Queens Blvd Redesign Phase 2: A Big Improvement With One Major Flaw

The new bike lane, expanded pedestrian space, and mall-to-mall crosswalk at Van Loon Street.
The new bike lane, expanded pedestrian space, and mall-to-mall crosswalk at Van Loon Street. Photo: David Meyer

With the end of the year approaching and DOT presenting its plan for the third phase of the Queens Boulevard redesign next month, it’s a good time to review the second phase, which we last checked in on at the end of August.

The Elmhurst section of the Queens Boulevard project extends from 74th Street to Eliot Avenue, just past Woodhaven Boulevard [PDF]. The project converted a slice of the service roads that had been allocated to car parking, vehicle movement, and dead space into a new bikeway and expanded pedestrian space. Slip lanes between the service road and main road were also eliminated or redesigned to slow down drivers, and mall-to-mall crosswalks created more options for people to cross safely on foot.

At Van Loon Street (above and below), you can see how the new design changed the typical geometry of the service roads and medians.

The same intersection in June of this year. Photo: Google Maps
The same intersection in June. Photo: Google Maps

Here’s a motorist turning across one of the redesigned transitions from the central roadway to a service road, where drivers are now supposed to come to a full stop instead of merging while in motion.

queens blvd off-ramp

At the eastern end of the project, near the Queens Center Mall, is where DOT wants cyclists to take an inconvenient detour.

Westbound cyclists are expected to travel on the southbound side of the street approaching the mall, hence this two-way section of bike lane…

qns_blvd_two_way_eliot

…which leaves this section on the north side of the boulevard untouched:

qns_blvd_north
DOT’s design asks cyclists to detour over to the south side of Queens Boulevard on this stretch, instead of taking space for a bike lane, but many cyclists will choose to bike here because it’s the straightest path. Photo: Google Maps

The westbound bike lane crosses back over to the north side of the street right before the mall:

qns_blvd_two_way_mall

With another segment of bike lane coming to Rego Park and Forest Hills, more people are going to face the choice of going out of their way to stay on a green lane, or saving time by opting for a dangerous but direct route.

Phase two of the Queens Boulevard redesign has plenty going for it, but the discontinuity of the bike lane is a major flaw that needs to get addressed in future iterations.

queens boulevard bike dec 2016 3

  • Alex

    That two-way section going east from Woodhaven for a block until you’re under the LIE has my vote for worst bike lane in New York. You’re completely unprotected and out in the open. And the DOT is expecting people to ride against (speeding) traffic like that to boot!

  • AnoNYC

    Great improvement. I’m looking forward to trying it out. I’m not from Queens so I’m waiting for better weather.

    The detour does look very inconvenient. That’s the thinking of the DOT these days until automobile traffic levels decline significantly citywide. Whenever that is.

    Any word on the second phase of the Bruckner Blvd greenway (another project on a major artery)? The first phase took a very long time to be completed, even considering the fact that it was widely accepted and even requested by BX CB 2. Phase 2, which will connect the greenway to places that people actually want to go/come from, is unknown. I wish that we would at least get some renders by now.

  • AnoNYC

    Yup, a two-way unprotected BL on a major street can be intimidating. If anyone stops there, you’ll have to merge into traffic, head-on!

  • Simon Phearson

    I thought it was dumb already, but I hadn’t realized it was unprotected! That’s insane. No experienced cyclist would use that lane, and inexperienced cyclists shouldn’t.

  • Shemp

    Recalls the bizarro design of Vernon Blvd, where the lane is discontinuous (drops you off into oncoming traffic) and DOT expects cyclists to take ridiculous detours around the edges of waterfront parks. I guess it’s the “Queens design”