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

DOT should "move forward with pedestrian safety and protected bike lanes that will save lives," the mayor said in a statement.

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

  • I am going out TODAY to get full BEFORE footage of what 43rd Avenues and Skillman look like. I can’t wait!

  • Jeff

    Van Bramer’s statement on Twitter is comically in line with his waffling position throughout the lifecycle of this whole debate:

  • JarekFA

    Like what drugs is he on? He literally, on the record, opposed this project. Now he wants partial credit for it? He called for its immediate implementation. Then came out against it. These pols are sociopaths. I can think of no other rational explanation.

  • Reader

    Standing with a grieving widow and promising to do whatever it takes to fix a street only to go back on that promise once the community board started whining about parking was among the more cowardly acts in the safe streets world in recent years. Top contender for a 2018 Streetsie, for sure.

  • Yes, indeed. (So it seems that your lauding response to his tweet was entirely sarcastic. Sorry that I didn’t pick up on that.)

  • William Lawson

    NIMBY’s hardest hit. As they should always be. Did they really think that, at the end of the day, their stupid parking spaces were more important than human life? YOU JUST GOT

  • Whoa, if there was a continuous protected bike route from the bridge to Forest Hills, I think I’d take that ride. Not even sure why, but I would.

  • And don’t forget – continuous basically from Jay Street, Chrystie, 1st Avenue and over the QBB.

  • Done.

  • J

    My guess: JVB knew DeBlasio would take the political hit for him, so he ducked the issue. Not exactly leadership, but the end result is the same, I guess.

  • AnoNYC

    Up here in the Bronx, I’ve been waiting for years to hear anything about the second phase of the Bruckner Blvd/South Bronx Greenway. The current terminal leaves you in the middle of a highway so it’s useless.

    I hope after Skillman/Queens Blvd, the Bronx gets a little love. This route would be heavily used if the DOT finally connected it to E 138th St.

  • Daphna

    Community Boards are made of up local politically connected people who often do not represent the majority interests of the communities they are supposed to speak for and advocate for. It would be great if the Boro Presidents and City Councilmembers would appoint some more street safety oriented people on the “community” boards. In the meantime, this is GREAT news that de Blasio is giving the go ahead to proceed.
    For those biking between Flushing and the Queensboro bridge, it will be much safer!!! Horay!

  • Maggie

    Gotta love how Jimmy Van Bramer is still falling all over with concern over the “inconvenience” that doubleparking drivers could face, after spending about a year ignoring the – hello! inconvenience – his law-abiding constituents have endured every single time they wanted to travel this corridor without getting in a fossil-fuel spewing car.

    Backwards looking weathervane politicking like this makes me sick. It’s like Queens answer to Marco Rubio. He has a lot to make up for, but after a year of watching him, I’m not hopeful that he’s the guy who will do it.

  • Samuelitooooo

    On the bright side, the Grand Concourse redesigns are slow, but steady. The next phase up to Fordham Road (if I remember correctly) is coming up.

  • USbike

    Wow Clarence, that path looks absolutely amazing! If I were ever there, I’d love to ride through that. It there looks very similar to what you see all throughout the Netherlands. The only main difference being the color of the asphalt (as you already know, many of them are red here). And also there are way more markings on the Hunter’s Point path, perhaps even a bit too excessive, I think. But nice video 🙂

  • AnoNYC

    The protected lane on the GC is piecemeal as well. Nothing south of about 161st St. But at least you have a painted bike lane when the protected lane ends northbound.

    The Bruckner/South Bronx greenway just dumps you in the middle of the Bruckner.

    Both are incomplete north/south routes in the Bronx. That should be the easy part. It’s the east/west routes that are much more challenging to design and implement politically..

    And I should add that the people of the Bronx are more receptive to complete streets projects, especially when compared to Queens. But things are taking far too long.

  • AnoNYC

    I wonder if that proposed pedestrian/bike bridge between this path and Franklin St will ever be built. Supposed to be part of the big development at Commercial St.

  • Michele

    LOL he was never against it he was just acting like he cared about the MAJORITY against it. Law abiding?? With all respect to Mr Reyes, he ran a red light.

  • Maggie

    That “majority” sure didn’t turn out for Joe Crowley like he thought they would.

  • Maggie

    And if you can ‘LOL’ at people in your neighborhood who are killed by drunk drivers, well, that says a lot about you. One day you may not be so lucky, but until then, at least people know what your butt-ugly morals look like. Have a good day Michele. Stay safe – you and your loved ones.