State Senator Tony Avella joined a group of neighbors last Thursday to call on the city to end the bike lane about 40 feet before it reaches the intersection of Northern Boulevard and Douglaston Parkway.
Instead, they want the city to direct cyclists onto the sidewalk via a nearby driveway. Many cyclists merge onto the sidewalk at the intersection anyway, they argue, as that is where the lane terminates.
Advocates says the change would allow the city to remove a set of plastic stanchions that makes it difficult for motorists to negotiate the right turn from Douglaston Parkway onto Northern Boulevard.
To avoid the barriers, cars swing out into the second lane of westbound Northern Boulevard, with some larger vehicles sometimes crossing the yellow dividing line into oncoming traffic.
“We want the city to make some minor changes to not only improve safety for bicyclists, but for pedestrians and motorists as well,” said Avella.
A spokesperson for the Department of Transportation (DOT) said the agency would add markings to the street to help drivers.
“In the coming weeks, DOT will adjust the markings by adding lane channelization at Douglaston Parkway and Northern Boulevard to better guide southbound right-turning vehicles,” the spokesperson said.
Avella and residents would also like DOT to remove the bike lane markings at the entrance and exit ramps to the Cross Island Parkway. They say the lanes give cyclists a false sense of security.
“There is no other bike lane that crosses the entrance and exit ramps to a parkway,” said Avella. “It's an absurdity that creates a very dangerous situation.”
According to longtime activist Bernie Haber, the lane was intended to connect to Joe Michaels Mile, a popular biking and jogging path that hugs the bay from Douglaston to Fort Totten in Bayside.
But Haber noted last week that the lane connects to the path before it reaches the parkway, making the lanes that cross the entrance and exit ramps unnecessary.
According to statistics Haber said he got from the NYPD, there were 91 accidents along this stretch of Northern Boulevard between October 2017 and April 2018. Approximately 60 percent of those occurred at the ramps to and from the Cross Island Parkway.
“Fortunately, no cyclist has gotten hit yet, but they will eventually,” said Haber.
Community Board 11 originally supported the bike lane, but withdrew its support as details of the plan emerged and implementation drew closer.
Despite that, DOT went ahead with its original plans over a community-based proposal to place the bike lane on the sidewalk as opposed to Northern Boulevard.
Avella, Haber and others still want the city to remove the bike lane and place it on the sidewalk, but the DOT spokesperson said the lane has had the intended effect of improving safety on the busy thoroughfare.
“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.”