2006-05-12 / Community

'Death Trap' Bike Path Slated For Beach Channel Drive

By Brian Magoolaghan

The Department of Transportation's Queens Commissioner ruffled some feathers Tuesday night when she gave community board members a heads up that crews would soon paint a bike lane on Beach Channel Drive.

The bike lane - part of the Rockaway Gateway Greenway, a path project that will one day allow cyclists to circle through Rockaway, Broad Channel, Howard Beach and Brooklyn - has been under consideration for years. The big question: How can cyclists safely travel from the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge to the Marine Parkway Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge? Several routes have been batted around for the Rockaway section, but board members, politicians and residents involved in the planning were all under the impression that there was still time to weigh the options.

Then came word from DOT commish Maura McCarthy that crews would start marking the lane on Beach Channel Drive this summer.

"Absolutely a death trap," said Community Board 14 Chairperson Delores Orr after the meeting. The announcement took other members of the board and audience - who have contributed to the slow-moving project for more than a decade - by surprise. The news prompted Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer's Chief of Staff, JoAnn Shapiro, to jump out of her chair and declare that years of planning and consideration would not be abandoned in the end. Board member Dan Mundy, who can trace the path section that is being constructed in the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge back to its roots, expressed similar surprise.

McCarthy countered that the time for public comment was up two years ago. The commissioner told The Wave she would take the board's concerns back to her agency's higher-ups but also said she thought the path would painted in about two months.

On Wednesday, CB14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska fired off a letter to DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall voicing the board's objection.

"Beach Channel Drive is our only legal truck route and is so narrow in many locations that the implementation of this plan would put bicyclists and motor vehicles with each other and injuries and death would be a distinct possibility," Gaska wrote. "We ask that you reconsider this plan that is not supported by the community board."

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