2011-06-24 / Top Stories

Demand Bike Lanes On All Roads

By Howard Schwach

Shared bike lanes on Rockaway Beach Boulevard east of Beach 116 Street. Shared bike lanes on Rockaway Beach Boulevard east of Beach 116 Street. An environmental group is calling for all new or improved roads in Rockaway to contain bike lanes.

The call came after last week’s Community Board 14 meeting, at which the board turned down a plan to redesign the streets around the Goldie Maple Academy in Arverne.

“I was aghast at the reaction of the community board on the Safe Streets project around the Beach 56 Street area,” said Marlen Waaijer, a member of the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance (RWA). “The hostility toward bike riders by the Rockaway community in general and the community board in particular, makes me very uncomfortable. They might do well to remember that they represent all residents, which means bike riders and pedestrians.

“The fact that the community board did not fight for the inclusion of separate bike paths on any new road that is planned and built on the peninsula is a lasting blemish on their reputation.”

Jeanne DuPont, the president of the organization, agreed.

“Transportation committees on other community boards have done a great deal with more focus on alternative forms of transportation, and Rockaway, without a doubt, should have the same,” she said. “Community Board 14 should get more involved on how streets in other boroughs are getting safer and more available for both pedestrians and bikes through the DOT initiatives. We need to be more involved or we will be left behind.”

Jonathon Gaska, the district manager for Community Board 14, said that he is confused by the environmentalists’ statements.

“What was on the table was a safety improvement plan for the Goldie Maple Academy,” he said. “The city made a presentation, and it did not go well. There were a lot of questions the members had that could not be answered. The presenters rubbed them the wrong way, and they voted no on the plan, which, by the way, had nothing to do with bike lanes.” “They don’t know what they’re talking about,” Gaska added.

Bike lanes have become a contentious issue in Rockaway, where there are only two major east-west roads that run along the length of the peninsula.

In late January, Mayor Michael Bloomberg was roundly booed when he told the Bayswater Civic Association that he was “proud” to have placed bike lanes in that community.

In early February, DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Kahn said that Rockaway never complained in advance of the bike lanes, even though records showed that the community board had been fighting the bike lanes for more than a year and had sent the DOT numerous memos to that effect.

“We voted not to have the bike lanes in the first place, and the DOT put them in over the community’s opposition,” Gaska said. “The community board is not going to be receptive to more bike lanes.”

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Why can't they fix up the

Why can't they fix up the boardwalk and put the bike lanes there?

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