Queens Boulevard Redesign Coming to Forest Hills in July

DOT's fourth and final planned phase of the Queens Boulevard redesign will extend bike lanes and pedestrian safety improvements east to Union Turnpike. Cycling on last year's segment is up 127 percent so far in 2018.

The new bike lane on Queens Boulevard.
Cycling has doubled while pedestrian and cyclist injuries have dropped where NYC DOT redesigned the Queens Boulevard service roads. Photo: NYC DOT

Safety improvements on Queens Boulevard between Yellowstone Boulevard and Union Turnpike, including an extension of the service road bike lanes, are coming in July. The project is a mayoral priority and will move forward with or without a vote of approval from Queens Community Board 6, DOT Queens Deputy Borough Commissioner Albert Silvestri said last night.

The upcoming project east of Yellowstone is the fourth and final phase of DOT’s Queens Boulevard redesign. This year’s one-mile segment will extend the bike lanes running along the medians of the boulevard’s service roads, creating a five-mile east-west bike connection in the heart of Queens. Expanded pedestrian space and safer crossings are also part of the new phase of the redesign [PDF].

In Rego Park, where DOT redesigned Queens Boulevard last year, the number of people biking on the street is up 127 percent in 2018, according to DOT.

The service roads end at Union Turnpike, and there are no plans to extend the Queens Boulevard redesign further east. The bike lanes will end at a hairy intersection where eastbound cyclists can either continue in mixed traffic onto Queens Boulevard or take the somewhat narrower Kew Gardens Road. To create a workable transition for westbound cyclists coming from Kew Gardens Road, DOT plans to add a one-block contraflow bike lane linking up with Queens Boulevard.

As the Queens Boulevard project has progressed eastward, the politics of parking removal have grown more intense. After Queens Community Board 2 endorsed the first phase in 2014, Community Board 4 refused to support the Elmhurst segment in 2015. The next day, Mayor de Blasio said the project would be implemented anyway.

Last year’s segment in Rego Park did get a vote of approval from CB 6, but it’s received withering coverage in the local press, with a handful of local businesses complaining about the conversion of car parking spots into dedicated space for biking and walking. In November, Council Member Karen Koslowitz told the Queens Chronicle her support for the next phase of the project was up in the air.

But City Hall is not taking any chances on its flagship street safety project. Silvestri said last night that the mayor supports implementation of the next phase of the Queens Boulevard redesign with or without an endorsement from CB 6.

While some committee members expressed skepticism or outright opposition to the redesign, board chair Joseph Hennessy and committee chair Steven Goldberg didn’t want to stonewall the project.

“This plan is going through whether our board is voting for it or not,” Hennessy said. “So there’s no point in taking a vote.”

“This is a mayoral priorirty,” Silvestri responded. “That’s correct.”

Before implementation begins in July, DOT plans to present the plan to the full CB 6 board at its June 13 meeting, which starts at 7:45 p.m. at Key Gardens Community Center, located at 80-02 Kew Gardens Road, Suite 202.

  • Jeff

    Is anyone else worried about the capital buildout ruining the bike lanes? Right now they’re fantastic–I’d go so far as to say perhaps the bike lanes in the entire city. But the capital buildout seems to do away with the buffer, reduce the overall space dedicated to cyclists, and rely on a mountable curb right next to service road traffic for physical separation.

  • BrandonWC

    Could not agree more.

  • Yep. And locking sub-standard widths and designs into place means a lot of these bike lanes will be functionally obsolete within just a few years as cycling continues to grow and bike share expands. The city needs to be building for the bike volumes it wants to see in 10 – 20 years and not the volumes it has right now.

  • dave “paco” abraham

    Agree with the legit concerns below, but overall still happy to hear the Mayor is giving DOT a backbone on this one. Queens Blvd has changed in a huge way and become the before & after poster child for street safety success. It is forward motion in achieving Vision Zero. However, if it remains a standalone rarity of design, we still still not come anywhere close to truly safe streets. I drove along Linden Blvd from Brooklyn to Queens the other day. I don’t feel safe as a driver there with a dozen lanes. I am downright terrified as a pedestrians and occasional cyclist along it. Why doesn’t the mayor look at more of these huge corridors and make them all Great Streets projects on the scale that Queens Blvd has become? Just insanely inconsistent.

  • Blwndrpwrmlk

    Not really. Certain motorists would be less inclined to trespass onto a raised bike lane than what exists now. No motorists would be inclined to trespass if the capital plan included steel bollards. When I see that or something similar, then the City can brag about a protected bike lane on Queens Blvd.

