Trottenberg: Safer 111th Street “Tremendously Important” But Let’s See How CB 4 Votes
Days after a member of Queens Community Board 4 said a protected bike lane on 111th Street won’t be necessary because undocumented immigrants will be deported, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg called the project “tremendously important” but stopped short of saying the city will definitely proceed with it.
Longtime CB 4 member Ann Pfoser Darby said at a meeting on Tuesday that immigrants living in Corona will be sent “back home,” making bike lanes superfluous, and later doubled down on her statement.
The 111th Street project has languished since DOT first unveiled a plan almost two years ago, when Darby joined up with one other CB 4 member to vote against it and set in motion a cascade of delays.
Trottenberg was asked about the project at a press event this morning. “We see a lot of cyclists on that street, all kinds of New Yorkers cycling — immigrants, native-born, young, old, families with children,” she told reporters. “There is a real safety need there. It is a tremendously important corridor for people trying to get to the park, for families who want to cycle, for pedestrians, and we think this project will address a lot of those challenges.”
DOT doesn’t need community board approval to make streets safer and can always move forward without a vote. Asked why, after three years of public process, DOT has yet to install the redesign, Trottenberg said she wanted to wait for the full board to vote later this month.
She also cited other sources of obstruction. “The debate about the project is not just involved with the community board,” she said. “I think people who’ve followed it know there’s been a vast discussion involving a lot of the elected officials in that part of Queens, so there’s been a lot of players and a lot of back-and-forth. Again, we always try to work with community boards, but, as you know, sometimes we will go ahead with projects when we think they’re essential.”
The elected official fighting the redesign is Assembly Member Francisco Moya. In October, DOT revealed a watered-down version that Moya appeared to endorse in a statement. Then DOT initiated another round of presentations to CB 4.
Given the wide-ranging community coalition that supports the project, CB 4’s history of obstruction, and Darby’s recent comments, moving ahead with the original, safer redesign seems like the way to go at this point.