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Photos by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS
Photos by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS
Locals march along the Northern Boulevard bike lane project in Bayside and Douglaston

A group of Douglaston residents continued a call against a city safety project that brought a protected bike lane to a main transit artery in the neighborhood.

On June 16, 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. The city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) implemented the protected bike lane — which established a two-way, barrier-protected bike path in what was once a moving traffic lane — along the corridor in summer 2017.

The group advocated in favor of Community Board 11’s bike lane proposal, which would expand the existing sidewalk and create 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.

The community board proposal was devised by Bernie Haber, a retired engineer. Haber, who marched in Saturday’s rally, said his plan is still the safer choice.

“The most important thing is the design of having the barrier at the Cross Island Parkway, right in front of the entrance and two exits. It’s very dangerous,” he said. “Any highway engineer would never design something like this. Why this was put that way, I don’t know.”

Haber addresses the crowd

Haber addresses the crowd

“The community board and the community are all in favor of bicycle lanes,” Haber added. “We’ve establish bicycle lanes all over in Douglaston and Bayside. We approved them all. This one is a bad one.”

Christine Briguglio, who serves on the civic board, said the group finds the project “terribly unsafe.”

“There’s accidents here all the time,” she said. “Community Board 11 had proposed a safer alternative, and the DOT did not build it.”

Briguglio’s 15-year-old son Evan, an avid cyclist, says he uses the sidewalk instead of the lane.

“The lane is too dangerous. My mom sees two crashes a week here … I’ve seen them,” he said.

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“We have an alternative for a safer bike lane, but they don’t want to hear us,” said Gar Jung, a Douglaston resident. “I used to bike a lot, but I avoid this [lane] because of its problems.”

A DOT spokesperson told QNS the city agency is standing by the project.

“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.”

Bike advocates who attended a rally in September echoed these sentiments. Cyclists there argued that the city’s plan implemented much-needed safety changes more quickly than the board’s proposal. Advocacy group Transportation Alternatives also held a group bike ride in November to celebrate the new addition while Bayside-based state Senator Tony Avella continued to rail against the project.

The call for safety improvements at the location was 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.

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Comments:

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James Donohue June 20, 2018 / 10:11AM
I'd like to correct my previous post. THIS Photo shows the BIKE PATH Exit on the Westbound L.I.E. Service Road. If you ride your bike through here, and head North on the path in Alley Pond Park, it comes out on Northern Boulevard (at the end of 234th street ). There are No markings, you have to figure it out for yourself.
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James Donohue June 19, 2018 / 01:03PM
I rode into Queens on Friday. I went South on Glen Cove Road, West on L.I.E. Service Road, South on Springfield Blvd, and West on Jamaica Avenue. Was able to get the bike on an off-peak train East out of Jamaica. 22 miles. I did notice , while I was slightly off course, that the Bike Lanes on 233rd St. have been moved together to the South side of that road, as a bi-directional bikeway. Asphalt is very fresh , and the BIKE LANE markings haven't been painted yet (or is it thermoplastic? They don't use paint anymore). I credit using a rear view mirror and a 2 watt LED Brake light (which is the equivalent of 20 watts ) for not having any problems on the way . The Bike Path in Alley Pond Park isn't much help, I should've stayed on Douglaston Turnpike. But the fact is, I've got over $400.00 Dollars worth of LED Lights on my bike, the average person riding a bike wouldn't bother to have that many lights, and would probably think it's okay to ride without lights because it's daytime. I'm staying on the side of caution, keeping in mind that lights are required in daytime for Motorcycles. Anyway, I ride with 1,100 lumens of Lights on my bike in the daytime, and I have no problems.
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