  • [DOT Queens Deputy Borough Commissioner Albert] Silvestri said last night that the mayor supports implementation of the next phase of the Queens Boulevard redesign with or without an endorsement from CB 6.

    This is the only correct approach.

    There is no legitimate role for Community Boards in the making of decisions, which is the function exclusively of our elected representatives and of the department heads appointed by the mayor.

    Community Boards are purely advisory. In less polite terms: they are klown kolleges where self-important local busybodies can run around until they tire themselves out. That these assemblages of lunatics and half-wits are ever taken seriously in matters of planning is infuriating. It is most gratifying to know that that is not happening in this particular case.

  • Joe R.

    Besides no longer taking community boards seriously, NYC should give them a name which more accurately reflects their true function. I like the moniker “Parking Preservation Boards”. 95% of what they do seems to be directly or indirectly related to that goal.

  • ModelMediaEcologist

    What’s interesting to me is the degree of aggrieved auto-phile entitlement exhibited by the naysayers on this thread. We are so immersed in the infrastructure of our car culture, it seems natural to us. Space set aside for parking. Entire buildings set aside for parking. Cars on an island city never meant for cars. (Ever try driving through Greenwich Village?) Some additional thoughts:

    1) All that space devoted to car parking that could be turned into additional traffic lanes, pedestrian walkways, bike lanes, and even, in some places, green public parks! No one complains about the way car parking dominates our city real estate and degrades our urban experience.

    2) Take away one driving lane (which I, a non-driver paid for too) and hear the complaints. Lose a few subsidized parking spaces (they are all subsidized) and it’s Armageddon!

    3) Meanwhile, the numbers of deaths and injuries due to high speed driving on the Boulevard of Death are down for the past three years. The bike lanes are just part of the larger program to tame Queens Boulevard.

    I never thought bike lanes were so divisive – OK in Brooklyn yes, but that’s Brooklyn. But in Queens?

    Car owners don’t realize how entitled they are because living in a culture devoted to cars seems natural to them, and they don’t acknowledge the sacrifices and problems we’ve had to deal with because of that culture. That’s changing.

    (And yes, I know what autophile really means).

  • You accurately describe the phenomenon of hegemony, a condition wherein one particular group dominates so thoroughly that people’s perceptions become skewed. The awful result is that people start to accept as normal and neutral a whole set of absurd assumptions which serve the interests of the dominant group alone, but which are harmful to the common interest and to society as a whole.

    Perhaps one day our City will progress to the point where we’ll have leadership honest enough to look drivers square in the eye and tell them “you are the problem”. Let us consider the fact that, as society turns agains cigarettes, no one checks with the smokers to see whether the increasing restrictions are OK with them; society just imposes these restrictions on those whom it considers to be bad actors. This is the approach that we need with respect to driving. These are people whose lifestyle is wrong for our City; and we need policies aimed at stamping that lifestyle out.

  • Nick Tomaso

    Because what people want MOST is to have a pedesterian walkway in the MIDDLE of a major thoroughfare instead of walking on the sidewalk. And there is no benefit of being in that middle walking area because you’re better off walking on the sidewalk and avoiding having to wait for cars which are moving out of the express lane.

    This is why you don’t see anyone walking and almost nobody riding bikes in these bike lanes with the exception of the rare delivery person. We have no place to lock up bikes too so that there is almost zero incentive to use them instead of the SUBWAY and BUS transportation which also runs on the same road.

    Tens of millions of dollars wasted and phoney baloney statistics which mean nothing to support someone getting paid for a project we don’t need – at least not done like this.

  • Nick Tomaso

    Queens Blvd has become much worse, even if you want to argue that there are small areas which you feel they were an improvement. Install cameras taking photos and giving out tickets for going above 15 mph and you’ll have more “safety” numbers. The bike lanes are unused because they are poorly planned and not really needed because they duplicate the primary transportation mode in queens for bus and subway. There is a full lane of traffic killed for this phony “pedestrian area” which no one would use having a sidewalk that is more efficient and certainly not smack in the middle of what feels like a highway. Bike lanes, poorly planned given the turnoffs. They should have thought this out properly to redo the boulevard properly instead of doing a half baked job that helps nobody but a couple of bike messengers on occasion. Since it’s existence, I can honestly say I haven’t seen more than 20 bikers using the lane. And that’s generous.