Relative of 82-Year-Old Hit on Queens Blvd. Plans Cross-Country Bike Trip
Finkenberg, 60, an avid bicyclist, was so moved by her death that he decided to realize his lifelong dream of riding across the country from California to New York, a distance of roughly 3,000 miles.
“I want to honor her," he said, "And I want to make people aware of the need for safe bicycle lanes, and that we need to make the roads safer for pedestrians.”
Anidjar was on her way home from a local synagogue on May 3 when she was struck by a car while crossing the notorious intersection of Queens Boulevard and 71st Avenue in Forest Hills. It was the third serious accident there in recent months.
Finkenberg recently flew to New York to meet with Making A Better and Safer Queens Boulevard, a coalition of residents and local civic groups working to implement extra safety features along the thoroughfare.
Earlier this week, he also met with Leroy Comrie, special assistant to Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, to discuss safety along the road, sometimes called the “Boulevard of Death.”
Finkenberg said he plans to start his cross-country trip on Aug. 9, starting in Irvine, the Southern California city where he lives.
He said his friend, Nicholas Fan, 20, a student at UC Irvine, will accompany him. Because they will not be allowed to bike on highways, Finkenberg said, the pair will use secondary roads to ride through Arizona, Colorado, Kansas and Ohio.
The plan, Finkenberg said, is to bike about 120 miles a day, six days a week. They will take one day off each week, he said.
At that pace, he said, they should reach Forest Hills, where Finkenberg's family lives, in about four weeks.
Finkenberg said the duo will carry their equipment in special bike bags.
“You want to keep it under 25 pounds,” said Finkenberg, who will ride on his Diamondback racer.
“You don’t need a lot,” he said, noting that in addition to shoes, socks, shirts and shorts, he is planning to take only a small amount of toiletries, a tent and several wrenches and spare tires.
While biking through the deserts of California and Arizona, he said, they will be traveling at night to escape the heat. They will sleep in hotels during the day.
During the rest of the trip, he said, they plan to travel during the day and camp at night.
Finkenberg, an aerospace engineer who moved from Queens to California in 1975, said Irvine could be a model for New York because it has numerous bike lanes and pedestrian bridges over roads.
He said his goal is to advocate similar solutions for Queens Boulevard.
Finkenberg, who also lost a friend in a bicycling accident 10 years ago in California and was himself hit by a cab in Queens in 1971, said he hopes his long ride will get people's attention.
“I always wanted to do it but now I have more of a reason to do it,” he said. “I can dedicate it to [Anidjar]. I can dedicate it to safe roads. And I can spread awareness, hoping to prevent future tragedies.”