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Posts from the Queens Category

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Eyes on the Street: Work Begins on Phase Two of Queens Boulevard Redesign

DOT has begun building out phase 2 of its safety improvements on Queens Boulevard, which include a protected bike lane. Photo: Jaime Moncayo

Crews are marking out where the medians will be expanded for walking and biking in the second phase of the Queens Boulevard redesign. This is the view from Ireland Street looking west. Photo: Jaime Moncayo

On Monday, crews began work on the second phase of Queens Boulevard safety improvements. The project will calm traffic on the service roads between 74th Street and Eliot Avenue, adding a bike lane and continuous pedestrian path along the medians. Together with the first phase of the redesign, implemented last year, the changes will create 2.5 miles of median bike lanes on Queens Boulevard in Woodside and Elmhurst.

To make way for the added space for walking and biking, the city has removed parking along the medians, and crews have started to remove markings between 74th Street and Broadway/Grand Avenue, according to a DOT spokesperson.

Phase two will redesign the Queens Boulevard service roads in Elmhurst. Image: NYC DOT

The high rate of traffic fatalities on Queens Boulevard led the Daily News to call it the “Boulevard of Death” in a series of stories that ran nearly 20 years ago. The name stuck, and for good reason. But 2015 marked the first year in a quarter-century that no people were killed on Queens Boulevard.

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No Charges for Driver Who Killed 26-Year-Old Terrence Montrose

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A driver struck and killed Terrence Montrose, 26, on this stretch of Rockaway Point Boulevard shortly after midnight Sunday. Image: Google Maps

A driver struck and killed Terrence Montrose, 26, as he was walking along Rockaway Point Boulevard in Breezy Point, Queens, just after midnight on Sunday.

The 22-year-old driver, whose name has not been released by police, remained at the scene, and no charges were filed. NYPD says an investigation is ongoing.

According to NYPD, Montrose, who lived in East New York, was walking “in the eastbound travel lane” just east of Beach 193rd Street by Fort Tilden when the driver struck him from behind. The driver’s 2005 Toyota Sienna had a smashed windshield and dented front end from the force of the collision, the Daily News reported. NYPD did not provide any information on the driver’s speed at the time of the crash.

The crash occurred in the 100th Precinct and in the City Council district represented by Eric Ulrich. If you would like to express concerns to the NYPD about pedestrian and traffic safety in the neighborhood, the 100th Precinct’s community council meets this Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in the Knights of Columbus Hall, 333 Beach 90th Street.

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Wider Sidewalks Coming to Flushing’s Crowded Main Street

Pedestrians crossing Roosevelt Avenue at Main Street, the location of the Flushing-Main Street subway station, at around noon today. Photo: David Meyer

Foot traffic on Roosevelt Avenue at Main Street, the location of the Flushing-Main Street subway station, at around noon today. Photo: David Meyer

Main Street in Flushing gets more foot traffic than anywhere else in New York after Times Square, but its sidewalks are too narrow to handle all those people. So later this month, the city will begin expanding the sidewalks on four blocks of Main Street, Council Member Peter Koo, DOT, and the Department of Design and Construction announced this afternoon.

Set to begin next Monday, the project will also add a one-block bus lane and high-visibility crosswalks, part of a bottom-up reconstruction of Main Street between 37th Avenue and 40th Road.

This section of Main Street is located at the convergence of the 7 train, the Long Island Railroad, 13 MTA bus routes, and many private bus lines. At any given point in the day, the sidewalks are overflowing with commuters and shoppers, 83 percent of whom arrive by foot or transit, according to DOT.

Council Member Peter Koo (center) spoke this afternoon alongside DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora and DOT Queens Commissioner Nicole Garcia. Photo: David Meyer

Council Member Peter Koo (center) with DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora and DOT Queens Commissioner Nicole Garcia. Photo: David Meyer

Downtown Flushing’s streets are designed primarily to move motor vehicles, however, and people walking on Main Street have to contend with heavy car traffic. In 2015 alone, 28 pedestrians were injured and two were killed along the .9-mile stretch of Main Street between Northern Boulevard and Elder Avenue, according to Vision Zero View.

