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Advocates Celebrate Queens Boulevard Bike Lane Completion, Call to Extend it Farther

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer talks to bike-safety advocates in Sunnyside before the ride to Queens Borough Hall (Photo: Transportation Alternatives)

Nov. 15, 2021 By Max Parrott

Bike advocates and elected officials celebrated the completion of the final phase of the Department of Transportation’s Queens Boulevard redesign on Sunday.

The event showcased the results of a decade-long advocacy push to redesign the stretch— commonly referred to as the “Boulevard of Death” — into roadway that now includes protected bike lanes, a series of pedestrian paths and improved crosswalks from Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside to Union Turnpike in Kew Gardens.

The achievement, however, is not the end of the push from street safety advocates Transportation Alternatives. Senior Organizer Juan Restrepo told the Queens Post that the group will now focus on extending the Queens Boulevard redesign all the way to the southeast end by Jamaica Avenue.

“With two recent fatalities on Queens Boulevard east of where safety improvements have been made, we hope Mayor-elect Adams will look at extending this project to its original endpoint, Jamaica Avenue in Jamaica, Queens.” said Restrepo.

Restrepo said the idea for the Jamaica endpoint came from an earlier and broader version of the Queens Boulevard bike lane plan that the DOT had put together years ago.

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer with Lizi Rahman, whose son was killed by a truck driver on Queens Boulevard in 2008, outside Borough Hall Sunday (Photo: courtesy of Transportation Alternatives)

“Southeast Queens [is] essentially a bike desert. For us, if we’re talking about an equitable version of the Queens Boulevard plan that makes it safe for everyone to use, it would include a connection going east of the current endpoint,” Restrepo said.

The celebration Sunday began with a bike ride from Sunnyside to Queens Borough Hall along the redesigned boulevard, and brought out state Sen. John Liu, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, and councilmember-elects Lynn Schulman, Shekar Krishnan and Julie Won.

Once at borough hall, the riders gathered with Lizi Rahman, whose son Asif was killed by a truck driver while riding his bike on the boulevard in 2008, to mark the occasion. Transportation Alternatives has called on the city to co-name a street on Queens Boulevard in memory of Rahman.

“Many years after Asif Rahman was killed on Queens Boulevard, cementing its notoriety as the Boulevard of Death, the grief and pain is still felt by his family and community,” said Liu in a statement.

“We honor his memory with the completion of this bike lane, an important milestone in the continuing transformation of Queens Boulevard into a boulevard of life, and look forward to seeing more improvements and reconstruction of other thoroughfares into more human-friendly zones,” Liu added.

Restrepo said the milestone provided a joyous moment to reflect on the accomplishments under the de Blasio and Bloomberg administrations, and consider what the future holds.

The Queens Boulevard redesign also connects to the protected bicycle lanes on Skillman Avenue and 43rd Avenue that were constructed in 2018 and takes bicyclists to the Queensboro Bridge. This redesign was a significant victory for the group too.

“There were definitely a lot of good vibes in the air,” said Restrepo. “It’s good to have these moments where we can come celebrate something we achieved before the pandemic, through the pandemic.”

Bike advocates celebrate the completion of Phase 4 of the Queens Boulevard redesign outside Queens Borough Hall Sunday (Photo: courtesy of Transportation Alternatives)

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Tyrus

One person was killed riding his bicycle on Queens Blvd. That has been paraded as the reason to destroy a street that doesn’t need bicycle transport because virtually NOBODY bikes on it except for the handful of long distance bikers in the Transportation Alternatives lobby. The commenters note this too. Electric and gas scooters are far more commonplace because of the distance, which most commuters use the train and bus that already exists on Queens Blvd. Instead of actually having a scooter & cycle lane on the main road, self-indulgent politicians like our Borough President and members of our City Council have created a dedicated bike lane that is NOT usable by the far more popular scooters in the service lane that served retail and was for bus transit.

Retail keeps closing because there is no parking. There isn’t any safe bike parking on any of these streets, especially because practically no uses bikes nor do most apartment buildings have storage for them either. If you notice, there isn’t any statistic on actual bike usage that is being celebrated once you go east of Sunnyside. That is not oversight. Now you know why.

