U.S. Rep Joe Crowley Goes Full NIMBY on Skillman and 43rd Avenue Bike Lanes

Crowley claims to be listening to the “community,” but plenty of his Sunnyside constituents want to see the redesign happen.

Soon to be ex Congressman Joe Crowley — still fighting, still wrong. Photo: Flickr/Office of NY Governor Andrew Cuomo
Soon to be ex Congressman Joe Crowley — still fighting, still wrong. Photo: Flickr/Office of NY Governor Andrew Cuomo

Congressman Joe Crowley — the powerful Queens Democratic Party boss angling to replace Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House — has weighed in on a pressing matter of national significance.

Crowley is against DOT’s plan to make Skillman Avenue and 43rd Avenue safer for biking and walking by adding protected bike lanes, he said in a series of tweets this afternoon.

Replete with the obligatory feints toward supporting “biking as a healthy, affordable transportation option,” Crowley’s Twitter thread couched his opposition to the safety overhaul in the language of fair-minded reasonableness while calling for “major and fundamental changes,” which he of course did not specify.

Is it reasonable to call for the city to scrap plans for protected bike lanes on streets with a history of fatal and life-threatening crashes? Only if you value on-street car storage more than the well-being of your constituents.

Last year, one cyclist was killed and another severely injured in the span of 10 days at the intersection of 43rd Avenue and 39th Street. Between 2012 and 2016, drivers injured 61 people walking in the area that’s in line for safety upgrades, according to DOT.

DOT’s plan relies on techniques that have substantially reduced traffic injuries on New York City streets. It would repurpose about 115 parking spots to make room for parking-protected bike lanes and pedestrian safety improvements. That’s provoked some backlash from merchants, which has led local Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer to vacillate on the redesign.

It’s not clear what prompted Crowley to weigh in on a local street safety project. But he is facing a primary challenge, and yesterday afternoon his opponent, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, called the bike lane “a good idea.”

Both Crowley and Ocasio-Cortez appear to buy into the argument that repurposing a few parking spots per block will threaten the bottom line of local businesses. But those concerns have proven unfounded. On retail streets where protected bike lanes have been added, like Columbus Avenue in Manhattan, the initial fears of merchants were not borne out by sales tax receipts.

Crowley claims to be listening to the “community,” but plenty of his Sunnyside constituents want to see the redesign happen. This evening, people who want a safer Skillman and 43rd will form a “human-protected bike lane” at 43rd Avenue and 39th Street. The action starts at 6:15.

  • Fool

    Vote republican?

    This is the man who controls the NYC democratic party.

  • Even if it makes parking inconvenient. Even if it does hurt the local businesses. That doesn’t matter. Even one human life being saved is worth the price. Opposing the bike lanes means you are willing to murder another human being in order to make parking slightly more convenient. This is the argument that needs to be put in the ears of all these anti-bike politicians.

  • Joe R.

    People need to tell him the entire “it will hurt our business” argument is bunk. Businesses haven’t been hurt anywhere bike lanes have been installed. The real reason business owners complain is because they and their employees use the parking spots in front of the business for themselves. They don’t want “their” spots taken away.

  • The problem is that politicians who take these stances know that they have a good chunk of their constituency behind them. Otherwise they wouldn’t say anything.

    Nothing more starkly lays bare the socopathic tendencies that are caused by driving. We sometimes imagine that the expression of these tendencies is limited to the time when drivers are actually behind the wheel; but we can see clearly that in fact the act of driving tends to erode a person’s humanity on a permanent basis.

  • AnoNYC

    Primary is coming up.


  • Rex Rocket

    He stands up for the little people–landlords, franchise owners, campaign contributors.

  • William Lawson

    When scumbag politicians like this claim they’ve “listened to the community,” what they invariably mean is that they’ve listened exclusively to the loudest, most outraged group of NIMBY’s from their own age group. Nobody else’s reasoning gets a look in, and any NIMBY-contrary evidence is immediately dismissed. These things are nothing like formal debates in which the most compelling and reasonable arguments win the day in a room full of intelligent people. They’re nothing like criminal trials in which non-factual or illogical arguments are hastily laughed out of court. They’re more like something out of medieval times in which a braying crowd of simpletons decide that someone is a witch based on the fact that everyone else seems to think so too.

  • JarekFA

    A good half of the route is industrial wasteland bounded by the sunnyside rail yards. And this is in a huge protected bike lane gap between the very popular queens boulevard bike lanes further east and the 59th street bridge and midtown east.

    This is a no-brainer for the DOT to put it’s foot down and just build it. With the MTA falling apart and the CBTC capital plans requiring a good 5 to 10 years to get most of it built, this should be the easiest decision DoT ever has to make in terms of providing people with options.

    Are we really going to for go transformative infrastructure projects like this all so people can double-park and run in to get coffee? Who the fuck do they think will be taking the bike lanes — outside agitators?

  • NYCBK123

    It’s always disappointing to see the “othering” in statements like his. That the “community” is in opposition and cyclists are never part of the community…let alone pedestrians (everyone is a pedestrian at some point), who would be helped by these changes as well.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Given what the national Republicans are, and what the NYC Democrats are, the last thing this country needs is the national Democrats to be led by a NYC Democrat.

    At some point, we need of choice of something other than bad and worse.

  • AMH

    Exactly–NIMBYs = “the community” while those in favor are “advocates”.

  • AMH

    “Illegals” that’s who!

  • ortcutt

    I hate that “the community” ends up meaning “some shopowners” and every other stakeholder in the community is ignored. This happens over and over. It’s probably because shopowners write the checks to politicians and buy newspaper ads that they get the exclusive attention of the powers that be.

  • Maggie

    Hindsight is 20-20 but Ocasio-Cortez blew Crowley out of the water in the neighborhoods along the Skilman Ave corridor. Her margins along here were in the 40 point range. She was winning by 3 to 1. Whatever support he thought he had for the high handed, community unfriendly, fossil fuel burning status quo stance he chose to take, the community did have a clear choice on primary day and they undoubtedly want something different. At the end of the day, he took a stance he never needed to – a US congressman weighing in to oppose moving parking spaces by a few feet just so that people can bike safely!!? – and he justified his stance as “what the community wanted,” but this is very strong evidence that wasn’t true.

  • That is indeed a key observation.

  • kevd

    Bye, Joe!

  • Thankfully, Crowley has now been replaced by a much much better NYC Democrat. She can lead the national party too, as far as I’m concerned.