Feb. 24, 2016 By Jackie Strawbridge
A slew of traffic changes coming to the streets around Astoria Park sparked a community petition last week, continuing disagreement over how to best handle these roads.
Last week, Community Board 1 approved three proposals from the Department of Transportation that include revamped roadways with new protected bike lanes on Shore Boulevard, 20th Avenue and Hoyt Avenue North, as well as making Shore Boulevard one-way.
CB 1 voted 34 to one in favor of the DOT’s plan and Councilman Costa Constantinides has also voiced his support, while community members voiced mixed opinions.
The traffic changes are expected to be implemented by the end of the summer.
However, following CB 1’s vote, a Change.org petition was launched to register dissatisfaction with the DOT’s planned traffic changes and propose alternatives.
One substantial alternative that the petition proposes is to build a viaduct on the East River to widen Shore Boulevard, in an effort to keep the bike lanes in the DOT’s plan without losing a lane of traffic.
“[CB 1] voted on a string of safety ‘improvements’ without any input or any consideration for the Community,” the petition reads. “Safety is very important and very paramount but it should also be done in a way that it does not inconvenience others and/or in a way that does not cause friction amongst all members of the community.”
Peter Argyris, who launched the petition, could not immediately be reached for further comment.
When asked for comment on this petition, CB 1 District Manager Florence Koulouris pointed to a community traffic workshop hosted last fall for the DOT to collect ideas, as well as other outreach and walkabouts conducted ahead of the final DOT proposal. She added, “this [traffic plan] is what the people said they wanted.”
Constantinides similarly told the Astoria Post Wednesday, “the traffic safety improvements for the streets surrounding Astoria Park were approved with transparency and following public input at a well-attended workshop, Community Board hearings and by an overwhelming majority of the Board 34-1.”
“Implementing traffic safety measures will make our gateways safer, enhance connections between the park and waterfront, increase ADA accessibility, improve traffic safety for children, and reduce speeding,” he added.
The DOT’s revamp and this petition come on the heels of months of debate over traffic safety around Astoria Park, which has been particularly focused on Shore Boulevard.
Argyris was also behind a popular petition last summer against banning cars on Shore Boulevard, which had been proposed by Assembly Member Aravella Simotas.
That petition garnered more than 1,200 signatures.
The first petition said no to banning cars on shore blvd. Well, they are not banned. On line petitions are a joke anyway. Digital signatures are useless. Last time, they had over 1000 signatures and 75 people showed up for the meeting with CB1 and DOT. Stop hiding behind a computer and instead get out there and take action.
Whatever happens, I wish there was something done about those motorcycles that race around the perimeter of the park, usually on sunny weekends. Usually screaming around like they have broken mufflers.
I don’t see why this is an issue, there was a public traffic workshop on Oct 28th. I would have liked to go but was away. As someone who was born & raised in Astoria who loves all the new energy in the area & welcome new comers to Astoria we have to make adjustments to accommodate the opportunity we have to enjoy our park. Growing up it was not always safe riding our bikes around because there were no bike lanes. Then again don’t think there were as many people taking advantage of the great park we have. Either plan sounds fine, the point is that it is being addressed. Not everyone will be happy it they make Shore Blvd a one way but at least it’ goes one way from 20th ave to Hoyt south, that’s a great way to ride & take in the view. The viaduct option is interesting but was it presented at the public traffic workshop ? If so great, it was presented. If not then this falls into the case of people not getting involved & participating when possible but later complaining. I don’t know if this is what happened here but I do know that often times people who are not happy & vocal about decisions being made in the area are not contributing to the process.
I have many neighbors (old astorians & new) who have their opinions & complain but when offered to attend a meeting they say it’s not for them. You simply can not have it both ways. Be part of the solution or stay quiet & don’t impede the progress that is being made to resolve the issue or concern.
Lived near the Park for 14 yrs. (20th & 20th). Why bike lanes? Can’t they ride thru the park? What Shore needs are serious speed bumps. No cycle or car racing. This road is the main hangout mile for the area youth, away from the houses on 19th st., which would pick up the N/B traffic of kids circling the Park. Shore S/B only? Bad idea.