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Woodside Bike Lane Fliers Urge Drivers to Call 311 Over Lost Parking Spots

 The fliers were spotted Friday at the intersection of 31st Avenue and 57th Street.
The fliers were spotted Friday at the intersection of 31st Avenue and 57th Street.
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DNAinfo/Jeanmarie Evelly

WOODSIDE — A new battle in the war between bike lanes and parking spots is being waged on 31st Avenue.

Fliers have anonymously been posted along a portion of the avenue with a new bike lane urging drivers to call 311 to complain about parking spaces that were lost earlier this year to make way for the cycling path.

The two fliers were spotted Friday posted to poles beneath the railroad tracks at 31st Avenue and 57th Street, where the Department of Transportation removed four parking spaces to accommodate the new bike path, which was installed this fall.

"This bike lane is taking up five [sic] parking spaces," reads the fliers, which were placed inside plastic sheet protectors. "If you want to do something about this call 311 to complain. Otherwise nothing will change."

Since the bike lane was put in place, the city's DOT put up signs saying that drivers are no longer permitted to park under the tracks on 31st Avenue, but drivers have been parking there anyway. Several cars were parked in that part of the bike path Friday afternoon.

To add to the chaos, there are often cars backed up into the street waiting to be served by the Honda Service Center adjacent to the bike lane on 31st Avenue, between 57th and 58th streets, residents and cyclists have said.

"They treat the public street as their private space," said transportation advocate Macartney Morris referring to the service center. 

The service center did not return a call seeking comment Monday.

DOT plans to add extra signs at the site to make sure drivers know they can't park there, according to DOT spokeswoman Alana Morales, who added that this is the only site where parking spaces were taken away to make room for the bike path.

The city has received seven complaints about a blocked bike lane at the intersection since the lane was installed in September, the city's 311 map shows. The map showed no complaints specifically about lost parking spots.

The bike lane has been a point of contention for members of Community Board 1 who recommended this spring against the bike path at this particular stretch of the street in Woodside, saying the spot was too busy and dangerous.

Board members asked the DOT to add a detour between 55th and 60th streets that would lead cyclists onto 32nd Street instead. Cyclists were opposed to the detour, and the DOT ultimately decided not to include it in the new bike route.

The agency removed the four parking spots on the avenue at 57th Street based on feedback from the community, according to a DOT spokeswoman.

"These adjustments were made in the interest of making the street work better for all users by enhancing safety and mobility due to the width of the road, as well as the adjacent car dealership," the spokeswoman said.

Bob Piazza, chair of CB1's transportation committee who lives near the area, said he doesn't know who posted the anonymous fliers, but he's heard plenty of complaints about the bike lanes.

"There are a lot of people who live on that side of 31st Avenue that might have done it," he said.

Piazza led CB1's push for the bike lane detour, and still thinks the stretch between 55th and 60th is too heavily-trafficked to safely accommodate cyclists. 

"It's a dangerous street," he said, adding that he's skeptical of whether bike riders even use the new bike lane.

"Through the nice weather when the bike lanes where there, there was virtually no usage to speak of, none," he said.

Cyclists and transportation advocates disagree, saying the 31st Avenue bike path — which was designed to serve as an East-West link and stretches from the Astoria waterfront into Woodside and East Elmhurst — is an important connector.

"The bike lane in general is well used," Cristina Furlong, of the grassroots advocacy group Make Queens Safer, said in an email. "[It's] really one of the best in Queens as far as connecting neighborhoods."