Astoria Council Member Backs Protected Bike Lane Linking Queensboro and Triborough bridges

We call this the Ballad of the Costa Concrescentia. Photo via Juan Restrepo
We call this the Ballad of the Costa Concrescentia. Photo via Juan Restrepo

A years-long push for a two-way bike path to protect cyclists on a dangerous roadway linking the Queensboro and Triborough bridges got a new jolt of life, as Astoria’s City Council member has enthusiastically signed on to the proposal.

“We’re long overdue for a north-south bike lane and … it should be along Crescent Street,” Council Member Costa Constantinides tweeted on Friday afternoon. In a subsequent chat with Streetsblog, Constantinides stated flatly that sharrows or green paint wouldn’t cut it.

“The reason we would do this bike lane would be to make sure cyclists would feel safe getting to and from the Queensboro Bridge to the Triborough Bridge,” Constantinides said. “We want that connectivity, and the only way to do that is with a protected bike lane. To do just sharrows or paint is not the solution we’re looking for.”

Constantinides’s endorsement is a big win in the campaign to link the two Queens bridges with a safe, useful path for Queens cyclists. Constantinides’s support follows a previous booster from Council Member (and would-be Queens Borough President) Jimmy Van Bramer — so now the north-south lane has the support of both City Council representatives along its route.

Constantinides spoke about the need for what he called “holistic streets” that keep New Yorkers safer than they’ve been in 2019, a year that’s experiencing an 18-percent increase in traffic deaths. And beyond the safety aspect, the council member tied his support for the bike lane to his work as the chairman of the city’s Committee on Environmental Protection.

“We have a goal to reduce our emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050, and getting people out of their cars and taxis and onto bicycles is what we should be doing,” he said. “If we’re going to break the car culture, we need to have protected bike lanes and have a network.”

As Streetsblog has reported, the total amount of passenger car miles driven has risen under the de Blasio administration, and the rate of car ownership in the city has outpaced the population growth.

Activists in Queens have been pushing since 2017 to put a protected bike lane on Crescent Street, which drivers currently use as a feeder road to the entrance of the Queensboro Bridge. Despite the fact that Crescent is a residential road, its placement between the tolled Triborough Bridge and free Queensboro Bridge encourages drivers coming into Manhattan from east of Astoria to use the road to get onto the Queensboro. It currently has no bike infrastructure.

The results of that traffic arrangement have been chaotic and dangerous, as 32 cyclists, 81 pedestrians and 139 motorists have been injured and one pedestrian has been killed in 1,157 crashes since January 2013. That’s a lot of crashes for just 20 blocks.

“Having the support of both Council Members Van Bramer and Constantinides means we are all just waiting on the city to act by proposing a robust and comprehensive redesign of Crescent Street,” said Juan Restrepo, the Queens organizer with Transportation Alternatives. “Astorians have been clamoring for a safe bike route to the Queensboro and Triborough bridge for years now, and we need to act now before another cyclist is seriously injured or killed on our streets.”

Asked what the support from both City Council members meant for the prospects of the proposed bike lane, the Department of Transportation played it cooler than your current romantic interest.

“We are actively looking at corridor options for a north-south bike lane in Western Queens,” said DOT spokeswoman Alana Morales.

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