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Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce President Comes Out Against Bicycle Lanes, Launches Petition

Feb. 13, 2018 By Tara Law

Opposition to the bike lanes on Queens Boulevard is mounting with the leader of the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce launching a petition against their expansion.

Leslie Brown, president of the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce, posted a Change.org petition online Friday calling on the city to scrap its plans to add protected bike lanes on Queens Boulevard between Yellowstone Boulevard and Union Turnpike.

The petition, called “Help Small Business & Save Forest Hills Parking Spots,” had collected more than 500 signatures by the end of Monday.

The planned installation of bike lanes and safety improvements to the one mile stretch is part of Phase IV of the Queens Boulevard redesign that the DOT aims to install this summer.

“Transportation Alternatives are lobbying for bike lanes to be put in along Queens Blvd from the cross street of Yellowstone Blvd to Union Turnpike [Phase IV] in Forest Hills,” reads Brown’s petition. “This will remove several hundred parking spaces catering to small businesses. Forest Hills businesses are struggling to stay in business as it is, as more and more consumers are shopping online.”

Since 2015, bike lanes have been installed from Roosevelt Avenue (Woodside) to Yellowstone Boulevard along Queens Boulevard, generating a great deal of controversy among community boards and the public.

Bike lane advocates, however, have argued that the project has significantly increased safety along the thoroughfare. No pedestrians or cyclists have been killed along Queens Boulevard since 2014, according to Department of Transportation data.

Despite this, the project has drawn the ire of many motorists, with many claiming the changes have made driving more difficult. Many business owners, particularly those with establishments between Eliot Avenue to Yellowstone Boulevard (Phase III), claim that the elimination of 168 parking spots in that section of the boulevard has hurt business.

NIcole Lin, who owns Sushi Sake at 95-34 Queens Blvd, said that her customers constantly complain about the lack of parking. She claims that her bottom line has declined precipitously since the installation of the bike lanes last year as part of Phase III.

“It’s been really cut off,” she said. “We used to make $3,000, $4,000 [revenue] on a weekday. Now we make $2,000, $2,200, $2,300. Sometimes it’s $1,600, and I couldn’t cover the expenses for the day. We just barely make it.”

(Photo: Yelp Nga. C)

Celia Dominguez is the head cashier at Lot Less Closeouts, where she has worked for 12 years. The store is located at 96-32 Queens Blvd, along a part of the road where there are new bike lanes, and Dominguez said that the change has been tough.

“There’s a big, big change. Sales have gone down,” Dominguez said. “Customers always complain that there’s no parking.”

The new truck loading zone directly in front of the store has posed a particular problem, Dominguez said. Customers often fail to see that the area is designated for trucks and get ticketed for parking there. The store’s management hung additional signs on the store’s front doors to warn customers.

Brown wrote in the petition she released Friday that the experiences of businesses affected by the previous phases are a warning for business owners of what’s to come.

“The businesses located in this area are suffering financial losses and customers are shopping elsewhere,” she wrote. “These lanes cannot expand eastward into Forest Hills and compromise the heartbeat of the Forest Hills neighborhood that are our small businesses.”

The petition claims that only a small handful of bike riders use the lanes throughout the day.

The DOT released its findings in January as to the number of bicyclists who use Queens Boulevard between Yellowstone Boulevard and Union Turnpike on an average weekday. It determined that between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. 192 bicyclists ride on average in either direction. This equates to just 16 an hour (or eight going in either direction).

Juan Restrepo, a Transportation Alternatives staffer and Queens Organizer, expressed frustration about the petition. He said that community members are reiterating the same arguments against bike lanes instead of working to make the lanes more effective.

Restrepo noted that 12,000 people have signed Transportation Alternatives’ own petition, which calls for protected bike lanes, safer crosswalks and increased greenery along Queens Boulevard.

“I’m not going to damper the seriousness of a business losing money because its customers are having difficulty getting there,” Restrepo said. “But they’re kidding themselves a little bit if they want cars to be the dominant mode of transportation in our society.”

The campaign for bike lanes on the boulevard began 10 years ago following the death of cyclist Asif Rahman, 22, Restrepo said. Since then, he said, Queens Boulevard has become significantly safer.

The DOT would not comment as to the number of parking spaces that are likely to be lost as a result of Phase IV, saying that it is still working on the plan..

“DOT is still in the early stages of outreach for the fourth phase of this safety redesign,” the agency said. “Our street ambassadors are currently meeting directly with merchants along this section of the corridor and have been on the street collecting feedback and surveys. We expect to go back to Community Board 6 in the spring and will look to implement safety improvements later this year.”

Photos of presentation (yet to be online)

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49 Comments

Jeff

All of the businesses in the article that claim they need the parking are dependent on local residents. No one is driving from far away to shop at Lot Less and Saki Sushi. These shoppers might have to learn to walk or bike to their neighborhood stores.




