A stretch of bike lanes along Queens Boulevard meant to be a quick fix for a road nicknamed the “boulevard of death” has just been named one of the best new bike lanes by People for Bikes.
The organization, founded by bicycle industry leaders, released its America’s 10 Best New Bike Lanes of 2015 list on Dec. 17 and the Queens Boulevard bike lanes are third overall in the country.
In 25 years, there have been 185 pedestrian deaths and many more injuries along the corridor. For this reason, Queens Boulevard was a priority on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s list of street redesign projects. The first phase of the redesign began in July, with bike lanes installed between Roosevelt Avenue and 73rd Street in Woodside.
“This year’s fixes on Queens Boulevard were like a brilliant bit of field treatment by an ambulance medic,” Michael Anderson, a People for Bikes spokesperson said. “Not permanent, not beautiful and not even fully functional yet― but creative, urgently needed and expertly delivered.”
Anderson added that the speed with which the Department of Transportation (DOT) implemented these bike lanes ― planning began in the winter of 2014 and installation in July ― was also a factor when considering the the addition of the lanes on the top 10 list. Other factors included bike network importance, intersection design, creative public process and physical beauty.
Transportation Alternatives, an organization whose “mission is to reclaim New York City’s streets from the automobile and to promote bicycling, walking [and] public transit” has been advocating for protected bike lanes along the corridor and organized a group ride in 2014 to call attention to the dangerous conditions for bicyclists.
“The committee has been working on this since 2010 and really before that and so it took a lot of people and it feels wonderful to be recognized,” said Peter Beadle, co-chair of Transportation Alternatives Queens Activist Committee. “It’s tempered a little but because the job isn’t done.”
Not everyone is on board with the new bike lanes. Several people at last month’s Community Board 2 meeting railed against the bike lanes, arguing that they caused more congestion on roads and unsafe traffic conditions when bikers did not follow traffic rules like stopping at a red light.
Beadle disagrees with the idea that bike lanes have made traffic worse. He noted that no motor vehicle lanes were removed from Queens Boulevard to create these lanes and argued that the population along Queens Boulevard is growing, making it increasingly important to create safe spaces for pedestrians and bicyclists.
“This is the same trope that is pulled out every time. They always make the same argument. It’s just not true,” Beadle said. “It makes the road safer for everyone so that people on bikes have a place where they belong and for motorists to better predict the actions of pedestrians and bicyclists.”
The DOT is continuing with its plans to make the quick fixes permanent and next year, the agency will begin to work on the redesign of Queens Boulevard from Eliot Avenue to 74th street. The $100 million project, which aims to re-design the entire stretch of Queens Boulevard, will be completed by 2018.
“We are thrilled that the community driven Queens Boulevard phase 1 project has been named one of America’s best new bike lanes. Not only has this corridor been made safe for cyclists, we are excited that it is more livable, walkable and even better for motorists,” said Ryan Russo, NYCDOT Deputy Commissioner for Transportation Planning and Management.
DNAinfo first reported the story.