DOT Proposes East-West Bike Route on 31st Ave in Queens

DOT's proposed 31st Avenue bike lane would connect the East River waterfront to the Flushing Bay Promenade. Image: DOT
In line with a proposal made last year by the Queens Bike Initiative, DOT’s 31st Avenue plan would create a bike route between the East River waterfront and the Flushing Bay Promenade [PDF]. Image: DOT

Last summer, a group of Queens residents began organizing as the Queens Bike Initiative. Their mission: to push the city to build bike connections linking their neighborhoods in northern Queens to the borough’s parks. Nine months later, DOT has presented a plan to stripe a bike route on 31st Avenue [PDF], which the Queens Bike Initiative is lauding as the first step toward realizing their greater vision.

Between new bike lanes in Astoria, the second phase of the Queens Boulevard bike lane coming to Elmhurst and Corona, and the protected lane on 111th Street, the Queens bike network is set to grow significantly this year. Still, there are few east-west bike routes, especially in the northern part of the borough.

Last week at Queens Community Board 1, DOT presented the first phase of an east-west route that will eventually connect Socrates Sculpture Park to the Flushing Bay Promenade. This phase consists of painted bike lanes and sharrows on 31st Avenue, from Vernon Boulevard to the BQE, and will be completed this year. DOT does not a have a timeline for the next leg of the route, which is located in Community District 3.

DOT is proposing sharrows for the 40-foot wide segments of 31st Avenue, but Queens bike advocates say the plan is an important step towards creating safe and far-reaching bike connections between Queens' parks and neighborhoods. Image: DOT
DOT is proposing sharrows for the 40-foot-wide segments of 31st Avenue and painted bike lanes for wider sections of the street. Image: DOT

On the 40-foot wide segments of 31st Avenue, from Vernon Boulevard to Crescent Street and again from 32nd Street to 49th Street, DOT’s plan calls for sharrows in 13-foot travel lanes. From Crescent Street to 32nd Street and 49th Street to the BQE, where the street is 50 feet wide, DOT wants to install a four-foot flush median and five-foot-wide bike lanes.

The Queens Bike Initiative’s ultimate goal is protected bike infrastructure connecting various parks with the neighborhoods in between. The group has worked closely with representatives from the mayor’s office and Council Member Danny Dromm.

Laura Newman, a Jackson Heights resident and Queens Bike Initiative member, welcomed the 31st Avenue project as an important step toward bringing safe bike infrastructure to more parts of the borough. “It’s a huge step in the right direction but it’s not enough to get parents to let kids cycle on it by themselves,” she said. “Would I let my 11-year-old ride on that out to Socrates by herself, or even my fourteen year old? I wouldn’t — and that’s kind of the litmus test [that we’re aiming for]. You have to be able to let your kid cycle by him or herself to the park.”

Since last summer, members of the Queens Bike Initiative have called on the city to build the above bicycle lane connections in northern Queens. Image: Queens Bike Initiative
The Queens Bike Initiative’s suggested bike network linking up with the borough’s parks. Image: Queens Bike Initiative
  • Reader

    How many more sharrows studies does DOT need to read before they stop using them? In places where the speed limit is over 20 mph (and on these stretches they’re routinely over 30 and 40) this is just malpractice.

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    Three words: Just Do It!

    DOT should also consider 23rd Av / Ditmars Bl to better unify the end of the Flushing Meadows Greenway with 20th Av. Bike lane implementation on 23rd Av can also act as a safety measure to deter speeding.

    Here’s the DCPs plans from 2006, it even references the Greenway Master Plan of 1993:

    https://www1.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/transportation/qern_fullb.pdf

  • J

    Yep, DOT is still crazy about sharrows as a means of placating bike advocates without going through the difficult process of making real changes to the streets.

  • This just seems like a barely there effort. Sharrows and painted lanes which already have the space for them aren’t just an automatic OK, you actually have to discuss this? And really, keeping a painted median in the road instead of using that space to buffer or widen the bike lanes? A real plan which we can argue about would be to loose a lane of parking, use that space for protected lanes on the wider section and buffered bike lanes on the narrower section.

  • Jonathan R

    I’m happy about this as I use 31st Ave occasionally. If they could do something about the excessive number of stop lights that would be great.

  • MatthewEH

    Or the excessive number of stop lights on the existing 34th Ave lane. 😮

  • Jonathan R

    I counted 65 stoplights from Mets stadium to the Queensboro Bridge using 34th Ave. Seems like a lot to me.

  • MatthewEH

    Heck, if DOT just implemented a green wave rhythm — set at 15 mph, maybe — to the lights on 34th Ave and on this proposed 31st Ave route as well — that’d really be something. Even slower cyclists should be able to manage 10-12 blocks from a fresh green to the next red light, when a 15 mph wave has caught up to them.

  • Wilfried84

    Is it possible to do a green wave on a two way street?

  • The plan for a bike lane on 31st Avenue is very good news. I don’t even mind that part of the route is sharrows. But one thing is confusing me: the DOT’s map shown above seems to suggest that the segment between 74th and 99th Streets would have both a bike lane (dashed blue line) and sharrows (dashed purple line). Am I reading that right?

    I have been using 31st Avenue as a through route for years. It seems to me that that avenue would have been a better location for the bike lane that is currently on two disconnected sections of 34th Avenue.

    If a bike lane really does come to 31st Avenue, then I hope that someone thinks of extending by a few blocks the existing 29th Street bike lane that goes north from the Queensboro Bridge approach, so that it will hit 31st Avenue. Right now it goes only as far as 34th Avenue.

    Unfortunately, southbound 28th Street, which has a bike lane, does not intersect with 31st Avenue; it begins a few blocks south of there. So perhaps it would make sense to have a bike lane on Crescent Street beginning at 31st Avenue and going at least down to 34th Avenue, where riders could jump on over to the existing bike lane on 28th Street.

    Similar to the situation on 34th versus 31st Avenue, the southbound bike lane that is currently on 28th Street would have been better on Crescent Street all along, as that street runs continuously from the Triboro Bridge down to the Queensboro Bridge, and allows riders to get right on the Queensboro Bridge. So, really, the entirety of that stretch of Crescent Street between the bridges would have been a great spot for a bike lane.

    I note that neither the DOT’s map nor the Queens Bike Initiative’s map shows the 29th Street bike lane extended up to 31st Avenue. (And neither map shows anything on Crescent Street.)

  • Andrew

    Generally not in both directions simultaneously. If there’s a clear peak direction during busy periods, the signals can be timed to favor that direction.

  • BBnet3000

    Placed in the door zone no less, which leads to people thinking its safe to cycle there and to drivers thinking people cycling belong there. They still haven’t figured out why MUTCD and NACTO recommend putting them in the center of the lane if they are going to be used at all.

  • MatthewEH

    There’s one on Valencia Street in SF which I use when I travel there. Wikipedia sez it actually may be the only example of a bidirectional green wave, though. At any rate, actually engineering it is constrained by the length of the blocks, and lots and lots of short blocks would likely make it harder.

  • i think they’re just proposing one or the other, for the section along 74th and 99th, but that something will be built. that are has wide lanes, and really needs its own lane. i used to work in flushing, and would commute along 31st ave from 33rd street to 74th or so, and then make my way to 34th ave. zero excuse not to have a lane from the 50s to the 90s, honestly. the road’s wide enough to support it, but the motorists/double-parkers there are horrible.

  • Nathan Rosenquist

    They’re not about placating cyclists, they’re about placating motorists. Those sharrows should all be lanes.

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