New Bike Routes on Tap for Long Island City and Sunnyside

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Routes marked in purple are set to receive a combination of shared lane markings and bike lanes. Image: ##http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/2013-06-queens-cb2-bike-forum.pdf##DOT##

Western Queens is set to receive a slate of street safety and bicycle network improvements. The projects will add shared lane markings and bike lanes to neighborhood streets, improve connections to the Astoria waterfront and Greenpoint, and address pedestrian safety at the site of a fatal curb-jumping crash. The progress comes after more than a year of work between DOT and Community Board 2, and coincides with Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer’s push for bike-share expansion to Long Island City and Sunnyside.

In March 2012, the community board and DOT hosted public meetings to gather feedback about where bike lanes were most needed in the area. A few months later, DOT came back with a proposal and sent out a survey asking about preferences for future bike lane plans.

The final proposal [PDF], which does not remove any parking, includes more shared lane markings than dedicated bike lanes, but does provide key connections between the Pulaski Bridge, Queens Plaza, Hunters Point, and Sunnyside. Buffered bike lanes will be installed on 49th Avenue from the Pulaski Bridge to 21st Avenue, and on the 39th Avenue bridge from Skillman Avenue to Northern Boulevard. Bike lanes will be striped on 49th and 51st Avenues, as well as sections of 11th Street and 11th Place. Shared lanes will be installed on 11th Street, 39th Street, Skillman Avenue, 47th Avenue, and 50th Avenue.

Community Board 2’s transportation committee voted to support the plan on June 18, according to committee member Evan O’Neil, and requested that DOT continue to examine a handful of intersections where board members had concerns about conflicts between drivers and cyclists. The lane markings are scheduled to be installed by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, a separate DOT proposal [PDF 1, 2] would convert the existing buffered bike lanes on Vernon Boulevard to a two-way protected bike lane along most of the street’s western edge from 46th Avenue in Long Island City to 30th Drive in Astoria. The project would be a significant step toward a greenway-style waterfront route for Queens, but it would not provide a direct, continuous protected bikeway.

To restore some parking spaces removed when the Vernon Boulevard lanes were installed in 2008, the plan calls for shared lanes along Queensbridge Park and Rainey Park, which both have shared-use paths that hug the waterfront and would connect to the protected bike lane on Vernon. Cyclists looking for a direct route would be directed to shared lanes on those blocks.

The Vernon Boulevard proposal, which has already received a supportive vote from CB 1, was tabled at CB 2’s full board meeting on June 6 because the agenda was dominated by discussion of a separate item. The board is not scheduled to meet again until September 19; there may be more adjustments to the plan before then.

Most of Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City and Astoria is set to be upgraded from buffered bike lanes to a two-way protected bike lane. Image: ##http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/2013-06-vernon-qns-cb6.pdf##DOT##
Also in CB 2, the intersection where high school student Tenzin Drudak was killed by a curb-jumping driver has received its first traffic calming treatments, with new planters closing a turn lane from Thomson Avenue to Skillman Avenue to vehicles.

Bike and pedestrian safety came up for discussion at last night’s Queens borough president candidates forum hosted by the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, though none of the candidates distinguished themselves.

“I do have serious concerns about bike lanes on Queens Boulevard,” Melinda Katz told the audience, though instead of direct action, she suggested the federal government should conduct a safety study. Tony Avella raised concerns about community involvement in the placement of bike lanes, while Peter Vallone expressed skepticism about the value of bike-share.

Perhaps the candidates could learn about community involvement and the desire for bike-share by talking to the local residents who have worked with DOT to bring more bike infrastructure to western Queens.

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    Firstly, glad to see progress being made regarding these facilities in Community Board 2. Granted, most of these proposed routes are Class III shared lanes, (Class II in some parts) as I’ve said before, something better than nothing. Nice to see that the wheels are in motion for the greenway upgrade on Vernon Blvd.

