More Details From DOT’s Plan to Add Protected Bike Lanes to Queens Blvd

Here’s a closer look at DOT’s plan to add protected bike lanes and pedestrian safety measures to 1.3 miles of Queens Boulevard. DOT will be presenting these slides tonight to the Queens Community Board 2 transportation committee [PDF].

The top image shows the proposed layout on blocks where drivers can exit the central roadway to access the service lanes. The right-turn bays with tight angles, stop signs, marked crosswalks, and bike chevrons will replace this “slip lane” design that lets drivers enter the service road at speed:

qb_current

On some blocks, the slip lanes will be filled in entirely to create uninterrupted walkways and bikeways:

qb_55th-56th

At 60th Street, the proposal calls for filling in gaps between medians to create public spaces:

qb_60th

Queens Boulevard has several different configurations and gets especially hairy when drivers are entering or exiting highways like the BQE. The bike lane design has to navigate these transitions, which can be less than ideal.

On the western side of the project, the bike lanes end at 51st Street, where sharrows will guide cyclists to Roosevelt Avenue. Riders looking for a less stressful route can use 50th and 51st Streets to access the painted bike lanes on Skillman Avenue and 43rd Avenue, which connect to Queens Plaza through Sunnyside:

The protected bikeway gives way to sharrows on the final block before Roosevelt Avenue. Image: DOT [PDF]

Gaps in the median where drivers leave the service lane and get on to the main roadway, like the one at 63rd Street, will still let drivers cross the bike path at potentially unsafe speeds:

While slip lanes coming from the main line to the service road will have sharper angles and stop signs, drivers accelerating onto the center roadway will have shallower angles as they cross the paths of cyclists. Image: DOT [PDF]

Today, drivers going from eastbound Queens Boulevard to the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, bound for the Bronx or LaGuardia Airport, must exit the main roadway after 58th Place, using the service road for six blocks before getting on the highway. On this stretch, the service road is two lanes wide instead of one.

Under DOT’s plan, BQE-bound drivers would stay in the center roadway, exiting after 65th Place directly onto the highway ramp at a new traffic signal. This signal will keep turning drivers stopped while pedestrians and cyclists have the right of way to proceed along Queens Boulevard:

The plan gets BQE-bound drivers off the eastbound service road, opening up space for the bike lane, and adds traffic signals to help pedestrians and cyclists cross at the highway on-ramps. Image: DOT [PDF]

With the central roadway down from three lanes to two lanes, the service road east of 69th Street opens up to two lanes as the bike lanes come to an end at the eastern edge of the project. The eastbound bikeway shifts to the main roadway from 69th Street to 73rd Street:

East of the BQE, the service roads widen to two car lanes, shifting the protected bike lanes. Image: DOT [PDF]

DOT’s is presenting the plan to the Queens Community Board 2 transportation committee tonight at 43-22 50th Street, second floor. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.

  • BBnet3000

    They really can never get the details right can they? Why isn’t the bike lane continued through the pedestrian space (the plaza space in qb_60th.jpg and all the corner bulbouts)?

    Biking through a pedestrian space is really not a pleasant experience and creates conflicts that don’t need to exist. The situation in City Hall Park was the result of some horse trade that we apparently have to accept, but why design this into new spaces created from whole cloth like Allen Street and Queens Boulevard?

    Also, why no green sharrows or solid green stripe at the turn boxes? Visibility of the bike path crossing there is absolutely vital.

  • Jay

    Majority of my concerns from the previous post are covered on this post.

    I wish I was in Queens to make the QCB meeting tonight.

  • Joe R.

    Personally, I’d want some sort of physical barrier between the bike and pedestrian spaces. The Brooklyn Bridge is a great example of what happens when you fail to demarcate pedestrian and cyclist space with physical barriers. The bike lane basically becomes unusable at anything more than jogging pace.

  • QueensWatcher

    There are some great ideas here. Though I do not understand why the bike lane is not against the right curb. I realize there are some advantages out by the median [e.g. no right turn conflicts, cleaner lane], but those are outweighed by conflicts with pedestrian spaces and the slip lanes, and being forced to cross over traffic to get to/from the start/ends of the bikeway.

    Also, why are there no bus lanes? There was near unanimity at the workshop that was held in January on 3 things: bike lanes, more/safer pedestrian space and bus lanes. While some might say 2 out of 3 ain’t bad, dedicated bus lanes are absolutely needed to increase the carrying capacity of Queens Blvd in a sustainable way as the population increases.

