With the full installation of Oceania/210th Protected Bike Lane compete, we’re getting a lot of community requests asking for more street improvements in the the neighborhood. Last Saturday we went to the Greenway to talk to a real sample of community members about what they thought about the improvements.
The vast majority of neighbors we met were huge supporters of the new protected bike lanes. They understood how important it was to slow down residential streets and why Nathaniel Hawthorne MS 74 requested this change to give kids safe access to their schools. Most people couldn’t understand why there would be any opposition.
We were able to find a few residents who where against the changes. They told us that they felt narrow lanes would not decrease speeding (as DoT has claimed) and that snow plows and delivery trucks wouldn’t be able to operate in this space. Since the driving lanes of 210th / Oceania is now the width of a normal Queens neighborhood street, we don’t have any concerns that our city agencies will have special problems here. Over the next few years it will be easy to review the NYPD crash data to see if there is an increase or decrease in injuries along this stretch. The goal of this project is to make the street safer for everyone. Looking at similar treatments across New York City we expect safety to improve and (without scientific measurements) we have already found a major decrease in speeding here, but if the street really does become more dangerous we will be the first ones to call for changes.
The one thing we found consistent was that people deeply care about their streets. Everyone wants the best engineering possible because we know the benefits of good street design. Our roads were built decades ago have not kept up with new engineering or the ever evolving communities of Eastern Queens. We hope to continue working with politicians like Barry Grodenchik to reevaluate our roads so they serve our community better.
While we were talking to fellow community members, we met Nicole jogging along the Motor Parkway. Nicole is highly accomplished artist, incorporating her neighbors into her artwork. She’s been featured in articles including “The Daredevil and the Artist” and “Artist with autism captures personalities on paper“. She recently leaned how to ride a bicycle, but she didn’t yet feel comfortable riding on the Motor Parkway, let alone on car filled streets. Meeting Nicole reminded us why it’s so important to fight to make all of our street and greenways safer for all our neighbors.
We hope community institutions like Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School 74 will continue to demand street improvements, like they did on Oceania, to keep their kids safe. We hope Community Boards will support community requests, like Commmunity Board 11 did here voting unanimously for the protected bike lane. And we hope to continue to have support from our local politicians, like Barry Grodenchik, making sure our streets serve our entire community. Working together, we can make great things happen.