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De Blasio Gives the Go-Ahead on Skillman/43rd Protected Bike Lanes

11:28 AM EDT on July 12, 2018

The city will move forward with the redesign of Skillman Avenue and 43rd Avenue in Queens. Image: DOT

Mayor de Blasio has instructed DOT to move ahead with protected bike lanes for Skillman Avenue and 43rd Avenue in Sunnyside and Woodside [PDF].

The stakes are too high not to move forward, de Blasio announced on Twitter:

DOT said it will begin implementation this summer.

Combined with the eastward extension of the Queens Boulevard bike lanes slated for this year, the decision to proceed will create a nearly continuous east-west protected bike route from the Queensboro Bridge to Forest Hills. For both projects, the mayor is asserting his prerogative to make streets safer in the face of community boards that don't support the redesigns.

Pedestrian safety upgrades and protection for cyclists are sorely needed on 43rd and Skillman, but efforts to redesign the streets were stalled by the community board process.

When a motorist killed Gelacio Reyes as he biked home from work in April 2017, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer called for safety improvements, including a protected bike lane. But when DOT came out with a plan to deliver that, Van Bramer waffled as merchants complained about the reduction in on-street parking spaces. An interminable series of hearings and workshops resolved nothing, and Queens Community Board 2 eventually voted 27 to 8 against the project. All along, supporters of the redesign reminded Van Bramer of his earlier position, but he never endorsed the project, saying last month, “I don’t believe we can move forward with this DOT plan at this time."

De Blasio's decision breaks the deadlock with what Transportation Alternatives director Paul White called "the kind of bold leadership that is required in the age of Vision Zero."

Congratulations to the Queens volunteers with TransAlt who worked so hard to make it happen.

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