BY COUNCILMAN RORY LANCMAN AND ASSEMBLYMAN MICHAEL SIMANOWITZ
Eastern Queens traffic can be maddeningly slow. We also have some of the most limited public transit options in all of New York City. But we can’t solve these problems by shifting the burden from one group of Queens residents to another.
One proposal would seek to remedy this problem by closing an entire lane of traffic or removing an entire lane of parking for Bus Rapid-Transit (BRT) on some of the borough’s busiest thoroughfares: Main Street, Parsons Boulevard and Kissena Boulevard within and between Flushing and Jamaica.
The lane would operate exclusively as a public bus corridor, making the commute for private vehicles even more congested. With so many residents in our districts relying on their own personal cars to get to work, take their kids to school, go to the doctor or to shop, this measure wouldn’t remedy our traffic problems, but worsen them – particularly where some of these roadways currently have only one lane of traffic in each direction right now.
Will these cars disappear? Will their occupants suddenly ditch their cars in favor of getting on an overcrowded bus? No, these cars will simply be pushed off of our main roads onto more residential streets, like water finding the path of least resistance. These streets are narrower, slower and full of kids from the surrounding homes and apartment buildings. Crowding them with cars is in direct opposition to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, which aims to make our streets and neighborhoods more safe for pedestrian traffic, not less.
Closing a lane of traffic or parking could potentially have dire implications for area businesses, as well, who depend on street parking to accommodate their customers. The proposed BRT lanes are on streets primarily lined by storefront businesses and mom-and-pop shops. Eliminating parking could starve these small businesses out of existence.
Consider the problems created by some of the ill-placed bike lanes in our borough — and then double it.
Solutions to our long-term congestion issues cannot merely shuffle the deck chairs on the Titanic, moving the problem around from some residents to others but never really making commuting easier for more Queens residents. We need answers that work for everybody, from better timing of traffic lights, smarter placement of turning signals and more express and limited bus service. Shutting down traffic and parking lanes on some of Queens’ busiest streets isn’t that answer.
Rory Lancman represents District 24 in the City Council. Michael Simanowitz represents District 27 in the State Assembly.