July 31, 2019 By Allie Griffin
In the wake of an uptick in cyclists deaths throughout New York City this year, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, along with Transportation Alternatives and Bike New York are calling for the creation of a network of protected bike lanes in Long Island City.
The proposed neighborhood network would be the first of its kind in the city, Van Bramer says.
On Monday, the 18th cyclist was killed this year in Sunset Park after being struck by a truck and one of the 18 deaths includes Robert Spencer, a 53-year-old Long Island City resident who was killed while riding his bike to work in Hunters Point.
“We are in a state of emergency that demands bold solutions from the City to ensure the safety of all cyclists on our streets. We need protected bike lane networks throughout every neighborhood across all five boroughs, and today, I’m calling on DOT to start in Long Island City,” Van Bramer said.
“Too many lives have been lost and too many families have been shattered because our streets are simply not accommodating of cyclists. We must start prioritizing people’s lives over parking spaces.”
He argued that Long Island City, given the abundance of young people and families who like to cycle, is the perfect place to implement the city’s first neighborhood bike network.
The area is known to have a myriad of serious traffic safety issues for cyclists, including a limited number of protected bike lanes, rampant illegal parking in bike lanes and on sidewalks, and inadequate transportation alternatives and traffic calming measures to keep up with the neighborhood’s growth, according to the organizers.
Two cyclists, including Spencer, have been killed in Long Island City in the past two years, noted Transportation Alternatives’ Queens Organizer Juan Restrepo.
“With two cyclists killed in LIC in the past two years, and 18 in the city in 2019 alone, New York City is in a Vision Zero crisis,” Restrepo said. “Creating New York’s first protected bike lane neighborhood in Long Island City is a powerful step the city can take to stop the carnage of our streets, promote the viability of the bicycle as an efficient and safe means of transportation, and promote and enhance the vitality of Long Island City’s bustling commercial and cultural institutions.”
The proposed network would be “closed circuit,” meaning cyclists are always within a few blocks from another protected bike lane. It would connect the Queensboro and Pulaski Bridges as well as schools, businesses, parks, cultural institutions and more.
Van Bramer is calling upon the city’s Department of Transportation to implement the proposed protected bike lane network.