DOT Plans Nine Miles of Bike Lanes For LIC, Sunnyside, With More to Come

New bike lanes would be installed next spring along the routes marked with green dotted lines, and could be added along the routes marked in blue in subsequent years. ##http://www.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/QueensCD2BikePlan.jpg##Click here## for a larger image.

Bike lane mileage in Long Island City and Sunnyside, Queens, is set to double next year, under a preliminary plan from the Department of Transportation, with significant expansions to follow in subsequent years. The nine miles of new routes — along 11th Street, Skillman Avenue, 47th Avenue and 39th Street — were selected in a community planning process convened earlier this year by Community Board 2 and City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer.

Queens’ disjointed street grid poses a particular challenge for cyclists. With relatively few streets that provide a through route from neighborhood to neighborhood, cyclists often find themselves on the same handful of wide, busy streets with the most dangerous automobile traffic. In this plan, DOT is making room for cyclists on those in-demand routes. “These are major routes,” said CB 2 member Emilia Crotty. “They cut all the way through the neighborhood.” 11th, for example, feeds into the Pulaski Bridge. Additionally, new bike lanes will extend down into Hunters Point on the smaller streets of 2nd Street, and 50th and 51st Avenues.

The very busiest path, however, will remain free of bike infrastructure. DOT deemed Queens Boulevard to have traffic volumes too high to allow a bike lane, according to the Queens Chronicle, despite community interest in putting a lane there.

The Department of Transportation is still developing the designs for the new bike lanes, which could be painted lanes, sharrows, or even — in the case of the 39th Street bridge over the Sunnyside rail yards — placed on the sidewalk. “I know that members of the community will push for the most robust designs possible,” said Crotty.

The design options will be constrained by DOT’s commitment to avoid eliminating on-street parking with these bike lane projects. These will not be protected bike routes.

DOT is currently collecting additional traffic data in the neighborhood and should have a proposal before the community board by the fall. If approved, the bike lanes would be built next spring.

At that point, DOT would move right into another round of bike lane construction in the neighborhood, tentatively scheduled for the following year. DOT and local residents have already identified a number of feasible routes, which community members have ranked at public workshops. In all, the goal is to develop a four-year plan for bike lane expansion in the district, according to the Chronicle.

By an overwhelming margin, said Crotty, the top choice for a bike lane is Greenpoint Avenue, where two cyclists have been killed in traffic crashes since April. She noted that it might be impossible to design a bike lane on the Queens segment of Greenpoint Avenue, however, before the city decides how to improve conditions for cycling on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge. DOT had proposed adding buffered bike lanes to the bridge, but the agency shelved that plan and started over after encountering opposition from area businesses that run trucks over it.

DOT also plans to add new bike racks to the neighborhood, particularly around Queensboro Plaza.

  • Albert

    Regarding this quote: “The design options will be constrained by DOT’s commitment to avoid eliminating on-street parking with these bike lane projects.”

    Being reminded that DOT treats street safety as secondary in importance to street car storage sets my blood boiling.

    Who then advocates for street safety above all else?

  • m to the i

    Its really great to see this DOT’s commitment to adding bicycle infrastructure in the city. However, a word of caution. The sharrows that the DOT are putting in do not meet NACTO standards and recommendations. In any of the upcoming DOT presentations, please make sure they have sharrows placed outside the door zone and in the middle of the lane on narrow streets. The DOT is counting shared lanes as bike lane miles and I have no doubt they will propose a number of sharrow marked streets in this area. 

    The new sharrows that are in on Ashland Place are right up against the line of parked cars on one side of the street. And on the other side, in a lane that is not wide enough for cars to pass cyclists, the sharrows are off to the right side.

    I’m all for the infrastructure. When correctly installed and used I think sharrows are helpful (even though many do not). But they are not helpful markers and can actually do more harm then good if they are telling cyclists to ride in an unsafe/less safe location on the street.

  • Station44025

    Who thinks this momentum will continue after the next mayor takes office, and who thinks bike infrastructure expansion will grind to a screeching halt or actually be partially reversed?  I don’t want to be a total cynic, but it is tough not to when the taxi owners et. al. will be financing the campaigns…

  • Ben Kintisch

    m to the i – it’s true that some of the bike infrastructure going in is better than other types. Even among sharrow installations, as you pointed out correctly, some are not done safely.
    That said, this is an area of Queens that has tremendous existing demand for bike lanes (which will grow with bike share and following bike usage trends) but very few lanes. A neighborhood-wide plan like this is a great blueprint for moving ahead with laness. I know this position isn’t always popular within the Streetsblog community, but I always maintain that beginning with good and then working towards better is a good approach.
    I live adjacent to the Bedford Avenue lane in Bed-Stuy, which is in desperate need of an upgrade. Now that it has huge ridership, we activists could make a plausible case for a protected lane. But it would have never been built in the first place several years ago if bicycle people held out for that safer treatment. Point of story – get the lanes, even the so-so lanes, and see the bike usage rates climb steadily. Then, return for improvements.

  • Ben Kintisch

    And Albert – I agree with you that the “we won’t give up a single parking space” mantra from DOT is truly maddening. But have they heard from you or your bike-loving friends in this part of Queens, who are ready to give up parking spaces in favor of better bike lane treatments? Because I guarantee that car drivers will show up to those boring but critical community meetings and demand that no parking is “sacrificed” for safety.

  • Albert

    Ben

    Speaking for myself only—Yes, indeed, DOT has heard from me.

    But your point is an important one—that outspoken drivers would seem to be the main source of DOT’s apparent concern for street parking over street safety.  I hear the proprietary, selfish, minority point of view of drivers again & again at community board meetings. (Yet *cyclists* are the ones called “arrogant” & “entitled.”)

    DOT has to be forced to confront the fact that most NYers don’t drive regularly, don’t own cars or store them on the street for free—and then to act accordingly.

  • fj

    Should be relatively inexpensive — though more than just paint — to build completely safe bike and pedestrian only paths across bridges; elevated or otherwise.   

  • Joe R.

    @twitter-93223785:disqus I’m of the opinion that we really need to use a lot more grade separation in this city if we wish bike travel to be fast and safe. Surface lanes suffer from the dual problems of conflicts at junctions plus traffic signals timed for car speeds (if they’re even timed at all) which slow average cycling speeds to walking speeds if obeyed. We really need to get rid of both these problems if cycling is to be truly viable in a city as crowded as New York.

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