DOT officials are currently installing the lane from 223rd Street to Douglaston Parkway, connecting Bayside to Douglaston and Little Neck. The bike path will remove one westbound traffic lane along Northern Boulevard and some parking spots.
In June, Community Board 11 voted in favor of the project, but after the summer, decided to rescind their support. Instead, the board voted in favor of board member Bernard Haber’s proposal to widen the sidewalk and put the bike lane there.
Haber, a past president of Douglas Manor Association and an engineer by trade, and his supporters claim the alternative proposal would be safer than DOT’s plan.
“The city is building a death trap for bicycle riders and motorists,” said DCA President Sean Walsh. “Northern Boulevard is one of three main east-west means of access to northeastern Queens and eliminating an entire lane of traffic could imperil the health and safety of residents by blocking access for first responders.”
Walsh said DCA, which represents 12,000 community members and many merchants along the proposed bike route, supports Haber’s plan.
“The DOT is in a rush to complete this plan without community participation, putting bikers and residents in danger,” Walsh said.
The civic leader then blasted DOT and the “hostile role” of advocacy group Transportation Alternatives.
“So-called progressive groups such as Transportation Alternatives have tried to intimidate and create media attacks against the community by spreading lies,” he said. “They are not really interested in biker safety. We want a bike lane, and we have provided an alternative at a similar construction cost two feet from the city’s death trap.”
But not all Douglaston organizations feel the same way. In an open letter to Queens DOT Commissioner Nicole Garcia, the Douglaston Village Chamber of Commerce expressed its support for the agency’s plan because of the potential new business it would bring to the neighborhood.
The chamber, whose board is made up of small business owners from Station Realty, Peak Bicycle Pro Shop and SG Sound, claimed a “majority of the businesses support the Northern Boulevard redesign.”
“It has been proven, time and again, that the thoughtful redesign of automobile-dominant streets into more complete streets, including protected bicycle lanes, pedestrian improvements and traffic calming efforts, are directly related to improved business activity,” they wrote. “That is our goal for Douglaston.
“Of course, traffic and parking are specifically critical to our business community, and must be addressed in any improvement plan,” the letter added.
A DOT spokesperson confirmed that the agency is implementing the two-way protected bike lane on the north side. DOT expects the project to be completed in the next few weeks.
The DOT spokesperson added that all safety improvement projects are designed with emergency access in mind and coordinated with the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) and the Fire Department (FDNY).