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Op-Ed: I Love Biking Too, but the Crescent Street Bike Lane Is a Disaster

A woman enters traffic with her baby carriage while a USPS van is parked in the bike lane (Photo: Courtesy of Edwin DeJesus)

Sept. 17, 2021 Op-Ed By Edwin DeJesus, candidate for the 22nd District

ASTORIA, NY I am a healthy 24-year-old man who commutes to work on a bicycle, and I love it. I think it’s a great alternative mode of transportation. However, I understand that there is a huge community of people who cannot or prefer not to bike around the city.

I have spoken with many local residents who feel ignored by the rollout of bike lanes and Lyft-owned Citi bike docking stations in northwest Queens. The major rollout of docking stations throughout 2021 has been uncareful and unsafe. It does not align with the interests of our community.

The 2-way bike lane on Crescent Street is dangerous because it runs against oncoming traffic on a busy street near Mt. Sinai hospital. Last Sunday marked 10 months since Alfredo Cabrera Licona was killed by a reckless driver in this bike lane – a collision that could have been avoided with proper bike lane placement.

Protecting bike lanes is necessary; however, the majority of cycling-related accidents occur at intersections. A bike lane going the opposite way never belonged on Crescent Street. There are better side streets for DOT to allocate its resources within Astoria, Woodside, Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst.

Edwin DeJesus is a candidate for the 22nd District of New York City Council (Photo Courtesy of Edwin DeJesus)

Many of us are in favor of making the streets safer. Recently, I was almost hit by a car while I was trying to access Citi bike parking on 29th Street and 24th Avenue, near the Triboro Bridge. Not only is it dangerous to dock a bike in the middle of a street, it is reckless of large corporations like Lyft to normalize not wearing a helmet.

I recently met Aubrey Manfredi, a lifelong Astoria resident who is disabled. She told me the following about living near the Crescent Street lane: “It’s good for bike riders but not for people like me, who are going to the store. It’s very hard. Trucks get stuck in the bike lane because there is no room. Parking space is so limited. Cars are waiting for a spot every morning.”

Manfredi’s family is now paying $225 each month to reserve a private parking spot a few minutes away from her apartment. “It really has affected my health. In the snow, I have to walk to the corner to get into the car. I can’t get into the car in front of my house because of the parking, and it’s painful for me to walk.”

A lack of parking space results in overcrowded streets, which makes it difficult for ambulances to reach hospitals like Mount Sinai, and difficult for delivery vans to serve our families in Astoria. Ultimately, workers are forced to idle in the bike lane, causing further danger and noise pollution.

Circling the block or idling to wait for a parking spot results in higher emissions and defeats the green objective behind the ramping up of bike lanes citywide. Furthermore, our city should have compassion for the many families who lack the financial means to afford a driveway.

Street parking is a necessity during a deadly pandemic, especially for immunocompromised folks who must avoid public transportation. We need to be much smarter and more class conscious in determining the location of bike lanes.

The development of new infrastructure must incorporate common sense. In particular, we can move Citi bike docking away from alternate side parking onto wider sidewalks, and add mini-stations near schools and bus stops.

A Citi bike docking station built on alternate side street parking (Photo: Courtesy of Edwin DeJesus)

If we are going to reimagine the relationship between motorists and cyclists, there must be some compromise involved. For example, instead of creating rush hour congestion with a bike lane on the 59th Street bridge, the city could significantly expand ferry service between Queens and Manhattan for cyclists’ benefit.

This is not a battle between motorists and cyclists. This is a result of corporate greed and corrupt politics which are failing us. We must hold our leadership accountable for systemic issues due to a lack of consideration for the most vulnerable. As a community, we ought to stand in solidarity; we must make it clear to city leaders when new transportation initiatives are hurting New Yorkers.

Unfortunately, both Democrat and Republican politicians care more about re-election and their resume than doing the right thing. A selfish City Council member would boast, “I placed X amount of bike lanes during my tenure” without considering the impact on residential and commercial streets. That is no way for a representative of the people to think and behave.

