Queens advocates demand action on greenway being ‘slowly invaded by cars’

A stretch of land adjacent to the Queensbridge “Baby” Park Greenway in Queens has continued to be overtaken by cars, and local street safety advocates are demanding the city take action.

Advocates say some cars have been parking illegally on the walking and biking path for years since the city painted fresh bike path lanes along the route in 2017, according to reporting in Streetsblog. At the time, the DOT said it would work to inform nearby residents the new path was off-limits for parking – before enforcing the rules.

But years later, advocates say the space is still constantly cluttered with cars — mostly atop the parkland on either side of the path, meaning they’re driving in an area that is supposed to be car-free.

Alex Duncan moderates a Reddit community on micromobility in New York City and has mobilized readers to take action offline, in part by attending the local 114th Precinct’s community meetings in Astoria to demand that cops more strictly enforce traffic safety laws. He said he’s focused on the greenway before, but recently shared a side-by-side photo of the path with and without cars in a post that’s gained traction online.

“The greenway has basically been slowly invaded by cars, and over time they just take more and more of the green space,” Duncan said. “There’s no bollards or anything so they can literally just drive down it and park on the greenway and the cops basically have been letting them do that with no repercussions whatsoever.”

John Surico, a journalist and researcher who studies transportation, circulated the image – composed of his own photo from 2018 and Duncan’s from this month — on social media.

“The greenway from 21st St. to Vernon Blvd in Queens used to be one of my favorite bike paths in the city,” Surico said in an online post. “Here’s a photo I took riding it in 2018, Now it looks like this.”

On Tuesday, Duncan raised the issue again at the precinct community meeting, bringing with him a poster of the side-by-side photo. In response, officers told Duncan to bring his concerns to another NYPD entity stationed within the NYCHA complex adjacent to the path in order to get more signage up in the area.

The advice sparked a back-and-forth with precinct officials.

“When we talk to them, they say talk to you,” Duncan said. “And when we talk to you, you say talk to them. And kind of just go back and forth forever, while the trees die.”

The NYPD did not respond to requests seeking comment. The city Department of Transportation directed all questions to the Parks Department, which did not immediately return requests for comment.

City Councilmember Julie Won told Gothamist she asked the Parks Department to install fencing and bollards to prevent cars from illegally parking and driving through the Greenway. She also requested that the NYPD conduct regular enforcement.

“It’s unacceptable that cars park and drive illegally through the Queensbridge Baby Park Greenway, endangering our neighbors and treating this green space like a private parking lot,” Won said in an emailed statement.

Won added that the Parks Department told her they were working on a “barricade plan” in partnership with NYCHA, but have yet to provide a timeline.

“Our neighbors deserve a dedicated, car-free greenway that is safe for pedestrians, cyclists, and our four-legged best friends who walk through this beautiful space,” Won said.

On Thursday evening, Gothamist visited the greenway, observing that while the bike and walking paths were cleared, the parkland in between the path and the Queensbridge Houses was effectively a parking lot.

NYPD officers in the area said they couldn’t ticket cars because there wasn’t sufficient signage that cars should not park there, and they were told the Parks Department would soon be erecting bollards there, though they weren’t sure of the timeline.

Nearby NYCHA resident Stephanie Lewis said she parks her car in the area. She said that while she appreciates the greenway, the complex doesn’t have enough parking spaces for residents who live there.

“If you’re gonna have a parking lot, it needs to be affordable because not a lot of people have a lot of money,” she said. “Well, I don’t, and I gotta work several jobs and pay a $1,800 rent.”

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