The $7.8 million reconstruction project will add between two and eight feet of sidewalk space, depending on the location, building on a 2011 project that used paint and flexible bollards to narrow the roadway and expand space for pedestrians. That project led to an 11 percent decline in traffic injuries, according to DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia. Casting the wider sidewalks in concrete, she said, will “deliver on Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero goals.”

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Basic Pedestrian Upgrades Coming to Conduit Blvd, But No Bike Infrastructure

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Four people have been killed while walking on Conduit Boulevard between Atlantic and Sutter since 2008. The DOT plan would reconfigure six locations for improved safety. Map: DOT

Last month, DOT revealed its plan to make Conduit Boulevard less of a barrier between neighborhoods near the southeast Brooklyn-Queens border [PDF]. With better, more frequent pedestrian crossings, the project should make it easier for residents to get from one side of Conduit to the other, but the design doesn’t include any bike infrastructure and leaves much of the high-speed geometry of the street intact.

With few pedestrian crossings, wide travel lanes, and separate east- and westbound roadways divided by a large median, Conduit Boulevard functions a lot like a highway. Until recently, the speed limit was 40 mph — much higher than the 25 mph citywide default — and drivers still exceed it routinely. Since 2008, four pedestrians have been killed in the project area.

Residents of East New York, Cypress Hills, and Ozone Park must contend with those conditions to access transit, parks, and schools in their neighborhoods. Beaten paths on the median attest to the substantial foot traffic despite the lack of crosswalks and high traffic speeds.

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Walking across S Conduit and Pine Street, where there is no pedestrian crossing. Photo: DOT

The DOT project consists of basic safety improvements — adding signalized crossings and sidewalk connections, restricting left turns, and narrowing the most highway-like sections of the roadway. DOT also lowered the speed limit on the corridor to 30 mph in June, bringing it more in line with the citywide 25 mph default limit.

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Myrtle-Wyckoff Plaza Gets Near-Unanimous Approval From Queens CB 5

The city held a successful one-day plaza at the location in April. Photo: David Meyer

A one-day trial plaza on Wyckoff Avenue in April went off without a hitch. Photo: David Meyer

With 29 votes in favor, none against, and one abstention, Queens Community Board 5 overwhelmingly endorsed DOT’s safety plan for the Myrtle-Wyckoff transit hub last night. The project would significantly reduce potential conflicts between turning drivers and pedestrians, mainly by creating a car-free plaza on Wyckoff Avenue between Gates and Myrtle [PDF].

Pedestrians outnumber motorists at the six-legged Myrtle-Wyckoff intersection, located at the junction of two subway lines and six bus routes, three to one, according to DOT. But it’s not safe — three people have been killed while walking there since 2009.

While the city implemented minor changes in recent years, the new turn restrictions weren’t enough. A turning bus driver struck and killed Edgar Torres in 2014 after the changes were made.

The car-free block will further simplify turning movements and give pedestrians a safer path between the Myrtle-Wyckoff subway station and the Ridgewood Bus Terminal on Palmetto Street.

In 2013, Judy Kottick lost her daughter, Ella Bandes, when a turning bus driver struck and killed her at the intersection. “It was very gratifying that Community Board 5 really considered the redesign and gave us their support,” said Kottick, who attended last night. Not one person spoke against the project during the meeting’s public comment section, she said.

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Tonight: Queens Community Board 5 Takes Up Myrtle-Wyckoff Plaza

Reconfiguring this dangerous intersection with a car-free plaza will simplify vehicle movements and reduce the potential for turning drivers to hit pedestrians. Image: DOT

Reconfiguring this dangerous intersection with a car-free plaza will simplify vehicle movements and reduce the potential for turning drivers to hit pedestrians. Image: DOT

Queens Community Board 5 will vote on DOT’s safety plan for the Myrtle-Wyckoff transit hub at its monthly meeting this evening. The plan, which creates a one-block public plaza on Wyckoff Avenue between Gates and Myrtle [PDF], won near-unanimous support from the CB 5 transportation committee three weeks ago.

