Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Bicycle Safety

The Most Controversial Bike Lane That Should Not Have Been Controversial At All Is Under Construction In Queens

1:15 PM EDT on August 16, 2018

The missing link connector in Sunnyside is under construction.

Talk about a fact on the ground.

Department of Transportation contractors have begun construction on a pair protected bike lanes on Skillman and 43rd avenues in Sunnyside, Queens — a safe-streets improvement that became needlessly controversial amid opposition from car owners and some local business owners who argued that cyclist and pedestrian safety is less important than their freedom to store private vehicles on public streets.

Clarence Eckerson Jr. of Streetfilms shot the video below to document the installation:

Once completed, the paired lanes [plan, PDF] will connect existing protected bike lanes on Queens Boulevard with existing routes to the Queensboro Bridge. Many cyclists saw the Sunnyside project as the "missing link" for commuters to get safely to the bridge from points east — and, indeed, crashes dropped dramatically on Queens Boulevard after improvements there. The impetus for the project came after a driver ran down cyclist Gelacio Reyes in 2017 — and local Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer and the head of the community board stood next to Reyes's widow and called for a protected lane on 43rd Avenue.

But critics trotted out the usual complaints that protected bike lanes adversely affect businesses (untrue) or that the lanes are less safe (also untrue) — and the well-proven street safety strategy gained additional controversy when Van Bramer flip-flopped (though he later admitted he was wrong).

Mayor de Blasio, in a decision that need not have gotten all the way to his desk, dismissed the naysayers, touting the plan's documented benefit for safety for all roadway users.

In the end, the city will remove just two to four parking spaces per block to create better visibility for drivers so they don't crash into cyclists or pedestrians — hundreds of whom have been injured on the strip because the existing bike lane was not protected.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Opinion: Bring Back ‘Give Respect/Get Respect’ Campaign

If cyclists don't throw their own bad apples under the bus, we won't get safer streets, argues this West Side advocate.

September 27, 2023

Pols: Congress Must Bolster Sustainable Commutes to Reduce Carbon and Congestion

The feds should bolster sustainable commuting modes and transportation demand management strategies.

September 27, 2023

Tuesday’s Headlines: Don’t Look Up Edition

It's hard to believe that it's going to rain again today, plus other more important news.

September 26, 2023

Another Flip-Flop: City Hall Allegedly Pauses Almost-Done Underhill Ave. Bike Boulevard

City Hall is intervening in yet another street redesign project, and supporters fear it could be the start of dismantling other improvements.

September 26, 2023
See all posts