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Jacob

lol It’s true. A lot of these struggling businesses are not with the times. No one is making an out of the way trip from far away to go to Saki Sushi or Tropix. Ben’s Best is a stretch at best and barely deserving of a trek considering its a one trick pony and super expensive . They were struggling in the first place and need to look in the mirror as to how they can turn it around. Waiting for a community meeting that likely wont change the bike lanes, that just ensures they will continue be left behind. Whining doesnt work. Reassessing your prices, services and adapting to the times works better.




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Oscar

HOW MUCH DOES THIS COST? The DOT is too embarrassed to release the cost figures for this. It would likely cause a revolution.




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Brett

http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/about/current-projects.shtml

is project proposes to continue the work DOT installed between Roosevelt Ave and Eliot Ave in 2015 and 2016 and also lays the groundwork for a $100 million capital investment on Queens Boulevard, a Vision Zero Priority Corridor, as part of the de Blasio Administration’s Great Streets initiative.

Its not going anywhere guys. so get used to it. Drive less. Drive SMALLER cars that park easily, use Lyft/Uber. Queens blvd for decades has a bad rap for traffic and the admin has made Queens blvd a cornerstone project more or less. Look at all these PDF’s We are just one of many. They wont change it for our little bubble. The rest of new york city has learned to adopt and accept.




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Oscar

Don’t people realize that traffic now in Manhattan is worse than it was with no bike lanes? Talk to any cab driver (or just drive up an avenue that is clogged with cars trying to turn through bike lanes and trucks that have to block 2 lanes now while loading) and they will tell you it takes much longer to get around with the bike lanes. So much for saving carbon.




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Tony

We all pay taxes, and if anything bikers don’t pound the road like large cars and trucks that necessitate road repair work. A car needs higher registration and paperwork and costs because it has the the most capability on the road (distance traveled, numbers of people transported) Why don’t you then register pedestrians then , they cross the road also .




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Oscar

Dedicated bike lanes, their associated islands, traffic signals, surface preparation and maintenance, and line markings cost more than patching a pothole. Cost per biker exponentially exceeds cost per auto or pedestrian (pedestrians walk on sidewalks, FYI, and only cross roads).




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Jacob

Businesses need to focus on increasing foot traffic It’s not like the suburbs where a large number of parking spots in a large lot can support tons of people shopping for hours in the first place. If you are a queens business and NEED 3~5 cars in front to keep you a afloat ; you re doing it wrong




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Guest

Petition is a waste of time.

Try riding a bike, walking or using mass transportation more often.

The city is NOT going to remove the bicycle lanes, the city wants to encourage usage. The bike lanes reduce collisions between bicyclists and drivers, and the enhanced safety encourages more to ride a bike. NYC is very densely populated and people need to switch to more space efficient modes for most trips.




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Oscar

“It determined that between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. 192 bicyclists ride on average in either direction. This equates to just 16 an hour (or eight going in either direction).”

Can someone who knows the cost of the bike lanes run the numbers on how much we are subsidizing each per biker per year?




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Cat

Forest Hills is NOT Manhattan. People here drive, walk, ride their bikes and have done it for years. The bike lanes are costing everyone. If the businesses close and new business can’t or won’t take its place because of customer traffic it hurts EVERYONE.




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Guest

Businesses on Queens Blvd depend on vistors who arrive via mass transportation or on foot. Not automobiles.




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Oscar

I drive to places on QB frequently. Sometimes it’s more practical than taking a subway and carrying your load for 15 blocks to the nearest E.




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Jon G

It should be recognized that street designs change over time. Queens Blvd service roads used to have two moving lanes and one parking lane. The outer moving lane was converted to a second parking lane as a traffic calming measure in the face of dozens of serious injuries an deaths each year. No amount of additional parking or traffic lanes would be able to accommodate every potential customer that wants to drive to and park in Forest Hills. The Boulevard is THE central spine of the borough, and as such should be designed to safely accommodate ALL people, not just those who can afford to maintain a motor vehicle. People who absolutely depend on using a car should welcome anything that helps reduce the dependency on cars by the wider population. Lets say you are a soccer mom driving your kids around after school. Would it not be nice to allow your teenager to ride his own bike to school and activities on their own on a protected bike lane?




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Rob

The problem is not the bike lane, but the parking rules and prices — they’re too cheap. Let’s shorten the times on those meters and raise meter prices; this will increase TURNOVER of drivers to get more shoppers. Learn more about this by searching for the work of Professor Donald Shoup, our country’s expert on parking.




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tom nuamcharoen

so true i drive everyday same problem traffic getting worse especially around queen mall with useless bike lane




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Iris Gretano

This is moronic!!! Who approved this garbage??? All of the above comments are right on target!!! There are hardly any bike riders here but there are many cars that need parking spaces and many businesses that are losing customers!!! Please get this overturned now for the comfort, convenience and safety of our community!!!




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Guest

Most businesses on Queens Blvd depend on foot traffic and people who visit via mass transportation, not drivers.




