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Bill de Blasio

Mayor Reiterates Commitment to Queens Blvd. Safety Fixes Despite Delays

This block of Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills was supposed to have protected bike lanes by now. Jessame Hannus/Twitter

Forest Hills may get that bike lane just yet.

Mayor de Blasio on Wednesday reiterated his commitment to safety improvements on Queens Boulevard between Yellowstone Boulevard and Union Turnpike — a project that mysteriously stalled even though it was supposed to be installed in July.

"We obviously are committed to Queens Boulevard," the mayor told reporters. "There's work we have to do. Each section of Queens Boulevard is different. There are some real concerns and worries about how to implement it, but there’s no question we’re going to continue to do more to protect Queens Boulevard."

The mayor stopped short, however, from a full-fledged commitment to extending protected bike lanes in Forest Hills. He declined to answer follow-up questions from Streetsblog.

The redesigned Queens Boulevard. Photo: NYC DOT
The redesigned Queens Boulevard. Photo: NYC DOT
The redesigned Queens Boulevard, circa 2017, with bike lane. It doesn't go far enough. Photo: NYC DOT

De Blasio did not specify what those "real concerns" were or how the city would respond to them. The city has already remade three segments of the former "Boulevard of Death."

DOT began implementing protected bike lanes and expanded pedestrian space along Queens Boulevard in Woodside in 2015. The treatments have been extended east through Rego Park since then. Meanwhile, no pedestrians or cyclists have been killed on the corridor. Pedestrian injuries dropped 63 percent in the first three phases.

"It was known colloquially as the 'Boulevard of Death' for decades," de Blasio said. "Since we made the changes, we’ve seen a total reversal. Not perfect, but we’ve seen a stunning change."

But while the mayor gave himself a pat on the back, Queens Community Board 6 and Council Member Karen Koslowitz have put a knife in the same place, opposing the expansion, despite its proven record.

Koslowitz supported the Rego Park phase in 2017, calling it "great" and "something we need." She's since soured on street safety in favor of car storage.

"The crux of [her] opposition was the large loss of parking spaces," her spokesperson Michael Cohen told Streetsblog in September. "Presumably, DOT has taken her objections under consideration."

A quid-pro-quo may also be at work here, some advocates darkly surmised. Koslowitz supports Mayor de Blasio's bid to close Rikers Island and reopen a community jail in Kew Gardens, so perhaps she is asking the mayor to give her something back — like a stalled bike lane.

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