Make Queens Boulevard a Complete Street

Last February, 22-year-old Asif Rahman
was hit and killed by a truck while riding his bicycle on Queens
Boulevard. Though the infamous "Boulevard of Death" is a lot safer than it used to be, it still produces far too many injuries and fatalities. Asif’s family, Council member Jim Gennaro, and Transportation Alternatives held a
press conference yesterday, covered by Streetfilms’ Elizabeth Press, calling on New York City government to transform Queens Boulevard into a "complete street," with a physically-protected bike lane and safer pedestrian crossings. Queens Council Members John Liu and Eric
Gioia also signed on to a letter urging Mayor Bloomberg to complete Queens Boulevard. 

  • Yay, another fast Streetfilms turn around! It was a really great press conference, so many people came out despite threatening clouds. I’m excited for all this momentum that’s building.

  • JK

    Queens Boulevard needs to be scrapped and rebuilt from scratch. The street is unworkable. The Boulevard carries massive bus, car and pedestrian traffic because its one of the few East/West Streets that goes through Queens’ patchwork of independent street networks. In the meantime, the DOT should consider changing the left side parking lane on the service road from parking to a protected bike lane. In 2001, a traffic lane was converted to parking as a traffic calming measure. It seems to have worked to reduce speeds. But it means that three lanes in each direction, on big sections of Queens Boulevard, are for parking and zero for bicycling. Queens Boulevard is also high on the list for BRT or some form of fast bus service. Buses are stuck in traffic like everyone else.

  • uSkyscraper

    I was gazing down on QB the other day from a 10th floor office window – the street really is a mess. It requires substantial rethinking in terms of sidewalks, trees, parking, biking and transit. Any easy fix will not be enough, but with vision and hard work the street could become one of the city’s most European boulevards.

  • Jaywalker

    Could not agree more.

  • Great work on the Street Film. Thanks for all your help, especially Mike Heffron, in getting this long neglected issue some heat.

  • As long as we’re spreading the love thanks to the Forest Hills 72 blog and the Queens Central blog for helping get the wheels moving in the first place.

  • Bob

    Might want to modify that: “…with vision, hard work and hundreds of millions of dollars, the street could become one of the city’s most European boulevards.”

    Besides the usual expense of capital street reconstruction, Queens Boulevard sits on top of subway lines, making it that much more complicated (and expensive) to do any significant reconfiguration.

  • JK

    Queens Blvd is still a mess, but “long neglected” it’s not. The DOT has done a a great deal of work in the last ten years. There are a ton of reports on the DOT website which document the ped improvements they have made, including some within the last couple years. Agreed with above comment that a total redesign would cost a big pile. It would have to be done in conjunction with major subway and BRT work to make it worthwhile. Also, not noted is that congestion pricing would have taken a lot of pressure off of Queens Boulevard and allowed for more flexible use of the right of way.

  • Shemp

    Maybe some some inspiration can be gleaned from the upcoming overhaul of Queens Plaza and marched westwards.

  • Shemp

    Sorry, eastwards.

  • JK, agree with you about CP, however since that turkey isn’t going to fly, (well not till November at the earliest anyways), i think the best approach is to engineer the traffic out. Build the roads for the people not for the cars, and eventually the lack of traffic lanes and newly beautified boulevard will discourage ppl from driving down the blvd, and encourage peds/bikers, to take advantage of the new facilities. this will feed into less eastern queens ppl driving and thus ppl in those parts will be less against CP.

  • Also,
    the right of way of Queens Blvd was originally built out because it was planned to be a highway. q.v. http://www.nycroads.com/roads/queens-blvd/
    Given that it is actually a road, and not a limited access highway, i suggest NYC change it into something more along the lines of Eastern Parkway.
    I looked quickly at it on Google Earth, and they seem to be roughly the same width.
    Unlike E Parkway, though, the side roads should not be for local traffic they could be bus/bike lanes. That would be a great configuration, and simultaneously discourage people from using it as a “thru”-way. (It would also make for a tremendous amount of green space right through NewTown, which of the 3 towns of Queens County (Jamaica, & Flushing being the others) has the least greenspace.

  • Traff

    Yeah, someone could’ve organized better weather, but it was great to see plenty of people out for a good cause. I didn’t know Asif, but I salute his ghost bike as I ride past every day. I felt it was my duty as a cyclist and Queen’s Blvd commuter to come out and make my voice heard. I’m also going to stop procrastinating and send TA some $$$. And if can do anything more to help get a bike lane on QB, I’ll be there….

  • Traff, are you a TA member yet? That would be a great way to go about that, as well as make it easier for you to get involved with the push for a bike lane on Queens Blvd.

    http://www.transalt.org

  • Traff

    Not yet. This weekend, I promise 🙂 I’ve been stubbornly resisting joining for personal reasons, but I’ve got to get over my bitterness…

    Hey, maybe they’ll give me the job next time 🙂

  • Andy B from Jersey

    WOW!!! I’m impressed with Councilman Jim Gennaro. He is the first politician I’ve seen that seems to understand that a bicycle helmet is really nothing but a last ditch effort to save a cyclist’s life and NOT the first line of defense particularly when in an accident with a motor vehicle.

    I’m getting pretty tired of hearing politicians spout the need for bicycle helmets and helmet laws as if that will solve everything and that it is the ONLY thing that they need to do for bicycle safety.

    In a truely safe cycling environment, a bicycle helmet really becomes optional and is simply an form of ADDED insurance. The suspenders in “belt and suspenders” so to speak.

    Again, congratulations to Councilman Jim Gennaro for “getting it!”

  • Thanks TA for putting our local representatives (especially those in charge of pedestrian safety committees)in the hot seat.
    Dare they continue to turn a blind eye on this.

