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Posts from the Queens Category

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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.

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De Blasio Advances Queens Boulevard Redesign Despite CB 4 Shenanigans

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Lizi Rahman and Council Member Danny Dromm led a rally for the Queens Boulevard redesign before last night’s CB 4 meeting. Rahman lost her son Asif in 2008 when he was struck by a truck driver and killed on Queens Boulevard. Photo: David Meyer

Mayor de Blasio has instructed NYC DOT to move forward with the redesign of Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst following a contentious meeting of Queens Community Board 4 last night, in which the chairman hastily pushed through a vote against the bike lane portion of the project.

“I respect those who disagree with us, but in the end, the safety of our neighbors and our children is the most fundamental responsibility we have in this work,” de Blasio said in a statement released this afternoon. “Today, I have instructed the Department of Transportation to move forward on the next phase of safety enhancements to Queens Boulevard, including a protected lane for cyclists.”

The CB 4 meeting last night was a travesty of public process even by the standards of New York City community boards.

Immediately after arguing that Queens Boulevard “is not a park, it is a very heavily traveled vehicular roadway,” CB 4 Chair Lou Walker moved to “accept the safety plan for Queens Boulevard except the bike lane.” The resolution passed in a quick show of hands, with one member opposed and one abstention, but multiple board members appeared to be confused by Walker’s phrasing and the rush to vote.

Some board members walked out in dismay right after the vote, and dozens of people in the audience who supported the bike lane turned their backs to the board and then left the room.

The median bikeway is a centerpiece of the Queens Boulevard redesign and the project would make no sense without it. DOT implemented the same basic template — claiming space on service roads to create continuous paths for walking and biking on the medians — on 1.3 miles of Queens Boulevard in Woodside last year. The proposal on the table at CB 4 last night would extend that design another 1.2 miles from 74th Street to Eliot Avenue. A third phase through Rego Park and Forest Hills is scheduled for 2017.

Queens Boulevard is one of the only direct east-west routes across the borough, and many people already brave its chaotic traffic on bikes. The portion of the street covered by this phase of the redesign includes the block between 55th Road and 55th Avenue where a truck driver struck and killed Asif Rahman in 2008.

At a rally before the meeting, his mother, Lizi Rahman, called for action. “It’s been more than 8 years, and ever since I lost my son I have been fighting for a bike lane on Queens Boulevard,” she said. “It was pretty difficult from the beginning — almost for the first seven years I didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.”

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111 Corona Mothers Take Over 111th Street to Call for a Safer Design

Mujeres en Movimiento — a Corona-based group of immigrant Latina mothers — marched on 111th Street this Saturday, calling on NYC DOT and Queens Community Board 4 to move forward with the city’s plan for traffic calming and a protected bike lane on the street.

They were joined by their children, members of Immigrant Movement International Corona, and Queens street safety activists. More than 160 people turned out for the march, which was billed as 111 mothers taking over 111th Street for 111 seconds.

Today 111th Street is a treacherous crossing for Corona residents going to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. With two northbound lanes and three southbound lanes, drivers move at dangerous speeds. DOT’s proposal would calm traffic by expanding medians at crossings, painting new crosswalks, installing a two-way protected bike lane along the park, and reducing the number of motor vehicle traffic lanes to one in each direction [PDF].

NYC DOT first presented a redesign for 111th Street more than a year ago, responding to a campaign organized by IMI Corona, Queens Museum, Make the Road New York, Transportation Alternatives, and Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland. But it is currently stalled with no timetable for implementation. CB 4 has failed to advance the project, and Assembly Member Francisco Moya has tried to block it. DOT will only say that it plans to “return to CB 4 later this year.”

Saturday, some demonstrators marched with their bicycles, while others held signs with messages like “Los calles tambien nos pertenecen” (“The streets belong to us too”) and “Un futuro mas seguro para nuestros hijos” (“A safe future for our children”). At 49th Avenue, the group blocked the street to car traffic and paraded around the median between 49th and 50th Avenues.

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Change Is Afoot on Conduit Blvd, a Speedway Dividing Neighborhoods

Conduit Boulevard, a highway-like road in on the eastern Brooklyn-Queens border, has seen four pedestrian fatalities since 2008. Image: DOT

Four pedestrians have been killed since 2008 on Conduit Boulevard, a highway-like surface street that divides Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods. Image: DOT

Conduit Boulevard, a wide and dangerous road where drivers speed to and from JFK Airport, could get much-needed safety improvements from DOT between Atlantic Avenue and Sutter Avenue this year.

The street is designed like a highway, with wide travel lanes and north- and south-bound roads separated by a huge median. Vehicle access from Atlantic Avenue is literally an on-ramp. In Nassau County it becomes the Sunrise Highway, which frequently rates atop the Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s list of the state’s most dangerous roads.

This surface speedway cuts through East New York, Cypress Hills, and Ozone Park, limiting residents’ access to transit and curtailing safe walking and biking options within their own neighborhoods. In the neighborhoods along the 2.2-mile stretch covered by DOT’s project, most households don’t own cars.

DOT plans to present safety improvements to Brooklyn Community Board 5 and Queens Community Board 10 later this spring. The department is currently gathering feedback on the project via an online portal.

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A Car-Free Plaza Is the Key to DOT’s Safety Plan for Myrtle-Wyckoff

wyckoff_myrtle

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

The dangerous intersection of Myrtle Avenue and Wyckoff Avenue at the Bushwick-Ridgewood border is in line for a major DOT redesign this year. The proposal calls for pedestrianizing the block of Wyckoff between Myrtle and Gates to reduce potential motor vehicle turns at the intersection by 70 percent.

Myrtle-Wyckoff is a major transit hub, where the elevated M Train crosses paths with the underground L, and six bus routes converge at the Ridgewood Bus Terminal on Palmetto Street. Since 2009, three pedestrians have been killed at the six-legged intersection — two by MTA bus drivers. Two years ago, hundreds of people gathered there to remember Ella Bandes, who was struck and killed by a bus driver in 2013, and call for safety improvements.

In 2014, the city eliminated five of the 25 potential turns at the intersection, and last year the MTA rerouted the B26 away from the westbound turn from Wyckoff onto Palmetto. With the car-free plaza, the number of turns would fall even more dramatically — bus drivers would make five turns and drivers of personal vehicles would be limited to three turning movements.

According to DOT, three times as many pedestrians as cars pass through the block of the proposed plaza. Making it car-free would allow pedestrians to travel between the train station and bus terminal without having to cross motorized traffic lanes. The proposal also calls for demarcating the bus-only blocks by the bus terminal with red paint, and for converting Wyckoff to a one-way street south of the intersection.

On Tuesday night, about 60 people came to a public workshop hosted by DOT at International School 77 and weighed in on how they want to use the proposed plaza space.

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