    Secondly, as with Queens Blvd portion of this article, I have no problems with Melinda Katz. She addressed a particular concern of mine regarding a rather tricky intersection back when I lived in Richmond Hill and I have to say she responded professional and got the problem resolved. A great councilwoman, and I think would make an even better borough president, better than Helen Marshall I would bet. And her response to suggesting the federal government get involved in a safety study, that is probably the magic words right there in order to get real change toward Queens Blvd since any such greenway would require a comprehensive feasibility study (which I’m pretty confident it would pass), federal dollars, and at least 5 different road configurations to be implemented. So, yes admitting Queens Blvd can be further improved and a hit of more to come…?

    Stay tuned…

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    Firstly, glad to see progress being made regarding these facilities in Community Board 2. Granted, most of these proposed routes are Class III shared lanes, (Class II in some parts) as I’ve said before, something better than nothing. Nice to see that the wheels are in motion for the greenway upgrade on Vernon Blvd.

    Secondly, as with Queens Blvd portion of this article, I have no problems with Melinda Katz. She addressed a particular concern of mine regarding a rather tricky intersection back when I lived in Richmond Hill and I have to say she responded professional and got the problem resolved. A great councilwoman, and I think would make an even better borough president, better than Helen Marshall I would bet. And her response to suggesting the federal government get involved in a safety study, that is probably the magic words right there in order to get real change toward Queens Blvd since any such greenway would require a comprehensive feasibility study (which I’m pretty confident it would pass), federal dollars, and at least 5 different road configurations to be implemented. So, yes admitting Queens Blvd can be further improved and a hit of more to come…?

    Stay tuned…

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    Firstly, glad to see progress being made regarding these facilities in Community Board 2. Granted, most of these proposed routes are Class III shared lanes, (Class II in some parts) as I’ve said before, something better than nothing. Nice to see that the wheels are in motion for the greenway upgrade on Vernon Blvd.

    Secondly, as with Queens Blvd portion of this article, I have no problems with Melinda Katz. She addressed a particular concern of mine regarding a rather tricky intersection back when I lived in Richmond Hill and I have to say she responded professional and got the problem resolved. A great councilwoman, and I think would make an even better borough president, better than Helen Marshall I would bet. And her response to suggesting the federal government get involved in a safety study, that is probably the magic words right there in order to get real change toward Queens Blvd since any such greenway would require a comprehensive feasibility study (which I’m pretty confident it would pass), federal dollars, and at least 5 different road configurations to be implemented. So, yes admitting Queens Blvd can be further improved and a hit of more to come…?

    Stay tuned…

  • Ben Kintisch

    Wonderful news about the Vernon Blvd. upgrade. Any streetsblog reader who has traveled that route after dark knows that you get a GORGEOUS view of the Midtown East skyline. As this route gets improved (and the hoped-for Pulaski bridge crossing is, as well) I predict that a Queens waterfront greenway will become a popular new biking outing for thousands of Queens and Brooklyn residents as well as other New Yorkers and even tourists!

  • carma

    with the current 7 line on top limiting major reconstruction of queens blvd, im not sure how much can be done.

    i would love to see a bike lane on queens blvd, but it really might be a tough one.

  • Stephen Bauman

    There are many ways politicians say no, while not appearing to do so. Ms. Katz, and the other BP candidates, provided examples of saying no to meaningful bike lane expansion in Queens. They all left out hope that they had an “open mind” on the subject.

    One problem with the forum format was that questions from the public had to be directed to a single candidate. That eliminated any chance at finding differences with the candidates’ position to the same issue. The question for making Queens Blvd a more complete street for pedestrians, shoppers and cyclists was directed to Ms. Katz. The other candidates’ views might have been worse.

    Ms. Katz expressed satisfaction with Queens Blvd in its present state. She endorsed the changes made during her City Council term by DOT Commissioner Weinshall. Those changes installed fences to prevent pedestrians from crossing Queens Blvd except at crosswalks that were placed too far away from one another. Those changes did provide a road diet to reduce speed on the service roads. The road diet replaced a travel lane with parking. In short, the changes Ms. Katz applauds were designed to eliminate pedestrians from the traffic mix on Queens Blvd.