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Midtowngirl

I am going to sign the petition. I drive on Queen’s Blvd. all the time. I think the bike lanes have made things worse and more dangerous for everyone. Last night I was on Queen’s Blvd. and half the time I had to take my car into the bike lane as cars were pulled over to let people out, trucks making deliveries etc. Saw a garbage truck stopped in the bike lane and police using it as a fast route to go to an emergency. Entering and especially exiting the main road in a car is treacherous. You better have good neck muscles to be able to see if anything is coming because the angle is particularly awkward. By the way, entire time i was out including sitting by a window dining and looking at Queens Blvd. I saw ONE BIKE ONLY. Hardly ever see any. My business dealings have definitely gone down on Queens Blvd. due to lack of parking. Also there are a lot of doctors and a lot of seniors who would prefer to take their cars to appointments rather than use public trans (especially subway). Please stay away from Yellowstone and 71st. Ave. with any further bike lanes. THey dont work




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Guest

“Entering and especially exiting the main road in a car is treacherous.”

Now imagine being on a bicycle and having to merge around double-parked vehicles while drivers are speeding past.




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Not blind

Get off your bike when you’re t is too dangerous t9 maneuver. People stop. Cars stop. Buses stop. Get the picture? The city does not owe you an ideal trip. No one else has one.




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kathy

bike lanes ridiculous. . . hard enough parking .. ashame for businesses and shoppers. .. people double parking… Queens blvd is a mess. get rid of them




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Ben

Welcome to New York. Parking sucks EVERYWHERE. Cars on QB get 4 lanes in each direction and parking, but you can’t share a little space with walkers, runners and bikers? I am a driver, and even *I* can see that’s selfish.




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Anne Rosen

People who ride bikes don’t pay high insurance premiums, pay the state to register or inspect their bikes and don’t pay tolls so why are bikers being catered to? Also I wish the FHCOC would do something to stop the building of the ugly and disgusting structures down Jewel Ave and surrounding areas!




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Guest

I bike and own multiple automobiles/properties and likely pay more in taxes than you do, why should the city cater to you?

Oh, wait that’s right, because this is a CITY and roads are SHARED PUBLIC SPACE.

The bike lanes were introduced because too many drivers are careless.




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Oscar

More bikers are more careless.

You have always been welcome to share the road. Now we’re paying to pave it just for you and the other 17 people a day who use it.




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Ben

You pay tolls for Queens Blvd? And what do your insurance premiums or inspection fees have to do with the bikes or sidewalks? Do I have to pay to walk on the sidewalk? Because there are a hell of a lot more padestrians in NYC than there are motorists.




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Nicholas

I live on 62 ave and Saunders st. That is one block West of Queens boulevard one block South of Elliot ave. 1st and foremost I must say as a bike rider one needs to pay attention to everything around you.
People need to be aware of their surroundings and to keep themselves safe. I am sick and tired of the government and the morons and politicians that put forth these proposals. Sure the bike lanes make everything easier but personally I don’t need them – I’m a grown man with 2 eyes and a brain. I have been riding a bike all my life. I’m 55 years old. “I don’t need no stinkin bike lanes”. I have to agree with the business owners,I say scrap the whole thing especially since it came from the moron Communist pig of a mayor Dibastardo/retardo.




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Adrian

My father doesn’t want me riding my bike because he doesn’t want to lose his son. I follow all the rules, but when a single reckless driver comes and I’m in his way. I’ll be dead.




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Guest

And NYC is full of reckless and incompetent drivers. Most people should not be allowed to operated motor vehicles on the road.




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Ben

Drivers are wreck less in this city because all of us are pissed off, it takes to long to get anywhere by any mode of transportation, and you have to fight just to keep you spot. Drivers are not bad people. Neither are bikers. But when nearly ever car, pedestrian, and bike feels this way, we had better protect the more easily damaged. Because when we commute like this, one of us is gonna get hurt. I hear a lot more in the news about drivers killing padestrians than I do about padestrians or cyclists killing drivers.




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Tony

you may feel like YOU dont need them, but it may make OTHERS feel safer in the future. They need to make it more accessible so 1) more than just hardcore confident cyclists use them 2) more people cycle and less people drive




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Michael Boylan

Traffic flow is now worse than ever on Queens Blvd. & Woodhaven/Crossbay Blvd due to unnecessary bike lanes and bus lanes.




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Guest

Try taking the bus or riding a bike? Or just drive a bit longer so that people on bikes can travel more safely or people on buses can get more priority (because they should be).




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David

This is not just parking problems, but many exits from main road to service road, or other way around are closed, which makes motorists drive extra miles to get to their destination.




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C

Adding bike lanes didn’t change this. If anything the redesigned exits off QB have made it safer for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.




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Ed Pino

Why should cars be more important than pedestrians or bikes. If we are talking about local businesses then you would welcome local bike riders and walkers too!
We are too car centric and that thinking needs to change.
Yes I ride a bike but also walk and drive my car in Forest Hills. If I need something I will walk. I pay for a parking spot on a monthly basis. There is no such thing anymore as FREE PARKING. Get used to a new way of life.




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ginas13

The bike lanes are getting out of control and most locations make no sense. Some are on streets barely wide enough for one car let along another lane for Bicycles.




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