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Photo via Google Maps
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Northern Boulevard in Bayside.

Changes are coming to some major Bayside and Douglaston corridors.

Northern Boulevard between 223rd Street and Douglaston Parkway, the only road that connects Bayside to Douglaston, and the Alley Pond Park edge from Northern Boulevard to Springfield Boulevard will undergo changes to accommodate nearly 6 miles of protected bike lanes. The plans were presented by the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) and approved by Community Board 11 at a June 5 meeting.

“For a long time, some of the bicycle connections in Community Board 11 have been lacking, to say the least,” said DOT Deputy Borough Commissioner Al Silvestri.

In addition to the protected bike lanes, the approved plans will also narrow travel lanes to calm traffic, enact signal timing adjustments to improve pedestrian safety, and reduce the speed limit to 30 miles per hour along Northern Boulevard between 223rd Street and Douglaston Parkway. To accommodate the bike lane, one westbound lane of traffic on Northern Boulevard will be removed. All three eastbound lanes will remain, per the board’s request.

Photos courtesy of DOT

Photos courtesy of DOT

AlleyPond

Last summer, 78-year-old Michael Schenkman was struck and killed by a car while riding his bicycle on Northern Boulevard to access the nearby Joe Michaels Mile bike path. The tragedy spurred volunteers part of the Transportation Alternatives group to begin a campaign for a protected bike route connecting the two neighborhoods. Individual members of the group testified in favor of the project during public participation and presented the board with a petition with over 1,100 signatures in support.

Michael Schenkman’s son Peter spoke at the meeting, calling current conditions for cyclists and pedestrians at the site “like playing a sick Frogger game,” trying to avoid oncoming traffic. He called on the board to approve the project.

In his remarks, Silvestri stated that the fatality caused the department to take “a hard look” at the conditions in the area.

“I’ve nearly died biking on Northern Boulevard many times over the years, even as a teenager,” said Laura Shepard, Oakland Gardens resident. “Drivers speed on Northern Boulevard and don’t look out or yield to cyclists and pedestrians.”

After nearly two dozen individuals from the public spoke, a number of them from Transportation Alternatives, the board launched a discussion about the project.

Board member Janet McEneaney suggested that the vote on the Northern Boulevard and Douglaston Parkway segments of the project be tabled until the board’s next meeting in September. The motion was narrowly denied with a close vote.

The board then voted on each of the three parts of the plan, separately.

Only one phase in the three-part project was not approved by the board. DOT proposed that the Douglaston Parkway roadway between Northern Boulevard and the Douglaston LIRR station be narrowed and that a bicycle lane be painted. With a tied vote of 15-15, the plans did not receive board approval.

Sean Walsh, president of the Douglaston Civic Association, said “not one” business along Douglaston Parkway was in favor of the plan, and that they were not properly notified about the proposed project.

Christine Haider, board chairperson, said all businesses were given due notice about the project. A representative from the Douglaston Local Development Corporation also spoke in favor of the project.

The Northern Boulevard and Alley Pond Park edge sections of the project will move forward later this year, a DOT representative at the meeting said.

“We will be in contact with Community Board 11 regarding next steps in the process,” a DOT spokesperson said.

For full details, visit the DOT website.

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