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Business Owners Launch Petition in Opposition to DOT’s Plan for Protected Bicycle Lanes on 31st Street

The DOT plans to redesign 31st Street in Astoria to include protected bicycle lanes (Google Maps)

Feb. 27, 2020 By Michael Dorgan

An online petition opposing the construction of protected bike lanes along 31st Street has been launched by a number of local business owners and workers.

The business owners argue that the designs presented by the city earlier this month are ill-conceived and will hurt their bottom line—as well as put cyclists and motorists at greater risk.

More than 250 people have signed the petition since it was launched Sunday by Giovanni Dellapolla, owner of Access Auto and Tire Center, located at 38-26 31 St.

The DOT plans to install protected bike lanes on 31st Street—under the N/W elevated line – from 20th Avenue to 39th Avenue, as part of a comprehensive bicycle network in Astoria that includes protected bike lanes on Crescent Street.

The petition, which focuses solely on 31st Street, calls for Council Members Costa Constantinides and Jimmy Van Bramer to rescind their support for the plans and for Community Board 1 to oppose the proposal. They are also appealing to the DOT to end its plan to install the lanes.

Neither Council Member responded to the Astoria Post for comment.

At a public meeting on Feb. 11, the DOT presented its plans for protected bike lanes on both sides of 31st Street– as well as a protected bicycle lane on Crescent Street. The agency said it aims to install the lanes this summer.

The DOT said that protected bike lanes increase safety for all street users and help organize streets. As part of the 31st Street plan, pedestrian safety and transit access would also be improved with floating bus islands and better pedestrian crossings, according to the DOT.

However, the petition claims that the DOT’s plans would instead make the streets more dangerous for cyclists– since many businesses on the busy corridor make deliveries, park equipment by the street and perform other tasks.

The DOT’s plan for an Astoria bicycle network, including protected bike lanes on 31st and Crescent Street (DOT)

Cyclists could be struck by heavy vehicles or moving equipment, the petition argues.

“This could possibly result in serious injuries or even death for cyclists as many of these vehicles are large trucks with poor visibility and large blind spots,” the petition states.

Many business owners added their own statements as part of the petition.

“It’s a bad idea, as well as a safety issue,” Dellapolla wrote. “It will also interfere with my business as it would be a hazard for people pulling in and out. It would be impossible for people and deliveries to stop and come into my shop since they would be interfering with the bike lane.”

The petition says that many business owners would be “crippled” if the lanes are installed.

The Tsampas Family, who own the King Souvlaki – a food truck that has operated on the corner of 31st Street and 31st Avenue for over 40 years – stated in the petition that the bike lanes would devastate their business and the 30 families it supports.

“This bike lane will displace us, costing us valuable time and money, and ultimately put us out of business,” they wrote.

Anthony Gulino, who owns Triboro Iron Works on 31st Street between 38th Avenue and 39th Avenue, echoed those sentiments saying in the petition: “I feel like they’re trying to throw all of us (businesses) out of here.”

Gulino added that his business uses large trucks to unload heavy steel and that they would struggle to make deliveries with the protected bike lanes there. He said that his drivers would have little choice but to block them.

“They will be one hundred percent blocking the bike lane because that’s where my driveways are,” he wrote.

But bicycle advocates believe that the DOT plan will increase safety.

Juan Restrepo, from bike advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, says the arguments in the petition are not borne out by data from similar initiatives implemented throughout the city and is appealing for businesses to engage in the process, rather than opposing any potential changes.

“31st Street has some of the most dangerous intersections in Queens where lots of people cross to get to businesses and the city has a responsibility to fix these intersections and that is why they are engaging in this process,” he said.

“I understand the businesses have concerns but that’s why they need to engage with the city because there could be a potential upside that they’re not seeing.”

DOT Concept for 31st Street

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20 Comments

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where is da hood at?

Why do all these people assume they own the road in front of their businesses? You’ve been getting free parking for decades – too bad the city decides to do something to encourage more people to take alternative options. You live in NYC – why do you need a car?

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FromLICQueens

Typical clueless, callous question from a person who lives near public transportation, and cannot fathom that so many New Yorkers live in parts of the city WITHOUT access to public transportation and depend on their cars to get to work, schools, church, etc.

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Stephen

Time to tell the bike nazi that they don’t rule the city. Find another parallel road for the bike lanes. 1% of the road users should not be dictating to everyone else road design. We need to start restricting bikes off some road as are done on expressways.

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AlmadeCubano

Please publish a list of those who sign this petition. I want to boycott them all.

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Face it, You’re Hungry

I’m a cyclist and this is clearly a dumb idea. Totally agree with the petition.

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Needle

Frankly, I don’t think 31st Street is the safest place for bike lanes just because the traffic is nuts. I can see trucks making deliveries parking in the bike lanes. And there are always drivers who need to run into a store for a second who leave their cars in bus stops, in front of fire hydrants, so I suspect they’ll do the same with bike lanes. Would be nice if there was real traffic enforcement in the neighborhood. I feel for cyclists though. There are other quieter streets in Astoria to put bike lanes.

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FromLICQueens

It’s the tyranny of the White Biker Bros! Likely representing 0.00000001% of our city’s population, yet having tremendous power because the car-hating cabal at the DoT will favor anyone, even the Daughters of the Confederacy or Neo-Nazis, to punish car drivers. Proportional and just representation means nothing! But we, the tax paying suckers, pay for all this !

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your_neighbor

Some accommodations should of course be made for driveways but most of these business owners just like to park cars and trucks either on the sidewalks or double/triple park them under the subway tracks and want to keep it as business as usual keeping their current private parking zones.

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P Merino

I’m in favor of bike lanes when bikers are licensed after passing a rules of the road test, pay yearly registration fees & carry insurance !!

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I agree, everything is exactly the same

Agreed, bikes should have full use of the entire road. Why should they get a special double standard where they can’t use the entire road?! They should have to do the same things as cars, like having full use of the entire roadway at all times.

>a rules of the road test

that doesn’t exist…

>pay yearly registration fees

So they can be…taxed on their bicycle? You don’t know what registration does.

>& carry insurance !!

We hear ALL the time about reckless uninsured motorists. Has there been a single incident with a cyclist? Or just a fabrication?

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Dougie Sherwin

Why do bikes need protection? Are you that ignorant you can’t figure it out?

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Queens Commuter

Oh yeah, because motorists, who have taken Driver’s Education classes, pay registration fees, and carry insurance, dont break traffic laws and are held accountable for their reckless driving…

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Biker and driver

Could a protected two-way bike lane be moved to a parallel street? There would have to be stop lights to allow bikes to cross and turn through car traffic. But that may be better. I’d be afraid to bike past busy driveways.

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FromLICQueens

The car-hating cabal running the DoT, originally put there by Bloomberg, have as their main goal making driving as difficult and as expensive as possible. They are clueless and callous to the reality of millions of outer-Borough New Yorkers, who do not have access to public transportation and depend on driving. It’s criminal what they’ve done. I’m moving out of this city the day after I retire! And tyrannical, imperious Bloomy wants to be President! God save us!

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gladIleft

Question: Why are DOT Commissioners always the most incompetent of all commissioners? Not just this one, goes back to at least Dinkins.
And this bike lane nonsense goes back to when little Mikey did not get NYS Legislation passed for his Sunday Parking meter money grab. At that point he decided to punish all car owners. This bike lane nonsense actually has the opposite effect of it’s stated mission “reducing carbon emissions”. Why isn’t someone doing a study on all the emissions spewed on the traffic choked North/South avenues as the cars sit in stifling crawling traffic?

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