Nov. 15, 2016 By Domenick Rafter
The NYC Department of Transportation is planning public workshops focusing on the reconstruction of Queens Boulevard in Rego Park and Forest Hills, the third phase in a large redesign project for the busy corridor.
Vikram Sihna, Queens borough planner for the DOT, told Community Board 6 last week that the department would begin hosting public workshops to seek input in the redesign of the boulevard in the two communities. Sihna said no dates have been confirmed yet for the workshops, but that they would be several held in both Rego Park and Forest Hills.
The DOT has been implementing a massive design for the notorious “boulevard of death” through most of its length in Queens. The fixes include adding bikes lanes, pedestrian refuges and traffic calming elements, including better designed slip lanes between the center lanes and service lane.
The project is being done in three phases. The first, in Sunnyside and Woodside between Roosevelt Avenue and 74th Street, was done in 2015. The second phase between 74th Street in Woodside and Eliot Avenue in Rego Park, including around Queens Center Mall and Queens Place, is being implemented this year. Sihna said the implementation was going smoothly, but the DOT was making changes along the way.
“We are making tweaks to the plan as needed,” he said, though he didn’t specifically identify what those changes were.
Phase Three will include the entire boulevard from Eliot Avenue to Union Turnpike, including at intersections where pedestrian fatalities have been a problem before, such as 63rd Drive and 71st Avenue. Though there is no specific time frame for when the work will be done in the third phase, at least one source said it would likely happen starting next summer depending on when the DOT’s finalizes plans.
The work is being done as part of an effort to improve safety along the notoriously dangerous strip as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative. In the 1990s, the busy thoroughfare was dubbed the “boulevard of death” due to a string of fatal pedestrian strikes along the corridor. The city placed safety measures, including guardrails on medians to crack down on jaywalking and longer traffic signal times, which led to a drop in fatal incidents, but concerns lingered. The boulevard became an attractive route for bikers.
In 2008, Asif Rahman was killed after his was hit by a truck while riding his bike on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst and another biker, James Langergaard, was killed while riding his bike at Queens Boulevard and 69th Street in 2009.
You’re missing the point. One goal of bike lanes is to tame traffic on the “boulevard of death.” In city after city the installation of bike lanes has reduced deaths, improved pedestrian safety and tamed traffic. There’s no reason why we can’t have safe streets for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.
As for whether anyone uses them, “if you build them they will come.” Cyclists have the right to safe rides throughout the city. Bike lanes in the other boroughs are both widely used, even in bad weather, and gradually coming to be accepted by even their harshest critics as beneficial. The data doesn’t lie. Queens has been behind the curve in New York City, but now we are catching up.
The bike lanes have been successful in reducing deaths and injuries in Sunnyside according to this NBC news
“4 Investigates found the results are striking, from 24 deaths along the boulevard in 1993 to 22 in 97 to 8 deaths as recently as 2013 but none the last two years.”
Once again a stupid idea is pushed through by our do nothing mayor.I made a trip to Target on Sunday night and traffic was horrible.With cabs,buses and cars trying to navigate it is stupid to do things that make no sense.All this will do is lead to more death.Many bicyclists act high and mighty.Pedestrians are under attack.
The area around Queens Center is unbearable. It was so bad that people had no choice but to drive in the new bike lane. Otherwise, nobody was moving. It’s impossible to reduce service lanes by 50%, without a huge impact.
They will extend this mess to 71st Avenue and 63rd Dr.
They should just outlaw cars, because that essentially what is being done.
It was never the boulevard of death until developers decided they wanted to slow down traffic and build high rises. It was just a ridiculously wide street poor suckers in Queens were killed on for decades and no body gave a hoot. We are being played like a Steinway concert grand.
How redesigning the mess you made in Woodside first? With the “improvements” the congestion going east on the Blvd toward the BQE during rush has gotten awful! And I wish they would just admit defeat and get rid of the completely under utilized bike lanes and give them back to the cars which it was designed for in the first place.