Mayor Bill de Blasio told officials at the city DOT Wednesday to ignore Community Board 4 and to include bike lanes when the $100 million reconstruction project for Queens Boulevard begins Phase Two in July. On Tuesday night, CB4 Chairman Louis Walker pushed a motion to vote on the plan without including the bike lanes and it passed by a 31-1 vote.
Following a DOT presentation of the plan, board members questioned the loss of 88 parking spots along the commercial to make way for the bike lanes, one questioned if there had been enough outreach to Elmhurst’s large immigrant community, and District Manager Christian Cassagnol pointed out that there had been “zero bicycle death” on the boulevard from 74th Strret to Eliot Avenue where Phase Two will be implemented.
That’s when Walker dropped his bombshell.
“I don’t think Queens Boulevard is necessarily the place for a bike lane. Put it on Woodside Avenue or Grand Avenue” he said. “This is not a park, this is a heavily traveled vehicular roadway.”
That set off a chaotic scene inside the ballroom of Italian Charities of America where the vote was held. Cycling and street safety advocates, who had been shouted down by board members all evening, erupted in anger as several members of the board who supported the bikes lane stormed out of the meeting. Some didn’t notice the vote taking place.
Less than a day later, the mayor put his foot down.
“I respect those who disagree with us, but in the end, the safety of our neighbors and our children is the most fundamental responsibility we have in this work,” de Blasio said. “Today, I have instructed the Department of Transportation to move forward on the next phase of safety enhancements to Queens Boulevard, including a protected lane for cyclists. Achieving Vision Zero means protecting the lives of everyone on our streets, whether they are walking, in a wheelchair, in a car or a bike. We are committed to ending the senseless loss of life on our streets, and there is no more potent symbol of that transformation than Queens Boulevard. Working together, we will close the book on the Boulevard of Death and make this roadway a Boulevard of Life.”
Why ask for a vote if the outcome doesn't matter? How are these lanes considered "protected" when there's nothing but some collapsible plastic bollards between the motorists and the cyclists?