Queens waterfront gets new bike path
By Clare Trapasso
The first phase of a bike and pedestrian trail that will connect waterfront parks in western Queens is slated to be completed this fall.
The 10.6-mile Queens East River and North Shore Greenway will eventually run from Long Island City to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The first phase will link Queensbridge Park, in Long Island City, to Ralph Demarco Park in Astoria.
"It's an opportunity for people that want to take advantage of cycling around the city," Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said Thursday. "It just makes our whole city [more] user-friendly."
The greenway will eventually connect to the path over the Pulaski Bridge, which links Queens and Brooklyn.
Construction is already finished in Queensbridge Park and is underway in Rainey Park, Ralph Demarco Park and Hallets Cove Playground. Work is set to begin in Astoria Park by mid-summer, Lewandowski said.
When completed, there will be new pavement, benches and landscaped areas for pedestrians and cyclists to stop and rest, she said.
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said the greenway will encourage more Queens residents to get active.
"It gives people another reason to explore their own neighborhood [and] to do it in a way that makes us healthier," said Van Bramer, an avid cyclist.
"I hope [this will get] people out of the house and onto the shoreline -- which is still under-used in western Queens."
Caroline Samponaro, director of bicycle advocacy at Transportation Alternatives, which supports more bike lanes, said greenways can give New Yorkers more "recreation and transportation options."
"It provides a car-free way for people to connect to different neighborhoods," she said.
Will Sweeney, co-founder of the Jackson Heights Green Alliance, said he is also a fan of the greenway.
"Especially in Queens, you have a lot of parks that are not accessible by mass transit," he said.
"Expanding this greenway system and having protected bike lanes give families an inexpensive and safe way to access parks that are further away," he said.
Katie Ellman, president of Green Shores NYC, a group of western Queens environmentalists, said another perk of the project is that it will connect locals to the waterfront.
"It is a way to connect people to the waterfront and to connect the waterfront green spaces to one another," she said. "It does foster more of a sense of community."
Ellman said she would also like to see the city find more spots for bicycle and pedestrian paths.
Lewandowski said the Parks Department would like to eventually create greenways in southeast Queens along Laurelton and Cross Island Parkways.
But the department must first find the funding for it, she said.
"Anything that will allow people to travel on a bicycle from their homes to a public park in a safe manner is beneficial," Lewandowski said.
Submitted by joseph on May 11, 2012 - 13:53. categories [ ]