With the Pulaski Bridge bikeway set to open this spring and Long Island City streets in line for a total rebuild, DOT has a rare opportunity to improve the western Queens bike network. One of the most important connections in the neighborhood is 11th Street, which forms the most convenient path between the Pulaski and the Queensboro Bridge/Queens Plaza. So far, though, DOT’s design options for 11th Street come up short.
Earlier this month, DOT and DDC presented potential street redesigns for Long Island City. None of the options for 11th Street included a protected bike lane, even though several blocks of the street are wide enough to add one easily. Nor do the proposals for the foot of the Pulaski Bridge include an intuitive bike connection to 11th.
Instead, the city’s design for the foot of the bridge only creates a good bike connection to 49th Avenue and Vernon Boulevard, which runs by the waterfront. A better connection to Vernon will be helpful, but a safe and convenient link to 11th Street is needed as well. The easiest path from the Pulaski to the Queensboro Bridge and the Queens Plaza bike path runs through 11th Street.
At around 70 feet wide, curb-to-curb, 11th Street has enough room for a protected bike lane. But DOT’s current proposals for 11th Street add pedestrian space via an extended east sidewalk or an expanded concrete median and don’t call for protected bike lanes.
A protected bike lane on this stretch would make walking and biking safer. On other streets with protected bike lanes, pedestrian injuries have fallen 22 percent, according to DOT.
The chance to completely overhaul a neighborhood’s street network doesn’t come along that often. It’s important to get the 11th Street design right and make the most of the opportunity to create a seamless bike connection linking northern Brooklyn, Long Island City, and Manhattan via the Queensboro Bridge.