Locals leaders call for ‘minor changes’ to controversial Bayside bike lane

bike lanes July (3)
Photos by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS

Updated 7/27, 4 p.m.

Though they still back a proposed alternative plan, some area leaders want the city to tweak the existing Bayside and Douglaston bike lanes in ways that they say will make the route safer for all.

On July 26, state Senator Tony Avella and Community Board 11 members held a press conference at the site of the city’s bike lane project on Northern Boulevard and Douglaston Parkway. The group is petitioning the Department of Transportation (DOT) to end the lanes an estimated 50 feet from Douglaston Parkway, repositioning the bollards in that area and merging the bike lanes at that point, where cyclists would then ride onto the sidewalk.

Community Board 11 member Bernie Haber, a retired engineer, designed a rendering of the envisioned change.

Rendering courtesy of Haber
Rendering courtesy of Haber

The alteration would improve safety for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists, the group argued. Cars turning right from Douglaston Parkway would be prevented from making wide turns into oncoming traffic on Northern Boulevard, they said, and no longer have a venue to drive into the bike lane — which onlookers saw happen once during the press conference.

“At the present time, if you stand here and watch the traffic build up on Douglaston Parkway right next to the curb, you will see cars making the right turn and swinging out into the second lane,” Haber said. “That’s very dangerous, because on the other side [of the intersection], there are people making left turns, and they come together. It’s a very dangerous situation.”

Board 11 District Manager Joseph Marziliano said the group sent a letter to DOT requesting the changes in May.

A DOT spokesperson told QNS that the agency “will adjust the markings by adding lane channelization at Douglaston Parkway and Northern Boulevard to better guide southbound right turning vehicles” in the coming weeks.

“The installation of the two-way protected bike lane on the north side of Northern Boulevard last summer allowed DOT to immediately deliver critical safety benefits for the community and all street users,” the spokesperson said. “The project has brought vital traffic calming to this Vision Zero priority corridor while creating a safer route for pedestrians and cyclists traveling between Bayside and Douglaston.”

Haber and Avella are still advocating in favor of Community Board 11’s bike lane proposal, which would remove the existing setup and expand the existing sidewalk, creating a pathway that would be shared by pedestrians and bikers. The board presented the plan in September after formally deciding to reverse their initial stamp of approval in June.

A series of press conferences, rallies and gatherings organized by individuals in favor of and against the current bike lane configuration followed the installation of the city project last summer. In the latest demonstration, the Douglaston Civic Association and northeast Queens locals marched alongside the protected bike lane project on Northern Boulevard from Douglaston Parkway to the Cross Island Parkway on June 16. The group advocated in favor of Community Board 11’s bike lane proposal.

The call for safety improvements at the location was originally spurred by the death of 78-year-old Michael Schenkman, who was struck and killed by a car while riding his bicycle on Northern Boulevard to access the nearby Joe Michaels Mile bike path in August 2016.

bike lanes July (4)

bike lanes July (5)