2006-07-21 / Editorial/Opinion

Opinions

What Has The DOT Wrought On SFP?

Look at Shore Front Parkway, a formerly beautiful four-lane beachfront road that has been redesigned by the Department of Transportation into a community nightmare and you can have only one thought - "Put it back the way it was." What's the problem? We'd need more pages than this one to tell you about them. First of all, the DOT has severely restricted east-west travel at the height of the beach season and at a time when thousands a new residents are moving to the peninsula and will force the need for more road capacity, not less. Add that problem to the closure of a portion of the Rockaway Freeway (an idea we agree with) and the closing of a lane along Beach Channel Drive to accommodate a new bicycle path, and you have a process that may well lead to disaster on the first rainy day when beachgoers all try to get off the peninsula at the same time. Capacity, however, is only one of the problems. Shore Front Parkway is lined from its beginning at Beach 73 Street to its end-point at Beach 108 Street with high-rise apartment buildings and new town houses. The DOT has marked off with diagonal lines most of the cuts in the median where residents of those houses turned to get access to their buildings. I am sure that the DOT will tell us that it's much safer this way, but I challenge that agency to point out one major accident in the past decade that occurred when a local resident was turning into his or her building from Shore Front Parkway. There have been three major accidents on that road in the past five years -two due to drag racing and one due to pure lousy driving. In all three cases, the people who were hit and those who hit them were already riding on the parkway. Then, we have the perennial parking problem. There are so many white lines on both sides of the roadway that some people just cannot figure out what they mean. To some, the lines create what seems to be parking slots for toddler bicycles or for very small cars. Last weekend, there were dozens of cars parked on what was clearly marked as a bicycle lane on the south side of the roadway. At least two people contacted The Wave to say that, they called the 311 system operators to complain about the parking condition and were told to call the 100 Precinct instead. When they finally got the precinct, they were both told that the cars belong to the lifeguards, who had a right to park there despite the fact that it was marked as a bike lane. One of the people went so far as to check the cars. She was told by some men playing handball on the courts nearby the boardwalk that the cars where theirs and that they were told they could park there. By whom? They would not say. In any case, a number of police cars came by during the time the resident was there, but the cars were largely ignored. Can you park? Can't you park? What do all those lines mean? Why should you have to go three blocks out of your way to turn into your apartment complex when there clearly is no danger in doing it the old way? How can bikes going in different directions pass each other if the bike lane is just wide enough for one rider? Why do signs say that you can still make a right turn on a red light at Beach 108 Street when, under the new plan, you are often stuck behind a driver going straight ahead? What happens when a car tries to pass you in the new "stripped lane," as many do, creating a really dangerous situation? Lots of questions, few answers. All we can say to the DOT is please put it back the was it was before your new safety plan does more damage.

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