31st Street Businesses and Citizens Against the 31st Street Protected Bike Lane System
Petition: 31st Street Businesses and Citizens Against the 31st Street Protected Bike Lane System
*Due to the coronavirus outbreak, Queens Community Board 1 will no longer meet tomorrow 03/17/2020. Updates will be posted here as they come in.
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We have now been featured on numerous news sites as well as on TV (New York 1)!
On February 11th, 2020, the NYC DOT introduced the proposal for two 31st Street protected bike lanes in Astoria, New York. The protected bike lanes would be placed in between the curb and a row of parked cars on both sides of 31st Street, like those found in Chicago, Illinois. The bike lanes would span from 20th avenue all the way to 39th avenue.
While we appreciate the DOT’s concern to improve safety for cyclists as well as all road users, an unintended consequence of the 31st Street protected bike lanes are that they would negatively impact many small businesses on both sides of 31st Street. Furthermore, the plan would also unintentionally put the safety of cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians at risk.
As stated previously, the bike lanes would be placed in between a row of parked cars and the curb. This area serves as a driveway and lifeline for many businesses along 31st street. Many of these businesses utilize their driveways to load & unload important deliveries, park important equipment, and perform other business-related tasks.
If the 31st street protected bike lane plan goes through, these businesses would not be able to perform properly and would be essentially crippled. Please see the testimonies of 31st Street business owners at the end of the petition as well as the testimonies from frustrated residents in the comments section.
Additionally, the 31st Street protected bike lane system would also put the lives of cyclists at risk. This is because 31st Street is a heavily congested truck route. Also, cyclists would have to go around merchandise, equipment, or vehicles placed in the driveway/bike lane; thus, forcing bicyclists into traffic where they may be hit by vehicles. Also, bicyclists may be struck by heavy vehicles or moving equipment as they move or reverse through the bike lane and into their driveways to conduct business. 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. Speaking of blind spots, drivers would not be able to gauge where cyclists are at and vice versa while turning since the floating parking spaces and elevated structure pillars for the above N/W trains would block visibility, thus increasing the risk of an accident. At night, visibility on 31st Street is very poor due to the elevated train structure and sparse street lighting. This may pose a risk to cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians as it would be difficult for everyone to see each other; which could lead to serious accidents.
A health hazard also exists due to the fact that birds perch along the elevated train structure and expel fecal matter onto the roadway below. This is immediately evident to anyone who walks down 31st Street; from Ditmars to 39th Avenue. You will see that many parked cars are littered with bird droppings; as are the pavement and crosswalks. Since the lanes are slated to be placed between the curb and a row of parked cars, the bike lane will be covered in bird feces on both sides of the street, and cyclists will frequently be hit with it & may fall ill as pigeons carry extremely harmful diseases. There are at least three different types of diseases (histoplasmosis, cryptococcosis and psittacosis) found in pigeon droppings.
Finally, there are already north and south bike lanes on the nearby 28th & 29th streets as well as a northbound bike lane on 35th street which spans most of the neighborhood. All these streets are much calmer than 31st street. While those are not protected, there is a plan for a Crescent Street protected north and south bike lane, which would also span nearly the length of the whole neighborhood. The 28th, 29th, and future Crescent St bike lane connect directly to the Queensboro Bridge while the 31st Street protected bike lane system would leave cyclists stranded at 39th avenue with no way to navigate the heavily congested area between 39th avenue and the Queensboro Bridge. Given Crescent Street’s very close proximity to 31st street, it would be a waste to have yet another protected bike lane system so close by which performs nearly the exact same function; but just worse.
With all of that said, we the Businesses of 31st Street and citizens ask Councilman Costa Constantinides and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer to rescind their support of the 31st Street protected bike lane system. We also ask Community Board 1 to not support the plan. Furthermore, we ask that the New York City Department of Transportation to cease their plans to implement a protected bike lane system on 31st Street. It is a very poorly planned idea with little regard to the businesses who are the backbone of this very neighborhood as well as little regard to safety of all road users road users of 31st Street.
Testimonies from 31st Street Business Owners:
“It’s a bad idea, as well as a safety issue. It will also interfere with my business as it would be a hazard for people pulling in and out. Also, it would be impossible for people and deliveries to stop and come into my shop since they would be interfering with the bike lane. I have flatbed trucks coming in and out which would pose a hazard to cyclists and block the bike lane. I will be losing parking in my driveway as well as street parking. I wouldn’t be able to put customer’s cars in my driveway to await customer pickup which would hurt us severely. Congestion is going to be worse since people will be double parking in the middle of the street. They should use a less industrial street with less businesses. Everyone here on 31st Street will be losing business. It might be a sign to pack up and leave Astoria.” -Giovanni Dellapolla, owner of Access Auto and Tire Center, 38-26 31st Street. He has owned this business for 27 years and has been a resident of Astoria for 40+ years.
"This proposed bike lane is ridiculous and a direct attack on all the
local businesses along 31st Street!
First of all, 31st Street, is very congested already. This bike lane
will only make things worse!
