Against The Bike Lanes On Queens Boulevard

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It’s the biggest issue in Forest Hills/Rego Park that affects everyone: the loss of parking spaces on Queens Boulevard.

There were 198 parking spaces on Queens Boulevard, from Eliot Avenue to Yellowstone Boulevard, removed in July of 2018 and replaced by bicycle lanes.

“Many of those spaces were metered parking spaces, so if two or three cars used the space each day, it’s more like 600 parking spaces lost,” said Leslie Brown, president of the Forest Hills Chamber Commerce at a recent public meeting. More than 1,100 people have signed her petition against the bike lanes.

Businesses like Da Mikelle, 102-51 Queens Blvd., are beginning to suffer. People drive around, can’t find parking, and then have to leave, said the owner’s daughter, Eleanor Mavasher.

Ben’s Best Deli, 96-40 Queens Blvd., now closes at 8 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. during the week. “Some workers were laid off, while others had their work hours cut,” said the owner, Jay Parker. Business has been down double-digit percentage numbers.

“Business is down 35-40 percent,” said the owner of STIX Restaurant, 101-15 Queens Blvd., Solomon Moses. His other business, Salute on 108 Street, has been the same, if not better.

Kosher establishments especially rely on parking because they need people coming in from other communities. Foot or bicycle traffic is not enough to sustain their store.

If businesses start to close, it could invite crime. According to the “broken windows” policing theory, if criminals see closed businesses, graffiti, and less people, it’s viewed as a good target

While pedestrian deaths are thankfully down on Queens Boulevard, it is because of a concerted effort since the 1990s. Fences were put in on the medians to discourage people from crossing in the middle of the street, more traffic lights were put in, as well as more time to cross, visual time clocks, etc. – it’s not just the recent safety improvements that have made it safer for pedestrians.

While more people use bicycles now, cars predominantly use the boulevard. The bicycle lanes are a minority imposing on the majority. It solved one problem, but now another one popped up: the boulevard is being choked with cars.

The city wants to extend the bicycle lanes down Queens Boulevard, from Yellowstone Boulevard to Union Turnpike, in the near future.

Plans are now being discussed for having the bus lanes in the middle of the medians on Queens Boulevard. The NYC Department for Transportation would make the medians larger, similar to Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn.

Why not have the bicycle lanes in the median? Even if they put buses down the middle of Queens Boulevard, the city doesn’t plan to remove the bicycle lanes.

What about having a parking garage on Austin Street or Queens Boulevard run by the city? It would be cheaper and safer that what is available now.

New buildings are being erected around the neighborhood. Developers are not required to create parking spaces for each apartment. This will cause even more congestion.

Community Board 6 will vote whether to remove the parking spaces and put in new bicycle lanes on Queens Boulevard – from Yellowstone Boulevard to Union Turnpike – at their meeting on April 11. People can also call their local city councilmember, Karen Koslowitz, and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office to
be heard.

By David Schneier