2016-06-29 / Front Page

CB 1 Approves Bike Route Safety Changes

By Richard Gentilviso

Community Board 1 has approved, with stipulations, a proposal by the Department of Transportation (DOT) for changes and safety implementations to 31st Avenue, including a bicycle route running from Flushing Bay and Jackson Heights in Community Board 3 to Shore Boulevard in Astoria in Community Board 1.
The DOT proposal, initially brought to the board’s Transportation Committee on March 8th, was presented to the full board at its June 21st meeting held at the Astoria World Manor.
“The safety enhancements for the proposed bicycle route are in response to Transportation Committee concerns (raised at the March 8th presentation),” said DOT Project Manager, Nick Carey.
The proposal was described as “a continuous east-west route connecting the waterfront (in Astoria) to Jackson Heights (and) all the way through to the Flushing Bay promenade.” Community Board 3 approved it on June 17th.
Carey said that according to a DOT study conducted on 31st Avenue, from 30th Street to 35th Street, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in November 2015, 200 bike riders were counted on weekdays and 300 on weekends.
Changes and safety implementations by DOT for existing bicycle routes in Community Board 1 at Vernon Boulevard, 35th Street, 34th Avenue and Hoyt Avenue have reduced crashes and injuries by 7.4%, Carey said.
Transportation Committee Chair Robert Piazza expressed concern for the busy commercial corridor on 31st Avenue in Woodside from 55th Street to 59th Street.
“It’s a dangerous area to go through,” he said, adding, “32nd Avenue can be used as an alternative.”
Piazza acknowledged DOT and the board have been successful in making the necessary safety implementations at the four existing routes in CB 1 mentioned by Carey, and said, “Here’s an area where we say – you know they’re not safe.”
The Transportation Committee recommended to approve the DOT proposal “as is” but the board voted it down by a count of 19 opposed and 13 in favor.
A motion was introduced to amend the committee’s recommendation to include a detour of the proposed route from 31st Avenue to 32nd Avenue at 55th Street and then back up to 31st Avenue at 60th Street and was approved by a vote of 21 in favor and 10 opposed.
The board also requested that DOT return to conduct a safety workshop and keep the two-hour metered parking on 31st Avenue in the amended vote to approve.
The proposal puts “shared lane” markings to alert drivers to bike riders in both directions along two 40-foot wide stretches of 31st Avenue, from Vernon Boulevard to Crescent Street, and from 32nd Street to 49th Street. It also creates 5-foot wide dedicated bicycle lanes, 8-foot wide parking lanes and 10-foot wide travel lanes with a 4-foot wide median in both directions along two 50-foot wide stretches of 31st Avenue, from Crescent Street to 32nd Street and 49th Street to the BQE.
There will be no resulting loss of parking space or travel lanes along the route, according to DOT.

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