Queens Community Board 11 Got Up to Some Monkey Business Last Night

One member of the board is dead-set against repurposing street space on high-speed Northern Boulevard so people can safely bike to Joe Michaels Mile.

The DOT project calls for six miles of protected bike lanes on Northern Boulevard and other streets near Joe Michaels Mile. Image: DOT
The DOT project calls for six miles of protected bike lanes on Northern Boulevard and other streets near Joe Michaels Mile. Image: DOT

At a hastily-arranged and under-publicized meeting last night, the Queens Community Board 11 transportation committee took up DOT’s plan to put a protected bike lane on Northern Boulevard approaching the Joe Michaels Mile bike path, an issue that full board already settled last month with an 18-11 vote in favor.

The DOT plan, which would repurpose a rush hour parking lane on a stretch of Northern Boulevard to make way for a two-way protected bike lane, doesn’t sit well with CB 11 transportation co-chair Bernard Haber. Haber wants to maintain the existing number of car lanes on Northern Boulevard while expanding the sidewalk into Alley Pond Golf Center and making it a shared path for biking and walking.

It’s an idea that Haber floated before last month’s vote. At the time, DOT reps pointed out that in addition to requiring an expensive and lengthy capital project, it would erase the benefits of narrowing one of Queens’ most dangerous streets. And Haber himself has admitted that his concept would require the relocation of street lights and the removal of trees on NYC parkland.

This alternative proposal floated by CB 11 transportation co-chair falls short of DOT's plan on a number of counts. Image: Eastern Queens Greenway
Bernard Haber’s concept would cost more, take longer, and do less to improve safety than the DOT plan he wants to stymie. Image: Eastern Queens Greenway

Last night, Haber, a retired transportation engineer who has, according to his LinkedIn page, served on the board for 47 years and 11 months (which checks out, even though it predates the current incarnation of the community board system), spoke for 30 minutes about his concept.

CB 11 chair Christine Haider then motioned to send a letter to DOT suggesting it consider Haber’s concept, which passed with no committee discussion or public input, a person who attended told Streeetsblog, despite an overflow crowd who mostly supported DOT’s plan.

Last night’s meeting was publicly scheduled and announced only after Streetsblog reported that CB 11 leadership was planning to hold it in secret.

Haider, the board chair, said during the meeting that she didn’t view the letter as a request for DOT to delay construction of the protected bike lane, according to a post on the Eastern Queens Greenway blog, but Haber saw things differently. After the vote, he said DOT should delay action on the plan that was earlier approved by the board.

Streetsblog has a request in with Haider and CB 11 to clarify the content of the letter.