Since 2009, three pedestrians have been killed by drivers at the six-legged Myrtle-Wyckoff intersection. Initial changes that simplified turning movements failed to prevent the death of Edgar Torres, who was struck by a turning bus driver while crossing with the right of way in 2014.

In March, CB 5 Chair Vincent Arcuri said he was reluctant to go ahead with the car-free block, but recognized the need to prevent more injuries and deaths. “Something has to be done, obviously,” he told Streetsblog. “We’ve tried different things and we still haven’t stopped the fatalities. I have mixed feelings about the plaza, but what else can you do?”

While CB 5 members have warmed to the proposal, the same cannot be said for Brooklyn CB 4, which represents the southern side of the project area and failed to support the plan last month. Council Member Antonio Reynoso, who represents areas served by both community boards, has said he believes DOT should move forward with the project.

You can weigh in on the project at tonight’s meeting, which begins at 7:30 p.m. at Christ the King High School, located at 68-02 Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village.

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Driver Backing Up to Park Severely Injures Cyclist in Middle Village [Updated]

Lutheran Avenue, where a driver backing up to park injured a cyclist today. Image: Google Maps

Lutheran Avenue, where a driver backing up to park injured a cyclist today. Image: Google Maps

A driver in pursuit of a parking spot severely injured a cyclist in Queens this morning.

The victim, a 64-year-old man, was traveling northbound on Lutheran Avenue, near Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village, at about 8:35 a.m., NYPD told Streetsblog. Near the intersection of Juniper Boulevard North, a 71-year-old backing up to park hit him with a Honda sedan.

The victim was pinned under the car and sustained lower body trauma and injuries to his right leg, police said. He was taken to Elmhurst Hospital in critical condition.

The Daily News spoke with teachers at nearby Learning Tree Nursery School, who were on the scene. Teresa Kava said the victim’s feet were “‘mangled’ by the car tires.” Said Tracy Neuweiler, a second witness: “He was conscious. He thought he was going to die.”

NYPD had not released the identities of the victim or the driver as of this afternoon. No charges were filed, police said, and the investigation is ongoing.

DOT is planning bike lanes in western Queens neighborhoods, with bike lanes or sharrows proposed for the street where today's crash occurred, circled in pink. Image: DOT

DOT is planning bike lanes in western Queens neighborhoods, with bike lanes or sharrows proposed for part of the street where today’s crash occurred, circled in pink. Image: DOT

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Eyes on the Street: A Proper Bike Lane on Shore Boulevard

The new Shore Boulevard bike lane will soon have flexible bollards separating it from car traffic. Photo: David Meyer

The new Shore Boulevard bike lane will soon have flexible bollards separating it from car traffic. Photo: David Meyer

The new two-way bike lane on Shore Boulevard in Astoria is rounding into form and just needs some finishing touches from DOT. With the bike lane, which replaced the northbound car lane on Shore Boulevard, pedestrians and cyclists will no longer have to awkwardly share the asphalt path inside the edge of Astoria Park, and crossings between the park and the East River waterfront will be shorter.

The Shore Boulevard redesign is one of three bike lane projects in the works for the streets near the park. In addition, DOT plans to put two-way protected bike lanes on Hoyt Avenue North and 20th Avenue [PDF]. Safer pedestrian crossings on 19th Street, the park’s eastern border, are also on DOT’s agenda, the agency has said.

Since 2009, more than 100 people have been injured on the streets surrounding Astoria Park, and last year, a hit-and-run driver killed 21-year-old Betty DiBiaso at 19th Street and Ditmars Boulevard. After the fatal crash, Assembly Member Aravella Simotas called for a completely car-free Shore Boulevard, which the city rejected. The protected bike lane, coupled with new pedestrian crossings, is the middle ground, giving pedestrians and cyclists more space while reducing the motor lanes to just one lane.

