Transit advocates and bicyclists blame City Hall for endless Queens Boulevard bike lane fiasco

Photo by Mark Hallum

Call it “500 Days of Bummer” for Queens bike enthusiasts.

That’s how long it’s been since advocates were promised a protected bike lane along Queens Boulevard between Yellowstone Boulevard and Union Turnpike in Forest Hills that has yet to be even started.

On Sunday, activists gathered along the roadway once dubbed the “Boulevard of Death” because of its dubious safety record to slam the de Blasio administration and the city Department of Transportation for ignoring their requests.

Peter Beadle, an activist who sits as second vice chair of Queens Community Board 6, said that while the community does not have concrete evidence that the project will not move forward at some point, the city blowing its own deadline almost by years is circumstantial enough.

“The mayor was very clear that they were going to go forward — he said they were going to go forward, DOT said they had to go forward — for the imperative of saving lives, and they’re absolutely right,” Beadle said. “And then something happened.”

CB6 voted against Phase Four of the Queens Boulevard plan, despite the fact that it voted in favor of the other three phases. However, approval from the advisory body was not required by the city to move the plan forward as CB6 can only vote in an advisory capacity.

Some have even speculated that the Forest Hills bike lane was nixed as a result of alleged horse trading between de Blasio and local Councilman Karen Koslowitz for a vote in favor of borough-based jails at City Hall.

Beadle, however, is not convinced Koslowitz would make such a concerted effort to halt the bike lane.

“It’s just weird to see safety as a mayoral priority just flip so suddenly … that’s unacceptable,” Yehuda Pollack added.

Back in May 2017, de Blasio and DOT announced that the existing bike lanes on Queens Boulevard had brought the number of deaths down to zero in the years prior.

With the same announcement, the administration said residents of Rego Park and Forest Hills would enjoy the same protections as residents in previously redesigned stretches.

Koslowitz issued a statement accepting the bike lanes into the community she represents.

“This latest DOT plan, with its pedestrian and bike safety improvements, will continue the transformation of this major thoroughfare from the ‘Boulevard of Death’ to the ‘Boulevard of Life,’” Koslowitz said.

All the redesigns on Queens Boulevard were estimated to cost only $4 million. An amount of $255 million had already been committed to all three phases, according to a press release from the mayor’s office in 2017.

Neither the DOT nor the de Blasio administration responded to a request or comment prior to publication.