DOT, community leaders celebrate new Oakland Gardens bike lane

From left: Councilman Barry Grodenchik, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, Assemblyman David Weprin and Community Board 8 Chairperson Martha Taylor (Photo by Jenna Bagcal/QNS)

Cyclists who pass through Oakland Gardens now have over two miles of new bike lanes to use.

On Friday, Oct. 22, the Department of Transportation, elected officials and civic leaders celebrated the unveiling of the bike lane along 73rd Avenue, which connects serves as the most direct connection between Cunningham Park and Alley Pond Park and has become a popular route for cyclists traveling to the Eastern Queens Greenway.

In addition to the bike lanes — one mile in either direction — DOT made other street improvements in the area like new left-turn lanes, lane markings and high-visibility crosswalks, to calm traffic and make the wide thoroughfare safer for everyone.

“Since the start of the pandemic, thousands of cyclists in eastern Queens have discovered the joys of the Eastern Queens Greenway, and these improvements allow convenient and easy connections to safer riding,” DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia said. “However, the safety benefits here also extend to pedestrians and motorists, who will no doubt discover what we have found over and over — including along the nearby section of 73rd Avenue in Fresh Meadows: That is, a better-organized street with bike lanes, new crosswalks and turn bays reduces speeding and deadly crashes. We thank all our elected officials for their strong support of this critical safety project.”

Between 2014 and 2018, the portion of 73rd Avenue where the bike lane now stands had twice as many crashes as an adjacent stretch of 73rd Avenue in Fresh Meadows, which has had conventional bicycle lanes for over 20 years.

The DOT’s new study, Safe Streets for Cycling: How Street Design Affects Bicycle Safety and Ridership, showed that the addition of new conventional or protected bike lanes reduced the number of those killed or seriously injured at a location by about one-third.

“These traffic safety treatments in Oakland Gardens will go a long way in ensuring the well-being of everyone traveling through the area,” said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic. “I’m grateful for the DOT’s partnership in working with our offices and the community to not only improve traffic flow along 73rd Avenue for cyclists and drivers but also prioritize ease of access to Cunningham and Alley Pond Parks — two thriving green spaces in our community.”

On Twitter, Rozic said that the idea for the 73rd Street bike lane in Oakland Gardens was born from an online conversation with a Queens resident.

“This extension of the 73rd Avenue bike lane — a critical artery for decades — will make cycling to and through eastern Queens safer. Cycling is immensely and increasingly popular in this corner of Queens thanks to the Motor Parkway section of the Eastern Queens Greenway, Cunningham Park Mountain Bike Trails and the extensive path network through Alley Pond Park. DOT must continue to expand the network and upgrade its quality to enable New Yorkers of all ages and abilities access their parks, schools, libraries and stores by bike,” said Laura Shepherd of Transportation Alternatives’ Eastern Queens Committee.