  • lop

    You mean like on the ocean parkway mall where especially on Saturdays the bike path is taken over by stroller brigades and with the fence separating bike and ped space there’s no way to pass them?

  • Putting the bike lanes in the middle like that is just plain nutty. Why create so much extra conflict with motor traffic? The bikeway should be over against the sidewalk. A quick look along queens from Roosevelt east I can’t see any reason why the bikeways should be in such a dangerous high conflict place.

  • Joe R.

    One thing they could eventually do with the proposed confguration would be to turn the service road travel lane into a bus lane, eliminate the parking lane, and then just extend the sidewalk across what was the parking lane. At the same time they could get rid of the slips altogether given that no traffic except buses would be allowed on the service road. I don’t really see why Queens Boulevard needs four travel lanes in each direction OR parking. Or if you must have parking, then with my proposed configuration use one of the three remaining travel lanes on the main road.

    The bottom line though is I think the service road should be purely for buses and bikes.

  • Joe R.

    I think that’s comparing apples and oranges. As things stand now I don’t see a whole lot of strollers on the sidewalks along Queens Boulevard. I don’t think they’ll magically appear to fill up a hypothetical fenced off bike lane.

  • ahwr

    On ocean parkway they basically lopped off the majority of the walking space on the western mall and said it was for bikes, the remaining pedestrian space is narrow so if you want a few people to walk next to each other you go in the bike lane. It’s a bad design. A barrier doesn’t make up for it. The FY18 design shows a more contained pedestrian space between benches and trees, and cars and bikes outside of that. It should garner better behavior.

  • Joe

    The bike lanes are great, except suffer from poor and cheap design. Double parking, especially for trucks making deliveries is very common on the service road. With the new ‘design’, cars on the service road will be forced to go around double parkers by driving into the bike lane at speed. The bike lane must be protected by physical separation to prevent this. Otherwise, cars & trucks will be cutting off bicyclists.

  • Ralph Mein

    Biking through the pedestrian spaces is ridiculous. Pedestrians tend to respect bike lanes when they see bikes in them. However, the design will have all the pedestrians lined up in the bike lane waiting for the traffic to stop. There is no place for bicyclists to go, other than through the middle of the pedestrian plaza. For the want of different color paint, this is foolish.

  • Jill Meyers

    At the eastern end, rather than spend some money to relocate the curb and median between the main road and service road, they are funneling the bicyclists onto the main roadway? (The speedway?) That is ludicrous. It appears that rather than increase the size of the median strips to create the so-called ‘pedestrian plazas’, they are simply laying tan and green paint onto the roadway. This is not a ‘vision’. Its a white-washing.

  • Another point on this plan is when are our traffic engineers going to learn that placing crossings in the exact spot where drivers are looking in the opposite direction is deadly?

    Move the crossings back a car length from the junction so that drivers can deal with all of the complications of making their turn without being hit or hitting another vehicle and then once they’ve completed that and are looking straight down the road and have many fewer distractions will encounter the crossing and be in a much better position to see people in the crossing. Better yet, table the crossing (raise it about 3″) to make sure they know it’s there and slow down for it (also helps to keep the crossing clear of water, snow, and slush).

  • Agree with funneling bicycle riders on to the speedway. We need to require that the engineers will have to ride the length of this at least once a week during busy times for the two years after it’s completed and see if they suddenly come up with better solutions (EG, they’ll order a copy of the Dutch CROW manual).

    Temporarily painting pedestrian plaza’s is OK and a good way to move forward. This, so long as they come back with cement soon after. NYC does (or did) do a good job on converting paint to cement.

  • Bikes and buses don’t mix. Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden have all tried and found it a high conflict environment that people did not want to ride on (and bicycle riders would often jump on to the sidewalk and ride there instead).

    A bikeway can and should be on the right of buses at all times. This sometimes requires that the bikeway jog right to go around a boarding island or shelter but this works well so long as it’s marked and that the island be large enough that people getting off the bus have room to exit without immediately stepping in to the bikeway.

  • I could see it working, in this configuration, with the bikeway buffered from the bus lane (which would could take the parking lane), there is plenty of space, and if there is no conflict to the bike lane with buses, since buses never cross to the main roadway, this would be okay. Its in effect, not shared, just parallel.

  • AnoNYC

    I suspect parking projected bicycle lanes west of Roosevelt Avenue eventually.

