Several Queens neighborhoods will get protected bike lanes as city faces cycling death crisis

Courtesy of the Mayor’s office

Ridgewood, Jackson Heights, Corona, Elmhurst, Middle Village and Rego Park have been designated “Bike Priority Districts” as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $58.4 million Green Wave bicycle plan, which will expand the bike lane network and increase police enforcement.

Those neighborhoods will get miles of bike infrastructure by 2022 as part of the city’s emergency response to the rise of cycling fatalities in 2019.

The carnage has claimed the lives of 17 cyclists in the five boroughs after 10 were killed last year, which the mayor called a “crisis” and an emergency.

“When we came into office, we promised New Yorkers we’d do everything we could to end traffic fatalities,” de Blasio said. “No loss of life on our streets is acceptable. With a dangerous surge in cyclist fatalities, we have to keep pushing the envelope and increasing our efforts. That’s what this plan is about. It’s a continuation of our promise. This time, specifically to bikers. We are here to protect you and we take that job seriously. We will not stop until we have finally reached Vision Zero.”

The 17 cyclist fatalities so far this year represents the highest number through July of any year since the launch of Vision Zero in 2014. The poor performance of public transit has lead many to take to cycling to the point where nearly a half million bike rides take place in the five borough up from 180,000 bike rides a day in 2006.

“We have assembled a long and aggressive to-do list that we think that can change this year’s tragic increase in cyclist fatalities, and encourage even more New Yorkers to get on bicycles” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenburg said.

In Queens, the DOT will improve on-street connections to the Queensboro Bridge, extend the protected bike lane at Beach 94th Street in Rockaway, and finish the final phase of the Queens Boulevard project, although once again the mayor would not say when.

“Cyclists are increasingly using our city’s streets and deserve the same focus on safety from Vision Zero as other road users,” Assemblyman David Weprin said. “The mayor’s Green Wave plan focusing on street design, enforcement, and policy is necessary to tackle the recent increases in cyclist fatalities.”

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer called the bike safety plan a good blueprint for the future.

“This is a state of emergency,” he said. “We cannot wait for more lives to be lost and families shattered. We must continue redesigning our roads to improve the safety of cyclists and prevent more senseless tragedies.”

A founding member of the Jackson Heights-based Make Queens Safer, which is committed to change the culture of indifference to a culture of awareness and action around the safety of “vulnerable road users” including seniors, children and cyclists said the Green Wave plan sends a clear message.

“Our leaders are ready and prepared to make NYC a world class model of streets for people,” Make Queens Safer co-founder Cristina Furlong said. “Paired with the vigorous expansion of protected bike lanes, and funding to maintain them, access and equity finally will reach our most vulnerable road users. Whether it the $58 million the mayor is spending or the $50 the average speed violator pays, every cent is worth it compared to the price victims of traffic violence pay due to politics, delays and callous community banter. The data is clear and must be followed. Every traffic death that is preventable must be prevented.”