In April, a drunk driver killed Gelacio Reyes, 32, on 43rd Avenue at 39th Street as he biked home in the early morning from work in Midtown Manhattan. Now advocates are renewing their call for DOT to install a protected bike lane on 43rd Avenue and its westbound counterpart, Skillman Avenue, which connect the Queensboro Bridge to the protected bike lanes on Queens Boulevard.
Both streets have painted bike lanes that are often blocked by double-parked cars. Paint was not enough to protect Reyes from the driver that struck and killed him, nor did it prevent another driver from critically injuring David Nunez, 27, at the same location ten days later.
Following those crashes, Reyes’s widow Flor Jimenez joined local advocates and Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer at the intersection to demand a protected bike lane on 43rd Avenue. In the last month, 350 people have signed a Transportation Alternatives petition calling for protected bike lanes on both 43rd and Skillman.
One supporter is Queens native and Williamsburg resident Max Sholl, who put together a concept, above, for a redesign of 43rd Avenue that narrows the existing car lanes to make room for a five-foot bike lane with a two-foot buffer.
This stretch of 43rd Avenue is 42 feet wide. In Sholl’s concept, the motor vehicle travel lanes are 10 feet wide, but they could be narrower, since neither 43rd Avenue nor Skillman Avenue are bus or truck routes, which would allow for a wider bike lane. Skillman Avenue is as wide or wider than 43rd Avenue in this area.
Sholl’s intersection design borrows from the concept DOT put forward for protected bike lanes on Brooklyn’s 4th Avenue, which puts concrete pedestrian islands on both sides of the intersection, and places the stop bar for cyclists past the crosswalk in order to make them more visible to turning drivers.
Both 43rd and Skillman streets play an integral role in Queens’ burgeoning bike lane network. So far, however, DOT hasn’t said that protected bike lanes are under consideration. A DOT spokesperson told DNAinfo last week that the agency will present a proposal for safety improvements at the location where Reyes was killed, but did not indicate plans to redesign the whole street.