  • To build on JK’s mention of BRT, complete streets include streetcars, don’t they?

    http://capntransit.blogspot.com/2008/07/what-to-do-with-steinway-tunnel.html

  • Looks like my comment is being held for moderation. Let’s try again:

    Complete streets include streetcars, don’t they?

  • Thank you to all who came out yesterday to support the Rahman family and to stand with Transportation Alternatives as we launch our campaign to turn Queens Boulevard into a ‘complete street’ by winning a protected bike lane and pedestrian safety improvements on this vital transportation artery.

    As the City works to meet its goals of increasing commuter cyclists by 50% and decreasing traffic fatalities by 50%, a re-design of Queens Boulevard is critical to meeting these goals in Queens. Queens Boulevard is the route people already are, and will continue to use to connect to transit, to walk and to bike because it is the most direct route between neighborhoods in Queens and into and out of Manhattan.

    The ‘Complete Queens Boulevard’ campaign is a large project and it will require a lot of support from the community and elected officials alike. Please contact me if would like to join in this fight:
    caroline [at] transalt [dot] org
    646-873-6021

    Please write to Mayor Bloomberg and ask for a protected bike lane and pedestrian safety improvements on Queens Boulevard to be incorporated into the larger PlaNYC sustainability goals for NYC.
    Mayor Bloomberg
    City Hall
    New York, NY 10007

    Please contact Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and ask her to stand with the community on this important issue.
    Queens Borough President Marshall
    120-55 Queens Blvd
    Kew Gardens, NY 11424

    Please contact your local elected officials and ask them to do the same:
    City Council:
    http://council.nyc.gov/html/members/members.shtml
    State Assembly: http://www.cmap.nypirg.org/netmaps/MyGovernment/NYC/MyGovernmentNYCMaps.asp?DistType=nyc_ad
    State Senate: http://www.senate.state.ny.us/sdlookup.nsf/Public_search?OpenForm

    After the City implemented a series of recommended pedestrian safety improvements in early 2000, annual injuries and fatalities on Queens Boulevard dropped from 150/200 annually, to 100 (current number). This proves that street design can help prevent injuries and fatalities, but it also demonstrates the need for more.

    Thank you to Councilmember Genarro and his staff for making this press conference happen, and to Councilmembers Gioia and Lui for signing on their support to this initiative as well.

  • Looks like the Cap’n cleared up the question of when comments with links get blocked: when they’re not part of an HTML anchor.

    Poignant touch, using Rahman’s music for the video.

    Caroline, is there time to include streetcars or BRT in the plan?

  • Quinn

    At first I was against this plan. Even though I regularly go to Manhattan from Elmhurst (I go up B’way or Judge Street (a quiet side street) to either Woodside Avenue or the Corona to LIC bike lane via 34th Avenue & Skillman & then go to Manhattan) I avoid Queens BLVD. The Danger of course. & that there was a large hill in the woodside section which did slow me down. However now that I think about with my new bike hills are easier (cuz I have only one gear). So Building a Greenway from Jamaica to Woodside would be great & make sure to mix it up with BRT/Streetcars. Then it can go from the long strip of S**T filled with Car Dealers & motels where high schoolers have sex after graduation to the Avenue Champs Elysées. & I might have a new way to get to Manhattan or LIC sans bike if there is BRT. (For my High School Commute to BK)

  • Henry310293

    Queens blvs is not safe because,
    1. Poor repair of roads including potholes, raised hardware on street etc.. so cars need to change lanes often to avoid bumps and jolts.
    2. Poor timing of traffic signals makes drivers speed through at last moment to avoid traffic light
    3. Inadequate time for pedestrians to cross, signal goes off in 10 seconds is definitely not enough even for a healthy young person.
    4. of course, driving habits of people…trying to cut through lanes…always in a hurry although there is a speed limit…

  • Zee

    I live off Queens Boulevard, and when I drive, I avoid it and take alternative routes because of the heavy pedestrian prescence. There are alternative routes like the highway that folks can take if they had to to get Manhattan. . DOT should strictly enforce speed limit, and perhaps that will push people to NOT to use Queens boulevard as a highway. I also hate crossing it when I am walking, and am always nervous when my kids have to cross it. The boulevard from hell.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Ride for a Safer Queens Boulevard Tonight

|
In July, bicycle advocates and family members of Asif Rahman, who was killed while biking on Queens Boulevard earlier this year, called on the city to transform the "Boulevard of Death" into a street that safely serves all users. The effort to make Queens Boulevard a complete street continues tonight at 6:30 p.m., when Transportation […]

Big Turnout for DOT’s First Queens Boulevard Safety Workshop

|
Change is coming to the most feared street in New York. More than 100 people turned out last night to tell NYC DOT how they want to improve safety on Queens Boulevard. Known as the Boulevard of Death for its appalling record of traffic fatalities and injuries, Queens Boulevard functions as a surface-level highway running […]

Ferreras-Copeland and Peralta to DOT: Fix Northern and Junction

|
Following the hit-and-run killing of 17-year-old Ovidio Jaramillo at the intersection of Northern Boulevard and Junction Boulevard last week, local elected officials and DOT Queens Commissioner Nicole Garcia toured Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst streets yesterday with an eye toward safety improvements. Northern and Junction are wide two-way streets, with Northern being especially large. Both are priority corridors […]

Van Bramer to Car Dealers: Stop Hogging Northern Boulevard Sidewalks

|
Walking the car-clogged sidewalks of Northern Boulevard this morning with street safety advocates and press in tow, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer called on two NYPD precincts to crack down on auto dealerships that treat pedestrian space as car showrooms. “They have a right to make money,” Van Bramer said of the dealerships. “But they do not have a […]