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Koslowitz Opposes Queens Boulevard Redesign, DOT Will Take It ‘Into Consideration’

Construction of Phase III of Queens Boulevard

June 1, 2018 By Tara Law

Councilmember Karen Koslowitz is opposed to the implementation of the Queens Boulevard redesign between Yellowstone Boulevard and Union Turnpike because too many parking spaces would be eliminated, a spokesperson for her office said Thursday.

The Department of Transportation is gearing up to install the fourth and final phase of the controversial project in July. The redesign between Yellowstone Boulevard and Union Turnpike, which would include traffic calming measures and protected bike lanes, calls for the elimination of about 200 parking spots, according to the DOT.

Koslowitz is concerned that the loss of so many spaces would damage businesses, according an office spokesperson.

“She is not opposed to [protected] bike lanes, but she is opposed to the DOT plan,” said Michael Cohen, a spokesperson for Koslowitz. “She feels that they are taking away too many parking spaces.”

Koslowitz doesn’t have the power to stop the project from moving ahead. A DOT spokesperson said the opinion of councilmembers are taken “into consideration.”

Last month, at a Community Board 6 Transportation Committee meeting, the Queens Deputy Commissioner for the DOT made it clear that the project would move forward, according to Streetsblog.

“This is a mayoral priority,” the DOT official said, reported Streetsblog.

Karen Koslowitz

The DOT argues that the alterations to Queens Boulevard, which have been installed from Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside through to Yellowstone Boulevard in Rego Park, have made the road significantly safer.

However, many business owners have taken issue with the inclusion of protected bike lanes since they have led to the loss of parking spaces. Many argue that their customers have trouble parking, which has cut into their profits.

Koslowitz supported Phase III of the Queens Boulevard redesign between Eliot Avenue and Yellowstone Boulevard last year— after declining to take a clear stance on the project for some time.

Her opposition this time, however, represents the first time a council member representing a district that incorporates the Queens Boulevard redesign has opposed it.

The first two phases of the redesign were within the districts of Councilmembers Jimmy Van Bramer and Danny Dromm, who both supported the project.

Van Bramer urged Community Board 2 in 2015 to vote in support of Phase I— which goes from Roosevelt Avenue to 73rd Street section— and has been an outspoken advocate for the entire redesign from the beginning.

Meanwhile, when Community Board 4 voted against the DOT’s plan for Phase II— which goes from 74th Street to Eliot Avenue— Dromm backed the mayor, who decided the project should go ahead regardless.

Given the history, the leaders of Community Board 6 believe they have little say on Phase IV. The board, therefore, remains unsure whether it will vote on the project at its June 13 meeting.

“Whether we vote or not the DOT is going to do what it plans to do,” said Steven Goldberg, chair of Community Board 6’s Transportation Committee. “The DOT has shown a disregard for the feelings of the people who live along Queens Boulevard.”

Queens Blvd Redesign (DOT: Four Phases)

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27 Comments

J whitney

I look forward to the re construction of queens blvd starting in 2019, when bus lanes will be implemented in the express lanes, which will bring a great improvement in the speed and comfort of bus travel on the blvd. The bus lanes on main street and woodhaven blvd were a great improvement, which queens blvd riders will soon be able to share in. Putting busses in the express lanes will also help improve traffic flow in the local lanes, with minimum impact on the express lanes, as there are sections that only have two lànes for through traffic already. Thank you mayor do blasio and dot for giving the majority of queens residents what we have wanted for generations, our children will be able to enjoy a pleasant and functional queens blvd. For people who insist on driving, there is a lot of suburban housing and shopping around NYC, with large parking lots, no bike paths, and very few buses, and it is much less expensive than in the city, make use of it.




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Lisa

If it’s true that this is being pushed through because the Mayor is he’ll bent on it, then so much for the Democratic process. I’ve done research and found reports of even a famous business on the Blvd, Ben’s Best Deli for example, reporting losses of 20% in profits, while having to do more marketing and offering curb side pick up. I thought the Democratic party was the champion of small businesses. Lastly, I think it’s absolutely obnoxious to presume not owning a car, and riding a bike is convenient for everyone. Am I the only person with young children living in this city, using a car to visit family in L.I, grocery shop, ect? To shame car owners is crap, and I’d like to know see bike riders need to register and hold ins. since this is the future of the city.




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Midtowngirl

There are many people who come to this section of QB to visit doctors. Many are elderly or infirm. Also we have a vibrant restaurant atmosphere so taking away parking spaces is not a good idea. People need to learn how to drive better and that will make it safer. May I add, bikers need to ride safer as well. The bike lanes in Rego Park are a disaster. I have seen cars double parked, trucks parked in the bike lane and even a police car parked in the bike lane. Can’t tell you how many times I had to go into the bike lane because the road was blocked with double parkers. Good thing then that there are rarely any bikers in the bike lane.




