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Melinda Katz’s “Bike Master Plan” Better Be More Than a Delay Tactic

Queens Boulevard bike lane phase 2

The city extended the Queens Boulevard bike lane to Elmhurst last year without the support of Borough President Melinda Katz. Photo: DOT

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz is again calling on NYC DOT to create a master plan for bike lanes in the borough.

"It's a good thing, bike lanes," Katz said during her annual State of the Borough speech this morning, reports Transportation Alternatives Queens organizer Juan Restrepo.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz thinks parking mandates are more important than Photo: MelindaKatz/Twitter
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz won't denounce the comments of the community board member who said pedestrians using cell phones 'deserve' to get run over. Photo: MelindaKatz/Twitter

It's good to hear Katz express support for expanding the Queens bike network, which is much more sparse than Brooklyn and Manhattan.

But in calling for a borough-wide bike master plan, her new statement echoes comments she made in May against Mayor de Blasio's decision to move ahead with protected bike lanes on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst, overruling a community board vote.

Katz's bike lane policy was unstated but clear -- delay, delay, delay:

To my repeated requests last summer to DOT for a borough-wide perspective on bike lanes, the agency stated they were unable to accommodate such requests because bike lanes are solely community-driven and community-generated. The Community Board’s vote this week, however, contradicts the assertion that this plan is driven and generated by the community. At the very least, it indicates failure on the part of the agency to adequately address the Board’s concerns on the proposed plan.

Katz essentially argued that community board members had more standing than the residents who showed up in huge numbers to support DOT's plan:

Instead of approaching bike lanes in a vacuum and in piece-meal, segmented fashion, the plan should be postponed for now until the agency can produce a truly community-driven, community-generated, borough-wide plan for the future of bike lanes not only along Queens Boulevard but throughout the borough.

Laying out a long-term plan for Queens bike infrastructure could be a productive exercise, but not if it means suspending bike lane expansion during the process, or letting narrow community board membership set terms instead of the broader public. That would delay important projects like the next phase of the Queens Boulevard redesign, and ultimately set Queens back even further compared to other boroughs.

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