It has been nearly nine months since the Department of City Planning (DCP) and Department of Transportation (DOT) met with bicyclists and residents at Maspeth High School to help plan for bike infrastructure in the region, and now the results from the workshop are in and development is on the way.
Himrod and Harmon streets in Bushwick and Ridgewood, as well as Onderdonk and Woodward avenues, are the first thoroughfares in line for the traffic-calming bike infrastructure, expected to begin being installed this spring.
“The plan was recommended by the Transportation Committee [of CB5],” said Kristina Schmitt, highway transportation specialist with the DCP, at a Maspeth Industrial Business Association (MIBA) meeting held at the Petro on 58th Street in Maspeth.
Phase I plans and the potential for a future layout of dedicated bike lanes and shared paths were presented at both CB5 Transportation Committee and MIBA meetings last week for further feedback.
“There is going to have to be a study on some of these lanes to see if they’re safe,” she said. “We’re really sensitive to the fact that there are a lot of traffic issues and we’re really concerned about squeezing in biking lanes without affecting traffic flow.”
Initial plans called for bike infrastructure along Eliot Avenue in the first phase of development, but it was later tabled for the second phase as some concerns arose with the narrow street.
“It (Eliot Ave.) wasn’t taken out, but it isn’t a dark blue line,” she said, referring to the map outlining the updated plans. Dark blue lines on the map represent Phase I of the bike infrastructure.
Some portions of the second phase of bike lanes are slated for portions of the manufacturing district of Maspeth along Grand Avenue and Rust Street.
Jean Tanler, director of industrial business development and MIBA coordinator, said she is mostly concerned with biker safety and the potential liability issues with industrial businesses in the event of an accident.
“I think having the shared lanes is a good use as far as the ticketing is concerned,” Tanler suggested. “It has been an issue in other industrial areas if there is a bike lane with trucks getting tickets.”
Mike Cristina, a truck driver with BoroWide Recycling Corp. in Maspeth and member of MIBA, said his main concern is with the combination of narrow streets and busy industrial traffic.
“The bicyclists don’t know all the laws,” Cristina said. “A bicycle is a vehicle and a vehicle should be inspected, just like a driver should have a license.”
Cristina added that he is worried his company would have to factor in a larger portion of the budget towards parking tickets if the lanes were put near the industrial business zone.
“Unfortunately, in my business we have to double-park to pick up the refuse,” he said. “We get tickets for that. I have to factor that in to the budget and unfortunately the customer winds up paying a little more because of that.”