  • Seems like there’s a very simple solution. When they do the build-out in 2018 they should use different materials or paint to distinguish the ped space from the bike lane. This is fairly common in more bike-friendly cities where peds have to cross bike lanes to wait for traffic signals or the bus. This project isn’t perfect, but I don’t think we should let that be the enemy of the very very good. If you think of this like an amazing first step on the way to real connectivity and protection, the future looks bright for Queens Boulevard.

  • AnoNYC

    I think the Move NY plan has the potential to reduce congestion along Queens Blvd enough to make it a 2×2. Combined with residential permits, bus only lanes, and eliminating the parking minimums it definitely would over time.

  • BBnet3000

    They won’t use different materials or make the cyclepath a proper width in 2018 either as its clear they haven’t learned anything from Allen/Pike Street. People will be telling me not to let the decent be the enemy of the mediocre 3 years from now too.

    Do we want to substantially increase cycling in this city or just have bike infrastructure for the sake of having bike infrastructure?

  • I think it’s pretty clear that, for the moment, the city just wants to have bike infrastructure for the sake of having bike infrastructure. There’s no real mindset that cycling is a legitimate transport choice. I write that as someone who rode 26 miles in the city on Tuesday and 21 on Monday.

    I hope this answers your question.

  • Bobberooni

    Au contraire, I think it’s a great place for the bike lane. No double-parked cars. No pedestrians dashing out into the street. The ONLY thing you have to worry about is cars crossing into and out of the express lanes. And they’ve come up with some decent designs for that. I think the experience will be way better than the typical Manhattan Avenue protected bike lanes.

    The only place for bike lanes I can think of that might be better would be the middle of the road.

  • Bobberooni

    If they do it right — i.e. make it slow and inconvenient enough — the travel lane on the service road should be lightly used. I drive Grand Concourse in the Bronx at times, and you definitely do NOT want to go more than a few blocks in the service lane.

    As long as the cars are slow enough on the service road, then the bike lane next to it should be no problem. But the recent video of the boro cab killing someone at about 50mph on the Grand Concourse service road worries me. Maybe they can fiddle with the stoplight timings, add bike-only greens, car-only stop signs, etc. to make driving the service road less convenient.

  • Bobberooni

    Here’s how I stay alive on a bike:

    1. Never pass a bus or truck on the right
    2. Always pass on the left with at least 10 feet — unless I know FOR SURE that the vehicle is stopped and not about to move any time soon.

    Designs that intentionally put bikes to the right of buses scare me. I think it’s definitely better to have the bikes to the left of buses in this design. Once you cross the service road, you’re pretty set.

  • Bobberooni

    I once narrowly missed someone CLIMBING OVER the fence on Ocean Parkway, right into my path. Ocean Parkway may have been the city’s first bike path, but it’s completely obsolete.

    Remember that Ocean Parkway also goes through neighborhoods that are known to be indifferent or hostile toward bikes (and outsiders).

  • Bobberooni

    Don’t count on bike lanes west of Roosevelt Avenue. For one thing, unlike the rest of Queens Boulevard, there is ALREADY a decent bike route from Roosevelt Ave to Queens Plaza. OTOH, for those who NEED to be on Roosevelt Ave (to frequent a business there), bike lanes would certainly be nice.

  • AnoNYC

    Well Roosevelt Avenue would provide a more direct route to the QB Bridge correct? I’m not from Queens, and I never bike east of LIC and Astoria so I don’t know what connections work best for bicycle commuters.

  • Bobberooni

    Look up the bike routes on Google maps, you will see what I mean.

  • From another discussion this morning… Think about a driver on the main through lanes taking a right to merge on to the service road (the grey car in the first graphic above). In order to see if any people riding bicycles are coming they will need to look back over their shoulder and almost completely behind them. Will they really do that? Or just take a chance that any bicycle riders will avoid them?

    At the same time they are having to look for cars, trucks, and buses on the service road, some of whom can squash them. How much of their attention will they give to people on bicycles when they’re more worried about heavy trucks? And all while going 40-50 mph.

    Much better to have the bikeway over against the sidewalk and use a Dutch style junction that places the crossing a bit back from the junction.

  • BBnet3000

    Its perfectly fine to put bikes to the right of buses because with a good design, they don’t interact, ever.

  • I can understand why they’ve done it for the time being, but I agree that it definitely should not be a long-term solution. See my comments on the original post on the proposal. I’m sure you’re familiar with how critically important these service roads could be for creating a more bike-friendly environment, but they must be done right. This concept is close, it just needs a few more refinements to truly make it great.

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