Juan Restrepo, Queens organizer for the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, and Macartney Morris, campaign chair of the #Bike2QBB campaign, pitched the idea to Community Board 1 last Thursday night at the Astoria World Manor.
CB1’s Transportation Committee recently passed a resolution supporting a study for a north-south protected lane down to the Queensboro Bridge.
“The current bike lane doesn’t get people safely from one neighborhood destination to another,” Restrepo said. “We really need something that will connect all of us.”
According to Restrepo, who cited city statistics, more than 380 cyclists, 630 pedestrians and hundreds of motorists have been injured –– and seven people have died –– within a three-year period inside the borders of the district.
This year alone, the city has seen 24 cyclist deaths, more than double the amount from last year. As a result, the mayor released his “Green Wave” plan earlier this year to build a protected bike lane network.
“A lot of us feel the bike network is bits and pieces, it doesn’t make much sense,” Restrepo said. “This will create something where anyone can ride this network and feel safe.”
The advocates said in Astoria and Long Island City, Crescent Street makes the most sense for a north-south bike lane because it leads to the Queensboro Bridge, which takes riders into Manhattan.
Restrepo also made an appeal for making Crescent Street safer for the residents, businesses and community institutions on the highly used thoroughfare.
“Crescent Street feels more like a highway than a residential road,” he said. “We feel that a comprehensive street change can make the street feel more like a livable neighborhood.”
Transportation Alternatives and the campaign have collected more than 2,000 signatures on petition in support of the plan, 1,300 of which are within the zip codes along Crescent Street.
They also count local elected officials, including Councilman Costa Constantinides and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, among their supporters.
“We think this is the beginning of the process,” Restrepo said.
The idea was met with a chilly reception from some community board members. Ann Bruno, president of the 114th Precinct Community Council and a resident of Crescent Street, said she’s received many phone calls about the proposed bike lane.
“Nobody wants it, it’s terrible,” she said. “The traffic on Crescent Street is horrendous. Ambulances can’t even get through.
“You want to put a bicycle lane there?” Bruno added. “You’re out of your mind.”
CB1 member RoseMarie Poveromo noted that Crescent Street is a main road to Mount Sinai Hospital for cars and ambulances.
“Who in their right mind would ever plan on using Crescent Street?” she said.
Poveromo asked how many parking spots would be eliminated to accommodate a bike lane. Marie Torniali, who chairs CB1, responded that the Department of Transportation (DOT) is currently doing a study to determine which route would best serve the community.
Board member Evie Hantzopoulos said there’s no real proposal in front of them yet, just a study.
“Let’s get the information that we need,” she said. “I hope everyone listens and keeps an open mind.”
Morris, who lives on Crescent Street, highlighted the victims who were killed on the thoroughfare, including 88-year-old Miguel Hernandez, who was fatally struck while crossing at Crescent Street and Broadway in January.
“There were seven people killed,” he said. “Have we talked about their lives?”