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TBT

The real issue is the traffic laws. I ride a bike, walk and drive my car. People point out that drivers obey the laws and cyclists don’t. I agree with the statement, but not because cyclists are different people but because no one knows what the laws are for bikes. I saw a cyclists this morning ride slowly on a poor bike through an intersection on QB with cars coming and in view of a police van. I was thinking that she clearly didn’t know that a ticket for running a light is the same as for running it with a car. It even adds points to your driver’s license. The basic problem is that the traffic rules don’t always make sense. For example, a bike is a vehicle and by law I should be in a car lane and shift lanes in the same way a car would do. If I had to make a left turn on QB before the bike lanes, I would have to get into the express lane and move across multiple lanes in order to get to the turn signal. That’s what the law says I should do. I don’t think I would live long if I followed the letter of the law. Personally, along with the bike lanes, I would like to see traffic laws for bikes that are designed for the realities of bikes and not based on the assumption that they are small cars.




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Jack

What everyone seems to be missing is that the problem isn’t idea of bike lanes, its the location. QB is a crazy place for bike lanes. The ultimate evidence is that bikers just don’t use it. Go out to Williamsburgh and you’ll see what properly designed bike lanes can do.




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TBT

The design isn’t just about bike lanes, but for people commuting to work by bike, how does one ride from Hillside and QB to Manhattan without going via QB? I agree that QB is not an ideal location for bike lanes, I just cannot think of an alternative route. The only other major route in Queens to the city is Northern Blvd. It’s now worse than QB in terms of safety. There is Metropolitan Ave, but that does not go to the 59th bridge and it’s quite dangerous as a road. I think it’s more dangerous than Norther Blvd, and that’s saying a lot.




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Max from Rego Park

As someone who grew up in Rego Park, lived in Forest Hills after college and still visits the neighborhood to see my mom, dine and shop, I am so relieved that the redesign of Queens Blvd is moving forward. At every community meeting I’ve attended, I always say how much of a game-changer it would have been to have a protected bike path on Queens Blvd as a kid. My parents wouldn’t let me cross Yellowstone, Woodhaven or Queens Blvd – now Queens Blvd is becoming a safe place for anyone of any age to ride a bike, walk and shop. I’m especially relieved the redesign is moving forward for my mom’s sake. She’s benefited massively from the pedestrian improvements at 63rd Drive and she’ll benefit further once the safety improvements are implemented at Continental, down towards Sam Ash (she’s a musician) and all the way to Union Tpke.

I hope Council Member Koslowitz re-thinks her position. Rego Park and Forest Hills have always been a family and senior oriented community; these safety improvements will benefit these folk the most. I remember at last year’s CB6 Vote, Ms. Koslowitz spoke so highly about the idea of turning Queens Blvd into a linear park like Eastern Pkwy, Pelham Pkwy or Ocean Pkwy. If the council member doesn’t want these safety improvements installed then she doesn’t want the “Blvd of Death” turned into a Blvd of Life with park space for generations to come. What a shame.

Thank you, DOT.




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Jack Gostl

Has anyone actually monitored the usage of those bike lanes? On a typical morning, from Forest Hills to the QB Bridge, on a NICE day, if I see five bikes that is a lot. The other side of the equation is massive congestion, increased pollution, lost business and general misery.




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tbt

The answer is yes. The amount of bike usage is the fastest growing form of traffic. With the subways looking to require decades to make usable, I suspect that bike usage will continue to grow.

But why is the redesign of QB always put in terms of bikes versus parking spaces? The name of Boulevard of Death came from the large number of pedestrians killed. When I moved into FH in 1996, the average death rate was 17 people per year. The number has gone down to zero. These designs aren’t just for joy riding rich guys looking to avoid paying gym memberships. The main beneficiaries are pedestrians. I see plenty of them every day. Let’s rephrase this conversion in terms of pedestrians, especially school kids walking to school. The fact that there are multiple crossing guards for kids to cross QB should tell us something about how safe the road is.




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J. Figueroa

Sorry, having an apartment right on Queens Blvd. in Woodside, I don’t share your views. In an hours time I am lucky to count a handful of cyclists so this notion that there is an overwhelming increase of cyclists is simply not so. On top of that the parking in front of our building has been virtually eliminated to accomodate the bike lane. Now residents have to spend over an hour just trying to find parking during the days. As a cyclist in NYC for decades, this project made no sense from the start, still makes no sense, and has caused more frustration and excessive ticketing instead; perhaps that was the plan all along.




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TBT

The redesign isn’t just about cyclists. I wish people would get over that issue. It’s a red herring. I ride QB every day and if there is a viable alternative for riding between FH and Manhattan no one has described it.

