Eyes on the Street: Queens Boulevard Gets Its Bike Lane

Behold the Queens Boulevard bike lane. Photo: Stephen Miller
Behold the Queens Boulevard bike lane (flexible bollards coming soon). Photo: Stephen Miller

It’s happening: DOT crews are putting down green paint and thermoplastic stripes along 1.3 miles of Queens Boulevard between Roosevelt Avenue and 73rd Street. The redesign is the de Blasio administration’s most significant bike project to date and includes several pedestrian safety improvements as well. It was prompted by a long advocacy campaign for safer biking on the boulevard, which intensified after a driver struck and killed cyclist Asif Rahman in 2008.

Crews are working from west to east, adding a green bike lane, widening pedestrian medians, and installing crosswalks and signals for people walking between median islands. DOT has also closed off some of the high-speed “slip lanes” between the main roadway and the service streets. The remaining slip lanes will be redesigned to slow drivers exiting the boulevard’s main lanes and crossing the bike lane.

Slip lanes are being closed or redesigned to reduce speeding. Photo: Stephen Miller
Slip lanes are being closed or redesigned to reduce speeding. Photo: Stephen Miller

The Queens Boulevard redesign is an example of how DOT can use low-cost materials to act quickly, when decision makers treat a project as a high priority. Workshops were held in January. The design was revealed in March. The community board signed off in June. The mayor held a celebratory press conference in July. Now, in August, the first changes are on the ground.

New crosswalks between medians connect to additional pedestrian space at refuge islands. Photo: Stephen Miller
New crosswalks create pedestrian connections between medians. Photo: Stephen Miller

Additional work, including small concrete median extensions and finishing touches like flexible bollards along the bike lane, should be complete by October, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said last month. The design will then be cast in concrete as part of a $100 million reconstruction of Queens Boulevard that begins in 2017.

DOT will turn its attention to sections of Queens Boulevard to the east later this year and early next year.

Adding some protection to these bike lanes, which are slated to get flexible bollards, can't happen soon enough. Photo: Stephen Miller
Adding physical separation to these bike lanes, which are slated to get flexible bollards until the street is reconstructed in 2017, can’t happen soon enough. Photo: Stephen Miller
  • Samuel Santaella

    It’s in three phases, one for each community board. Of course, they gotta approve it for it to go forward. These first 1.3 miles were from Queens CB2; next up is CB4.

  • e8tgrand

    First of all, I ride my bicycle to midtown from queens and happen to drive and also ride a motorcycle.

    First of all, I find the execution of this project is very poor and creates bottle necks which is a waste of time, money and fuel. Shutting down the exits/entry to and from the main/express street causes traffic on both main and service street. Installing flashing yellow light to service lane (in front of fire house) deletes 2 lanes from already congested queens blvd. Not to mention the design of this bike lane is beyond insane and not safe for cyclists. And why create only that stretch.

    Now, what should have been done was to clear the service road from illegally parked cars by enforcing parking rules to all these dealerships, car washes, performance shops and auto detailing shops and create a dedicated bike lane on the right side of the service road. This will eliminate the needs for closures of entry/exit ramps can be avoided, not required for additional traffic lights/signs and reduce the traffic jams.

  • Jeff

    I see Two Buses, One Taxi and a Car in this photo,
    however no Bikes,
    Sure lets build more bike lanes that aren’t used.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    Citibike averages 70,000 miles ridden per day

    and Citiebikes are roughly 1/5 of daily cycling in the city

  • Jeff

    So if you do the math that’s 127,750,000 bike mikes a year

    Seems like a lot, However
    The MTA Buses make 793,000,000 Trips a year if each trip averages just 10 miles
    That’s 7.9 Billion miles a year,

    Than lets add in 1300 Medallion taxis
    40,000 for-hire vehicles
    Who knows how many Uber Taxis?
    Personal vehicles and Trucks because someone needs to ship in all those Power Bars and Bikes from China.

    Dude, that adds up to a real lot of
    passenger miles.

    So I hope you can understand why non-cyclist aren’t exactly thrilled when the city takes out a whole driving lane and earmarks it for exclusive use by a minority group.
    Who, by the way, doesn’t pay any Fees, Fares, Taxes of Tolls for the privilege.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    protected bike lanes have 2-8 Times the capacity of a motor Lane per roadway width. If you want to move people and reduce congestion, cycling is very efficient use of roadway.

    Exclusive Bus lanes are also great – even more efficient than cucling at moving people on a roadway.

    Private cars are possibly the least efficient and least safe method of moving people. Private Cars consume huge amounts of space.

    anothet example, the Brooklyn bridge used to carry 4000,000 people a day. Today, it carries a mere 100,000 people because 99% of roadway to devoted to cars.

    Private cars also require staggering subsidies. Drivers recoil at paying the full cost of their driving.

    Therefore, if you want to reduce congestion and really move people efficiently; having exclusive bus lanes and protected bike lanes is the way to go.

  • ahwr

    >The MTA Buses make 793,000,000 Trips a year if each trip averages just 10 miles
    That’s 7.9 Billion miles a year,

    http://www.ntdprogram.gov/ntdprogram/pubs/profiles/2013/agency_profiles/2008.pdf

    NYCT ~1.8 billion passenger miles on buses. Only express buses are 10+ miles a trip.

    http://www.ntdprogram.gov/ntdprogram/pubs/profiles/2013/agency_profiles/2188.pdf

    MTABUS ~370 million passenger miles on buses.

  • AAPL.To.Break.$130.Soon>:-)

    Yeah, I wish it ran the entire length of Queens Blvd. starting from Jamaica Ave. to the Ed Koch 59th Bridge. No such luck. Queens is always being neglected for cyclists. The only really decent run for Queens cyclists is the Shore Parkway Greenway from Howard Beach, Queens to Seagate, Brooklyn and whatever perpendicular Greenways intersect that run.

    The Greenways project is a disconnected mess in Queens where most bike paths lead to nowhere.

  • Still, there are many good bikeable runs in Queens on regular streets.

    31st Avenue goes continuously from Astoria Blvd. to the East River. (The bike lane is on 34th Ave., but it should be on 31st Ave.)

    35th Avenue goes continuously between College Point Blvd. and the Cross Island Parkway, where it connects to a Greenway running along Little Neck Bay.

    75th Avenue is a great ride from Kissena Blvd. east to 199th St., where it connects with the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway. If you are going west, you can go from 199th Street all the way to 137th Place, which is just shy of Flushing Meadow Park.

    Of course, just north of 75th Avenue is 73rd Avenue, which is home to one of the early Koch-era bike lanes. The bike lane runs between Main Street and Francis Lewis Boulevard. And 73rd Avenue remains a great ride eastbound all the way to its end at Alley Pond Park.

    Francis Lewis Boulevard itself is great from the L.I.E. south to Hillside Avenue. From there, despite being a major street with plenty of intersections, it is nevertheless pretty pleasant all the way down to where it ends at the City border with Valley Stream. This street is the Queens version of Kings Highway: a major street going a long way that is very rideable despite the lack of bike lanes.

  • Joe R.

    Francis Lewis Boulevard is OK on the other side of the LIE also. I’ve ridden it to where it ends at the Cross Island Parkway in Whitestone. Union Turnpike, Hillside Avenue, and Jamaica Avenue all provide great runs to city limits and beyond. The service roads of most expressways are also great for biking off-peak hours. Most of them only intersect major roads every 1/3 or 1/2 mile.

    Obviously Queens could be a lot better, but it’s good enough that I’ve been biking here for the last 38 years.

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