BY JAMES FARRELL
Bike lanes were again the focus of some discussions at this month’s Community Board 11 meeting. Only this time, it wasn’t the controversial protected bike lanes along Northern Boulevard, which have dominated much of the board’s conversations since June.
Some members of the community surrounding PS 213 in Oakland Gardens attended the meeting to share concerns about another incoming bike lane along the edge of Alley Pond Park, between 73rd Avenue and Northern Boulevard. The lanes would cross directly in front of the school, in between where buses and cars drop off children and the curb, putting members of the school community on edge.
“We are the first school in the city to have a bike lane directly placed in front of the school,” Cathy Grodsky, president of the PS 213 PTA, told the board.
“Students will need to be dropped more than 12 feet away from the curb.
We’re talking about children starting from the age of 3. In addition, our P4 population of District 75 students, which consists of 60 autistic children who exhibit running and flight behavior, will have an additional 12 feet of road to navigate.”
She argued that during snow storms, “all of the snow from the bike lane will be pushed into the middle divider protected by plastic cones,” restricting access from buses and cars to the sidewalk.
Another resident, who lives on a portion of 230th Street between 69th and 73rd Avenue that is receiving the bike lanes, argued that the new lanes were coming at the expense of parking.
“Twenty people who live on this street are losing their parking spots right in front of their houses,” she said.
In a statement, the Department of Transportation (DOT) said that work on the project started last month after “positive feedback and a significant amount of community support, including unanimous support from the local community board.”
“This project is an upgrade to the existing lanes and creating safer conditions for all street users, especially bicyclists who can use protected bike lanes along the park from Joe Michaels Mile to the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway,” the DOT said. “As part of our work on this project, we recently met with representatives from PS 213 to get feedback, and we will be in touch with them and other local stakeholders, including the community board, with any next steps.”
CB 11 approved the bike lanes in a unanimous vote during a public hearing in June. It was at that same meeting that the board approved a vote in favor of protected bike lanes along Northern Boulevard, between 223rd Street and the Douglaston Parkway, which have been the subject of heated debates in the community. While local cyclists have celebrated the bike lane as a necessary safety measure following the death of cyclist Michael
Schenkman last year, others have blamed it for a spate of car accidents and increased traffic.
Officer Luigi Galano, of the 111th Precinct, who was present at the community board meeting, told the board that there had been “seven or eight” accidents along that stretch of Northern Boulevard since the installation of the bike lanes began several weeks ago—although he did not say whether the bike lanes were the cause. There have been no serious injuries reported from those accidents. The DOT has argued that the bike lanes—not yet fully implemented—are still an active construction site and have, thus far, protected cyclists and pedestrians from vehicles as intended.
The community board rescinded its June vote for the Northern Boulevard lanes during its September meeting in favor of its own proposal. As of now, it still supports the Alley Pond Park bike lanes.