    Any glance at the street grid shows there are no alternate routes to Queens Blvd between Roosevelt Ave and 63rd Drive. There would already be bike lanes on them, if they existed. The answer that Queens Blvd isn’t suitable, need for feasibility studies, input from community boards, etc. are the politicians’ euphemisms for “not on my watch.”

    Placing a bike lane on Queens Blvd is fairly easy to accomplish. Queens Blvd included a trolley right of way for its entire length, when it was widened from a 2 lane road. That right of way’s footprint is pretty much intact where a bike lane is most needed. There are many design permutations that could reclaim this footprint for a bike path. There are cost differences between the designs. However, none of the costs would be deal breakers. It’s a question of willingness to tackle the problem.

    To be absolutely honest, two BP candidates did not engage in a euphemistic “no” to expanding the Queens bike lane network. Mr. Cromie was not directed any bike lane expansion question, so was spared articulating his position. Mr. Brown prevented the possibility of being recorded on this issue by not showing up.

  • michael

    THe trolly right-of-way ran down the center of Queens blvd where the ped island now sits

  • michael

    btw
    how come no talk about eastern queens

  • Colin

    So, when travelling North we will have to shuttle back and forth from the West to East side of the street at the parks to get to the shared North-bound lane? That seems like a recipe for disaster considering all the traffic on Vernon. Won’t that just lead to more inexperienced cyclists riding the wrong way up the West side of the shared path at those points?

  • Bluewonderpowermilk96

    Queensbridge Park’s bike connection got a fresh coat and Rainey Park recently was retrofitted with a greenway connection so cyclists can ride northbound on a Class I facility, the safest there is. True, more experienced riders will have to cross the street and use the Class III lane, so that is the only inconvenience but at least now there will be continuous greenway path alternative between 45th Road to the Astoria Housing Project.

  • Stephen Bauman

    No. It ran under the El from Thompson to Roosevelt. It ran on both side medians

    http://www.davesrailpix.com/nyc/jpg/nyqr10.jpg
    from Roosevelt to Union Tpk. It ran in the center median, between Union Tpk and Hillside.

  • Colin

    If people are trying to get from point A to point B (cycling as transportation), then detouring through the parks is a huge time waster (cycling as recreation). If we are trying to promote cycling as a transportation alternative, then streets should be designed with that in mind. This doesn’t seem like the safest way to do that.

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    Excellent point that you brought up the old trolley route as that is the portion of Queens Blvd that remains relatively constant despite the roadway’s varying lane configuration changes between Roosevelt and Hillside Avenue.

    I do think that a type of 9th Avenue treatment might have to be done on the stretch between Thompson and Roosevelt via the removal of the leftmost travel lane.

  • Stephen Bauman

    There’s already a Transportation Alternatives committee working on getting bike facilities on Queens Blvd. I don’t wish to draw any attention away from their efforts.

    They know the problems are political not technical. Based on what I heard at the Sustainability Forum, they will have a difficult task regardless of who the next BP is.

  • Anonymous

    What about other parts of Queens? We’re completely neglected. I’ve been donating money to various organizations over the years, but I’m done this year. I live in Maspeth. Nothing happens anywhere near. Ever.

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    http://www.streetsblog.org/2013/05/05/queens-community-board-5-bicycle-planning-forum/

    There’s articles there from DNAinfo and the Queens Ledger, that’s all I could find.

    I also read somewhere they’re considering Eliot, Grand and Myrtle Aves, this might all come in 2014 though.

  • Joe R.

    I suggested in another thread that you could hang the lane off the #7 viaduct. For a bunch of reasons, I feel a grade-separated bike lane is the only feasible way to accommodate bicycles on Queens Blvd.

  • LifelongNyer

    Like it all around except for the Pulaski Bridge part of it. Why not take away one lane of traffic in each direction and have proper directional bike lanes? Or take away one lane Brooklyn bound and have that a bi-directional bike lane and leave the existing shared lane for pedestrians. When I lived in Dutch Kills and cycled to Gowanus for work I used that lane and I only stopped cycling in the early A.M. due to the bike/pedestrian congestion. In any event, the entrance to the current shared lane from Jackson Ave NEEDS to be widened.

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