We must push for a smarter rollout of bike lane placement which preserves street parking, reduces congestion and maintains quality of life for seniors, students, veterans and the disabled. Bike lanes should be approved by the community and only implemented if appropriate safety guidelines are met. Above all, we ought to design a system of decision making that works for everyone in Astoria.

Edwin DeJesus is a candidate for the 22nd District of New York City Council. He is running as an independent Green in the November 2nd general election.

email the author: [email protected]

31 Comments

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Vexed

As a cyclist, I believe this bike lane is the absolute worst. It is such overkill and so poorly placed.

There is no need for a two way bike lane on such a busy street. A single lane would have been sufficient and much safer. A lane running the opposite direction could simply be set up on the next street down, in line with the flow of traffic.

Worse still, the bike lane was added alongside very aggressive cut outs for “no parking” zones that overshoot the required distances.

Now the city has begun placing bike racks in front of fire hydrants on Crescent street (eg: corner of 35 Ave) defeating the entire purpose of keeping the hydrant space clear.

No one will _ever_ use these bike racks since there are not many businesses around and no one is stupid enough to park their bike overnight here.

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Geanine

Edwin, BRAVO to you for writing this! I have lived on Crescent between 35th/36th for the past 25 years and have been very proud of the fact that we had such a wide street which made it safer. My first grandchild was born in April of 2020 and I cannot tell you how scary it is to get him in/out of my son’s car. One day my son had temporarily parked in the bike lane so he could unload my grandson and groceries and was cussed out by a cyclist. I cannot tell you how many times I have witnessed cars driving up Crescent in the bike lane because of backed-up traffic going onto the bridge. I too am for everyone’s safety, obviously including cyclists and people on scooters, etc., but it’s become so dangerous to cross the street. God forbid I’m in an Uber or similar and need to be dropped off – I wind up telling them to drop me off on the right where I block a driveway because there is no other place to be dropped off. I have now been working from home since March of 2020 and I have witnessed (by sticking my head out of my kitchen window) fights and I hear a lot of horns and cursing. Let’s not forget how many parking spaces we have lost due to the bike lanes. I feel this was a very bad choice and more due diligence should have gone into. I honestly dream of the day when the bike lanes on Crescent will be a thing of the past or I can relocate my apartment building.

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Marge Weber

The bike lanes should only be one way…..the way the traffic is going. I have been almost run down by bikers on two occasions now (I am 78 years old). I was in the lane crossing and a biker going in the opposite direction of the traffic sped up and I had to jump back….I yelled at him and he called me a bitch! Some bikers feel they have the right of way.

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jenastoriat

The opinion of Mr. DeJesus is misleading and misstates several facts. For instance, Mr. Licona died because a truck made an illegal turn into Crescent Street and then entered the bike lane, killing Licona. (Trucks are not permitted on that stretch except for deliveries; the driver also ran over the barriers).
DeJesus appears to be a thinly veiled regressive candidate with backing of anti-bike, anti-prevent climate change, anti-progress groups. This piece is evidently his attempt to enter politics, but his position is contrary to most Astorians. He may not get too far.
The Crescent Street lane has been wildly successful and bike infractructure across the city continues to grow. 2-way lanes are clearly safest for bikers and convenient. What is needed is some safety refinements, like adjustments to traffic signal timing, and vigorous enforcement against vehicles that illegally block or park in bike lanes. Mr. DeJesus does not seem concerned with the risks caused by those well known problems.

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Columbus

I love it when I see delivery drivers biking in the middle of the street right next to empty bike lanes. By the way, they didn’t “make” bike lanes; they simply moved parked cars into the middle of the street.

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joe_the_accountant

Great, a candidate that wants to make the ferry boondoggle even worse. Doesn’t he realize that each passenger on the ferry costs the MTA (meaning we taxpayers) around $13 and the fare is the standard $2.75. Everyone on those grossly polluting ferries should be thanking all the taxpayers that are paying for their ride.

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Jefferson's Ghost

What makes you think an elderly, disabled person has the resources to “just move” deeper into Astoria? THINK before you self-validate your elitist tendencies.

