Photos by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS
Bayside resident Helina Cheung stands at the Alley Pond bike lane project.

Longtime Bayside resident Helina Cheung, an avid cyclist and runner, said she and neighbors are left befuddled by a bike lane project recently installed in the neighborhood.

“When my husband and I saw the project, we said, ‘This project doesn’t make sense at all,'” Cheung told QNS while onsite.

The project along the Alley Pond Park edge, between Northern Boulevard and Springfield Boulevard, was installed by the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) this past winter. It is one part of a larger safety project presented by the DOT to Community Board 11 in June 2017.

Community board members voted unanimously in favor of the Alley Pond segment of the project, while support for the Northern Boulevard segment, which has faced community scrutiny, has since been revoked. In March, QNS spoke with a local property owner who claimed the project causes “mass confusion” for drivers and pedestrians.

The Alley Pond safety project flipped the existing bike and parking lanes at the location and installed a four-foot protective buffer between the two. The bike lane is now situated closest to the park’s edge and cars are to park in a “floating parking lane.” A lane for moving traffic is situated next to the floating parking lane.

According to Cheung, many cars drive in the floating parking lane or bike lanes, creating dangerous conditions. A lack of signage and worn paint at the site add to this confusion, she said.

A minivan drives through the bike lane while approaching Northern Boulevard

A minivan drives through the bike lane while approaching Northern Boulevard.

“Since there’s no sign on the road, people don’t realize that lane is actually for parking,” Cheung said. “They come to the road and they think it’s a moving lane. I’ve just seen so many today.”

The configuration causes particular confusion at the intersection of 46th Avenue and Cloverdale Boulevard, she continued. Street markings are particularly faded in this area.

Cheung noted she and her husband have been faced with drivers swerving onto oncoming traffic at the intersection. A neighbor also told Cheung about a near-collision she was involved in a few weeks ago.

Cheung stands at Cloverdale Boulevard and 46th Avenue

Cheung stands at Cloverdale Boulevard and 46th Avenue.

“I use this road to go to Northern Boulevard,” she continued. “[Drivers] use the other lanes too, because they’re going at a fast speed and they almost crash into the cars … Cars park in the bike lane and the cyclists need to detour into the outside lanes.”

A series of laminated “no parking” signs can be seen posted in the vicinity of 223rd Street, but the signage ends at Cloverdale Boulevard. Further, while there is “Bike Lane” signage near 50th Avenue, it is installed on the opposite side of the street.

Large branches, garbage and rough road surface in areas of the bike lane create a hazard for cyclists, Cheung said. The resident used the route under the previous configuration.

“Before, they had a shared lane on the outside [of the parking lane],” she said. “As a cyclist, I won’t use these new lanes; they’re dangerous … They install these bike lanes for the cyclists and their safety, but if they don’t enforce it in the right way, why bother to make these bike lanes?”

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In recent weeks, Cheung has reached out to Community Board 11 and state Senator Tony Avella’s office with her concerns. She is awaiting a response.

A DOT spokesperson told QNS that “remaining markings will be installed this summer.”

“The final design, along with parking enforcement, will address these concerns,” the spokesperson continued. “The bike lane was designed to allow for a street sweeper to pass and remove debris from the lane.”

The spokesperson did not specify whether the final design includes plans to repave or install signage at the location.

The Alley Pond safety project also passes through P.S. 213, located at 231st Street and 67th Avenue. In November 2017, community members from the school raised concerns with the project, citing worsened drop-off and pick-up conditions.

The Alley Pond and Northern Boulevard projects were spurred by the death of Michael Schenkman, a 78-year-old cyclist who was struck by a car in the area and killed in August 2016.

The Northern Boulevard project stirred up some debate in the local community in the last year. Some elected officials and Community Board 11 members argued the bike lanes should instead be built on the existing sidewalk running along Northern Boulevard, while bike advocates spoke out in favor of the addition, which implemented more immediate safety measures.

As for the Northern Boulevard bike lane, Cheung cycles along the route and has seen a difference in safety.

“A lot of drivers don’t show concern for pedestrians,” she said. “I’m a driver, cyclist and pedestrian. I see it all.”

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