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Eyes on the Street: Crescent Street Bike Lane Is Great* (Yes, That’s an Asterisk)

As with any temporary protected bike lane, the protection is only as good as drivers’ adherence to the rules. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

The temporary protected bike lane on Crescent Street (gray area).
The temporary protected bike lane on Crescent Street (gray area).
The temporary protected bike lane on Crescent Street (gray area).

The temporary protected bike lanes created by the de Blasio administration during the COVID-19 crisis are only as good as the will of car owners. And if cyclists in Queens are doing any good will hunting, they're going to come up empty.

On Thursday, we rode along Crescent Street — the mayor's most-recent temporary lane, which followed shorter stretches in Manhattan and Brooklyn — and were reminded again that a protected bike lane is neither protected nor a bike lane unless drivers abide by the rules and store their cars outside of the areas marked for safe cyclist travel.

The new cone- and barrel-protected bike lane is supposed to start at Hoyt Avenue (at the Triboro Bridge) and continue southbound to the Queensboro Bridge. But we saw no evidence of any protection north of 34th Avenue in Astoria — which means a lane that is supposed to be 1.8 miles is really about .8 miles.

The good news? Between 34th and 38th avenues — roughly a half-mile — the cones and barrels (and some nifty signage) do their job. Drivers have left the curbside open to cyclists. Here are some pictures of that:

Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
crescent below 34th ave 1

But between 38th and 41st avenues, the Crescent Street lane is completely useless because drivers have no interest in abiding by the rules. Here are some photos (including two scofflaws who really should not be scofflaws):

This is just south of 38th Avenue. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
This is just south of 38th Avenue. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
This is just south of 38th Avenue. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

And this is just south of 39th Avenue:

obstruction below 39th ave 1

And this is at the corner of 40th Avenue:

Look who's here.
Look who's here.
Look who's here.

Even a DOT truck got into the action on Thursday morning:

Yes, that's a city DOT truck.
Yes, that's a city DOT truck.
Yes, that's a city DOT truck.

The final block before the Queensboro Bridge bike lane — Crescent Street between 41st Avenue and Queens Plaza North — returns to glory:

Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Conclusion: Crescent Street is a vital link for western Queens cyclists. It is a wide, two-lane road that has become a speedway, so there is more than enough room for a real bollard- or parking-protected bike lane, coupled with a road diet. It should be a DOT priority.

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