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BRIAN

Thank you for this. As a fellow bicyclist who lives on Crescent St., I wholeheartedly agree. The design and placement of this bike lane is flawed and dangerous, not only for the reasons outlined here, but from a pedestrian’s perspective. The bike lane seems to be used by electric, motorized bikes more than actual cyclists. It’s terrifying to cross the street, especially for elderly, and those with small children.

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Car owner/cyclist/pedestrian

I understand the frustration of a disabled woman who now has to trace further for her car, but I don’t think it outweighs the benefit of the convenience of a safer commute for thousands. Astoria is not some suburban metropolis, it’s a neighborhood where thousands and thousands of people live. Those people need to be able to live around safely. If you need the benefit of parking outside your home, maybe move deeper into Astoria, or an area that doesn’t have so many people trying to move through it.

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Thouhid

I live in 30th drive between Crescent and 23rd street, its a nightmare to get parking here and driving in crescent st is even worse. When i drive I’m always scared I might going to hit any biker when making turns. Its so stupid idea if having those city bikes in the alternate side parking instead of in the sidewalk. Whoever came up with the idea have horrible sense of the street in NYC.

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Miha Glockenspiel

Problem accessed, blame given, almost no solutions hinted at. You mirror exactly the current level of discussion. But you must realize that a compromise what works fir everyone is not possible in culture saturated with 50 years of car culture, little city planing for people but product. You fail to mention the raise in car ownership due to COVID in all borrows and the lack of trust in public transport turning right at school start everything on its head. I hope for more constructive criticism beyond ferries for cyclists

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georgetheatheist

10 years from now – as he ages – DeJesus’ bike will be rusting and he’ll be driving a car.

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Josh

I remember when the green party actually stood for protecting the environment and fighting for health care. Now we get this idiot clown who is against bike lanes and vaccine mandates. Very sad to see right wing charlatans like this take over the green party.

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Joe

We stood up to it on 31st Street. We won. Imagine what a disaster that would have been. Everything you wrote, Edwin, was spot on.

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Ed Babcock

Good start. Now you’ve got to get the mold out of your other eye, start paying your way. Roads in New York State and bridges are paid for by the road tax which is collected at the fuel pump. If you aren’t buying any fuel then you are not paying any tax. When you start addressing that question, then you will be on your way to being a responsible citizen

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DB

Edwin, you hit just so far off the mark on every bit here. Really disappointing to see such a naive take on bike lanes from someone who supposedly supports them.

“A lack of parking space results in overcrowded streets, which makes it difficult for ambulances to reach hospitals like Mount Sinai, and difficult for delivery vans to serve our families in Astoria. Ultimately, workers are forced to idle in the bike lane, causing further danger and noise pollution.”

Workers are forced to idle in the bike lane? BS, they choose to go there because it’s open and easier than pulling over 10 feet away since no one will ever do anything to stop them.

“For example, instead of creating rush hour congestion with a bike lane on the 59th Street bridge, the city could significantly expand ferry service between Queens and Manhattan for cyclists’ benefit.”

What? This is just nonsense. You want cyclists to ride a ferry across the river so they don’t go over a bridge? Why waste money on something that serves no purpose?

You’re looking the problem in the eyes and somehow blaming bike lanes. It’s cars. There are too many cars in this city considering the rich amount of public transit options we have. Focusing on the necessity for cars and parking spots just completely ignores all the workers and families unable to afford a multi-thousand dollar personal transit vehicle. More parking spaces won’t fix anything because they’ll be just as full as before.

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Eric Harold

I use the Crescent street bike lane and I think it’s great. Traffic has finally slowed down to the posted speed limit. It sounds like the writer is more concerned about his free parking space than the best use of city streets. With increased construction we can’t all have a car. Inner cities are going to have to limit cars and we are going to have to convert some parking spaces to loading zones with the increase use of online shopping. Astoria is no longer a bedroom community and is looking more like Manhattan than it does Bayside. Zipcar, Citibike and Uber will be a larger part of our streetscape and Crescent St is here for good.

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Adam

Fascinating that a “Green” “working class” candidate wants to rip out bike lanes that are used by hundreds of delivery workers daily in favor of fossil-fuel infrastructure like car parking. Why hasn’t he considered worker-friendly and climate-friendly solutions like loading zones instead of private car storage? Could it be because he’s not a serious candidate?