My family has owned and operated our food truck on the corner of 31st
street and 31st avenue, for over 40 years and this bike lane will cut
right through us and devastate our business and livelihood!
This bike lane will displace us, costing us valuable time and money, and
ultimately put us out of business. Not to mention the 30+ families who
will be affected because of the amazing people which we employee alone,
losing their job! And this can be said of all the businesses along 31st
street which this bike lane will negatively affect!
This bike lane will also be a great risk to the cyclists which it means
to protect. 31st street is full of businesses which need access to their
driveways for loading and unloading etc. Cyclists will be forced to go
around, into traffic, to avoid trucks and other vehicles trying to do
their job. This puts them directly into harms way and raises drastically
the possibility for injuries and casualties!
This is just absurd and I urge and implore you to not let this bike lane
cut across 31st street and consequently our lives! It will achieve
nothing it is intended to and will only bring devastation to the
hundreds of local businesses, their hardworking employees, and their
-Tsampas Family, King Souvlaki Food Truck. A neighborhood staple located at the corner of 31st Street and 31st Avenue.
"As an educator at St. Demetrios School (Astoria, NY) I am concerned about the proposal about setting up bike lanes on 31st Street, an area that is already heavily congested by car traffic, foot traffic, and other forms of transportation. The car lanes are already narrow and I have witnessed numerous accidents (car and pedestrian) in the past few years. The traffic getting off the Triboro Bridge and Grand Central Parkway is already causing numerous delays for teachers and staff coming to work. In addition, many of our students come to school from the outer part of the borough and their parents have difficulties parking by the school. Creating a bike lane would take away much needed parking spaces and add more to the cars being double parked. Our parents are already receiving summonses for leaving their cars momentarily to check if their child(ren) are walking into school because of a lack of parking. Safety is a major concern for all New Yorkers. While I understand the fact that bicyclists are looking to exercise or go to work via this form of transportation, I also understand that our local politicians must find an alternate bike lane for them in an area that is less congested by automobiles and pedestrians. The streets under the elevated trains are not safe for bicyclists; automobile drivers will become further frustrated and more accidents will occur which is not good for any New Yorker." Helen Karagiorgos, Vice Principal of St. Demetrios School, 30-03 30th Dr. They also host street fairs during the spring months which would block the bike lane entirely.
"I feel like they’re trying to throw all of us (businesses) out of here. It’s like they want to make this whole street residential. Do they have any idea or even care about how many families this is going to affect? It’s going to affect eight families in my business alone. We are absolutely going to lose business. We have been here for over 40 years in this neighborhood. I also have huge trucks delivering and unloading heavy steel all day and they will be one hundred percent blocking the bike lane because that’s where my driveways are. I have trucks that I use for my business that I have no where else to put other than in my driveway. People are gonna get hurt. And the traffic is going to get worse. It already backs up all the way from the bridge every day." -Anthony G. Owner of Triboro Iron Works, 38-30 31st Street.
“They’re gonna interfere with our driveways and we won’t be able to load and unload. What happens to customers who want to stop here and ask a question quickly? I think this is a hardship on all businesses here. They didn’t even inform any of us about the meeting. I get gas deliveries, engine deliveries, truck deliveries. It would be very dangerous for cyclists. Traffic will back up more. It already takes me 15 minutes to go down the block during rush hour.”-Anthony. Co-Owner of Z&AD Service Station. His business has numerous entrances, exits, and loading zones on 31st Street.
"I pay $44,000 in real estate taxes and I can’t have access to the street. You will interfere with my business. I have been here for 35 years. This is very stupid.” Niko, owner of Z&AD Service Station, 31-05 38th Avenue. His business has numerous entrances, exits, and loading zones on 31st Street.
“People and deliveries will not be able to come in and out of our business easily since the bike lane would be in our driveway and we will lose business”. -Mia. Owner of United Auto Body and Repair, 38-06 31st Street.
“It will ruin our business since we can’t use our driveway anymore.” -Juan. Employee of Los Gatos Used Tires, a new and thriving business. 37-34 31st Street.
The driveways will be blocked by the bike lane and it will be dangerous since I have cars pulling in and out all day and I will lose business since I can no longer park in my driveway.” Kosta. Owner of Kostas Auto Repair, 38-07 37th Avenue, who’s driveways and shop entrance are on 31st Street.
These are just some of the frustrated businesspeople on 31st Street. Many of these businesses have been a vital part of our neighborhood for decades.
Nearly 200 frustrated residents have also left their thoughts in the comments section below.
This petition will be submitted to: Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, Councilman Costa Constantinides, Senator Michael Gianaris, Queens Community Board 1, and the New York City Department of Transportation
Please sign as accurately as possible. Thank you.
To complain, contact:
James O’Neill, NYC Department of Transportation: email@example.com
Samantha Dolgoff, NYC Department of Transportation: firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilman Costa Constantinides: 718-274-4500
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer: 718-383-9566
Senator Michael Gianaris: 718-728-0960