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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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27 Comments

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Fred

Get Astoria cars & trucks OFF the sidewalks
Sidewalks are for pedestrians
Thank you Costa & Jimmy for protecting bike commuters on Crescent and 31st St!

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Sue

I live near this area and I sometimes bike with my cat. Protected bike lanes are welcomed.

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Blake

More bike lanes will lead to faster food deliveries! This will help more business than hurt it. Say goodbye to idle and double parked cars along 31 street!

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Sara

If some of these business and workers had their way they would turn our public sidewalks and streets into customer and worker only areas. I already called the council office and told them I approve.

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Laura

This winter has been so mild and if the construction of protected bike lanes along 31st St. was completed by now so many people would of used it.

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Anthony J. Gigantiello Jr.

Why not put these lanes on a side street with less traffic most logical. The.

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jenastoriat

Ludicrous. The situation is dangerous now. But presumably these businesses are also unaware that bikes have a right of way already. Of course a car repair is against bikes. The souvlaki truck creates a problem itself by blocking the street, spewing potentially carcinogenic smoke, and attracting double parking.

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Angelo

I spoke with Jack from Jimmy Bramers office who stated “we look out for the people and that’s what the people want” then he hung up. The people – real people of Astoria say NO bikes, the crazy people who want these bikes and come from outside have NO say in this community.

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Harry Bingham IV

I’m against bike lanes but this effort is futile. Nothing can stop the leftist bike nazis that have taken over this city. The left hates cars almost as much as it hates guns.

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John

lol Access Auto and Tire Center wants to keep blocking sidewalks and streets with the cars they are working on .

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Pat Macnamara

Enough with the bike lanes. 31st street is a mess as is. Stop making life miserable for the businesses that generate much needed tax revenue for this city.

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Bad move

Setting up an opposition group is a really bad move. There are huge upsides to this for the businesses if they participate in the process. Heck the souvlaki king could even get a public plaza with seating by his truck out of the deal.

So do they want to influence the change or have the change happen to them? If we look across the yards at Sunnyside the business chamber there set up a conspiracy troll hate group. Hopefully these businesses will take a different route, but this is certainly a bad first move on their part.

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Mike

I support the construction of protected bike lanes along 31st Street. Keep it in this area where there is the space and away from predominately residential streets.

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Frank

Oh please! The petition is from some business owners and workers in the area that are upset because they will not be able to double park cars and get away with not obeying traffic and parking laws.

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Anonymous

DOT should put loading zones in front of the business who feel they will be impacted by this.

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Marsha

Many of the bike lanes already in route go through shared driveways (both public and private). As long as people are aware and careful it is not a big problem.

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