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Van Bramer Threatened By Bicycle Advocate, as ‘Fanatical Element Comes out the Woodwork’

Skillman Avenue and 50th Street (Photo: QueensPost)

March 2, 2018 By Christian Murray

A fringe group of bicycle advocates who want protected bike lanes on 43rd and Skillman Avenues in Sunnyside have stepped up the rhetoric, with one taking to twitter yesterday to intimidate Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

Members of the group have been lashing out at Van Bramer in recent weeks for not being an outspoken supporter of the protected bicycle lanes. One tweet directed at Van Bramer, however, stood out from the rest.

“The next time someone dies, and they will, can someone please throw fake blood (or real) at @jimmyVanBramer” reads the tweet sent.

Van Bramer said that the vitriol and threats coming from some of the bicycle advocates have gone too far. “The more fanatical element is coming out of the woodwork,” he said.

“Anyone can express themselves, but this tweet crosses the line,” he said, adding that “bullying tweets and threats drive me further away from wanting to work with these people.”

He said he often hears from constituents who oppose the lanes, but he has never been threatened before.

The plan for protected bicycle lanes—which Van Bramer initially called for after the death of two cyclists last April—were stalled when business owners expressed concern that the loss of parking spaces would hurt commerce and when parents from P.S. 11 argued the lanes would put children at risk while crossing on Skillman Avenue.

The school, located at 54-25 Skillman Ave., also called for traffic safety measures of its own, such as a traffic light at Skillman and 55th Street.

Van Bramer adopted the policy that the plan for protected bicycle lanes would not go forward until Skillman Avenue was made safe for the children of P.S. 11. This stance disappointed bicycle advocates, who were counting on his complete support.

Bicycle advocates will be in Sunnyside on Sunday to voice their discontent when they march under the Transportation Alternatives Queens banner in the St. Pat’s for All parade.

The advocacy group has been calling on its supporters across the city to come to the event and “loudly demand the safety improvements in Sunnyside.”

On a Facebook event page, the group wrote, “It’s time for us to come together and use our strength in numbers to remind everyone why thy this plan is so desperately needed.”

Van Bramer said that he was disappointed by Transportation Alternatives. “I think hijacking the parade and disrupting the parade is not going to work,” he said. He was concerned that the individual who sent the tweet might be in attendance.

From the 2016 St. Pat’s for All parade.

“The parade is a joyous event…and while it is their right to protest…it is poor form to say the least,” Van Bramer said.

Van Bramer also said that he has always been a big champion of Vision Zero and was instrumental in making sure safety changes—including protected bicycle lanes—came to Queens Boulevard. “Some of these folks have short memories.”

Juan Restrepo, Queens Organizer for Transportation Alternatives, condemned the tweet that targeted Van Bramer and said he doesn’t know the individual who sent the tweet. “I saw it [the tweet] and thought, ‘oh no’.”

Restrepo said it was wrong to refer to the group’s participation in the march as a protest.

“We just want to bring awareness to the neighborhood that there are people who support the plan,” Restrepo said. “This will be positive event where we will be advocating for lifesaving changes to the community.”

He said advocates were concerned that the plan for the protected bicycle lanes would fade away, and couldn’t understand why the changes needed at P.S. 11 and the bicycle lanes couldn’t all be rolled into one plan.

“The cyclists are being pitted against the parents [at P.S. 11], but we should all be in this together,” Restrepo said.

Restrepo, who hopes to get a group of about 25 together for Sunday’s march, was hesitant to criticize Van Bramer.

“Jimmy has been a safe streets advocate for a long time but there is some frustration that a plan discussed a year ago is moving so slowly. We don’t want this to take too long or else more cyclists will get killed,” Restrepo said.

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It would be lovely if NYC were the suburbs, where perhaps many avid bicyclists got the habit/high from exercise–all hail to them. BUT:
1. Uber/Lyft have taken over most roads–Queens not excepted–try 200,000 cars hustling from one ride to another, while reading maps, etc.
Parenthetically, charging Queens or Brooklyn drivers who need to get to work, hospitals, even restaurants and entertainment, to go to Manhattan, puts another nail in the coffin that will be Manhattan–and makes New Jersey (Christie loved to suction jobs from NYC) very, very happy.
2. Pedestrians, and I would dare the attentive driver to come forward who hasn’t gasped in horror at walkers, who walk straight into traffic, maybe frustrated at the vehicular mass.
3. Truck drivers, a class not respected for doing there jobs while straining to see over their cabs at the flea-like flitting forms of bicyclists determined to stop at nothing. They don’t want to snuff out a life. They do.
Conclusion, although it is difficult. Bicyclists: quit daring traffic to give way. Lyft and Uber: stop insisting on criminally hogging every cubic foot of air and territory.
And: Voters and Political elite: get real and limit the Uber/Lyft juggernaut. Those companies have to repay the drivers they sucked in with unrealistic promises, since they do not make a living wage and are in debt for their cars. Or the City and State governments who did not step up to regulate should compensate drivers in the hole. City and State laws to back these up have to do the job to remedy the mess and chaos the new free market malarkey has released on all of us.

jerry krase

these groups, not bikers like myself, are well-organized and savvy about social media and putting pressure on local officials who are vulnerable to their supporters. they consistently attack and intimidate people who were voice informed and uninformed opinions against bike lanes. what is needed is a city-wide transportation plan (sensitive to local uniqueness) designed to protect pedestrians, moderate car and traffic flows, especially at peak times, improve public transportation systems, and encourage cycling for both commutation and health. unfortunately nyc has lacked the expertise, and the political acumen, for getting this done. as a result we have bike lanes where they should not be (such as busy shopping and commuting corridors) and no bike lanes where they should, such as parallel residential streets. Licensing, ticketing, insurance requirements, and safety training for bikes and bikers would help solve the problem and also fund the necessary oversight.

Let him know

I hope you sent this video to Jimmy Van Bramer.
“I think hijacking the parade and disrupting the parade is not going to work,” he said. He was concerned that the individual who sent the tweet might be in attendance.
“The parade is a joyous event…and while it is their right to protest…it is poor form to say the least,” Van Bramer said.

Concerned Commuter

Love that in peoples minds more car lanes = less congestion. When in reality more lanes just = more cars which = more congestion. to relieve congestion, alternatives to private cars such as better bus/bike lanes and better public transit infrastructure need to be provided so that people have a viable alternative to private cars.


The specific incidents with bikes,buses over car privileges is ridiculous!!There needs to be a compromise give the bike lane, teach n ticket bikes amd drivers to obey the rules simple!
Let them march, its for all no, why tbe politics

Sheila R.

I find the cyclists’ concern about “safety” really ironic since so many of them totally ignore the traffic laws. I was knocked over by one of them who was apparently in too much of a hurry in his busy life to stop for the red light. However, he did find time to stop and flip the bird at me as I yelled at him from a prone position. Yo, cyclists – it’s not only YOU who need to be kept safe.


Bike lanes/bus lanes are disrupting traffic flow along with making streets more dangerous to maneuver .


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