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Bernie Bliss

Thank you for making sense Edwin. All these bicycle “improvements” where done to fast and too heavy handed.

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Antonia Papadouris

I also believe that anyone riding a bike in the bike lane should have to get some type of permit maybe online proving that they have learned the road regulations needed to share the roads with vehicles. Just today I saw 3 bike riders at an intersection run the red light simultaneously one made a right turn and two went straight at opposite directions, if a vehicle was to accidentally hit one of them to avoid the other whose fault is that. Just like a vehicle driver needs a drivers license proving that they know driving regulations needed to be on the road so should the bike riders. I also so a bike rider not riding in the bike lane but on the opposite side of the street.

For safety reasons alone pedestrians, bike riders and vehicles, they need to regulate the bike riders better.

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Eric

Did a vehicle hit them? Was anyone in danger? Since you didn’t mention anyone getting hurt it sounds like you aren’t actually concerned with practical safety issues but just want bike lanes removed and for biking to be more difficult to do.

Someone concerned about safety wouldn’t turn a blind eye to the awful drivers in this city. You can’t walk for more than a couple blocks without seeing some sort of violation posing an actual safety issue. I can’t count the number of times a driver has refused to stop at a stop sign and I’ve had to yell at them before they would let me cross.

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Bike rides

Does Edwin know how energy inefficient a ferry is? Is he actually a green candidate or did he just make his own and thought “green” wasn’t taken?

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Brady

As an Astoria resident, I’m frustrated to see this view. If we want safer streets, we should be advocating for more bike lanes, rather than taking out existing lanes. The Crescent Street bike lane is fantastic and I feel lucky to have it in the neighborhood. We need more actually protected bike lanes (between parked cars and the sidewalk or with clear protective barriers, unlike lanes on 35th St for example that leave you out in traffic). We should be planning an east-west bike lane (or multiple) in the neighborhood with similarly good protection. Bikes provide a a great transportation option that can be safe, healthy, and environmentally-friendly. And especially for those of us who can’t afford a car, it’s a great supplement to the subway, particularly given the subpar service on the N. Reading DeJesus’ lack of judgement here provides yet another reason to vote for Cabán instead.

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Pat Macnamara

He’s got my vote. Anyone who thinks Caban and the rest of the progressive socialists masquerading as Democrats gives a crap about them is sadly mistaken. These lanes and docking stations crop up out of nowhere and add to already congested streets. They have created confusing traffic patterns that cause more harm than good. All too often these bike lanes are empty. Just because they are installed doesn’t mean citizens should junk their cars and ride their fixies everywhere. The subways have been an abomination for decades-yet the solution to that mess is to ride a bike? Why not make these wonderful Progressives do something like take on the corruption within the MTA? They won’t because they are part of the corruption. But keep following the narrative they espouse. Under their leadership streets are filthy, homeless everywhere, crime on the rise, rents once again skyrocketing, and unemployment still very high. Keep Voting Democrat though.

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Make Astoria Greek Again

As an Astoria native I could tell you this bike lane was a horrible idea from the beginning. The only people who really wanted this or thought it was a good idea were people who wanted votes and people who are anti-car. This is a very busy street that has a hospital and three schools along the route. Who in their right mind thought it was a good idea to add bike traffic to it? Also keep in mind that it becomes a truck route towards the bridge when the trucks turning from 21st have to take Crescent to get on the bridge. Horrible idea that was completed during the pandemic without any regards to normal day activity. Spend an hour on any corner along Crescent street and observe how many cyclists don’t follow the rules and ride with a sense of entitlement. The second someone gets hit everyone is ready to blame the driver regardless of who caused the accident, and will start campaigning as to why cars need to be eliminated form society. Crescent street was not the right location for connection to the bridge. As far as Caban goes, you’re falling for the trick. This person wants to eliminate cops from society because in her mind, society will heal itself and criminals along with low-life’s will no longer exist. Not sure what world she lives in but that is impossible and anyone who believes that needs to check themselves if they are really an adult.

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