DOT Plans Six Miles of Protected Bike Lanes to Connect Eastern Queens Bikeways

The project includes a two-way protected bike lane on Northern Boulevard, where Michael Schenkman was struck and killed trying to access the Joe Michaels Mile bike path.

DOT has designed a two-way protected bike lane for the stretch of Northern Boulevard near Joe Michaels Mile, where Michael Schenkman was struck and killed while biking last summer. Photo: David Meyer
DOT has designed a two-way protected bike lane for the stretch of Northern Boulevard near Joe Michaels Mile, where Michael Schenkman was struck and killed while biking last summer. Photo: David Meyer

Last summer, a speeding motorist struck and killed Michael Schenkman, 78, as Schenkman attempted to turn onto the Joe Michaels Mile bike path, where he rode daily. The fatal crash drew attention to the lack of safe access to the path, with residents calling for protected bike lanes connecting to it. Now NYC DOT has produced a plan to link Joe Michaels Mile to protected bike lanes on Northern Boulevard and the approach from Alley Pond Park [PDF].

The project would add about six miles of protected bike lanes connecting Joe Michaels Mile to Douglaston via Northern Boulevard and the western border of Alley Pond Park. Agency reps presented it to Queens Community Board 11’s transportation committee on Wednesday.

Between 2010 and 2014, three pedestrians and one cyclist suffered severe injuries on the same stretch of Northern Boulevard where Schenkman was killed, according to DOT. It’s a dangerous situation that locals know all too well.

In September, Joani Emerson, owner of Douglaston’s Peak Bicycle Pro Shop, told Streetsblog that she often rents bike to tourists bound for Joe Michaels Mile. “We worry about them,” Emerson said. “People aren’t always aware of how crazy it can get over here.”

To make room on Northern Boulevard, DOT would repurpose the westbound curb lane with a two-way bike lane protected by a concrete barrier.

eastern_queens_bike_route

To the west of the Cross Island Parkway, the bike lanes would continue south along Alley Pond Park, connecting to the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway bike path before terminating at Springfield Boulevard. For much of that stretch, the two-way bike lane would be separated from traffic by a parking lane.

On 67th Avenue in front of P.S. 213, the route would be labelled “shared space” for pedestrians and cyclists to accommodate pick-ups and drop-offs.

East of the section on Northern Boulevard, the project calls for painted lanes on Douglaston Parkway and sharrows on 235th Street leading to the Douglaston LIRR station.

DOT's plan would designate the protected bike lanes along P.S. 213 as "shared space" for pedestrians and cyclists. Image: DOT
In front of P.S. 213, the bikeway would be designated as “shared space” for pedestrians and cyclists to accommodate school drop-offs. Image: DOT

In 2015, DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia declined requests from a local homeowners’ group for protected bike lanes on Northern Boulevard because of “heavy traffic volumes and limited roadway space” [PDF]. That rationale appears to have been exaggerated: DOT’s studies presented to CB 11 forecast only a marginal impact on traffic.

“At the end of the day, somebody died and that needs to be made to never happen again,” said Joby Jacob, a resident of Hollis Hills and volunteer with Transportation Alternatives who attended the meeting.

The CB 11 committee did not vote on the plan, but the full community board may still take it up at its June 5 meeting. CB 11 has declined to support bike lane projects in the past, so it’s important that supporters attend and speak for these safety improvements. Stay tuned to the Streetsblog calendar for updates.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Great project but, put ? the ? sharrows ? in ? the ? center ? of ? the ? lane! ?

  • Joe R.

    If built, these would be the first protected lanes in my area. Now on many of my rides I take 73rd up to Springfield Boulevard, go left, then go left on the LIE service road. Sometimes I go right on the LIE service road, then make a u-turn at East Hampton Parkway to come back the other way. The new lanes could add some variety to my rides. I could stay on 73rd Avenue after Springfield, then just follow the protected lanes all the way to St. Micheal’s mile. The only minor issue is that this route is very hilly. That’s actually why I turn at Springfield instead of staying on 73rd Avenue. There’s a massive hill after Springfield:

    https://www.google.com/maps/@40.7422278,-73.7539756,3a,75y,52.96h,89.28t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1spo40SE19YWncEeU88Fc9PQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

    It looks a lot more benign in the picture than it really is. Probably at least a 3% grade, it goes on for 5 or 6 blocks.

  • J

    This is great stuff, and will certainly be a meaningful step in the right direction, especially the sections of Northern boulevard, which links 2 neighborhoods that were previously incredibly dangerous to bike between. Great stuff!

  • Joe R.

    That particular stretch of Northern is nerve wracking even for an experienced cyclist who feels comfortable in traffic. It’s small wonder most people there ride on the sidewalk. At least now they’ll have a safe alternative.

  • van_vlissingen

    Please come out on June 5th to the CB11 meeting to show your support. Also consider signing our petition: https://campaigns.transalt.org/petition/northern-boulevard-and-joe-michaels-greenway-access

  • ahwr

    There’s a massive hill after Springfield

    ~60 foot climb. You drop ~120 feet going from 73rd and Springfield to the Joe Michael mile. So coming back it becomes a 180 foot climb instead of 120 over ~2 miles. Sometimes riding on a low stress route is preferable to riding through more heavily trafficked areas, even with an extra 60 foot climb. Protected lane against a park will be lower stress than anything that would go in on Springfield for the foreseeable future. See this as a recreational path and think of which of your neighbors that don’t bike would prefer to ride against a park even with an extra hill instead of going down Springfield and dealing with intersections every couple hundred feet.

    Try riding the route before the protected barrier goes in. After the climb on 73rd you have a nice downhill stretch. You might prefer going north, dropping 180 feet in 2 miles, without being confined to a narrow two way protected path.

  • Joe R.

    I’ve already done that climb a number of times. I definitely agree I’d rather not be confined to a narrow protected path on the downhill portions. Even coasting, you build up some serious speed.

    That said, yes, Springfield would be a preferable route north from the perspective of grades but also a lot harder to make into something which an inexperienced cyclist might feel comfortable on. The protected lane against the park will get a lot more people riding right now, as opposed to waiting for some time in far future when it might be possible to redesign Springfield.

    The biggest selling point of this entire project though is the jersey-barrier protected lane on Northern. As I mentioned in a post above, that’s easily the most daunting stretch. I don’t even feel all that comfortable riding there now, except maybe after midnight when there’s hardly any traffic. The protected lane will be a great enhancement. Maybe in the medium term we could consider extending it both east and west.

  • van_vlissingen

    The Westmoreland Civic has already endorsed the idea of a bikeway between the Cross Island and Little Neck Pkwy so there is likely to be some support for a 0.5 mile extension east.
    http://www.littleneck.net/westmoreland/PublicPositions.htm

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    Just signed. This is a no-brainer. @disqus_dlP91vGbzC I think sidewalk riding from 233rd St to the Joe Michaels Greenway is allowed.

  • Joe R.

    Thanks. That looks like good news. It’s about time we started getting some bike infrastructure out here. We can certainly use it in some spots.

  • mk

    This looks good, but shared space is really bad idea. It rarely, if ever, actually works, particularly if you’re designing and planning for mass cycling. Bikes and pedestrians just do not mix.

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When 78-year-old Michael Schenkman was killed by a speeding motorist on Northern Boulevard last month, he was on his daily ride to Joe Michaels Mile, a bike path that runs for two and a half miles along the Cross Island Parkway. Now business owners and residents in Little Neck and Douglaston are reiterating calls for safe bike access to […]