Mayor Reiterates Commitment to Queens Blvd. Safety Fixes Despite Delays

"We obviously are committed to Queens Boulevard," de Blasio tells reporters.

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

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.

  • AnoNYC

    Streetsblog should create a listing on a side panel or something indicating the current progress on complete streets projects and related infrastructure.

    Does anyone know what is going on with the second phase of the South Bronx Greenway for example? It’s been years and it’s been useless without the extension.

  • 1soReal

    From what I’ve heard in the past there is a plan to extend it but it’s it’s well in the future. The rest of the project falls under the Dept of Design and Construction which is known to be much slower than DOT. I think the next phase has a scheduled completion date well into the 2020’s.

    A similar treatment for Grand Concourse is allegedly in the works too, with a protected and raised bikeway etc. That’s something well into the 2020s as well.

  • Nonsense like this angers me to the point of concluding that “local” control of anything is a travesty. The only “locality” that matters is New York City. Our Municipal government should rightfully have unilateral power in matters of planning everywhere within the borders of our City.

    It cannot be emphasised strongly enough that neighbourhoods are not actual entities; their names are just ephemeral labels of convenience. What is real is New York City. We need to say loudly and clearly to these obstructionist scumbags: You do not live in Kew Gardens (or insert any other neighbourhood name); you live in New York City.

    People who wish to reside in some small town, in which every half-witted goofball is invited to opine on matters about which he or she does not know the first f-ing thing, should go find one; there are plenty of such places to choose from out there in Idiot America.

    Kindly leave New York City to New Yorkers, to people who embrace urbanity and who identify with the City, to people who understand that our Municipal government’s responsibility is to act in the interest of the City as a whole.

  • Joe R.

    Also, there are plenty of other places people like this who obviously want a car-oriented lifestyle can move to. I’m sick and tired of f-ing parking being the reason so many projects are delayed or watered down. Even worse, in most cases drivers aren’t even paying for this parking whose loss they’re moaning.

  • Gersh Kuntzman

    I would argue that DOT should create that…or give us the information so we could create it promptly and efficiently. In the Internet age, the adage always was, “Information wants to be free,” but much of government is still operating in 1995. And the NYPD is at 1975. But… I love the suggestion!

  • Simon Phearson

    Neighborhoods are “entities” just as much as cities are. They have community boards, council and Assembly representatives, school districts, participatory financing, and so on. Meanwhile, cities – and this is especially true of NYC – are just creatures of state law, with only the authority and “entity”-ness ascribed to them.

    Less pedantically, neighborhoods are the places where people live, work, and recreate. Their interests and benefit are not properly subsumed within the broader interests of the city, and it is beyond comprehension how anyone could think that a city could be healthy without attending to the health of its neighborhoods. Neighborhoods are, after all, where New Yorkers live.

    That said, it is correct to say that decisions about transportation networks transcend the narrow, colloquial interests of neighborhoods and, ahem, “stakeholders,” so should not be worked out in the extremely laborious and time-consuming way that BdB and his DOT appear to prefer.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Most of those bodies you mention in the first paragraph are not coterminous with neighborhoods, nor with each other.

  • Simon Phearson

    And apples are not oranges, as I’m sure you would no less astutely note.

  • That last paragraph is the crux of the matter.

    Look, having lived in several disparate sections of New York City, and having spent time in every single section of the four significant boroughs, I am well aware of the distinct and diverse characters of the many neighbourhoods of our City. For thirty years I have luxuriated in the urban amenities of Woodhaven whose absence frustrated me during my childhood years spent in remote Queens Village. I love seeing the rainbow flags in Astoria and Cobble Hill and the urban cosmopolitanism of Long Island City and Carroll Gardens, while I shudder at the various kinds of ugliness on display in Greenpoint, Maspeth, Midwood, Sheepshead Bay, and many other locations.

