A Long Road: Victim's Mom Tries to Improve Streets for Bikes
By John Lauinger and Lisa L. Colangelo
Lizi Rahman is making a sad pilgrimage tomorrow to Queens Blvd. and 55th Road - a spot that brings her intense pain and continued frustration.
Her son, Asif, 22, was killed last year while riding his bicycle along the heavily trafficked roadway.
"Saturday would have been his 24th birthday," said Rahman, who has crusaded for a protected bike lane on the so-called Boulevard of Death.
She says her pleas have fallen on deaf ears.
"They made it safer, but that was for pedestrians," said Rahman. "Why are [they] ignoring the bikers? Do they want more people to die?"
She has tried to get the attention of city officials through letters, e-mails and rallies. But the results have been disappointing.
Last month, Maura McCarthy, the Transportation Department's borough commissioner, told Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) that there are no plans to put a bike lane on Queens Blvd.
She said the city is in the midst of implementing a master plan to place hundreds of miles of bike paths throughout the city.
"For many reasons, Queens Blvd. is not included in the plan, and we do not envision including it in the future," McCarthy wrote.
In recent years, the Transportation Department has installed fencing and lowered speed limits along Queens Blvd. to slow traffic and steer pedestrians to marked crossings.
"Street safety is our top priority," said Transportation Department spokesman Seth Solomonow. "We remain committed to do even more to enhance safety for everyone who walks, bikes or drives."
The response is particularly frustrating for Rahman because her son was doing exactly what the city is encouraging New Yorkers to do - commute by bike. He biked to his job as a substitute paraprofessional at city public schools, and to his second job at Trader Joe's in Manhattan.
Wiley Norvell of the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives admitted it would be a challenge to put a bike lane on the vast multilane thoroughfare.
"We can't have a useful citywide bike network without them," he said.
Rahman isn't giving up. She's in the middle of penning a hand-written letter to Mayor Bloomberg.
"I don't think he'll have time to read it," she said. "But I will write it anyway."
Submitted by volunteer on November 4, 2009 - 16:20. categories [ ]