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Tyrus

Sweet irony. Borough President Donovan Richards’ office is right there in Borough Hall, where he, Costa Constantinides & the City Council pushed through their multibillion Borough Based Jail. I can’t wait to see bike lanes extended through this area and the sheer hell that EVERYONE knows this preposterously stupid project will cause on traffic. Will be the only jail in the world that makes it completely implausible to transport prisoners to the jail but remarkably easy to leave. This will be their legacy.

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Patricia Dorfman

Hey government, tell us the truth

I was at the first city agency planning meeting here in Sunnyside, probably a decade ago, about slowing speeds down all over and bike lanes on QB. I and an informed associate from CB2 were all for slower speeds and more bike lanes. We were surprised by a group of truly bereaved mothers there going to every table asking for support for the plans due to the loss of their children. Most of us thought the plan to be partly about bike safety but more about safety for all, and about greener future for all of us breathing — a no-brainer. That alone warranted a change. I ride bikes and do not park on the street.

I personally wrote an article for the press praising the city for asking us in advance before moving forward.

Today, in 2021, the pitch remains safety for bikes, which continues to divide us. If the city cared about cyclists, there would not be the situation at Barnett and 48th Street, where the redesign will cause an accident soon. Go look. And worse, the section of 39th Ave. (no cars, only bikes sign) which has bikes heading directly into the path of oncoming cars. It is madness.

The FDNY’s input continues to be ignored on curbside placement of lanes (cannot reach higher floors) and one lane at 51st and Skillman (causing rerouting). The Fire Commissioner serves at the pleasure of the mayor.

The FDNY and DSNY heard about 39th Ave.redesign three days before installation. How is that paying attention to safety?

Can this charade be stopped?

As for the “Boulevard of Death” moniker now used by re-designers as something bike lanes help mitigate, it might be so that QB is safer for bikes. But the “Boulevard of Death” accidents overwhelmingly ceased the day after pedestrian crosswalk timings were made longer. The longer crossing time stopped us from racing against the light and jaywalking. If you look at the data, it was pedestrians who were majority of injuries and death. Please see here for more on that topic in a lighter vein:

https://www.facebook.com/QueensStreetsforAll/posts/1558322294546698

If our government would hold a truly open common-sense forum, explaining carbon issues with illness and death rates — we would get from point A to point B without the danger, perception of government as liars, and needless division of the community. You treat anyone questioning redesign gas-guzzling, selfish, and stupid.

And you do not walk the walk. You just talk the talk and accept free cars and placards. Get rid of half the cars in the city’s fleet, the largest in history. Have bike/walk to work day for all city employees once a month. Sell this with love for all, not tricks.

What has occurred here is gentrification. LIC is already lost. Sunnyside and increasingly Woodside is similar to the first stages when residents of Harlem saw bodegas and sidewalks replaced by cafes with outdoor seating filled with richer people.

The bike lobby is being used on this one, because their agenda coincides with Vision Zero. I heard this from the lips of their leader. What is the government, financial and real estate’s desired result? Real estate flipped for more money.

I predict soon that a new Sunnyside Yards plan will be proposed with same over-density and too many luxury high rises proposed which pay the most. But new will be the largest network of dedicated bike lanes in the world. Will the bike lobby allow a Hudson Yards here, with ensuing complete gentrification, put here by bike lobby telling elected officials, “do what we want or you are out?” That is operational now.

Where is mention of why all those elected and in office support street redesign no matter how many brutal blunders are made within it?

So many laws are on the books favoring big real estate, it is if REBNY is the government. MIH was written by REBNY.

If one elected official cared about affordable housing, they would stop in its tracks privatization (takeover of public housing by private developers under cover of needed repairs being too expensive).

This is a big land grab, the streets and environs, with some staying silent, and some lying, and some believing what they are told. Some in favor of what is occurring truly have no idea how their humanitarian, green, safer for all beliefs and daily toil are just more grist for the political and financial mill.

Want to help? Go to Facebook/QueensStreetsforAll and https://www.facebook.com/groups/936987380415330 “like” the groups.

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Skippy

I was just on Queens Blvd, Forest Hills. It would be nice if cyclists obeyed the law. Within 15 minutes I saw many cyclists go through red lights or go the wrong way.

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Andres

It’s so nice having this by my house in Forest Hills! I used to have to bike up to a mile out of the way to avoid biking on Queens Blvd, and also bike on the sidewalk of Austin St where it’s one-way because there was really no other option. Now that the bike lane is there, I can just take the bike lane. Thanks to all the folks who made this happen!

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