and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg on Nov. 8, Avella (who has previously organized a rally and press conference at the site) tells the city officials that car accidents at the site “continue to occur,” with the most recent one reported on Nov. 6. Additionally, he says there is still no signage to alert drivers to the new lanes.
“You are responsible for every single accident that has occurred,” Avella writes. “Shame on you both.”
The lawmaker closes the letter with a shot at a celebration set to take place at the bike lanes this Sunday, Nov. 12, organized in part by advocacy group Transportation Alternatives.
“Are they going to celebrate the accidents as well?” Avella writes.
”This is a really good thing’: A party and celebration
Meanwhile, certain local organizations, businesses and advocates plan to hold a party and bike ride to celebrate the new safety project.
The Douglaston Local Development Corporation, Douglaston Village Chamber of Commerce, Peak Bikes, Transportation Alternatives Eastern Queens Committee and the Eastern Queens Greenway are asking local cyclists to meet at Peak Bikes, 42-42 235th St., at noon. The group will then embark on an 8-mile bike ride, which will begin at the new protected bike lane.
Several local businesses and eateries are slated to offer discounts and samples to participants.
In an advisory for the event, organizers say that the project is “a major step toward making Northern Boulevard safer for everyone.”
“The local community of cyclists is very happy to finally have a protected lane to get to Joe Michaels Mile,” said Joani Emerson, co-owner at Peak Bikes.
The city installed bike racks in front of stores in the area about a year ago, Emerson said. She believes the new protected lane will provide an incentive to use the racks, alleviate parking issues in area and help local businesses prosper.
“This is a really good thing for cyclists and local businesses,” Emerson said.
Northern Boulevard is a designated Vision Zero Priority Corridor. In January 2017, Mayor de Blasio announced New York City would make an additional $400 million investment in Vision Zero projects after three successive years of record-low traffic fatalities.
The mayor recently held a town hall in Queens Village, where both supporters and opponents of the bike lanes spoke out. De Blasio defended his Vision Zero plan, but said his administration was open to taking another look at the Northern Boulevard project.