By Bill Parry
The city Department of Transportation will begin building bike lanes on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge in late spring or early summer after the plans were approved by Community Board 2 earlier this month. When completed, cyclists will have six-foot bike lanes on both side of the bridge with four-foot buffers from automotive traffic.
“The benefits are clear, primarily for safety,” CB2 Chairman Patrick O’Brien said. “But also there is a growing amount of young people here in Sunnyside and over in Brooklyn that now use bicycles as their primary mode of transportation.”
The bridge connects Sunnyside, recently designated a bike-friendly business district, and Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
“Community Board 2 giving the green light to bike lanes on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge is welcome news for all of us working to make western Queens a safer place for cyclists and drivers alike,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said. “The bridge has been a troublesome spot for years and I am hopeful that this infrastructure improvement will go a long way towards making the area easier to navigate.”
Meanwhile, the DOT has begun construction on the Sunnyside Gardens-Woodside Slow Zone that will calm traffic in a 50-block section on the north side of Queens Boulevard. The new zone, the second in the neighborhood, stretches from 43rd Street to 58th Street from Barnett Avenue to Queens Boulevard. It includes 17 speed bumps in addition to the 13 that are already in use. The DOT installed large blue gateway signs warning drivers of the 20 mph speed limit.
“The construction of this new slow zone is another step forward in our march toward Vision Zero in western Queens,” Gianaris said. “This area is home to many families and schools and it is incumbent upon all of us to provide safe streets for our children.”
A dangerous intersection in Astoria has finally been improved by the DOT. On April 15 Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) announced the completion of work at 32nd Street, the Grand Central Parkway and Astoria Boulevard North. Last May, the DOT received approval from Community Board 1 to begin work at the location, which was originally scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2014. Noting a lack of progress, Simotas repeatedly prodded the agency to take action.
“This intersection is dangerous and confusing,” Simotas wrote in a letter to the DOT in January. “Motorists from the area dreaded crossing multiple lanes of traffic to get home and drivers new to the area had no idea where they were going.”
Previously, one traffic light handled two lanes of traffic exiting the Grand Central Parkway and four lanes of traffic from Astoria Boulevard North. The new improvements extend the existing median barrier between Astoria Boulevard North and the Grand Central highway exit ramp to separate traffic through 31sr Street.
“While I welcome improvements to make this intersection less hazardous for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists, we must ensure that these changes work for the community,” Simotas said. “I encourage residents to contact my office with suggestions on how to make our streets safer.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at simotasdod or by phone at (718) 260–4538.