Bike Lanes Delay FDNY

Queens Chronicle - October 19, 2018

It’s bad enough when mom-and-pop shops complain that bike lanes installed where parking spaces used to be are hurting business, and cycling advocates deny it and tout petitions with signatures of merchants who support the change. And it’s bad enough when community boards vote against street redesigns to preserve parking and the commerce it’s a part of and the city responds by speeding up bike lane installation.

Now we have the head of the Uniformed Firefighters Association telling us flat-out that not just at the corner of Skillman Avenue and 51st Street in Woodside but across the city, bike lanes are hampering operations and leading to higher response times.

In a story you can find in several of our editions this week or online at qchron.com, UFA President Gerard Fitzgerald says bike lanes are blocking firefighters’ access to necessary equipment and delaying their response to emergencies “by crucial minutes.”

Fitzgerald says the union is committed to working with the city to find a solution that benefits everyone. And the Department of Transportation says it is working to address illegal parking at Skillman and 51st, which it contends is the real problem. Yes — illegal parking caused in large part by the bike lanes.

Maybe illegal parking at that one corner, which two fire companies have to pass through every time they leave the house, can be addressed — though it’s hard to see how anything could block civilian cars and trucks that wouldn’t also block fire rigs from where they need to go to make the turn.

But whatever happens there, the battle between cyclists and the DOT on one hand and other residents and businesses on the other is not one for which we can see a resolution. Bike lanes will keep growing and opponents will just have to adjust, even if it means shuttered storefronts. But could we at least not hamper the damn Fire Department?