With Endorsements From Koslowitz and Community Board 6, Next Phase of Queens Blvd Redesign Ready to Roll
DOT's biking and walking improvements are set for implementation this summer.
Last night, Queens Community Board 6 overwhelmingly endorsed DOT’s plan to extend protected bike lanes, pedestrian safety improvements, and traffic-calming treatments on Queens Boulevard through Rego Park to Yellowstone Boulevard [PDF]. Before the 35-4 vote, local Council Member Karen Koslowitz, whose position had been in question, delivered a strong statement in favor of the project.
Since 2015, DOT has redesigned 2.5 miles of Queens Boulevard in Woodside and Elmhurst, expanding pedestrian space, installing protected bike lanes, and adding stop-controlled transitions between the main roadway and service lanes. Pedestrian and cyclist injuries have declined, despite an increase in people biking on the boulevard. The street once dubbed “the Boulevard of Death,” where as many as 18 people have lost their lives in a single year, has not had a single traffic fatality since 2014.
The vote was expected to be closer than it was. While the board’s transportation committee voted 7 to 3 in favor of the plan last week, committee chair John Dereszewski, who was one of the “no” votes,” focused most of his report last night on the loss of about 200 parking spots. Other board members expressed concerns about parking and the impact on retailers.
Koslowitz had also been noncommittal about the project. But on Tuesday, Transportation Alternatives staff and volunteers handed her 12,000 petition signatures in favor of it. As Dereszewski finished speaking, Koslowitz interjected that she had received letters from 250 shop owners expressing support for the bike lane.
Koslowitz told the board her office received hundreds of calls from constituents who support the project. Queens Boulevard is the route she takes into Manhattan “every day,” she said, “and these bike lanes seem to be working.” The parking spots that will be removed had been added in the early 2000s to calm traffic, she noted.
“I’m endorsing this project because I think it’s great, I think it’s something we need, and I don’t see any harm to this project for all of us,” she said.
Just before the vote, board chair Joseph Hennessy took a straw poll of the 60 or so members of the public in the room. All but three said they supported the plan.