    So I get the idea that New York is a city of neighbourhoods. But when this concept extends to obstructing projects that serve the good of the people of our City generally, this is where I lose the will to indulge this illusion, and where I want to affirm that our only significant local entity is New York City.

    Also, while the City contains Community Board zones, City Council districts, State Legislative districts, and school districts, these boundaries do not coincide; so there is no real way to claim that any one of them deliniates a neighbourhood. Council and State Legislative districts are the most divorced of all from any reasonable conception of neighbourhood identity. Antonio Reynoso’s Council district includes both Ridgewood and Williamsburgh; the Senate district formerly represented by Daniel Squadron covers Greenpoint, Williamsburgh, Cobble Hill, and the entirety of Manhattan below Houston Street.

    Police precincts often come close to lining up with neighbourhoods; but the closest are actually the zip code zones.

    Even still, neighbourhoods are ephemeral. When I was a kid, there was a section adjacent to Queens Village called Bellaire. It ain’t there now. For much of the 20th century, just east of Woodhaven sat a section called Brooklyn Manor. No longer. Up until the late 1970s, Ridgewood was considered to be partly in Brooklyn and partly in Queens; but after the new zip code came in for the Queens section, the Brooklyn section became thought of as part of Bushwick. Not long ago Baxter Street was part of Little Italy; now it is part of Chinatown.

    By contrast, the borders of New York City are tangible; everyone knows where they are. These borders are unchangeable without an act of the State Legislature. It is true that the City’s entity-ness depends upon an act of the Legislature. But there is precisely zero possibility that the State is going to legislate New York City out of existence, even if it has the theoretical power to do so. New York City is real and permanent in a way that Bellaire or any other neighbourhood is not.

    I do, however, get your point that neighbourhoods are the manifestations of New Yorkers’ relationships with the City. And I feel this, too, as a contented resident of urbanised Woodhaven. But even in my area there are plenty of idiots who oppose obvious improvements such as the SBS on the Q53 along Woodhaven Boulevard. This group even has the wretched City Council member on their side.

    These people will try to assert some kind of “local” autonomy as a means to legitimise their desire to take part in planning decisions. To people like this, and to the people who try obstruct the installation of bike lanes, and to the people who try to block the building of small jails, the proper position of the City government is to say as firmly as possible: we are in charge here, not you.

    Let neighbourhood groups decide what colour garland will hang from the lightposts and what bands will play at street fairs. But for important things such as city planning and infrastructure management, these types need to get out of the way and let the adults do their work.

  • Simon Phearson

    You need to learn to edit.

    The point I made, against you, was that it was not true that the only “locality” that matters is New York City. Neighborhoods matter, too. That’s true whether we conceptualize them in terms of their politically-defined distinctions – i.e., council and Assembly districts, school districts, CB districts, etc. – or the more amorphous “characters” that everyone agrees neighborhoods have.

    A balance needs to be struck between local interests and city interests. Sometimes city interests need to predominate; those will tend to be cases like designing transportation networks, siting facilities for the homeless and prisoners, and zoning for density. Sometimes local interests need to predominate; those will tend to be cases like siting and funding schools, determining land use and certain types of zoning variances, and other situations where decisions wouldn’t be expected to have a material impact beyond the locality.

  • Editing is in fact one of my strong points. What you got was the streamlined version of my last response, with most rhetorical flourishes and all off-topic digressions excised.

    Anyway, we seem to have broad agreement on the idea that citywide interests should determine what is done more often than is currently the case.

  • Simon Phearson

    Editing is in fact one of my strong points.

    Evidently not, since your comment had plenty of “rhetorical flourishes” and “off-topic digressions.”

  • It did have a few flourishes, as the artistic urge just would not submit to a total taming.

    But there was not one bit that was off-topic. Every single thing cited was germane to the topic.

  • AnoNYC

    2020s. Ugh.

    It’s so frustrating how long it takes to get these projects done.

    I am concerned though with the new Leggett Ave ramps coming into play. I don’t see bicycle lanes in the render.

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