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Tweaks Proposed for New Astoria Park Bike Lanes Amid Safety Concerns

ASTORIA — The city is proposing some tweaks to the new bike lanes in Astoria Park, responding to critics who said the narrow and confusingly placed paths could cause collisions between cyclists and pedestrians once the weather gets warms and the park gets crowded.

Members of Community Board 1 and the Astoria Park Alliance met with Parks Department officials in February to discuss their concerns about the lanes, which were installed this fall as part of the city's $3.46 million Queens East River and North Shore Greenway.

The group was concerned that the 4-foot-wide lanes are too narrow and that their placement inside the park's grassland, instead of on the street along Shore Boulevard, will lead to collisions between bikes and pedestrians.

At a CB1 meeting Tuesday, parks committee chair Richard Khuzami said the board received a "somewhat non-specific response" of recommendations from the Parks Department and the Department of Transportation — though he was skeptical the proposed tweaks will solve the problem.

"I have a feeling we're going to have to watch this very closely to see what effect, if any, this really has," Khuzami said.

The agencies' suggestions include removing some of the many signs posted beside and stenciled onto the bike lanes, which the board had criticized as excessive and an eyesore.

Another suggestion, Khuzami said, was to remove some of the markers on the pathway where space is tight, and instead create shared pedestrian and bike paths, instead of having separate lanes for each in the narrow lanes, as there are now.

A spokesman for the Parks Department told DNAinfo.com last month that said that expect where the paths are indicated as shared space, the new bike lanes are intended for cyclists only.

Board members and park advocates argued the lanes being inside the park instead of on the street makes them reminiscent of regular walkways where pedestrians will be likely to stroll, potentially creating a dangerous situation if a cyclist tries to pass.

But Khuzami said he and members of the Astoria Park Alliance plan to keep a close eye on the bike lanes as spring brings more visitors to the park, and told those in attendance to make a report if they see any problems on the paths between bikers and walkers.

"Call 311," he said. "We need to get a record if you have any problems, so that if we need to re-address this issue we can some statistics to them."