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Ulrich Back on Board With Woodhaven SBS After DOT Waters Down Turn Bans

DOT has significantly reduced the number of left turn bans in the Woodhaven Boulevard Select Bus Service project. Image: DOT

DOT has decided to significantly reduce the number of left turn bans in the Woodhaven Select Bus Service project. Image: DOT

DOT has halved the number of left-turn restrictions and cut about a mile of bus lanes from its plan to enhance bus service on Woodhaven Boulevard.

The changes will dampen the expected improvements in bus speeds and pedestrian safety but have won over Council Member Eric Ulrich, who’s back on board supporting Woodhaven Select Bus Service. Most of the street design, which will add dedicated bus lanes and pedestrian islands along Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards, remains unchanged since the last iteration of the project, and DOT says the effects will be small.

In January, Ulrich told a meeting of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association — which organized against the plan — that DOT’s proposal “stinks.” Chief among Ulrich’s concerns was a proposed left-turn ban at Jamaica Avenue. “I don’t think it’s good,” he said of the plan. “I think we have to go back to the drawing board.”

Eric Ulrich

Eric Ulrich

It was a disappointing change of stance from an elected official who had been one of the project’s main proponents. In 2014, Ulrich co-authored an op-ed in the Daily News calling for “world-class” bus rapid transit on Woodhaven Boulevard.

Later that year, he told Streetsblog that the project was important to improve safety on Woodhaven, where more people lost their lives than any other street in Queens between July 2012 and December 2014, according to Transportation Alternatives.

“Whatever we’re doing now obviously isn’t working,” Ulrich said at the time.

DOT presented the revised project last week [PDF]. In addition to the left turn at Jamaica Avenue, the updated plan preserves left turns at Pitkin Avenue, Forest Park Drive, Myrtle Avenue, Metropolitan Avenue, 67th Road, 62nd Road, and southbound at Rockaway Boulevard — all of which were set for turn bans in the previous iteration of the plan. A section of bus lane between the Belt Parkway and Jamaica Bay has also been cut.

I tweeted at Ulrich to ask if the changes to the project meant he was back on board, to which he responded in the affirmative.

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Check Out This Wonderfully Normal CBS 2 Queens Blvd Bike Lane Story

There’s nothing particularly noteworthy about this CBS 2 feature on the plan to extend the bike lanes on Queens Boulevard. And that’s what makes it noteworthy.

With shots of the street where lanes now exist, reporter Sonia Rincon begins the piece like so: “The DOT is reshaping the landscape of one of the most dangerous roads in the city.” No quick-cut shots intended to invoke mass panic, no Marcia Kramer-style indignation over the prospect of sharing street space with people who aren’t in cars. Just a simple statement of fact.

Rincon spoke with City Council Member Danny Dromm, who explains how adding space for bikes helps slow motorists down, making the street safer.

And get this: Rincon talked with people who ride bikes on Queens Boulevard as part of their day to day lives — people who are grateful that Mayor de Blasio instructed DOT to proceed with phase two of the bike lane project despite Community Board 4 failing to support it.

“Right now I’m going to work, while biking,” said Melody Santos, who indicated she did not ride to work before DOT installed the existing 1.3-mile bike lane segment on Queens Boulevard in Woodside.

Rincon does devote airtime to random quotes from a couple of people who don’t care for cyclists, and to Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who repeats her specious argument that the project should be brought before the Queens Borough Board. Otherwise, Katz claims, making Queens Boulevard safer for people who walk and bike will “cause great difficulties.”

But Rincon closes with Dromm, who notes that the responsibility for engineering safer streets lies with DOT. Anchor Maurice DuBois even wraps the segment by citing Queens Boulevard crash data.

About what you would expect, right? But compared to the fact-free sensationalist screeching New Yorkers were subjected to during the bikelash era, it’s practically a revelation.