DOT Proposes Safer Walking and Biking Connections to Highland Park

More pedestrian space and flexible posts protecting bike lanes on Cypress Hills Street will improve access to Highland Park, Ridgewood Reservoir, and nearby cemeteries.

Image: DOT
Image: DOT

A dangerous street that connects Glendale to Ridgewood Reservoir, Highland Park, and two cemeteries is in line for traffic-calming and safer bike lanes thanks to a request from the local police precinct [PDF].

Cypress Hills Street has a divided median and highway-like curves that do little to prevent motorists from speeding. The street is an obstacle to good walking and biking access, despite its buffered bike lanes. The east curb, which runs along a tall concrete barrier, has five B13 bus stops — but no real sidewalk.

It’s not safe for people in cars either: Since 2010, two motor vehicle occupants have been killed in crashes on this stretch, according to DOT. Another six were severely injured.

Between Cooper Avenue and Jackie Robinson Parkway, the project would shrink the striped median to make way for an eight-foot-wide painted sidewalk on the east curb. The bike lanes would be painted green and protected by plastic bollards, though the buffer on the east side would be narrowed.

Cypress Hills Street, pictured, could provide safe access from Glendale, Queens to cemeteries and parkland, but its existing design feels more like a highway. Photo: DOT
Cypress Hills Street could provide safe walking and biking access from Glendale to nearby parks and cemeteries, but it’s designed like a highway. Photo: DOT

At bus stops, the protection would give way and buses would pull to the curb. The 78th Avenue bus stop would be eliminated, simplifying the intersection while consolidating stops in an area that currently has three within 870 feet. The four remaining northbound bus stops would all get concrete bus bulbs.

The bike lanes would terminate at Jackie Robinson Parkway, where a new crosswalk would guide cyclists coming over the highway onto a service road connecting to Highland Park. The service road travel lanes will be reduced from 15 feet wide to 12 feet, with signage directing cyclists to ride on the sidewalk, which is the official bike route.

DOT reps presented the plan to Queens Community Board 5’s transportation committee on April 25. Thanks in part to that support from the 104th Precinct and local civic organizations, who responded positively to the plan, the committee endorsed the project.

“The transportation committee has been really focused on generating better access to Ridgewood Reservoir,” co-chair Toby Sheppard Bloch told Streetsblog. “Both the neighbors who live nearby and the precinct have highlighted the need for it.”

  • That median needs trees

  • Jeff

    That’s nice, but why not fix the street all the way to Cypress Hills (the neighborhood)? Heading northbound up the hill must be horrifying for inexperienced cyclists.

  • That is over the borough line, which comes in a little south of the Interboro. So it is under the aegis of a different Community Board.

    But there really should be a bike lane on the Brooklyn portion of the street — at least on the southbound side. From the Interboro south to Jamaica Avenue, Cypress Hills Street is “Snake Hill”, a big winding hill coming down from the Terminal Moraine.

    Riding down that hill is fun; but I would say that that there is no point in putting a bike lane on the northbound side, because we don’t want to encourage people to embark on that gruelling climb. This would be similar to Miller Avenue near Broadway Junction: a hill so steep that sharrows are painted only on the southbound side, as no one would be fool enough to ride that street northbound (even though I did it once, more than ten years ago).

  • dave “paco” abraham

    This stretch is often one of the scariest I find to bike in Queens. The inclines are hard and the declines give you enough momentum to be dangerous. Couple that with the lack of protection from the speeding vehicles a few feet away and I always think I’ll wind up in the cemetery right there. The current lack of sidewalks also make it a true insult to straphangers. Kudos to the CB & DOT for acknowledging these issues and properly addressing them with much needed upgrade. I can’t wait to bike along the finished product. When is the target date for installation?

  • Jeff

    Ha, well, count me fool, because this is my route back home from when I find myself in this part of town! And it’s exactly because of the fact that the speed differential of me going uphill on my own power compared to cars being motorized is so great that I think this is the most important part of the route to be protected. It’s certainly a hill and all, but it’s not so steep that I’d completely write it off as a bike route.

  • Are you talking about Cypress Hills Street or about Miller Avenue?

    If the former, then I suppose that I can see your point. If the latter, then you’re a madman.

  • Jeff

    Cypress Hills Street

  • I see.

    Well, then, on second thought I will have to agree with you — we ought to have a bike lane on both sides. The climb, while too steep for my tastes, does not render the street unusable. And you make a good point that the speed difference makes protection that much more important.

  • Samuelitooooo

    The thing is, you could try to discourage people from riding up that climb, but the fact is, people do it anyway. And they’ll continue to do so. (I ride the B13 often now and used to when I lived in Glendale, so I witnessed and still witness this a lot.) So we might as well make it safe and easier, I say.
    The Brooklyn part of the hill got repaved and had the channelization reconfigured a bit. Going up the hill is one lane now (except close to the intersection), and pushed towards the median.
    After all, how else will people on bikes reach Glendale from Cypress Hills?

  • Right; as I conceded ten months ago, there should indeed be a bike lane on the northbound side of Cypress Hills Street.

    Still, I cannot shake my feeling that doing that ride is nutty. I understand that the only other way up to Glendale from Cypress Hills is about twice as long: west on Jamaica Avenue to Bushwick Avenue, then up to Cooper Street/Avenue, then east on Cooper. But that way is mercifully flat!

    I always say that the best way to beat a hill is to go around it.


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Last June, a hit-and-run driver killed 21-year-old Betty DiBiaso at the intersection of 19th Street and Ditmars Boulevard, next to Astoria Park. The loss of DiBiaso prompted a neighborhood-wide discussion about the need to improve street safety around one of Queens’ most visited parks, and on Tuesday night DOT showed Queens Community Board 2 its proposals for the area […]