Over the course of the next year, the Glendale, Ridgewood, Middle Village, Liberty Park and Maspeth roadways are expected to undergo a transformation with the addition of bike lanes, racks, sharrows and more bicycle infrastructure.
Wayne Betz, a resident of 79th Place, rides his 1980 Peugeot throughout the neighborhood on a daily basis, and joined the planning session to advocate for safer streets.
“Some more bike lanes through Queens would be nice because it’s getting a little dangerous, especially when you’re on Woodhaven Boulevard and cars come up behind you and lay on the horn,” Betz said. “It can get a little scary out there.”
While recently riding his bike again after an accident several years ago, Betz is hopeful that installing new lanes and sharrows will also make the streets a safer place.
“The roads, forget about it,” he said. “You’ve got holes coming around the corner, you’ve got sewers opened up. There is room for improvement.”
Representatives of the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Department of City Planning (DCP) met with dozens of board 5 residents and board members to discuss safe bike routes in the district on Saturday afternoon at Maspeth High School on 74th St.
Jack Schmitt, director of DCP's Transportation Division, led the discussion by providing maps of the community for residents to mark their current daily commute, areas where they wanted to see accommodations for riders, and places they feel are too dangerous.
“This is new ground,” Schmitt said, explaining that this is only the second time in the borough where DOT had used a community forum to help develop bike lanes. “What they’re trying to really create are pieces of the network, rather than a lane on this street because somebody asked for it.”
Some residents were concerned that several streets have not yet received bike infrastructure because they are so poorly paved.
Hilary Gietz, DOT borough planner for Queens, assured the community that any plans toward installing new lanes would be done with consideration and often organize repaving to ensure safety.
“We do try to coordinate our efforts through our different operational groups,” Gietz said. “However if the street isn’t up for resurfacing yet, but we want to get a bike lane in as soon as possible, we are more likely to do that. If we do resurface, we put the bike lane back in.”
Some suggested Flushing Avenue as a possible route to connect with Bushwick and Williamsburg, while roads like Metropolitan and Myrtle avenues were typically marked off the list due to heavy traffic and narrow streets.
Justin Todd Patrick, an avid bicyclist and Ridgewood resident, joined in the planning process and pointed out Cooper Avenue as a possible east-to-west alternative to Myrtle Avenue.
“Nobody’s going to want to let you take parking away from Myrtle and you really can’t put a realistic bike lane on there,” Patrick said.
Following the meeting, residents presented their maps and gave the city representatives their final input on the project before a comprehensive study of the region begins.
“Anything that is going to put some bike lanes down is useful,” Patrick said. “I don’t think one three-hour session is going to cover it all, but at least it clears up. Whether or not it all gets done perfectly remains to be seen, but I’m glad we were able to give them our input.”