Rep. Joe Crowley Just Can’t Stop Complaining About Queens Bike Lanes

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

Soon-to-be-former Congressman Joe Crowley doesn’t know when to walk away — he’s still citing falsehoods and conspiracies to fight a street safety program implemented by the city along Skillman and 43rd avenues in his district.

In a Sept. 12 letter to Mayor de Blasio, Crowley mentioned a Twitter photo (that he did not provide), plus unstated “significant issues for parents” as evidence that issues with the paired protected bike lanes are “undeniably manifested.”

“Emergency responders … must now navigate acute congestion on Skillman Avenue,” he wrote (letter is at the bottom of this post). He did not mention that congestion is caused by cars that illegally park.

Crowley’s letter was cited Monday night by members of Community Board 2, who are still fighting the protected lanes that are making cyclists and pedestrians safer in Sunnyside, and are providing a link from the life-saving improvements on Queens Boulevard to the Queensboro Bridge.

Members of the board cited another easily debunked video that made the rounds on social media showing a fire truck unable to turn left onto Skillman Avenue from the firehouse on 51st Street on Sunday night.

After the video was posted on Facebook, opponents of the bike lanes suggested that the video was evidence that there is “blood on [Mayor de Blasio’s] hands.”

Like Crowley’s over-reaction, the critics were easily debunked: The firetruck was impeded  because two drivers chose to park illegally on new pedestrian space that was created as part of the street-safety improvements.

Rather than blame the drivers, members of Community Board 2 blamed DOT Borough Planner John O’Neill, who attended the meeting.

“No one knows what this is,” board member Dorothy Morehead said, referring to the  pedestrian areas that drivers seem to think belongs to them.

“They’re the pedestrian islands,” O’Neill said.

“But people are parking on them,” Morehead replied. “How about just get rid of it? You know we’re trying for that.”

Community Board 2 Chairwoman Denise Keehan Smith said Crowley’s letter was evidence that the community opposes the street-safety improvements, which cause “congestion” that is actually caused by the drivers and parents who double-park in front of P.S. 11 on Skillman Avenue, making what advocates call “the de Blasio stop,” so named because the mayor once said it’s OK to park in bike lanes.

“He wrote a second letter to the mayor on Friday saying that this is problematic, someone is going to get seriously injured or even die,” she said.

She even claimed — without evidence — that a cyclist had killed a dog.

Claims that bike lanes impede emergency vehicles have been debunked over and over, in New York and in other cities, including this hilarious episode in Baltimore. 

Enlightened public officials don’t try to get in the way of Vision Zero improvements. At the National Association of City Transportation Officials convention in Los Angeles on Monday, Portland Fire Chief Mike Myers said he always supports street safety and urban vitality projects because they increase public health and reduce fires.

“I support whatever pedestrian enhancements they need,” he said. “Whatever the city wants, we will not obstruct the urban redesign. The intent is to design a more vibrant city to improve public health.”

In a question-and-answer session, Myers was repeatedly asked why other public officials don’t get it.

“I can’t speak for other cities, but I want ever firefighter in Portland to know our responsibility is Vision Zero,” he said. “If the city wants to narrow an intersection … we are there to help support it. It’s a mind change and a philosophy shift.”

Such “shifts” don’t seem likely in Queens.

Then again, Crowley lost his primary election to Alexandra Ocasio Cortez days after he had complained publicly about the city’s proposal for Skillman and 43rd avenues. It was a fitting end to Crowley’s rise in the House, and particularly ironic given that he had just released a campaign video in which he didn’t even bother to get out of his car.


Joe Crowley Letter to Mayor de Blasio by Gersh Kuntzman on Scribd