Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In

Crankiness About Car Storage Can’t Stop the Queens Boulevard Redesign

1:15 PM EDT on June 14, 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

The redesign of Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills is slated to move forward this summer, and a 23-11 vote agains the project at Queens CB 6 last night isn't going to change that.

DOT informed the CB 6 transportation committee last month that the project is a mayoral priority and would proceed with or without the board's endorsement. It's an intriguing example of what the de Blasio administration can accomplish when it decides that its public safety mandate should override the unpredictable and often obstructionist outcomes of the community board process.

On Queens Boulevard, the safety argument for the redesign is overwhelming: Pedestrian injuries fell 55 percent after implementation of the first two phases of the redesign in Woodside and Elmhurst, while cycling increased 127 percent on the Rego Park section this spring, DOT reports [PDF]. (It's too soon to have meaningful crash data from the Rego Park phase, which was implemented less than a year ago.)

Meanwhile, Jay Parker, the owner of Ben's Best Kosher Deli, has embarked on a media tour blaming the impending closure of his business on the Queens Boulevard redesign. Despite all evidence that Ben's Best was simply a victim of the same market forces that have claimed other kosher delis in NYC, Parker has fixated on the bike lane, and community board members believe him.

The main feature of the redesign -- expanded pedestrian space and a bike lane along the median separating the Queens Boulevard service streets from the central roadway -- replaces what is now a parking lane. Ironically, that parking lane was added as a measure of protection back in 2001, replacing a moving lane to slow down speeding traffic.

Since 2015, DOT has been putting down protected bike lanes, expanding pedestrian space, and calming traffic on Queens Boulevard. This year's phase will extend the redesign east from to Union Turnpike the current terminus at Yellowstone Boulevard [PDF]. It's the fourth and final segment planned for the project, which started in Woodside in 2015.

Transportation Alternatives Queens organizer Juan Restrepo attended the meeting last night and says many board members appeared torn. They value the safety impact of the first three phases of the redesign but also don't want to reduce on-street parking.

The vote was preceded by an extended speech by Chair Joseph Hennessy, who ticked off a list of complaints about the project while acknowledging that pedestrian safety on Queens Boulevard is a major concern and that the DOT project had addressed it.

"They hear about Ben’s Best closing, they hear about safety and the statistics," Restrepo said. “It seems like the chair is very conflicted about it, and that’s the attitude a lot of people have about this plan."

With the support of City Hall, DOT is going to move forward with this project. That's going to prevent a lot of life-altering crashes in Forest Hills. It also raises the question: Why doesn't the mayor treat every street redesign with this level of urgency?

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

What is the Life of a Dead Pedestrian Worth?

A cop laughed that a normal person is only worth $11,000 — and that figure was partly due to his racism, but also how little we value the lives of people on foot.

September 25, 2023

Monday’s Headlines: ‘What is Up With All These Flip-Flops, Mayor?’ Edition

It's the same old story with this mayor and his chief adviser, Ingrid Lewis-Martin. Plus other news.

September 25, 2023

Why Sustainable Transportation Advocates Need to Talk About Long COVID

Covid-19 transformed many U.S. cities' approach to sustainable transportation forever. But how did it transform the lives of sustainable transportation advocates who developed lasting symptoms from the disease?

September 24, 2023

Analysis: ‘Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program’ is a Failure By All Measures

The Department of Transportation wants the Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program to simply expire in part because it did not dramatically improve safety among these worst-of-the-worst drivers and led to a tiny number of vehicle seizures.

September 22, 2023

School Bus Driver Kills Cyclist in Boro Park, 24th Bike Death of 2023

Luis Perez-Ramirez, 44, was biking south on Fort Hamilton Parkway just before 3:15 p.m. when he was struck a by school bus driver making a right turn.

September 22, 2023
See all posts