Bike lanes lead discussion at CB 11 meeting in Bayside

Community Board 11 voted against the Queens Bus Network Redesign plan during its April monthly meeting.
File photo by Iryna Shkurhan

At the Community Board 11 meeting on Nov. 6 at the Korean Community Services center in Bayside, two different bike lane projects were given attention. 

For the past six years, Community Board 11 (CB 11) has pushed for a rehaul of the bike lanes on Northern Boulevard from 223rd Street to the Douglaston Parkway. Many view the existing lanes as a “temporary” solution with potential for improvement. 

The cause has remained No. 1 on their list of capital requests since the lanes were installed in 2017. But now they are tweaking the proposal to call for safer and more aesthetically pleasing lanes in hopes that it can actually get picked up by the Department of Transportation. 

“There’s been a whole lot of problems. They’re not safe. They’re trashy,” said CB 11 Chair Paul DiBenedetto. “We’re asking them to do something that’s got beauty, utility and much better than the junk we have now. We have a third world country basically.”

The board addressed two bike lane projects in the community. Photo by Iryna Shkurhan

They propose the addition of a greenway – which would expand the curb to allow space for both pedestrians and cyclists away from cars. Their plan also involves adding benches, lighting, trees, planters and proper signage. The jersey dividers currently in place to protect cyclists from traffic would also be removed under the greenway proposal. 

With lanes on the sidewalk, the connection to the Alley Pond Environmental Center would be safer and easier. They also propose that the Department of Transportation reevaluates the entire Northern Blvd. and Cross Island Parkway interchange system which some members of the board deemed unsafe in its current design. 

“Our No. 1 priority is tweaking it so that we get something that I think might be achievable” said Vice Chair Victor Dadras, who reinforced that the idea has been on top of the board’s capital requests for six years. “We’re much better off trying to get something we can achieve as opposed to something that seemingly isn’t right anymore.”

The bike lanes were installed as part of the city’s Vision Zero initiative after the corridor was selected as having a high rate of traffic fatalities. 

The bike boulevard redesign more recently developed on 33rd Avenue, from Utopia Parkway to 215th Place, as part of the DOT’s effort to create a neighborhood network  were also brought up during the two hour meeting. 

“These bike lanes have been here for a month and I hardly see anyone using them. They are definitely not used during rush hour,” said Bruce Lee, who spoke during the public forum. 

The community board chair later mentioned that they already submitted a letter to the DOT, following their October meeting, informing them of the public discontent over the loss of parking due to the implementation of bike lanes. 

They asked the agency to revisit the plan and reserve the loss of parking on 33rd Avenue, where no standing signs went up.

DiBenedetto reinforced the fact that the community board can simply put forward recommendations, but ultimately the DOT decides on how and where bike lanes are installed. 

CB 11 encompasses Bayside, Auburndale, Douglaston, Hollis Hills, Little Neck and Oakland Gardens