But let’s take the notion that there isn’t “an overwhelming increase of cyclists”. The DOT reports: 156% growth in daily cycling, 2006-2016.

For all the stats, visit: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/bicyclists/cyclinginthecity.shtml

I think we’re just at the start of an explosion of riders. Given the horrible subway service and the new bike lanes, I can see many more people riding soon. One of the issues that people don’t appreciate is that people looking to ride want to have a safe route for their entire ride. The lanes on QB help a lot, but the connections to the main bike lanes need to be there. Each lane is more than just another mile opened up; it opens a “land locked” area for those next to the lanes.

But the main focus should be on pedestrians. They are the ones getting killed the most often. The redesign is primarily going to benefit them.




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Jack

For the record, the total number of bikes observed yesterday and today was ….. *drum roll* ……. ZERO.

There is something wrong here.




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Queens Dude

I think the only was is, they need a visible bike counter. i dont know how long you sat and watched jack, but we need hard stats. Like a electronic board, that tallies. I am sure the number is higher though.




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Jack

You have to be careful here. The last time the city published “hard stats” they fudged. They used the numbers from the day of the bike marathon (without bothering to attribute it).




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Commuter

Jack, guess you weren’t observing for very long, because I commuted to and from work in the bike lane yesterday.




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Jack

May I ask what time? This morning there were a total of five and one ambulance using the bike lanes.




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MS

And promoting the usage of more cars some hows makes pollution less a problem? You would be the same type to complain if instead of bike lanes those became bus only lanes.

The reality is the amount of roadway real estate in NYC is extremely limited we can’t just keep building roads. The next logical step is to redesign roadways to encourage space saving modes of transportation like bikes or buses. We can move 40+ people in one bus that’s 40ft long than the equivalent number of people when it comes to cars.




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VVNY

The city is doing the right thing. Parking spaces benefit very few. The whole neighborhoods will benefit from the redesign. I also think that car ownership in one of the most densely populated cities is an outdated model. Personal cars take up valuable public spaces. Car owners should be paying the price for parking instead of being alllowed to use valuable public land for free. Otherwise, if they cannot afford paying for parking, they should not own cars. Car/bike share services is the future for the New York City.




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John O'Reilly

Thank you Karen Koslowitz for putting the interests of our community above what I am sure is pressure from DOT, the Mayor’s office and campaign donors.




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tbt

Here is that deep state idea that I keep hearing. The “pressure” from the DOT is because the Boulevard of Death was an embarrassment. QB is a failed design. Proof of that is that there are very few roads in NYC with a similar design. Maybe it was workable when it was built, but I suspect that even then they knew they created a turkey. I don’t see a reason to assume conspiracy.




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Peter Beadle

Steve was definitely at that meeting. I’m with you, I live a block off QB and my feelings definitely were considered. A lot of opportunity for community input was provided. The suggestion DOT disregarded the community it’s completely unfair and false.

And I am very disappointed Council Member Koslowitz is opposed to this latest phase. She deserves a lot of credit for being one of the first to push for safety improvements to Queens Blvd in 2000. And she was instrumental in helping garner support for this project among her fellow council members back in 2014 – a redesign that has resulted in huge safety gains. The decrease in injuries has been really dramatic. And I an thankful to her for her vision and leadership.

Unfortunately, it is a shame a few business folk have convinced her their businesses will be hurt, with no data or even examples of other bike lanes that have hurt business – because there are none. Hopefully with time she will see her first instincts, to support this change, were absolutely right.




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tbt

I don’t go to stores on QB because of parking. But that’s been true for 25 years. I walk or ride my bike to places on QB. I’m not sure why business don’t see improved walking and cycling conditions as beneficial to their bottom line.




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TBT

I’m not sure if Mr. Goldberg was aware of a major community meeting recently held at Boro Hall (23 January) with the DOT regarding the plans for QB in our neighborhood. I’m also not clear whose feelings were not sufficiently taken into account. I live near QB, use it every day to commute to work, and I feel that my “feelings” were listened to. Try that with sharing your feelings with the DMV! But if he means, “parking spaces” as a surrogate for “feelings”, what is the price of lives saved? The Boulevard of Death no longer lives down to its name due to the redesigns that have been going on for some years, now. I, for one, feel pretty good about that.




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Vijay k Patel

Replace with angle parking in lieu of parallel parking,next to bike lane. No of parking space will increase.




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Mark Haller

You cannot do angle parking as you lose the lanes for travel. Plus the time it takes to go in and out for angle parking for too many drivers will hold up traffic.




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tbt

I’m not sure angle parking is safe for what is already a free fire zone of a street. But, I think the real issue is that major new apartment buildings going up like mushrooms. Where do all these new people park? Even if they have parking garages for when they are at home, they still drive to some place.




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Peter K.

Maybe, just maybe, those people will use car-share services, or , not own cars.




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