Feb. 13, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
The Department of Transportation presented plans for a comprehensive bicycle network at an Astoria public meeting Tuesday night that featured two protected bike-lane routes that will go north south.
Around 130 people attended the event at P.S. 166 on 33-17 35th Ave, where the DOT put forward draft plans for protected bike lanes along Crescent Street and 31st Street. The plan also featured plans to add bicycle lanes on other streets, although they did not involve protected bike lanes.
The agency wants to create a safe north-south passage for bicyclists, particularly from the Triborough Bridge to the Queensboro Bridge. Additionally, the DOT wants other safe corridors for cyclists in the area as many cyclists ride north-south as they look to go into Manhattan.
Alice Friedman, Deputy Director of Planning and Policy for DOT’s Bicycle Unit, presented the plans and said that protected bicycle lanes increase safety for all street users. She said that they help organize streets and data shows a 21 percent drop in pedestrian injuries after protected bike lanes have been installed.
There have been many injuries on Crescent Street between Hoyt Avenue North and Queens Plaza North in recent years, according to NYPD data. Between Jan. 1, 2017 and Dec. 31, 2019 there were 615 total crashes– resulting in the death of one pedestrian and the injury of 16 cyclists, 36 pedestrians and 93 motorists, according to city data.
The DOT plan for Crescent Street, which is currently without bicycle infrastructure, involves installing a two-way protected bicycle lane along the corridor from the Triborough Bridge to the Queenboro Bridge. The plan would see a traffic lane removed in order for the protected two-way bicycle lane to be installed on one side of Crescent Street
Under this proposal, approximately 5 to 10 spots per block would have to be removed.
The agency also plans to install protected bicycle lanes on 31st Street—under the N/W elevated line– from 20th Avenue to 39th Avenue. A protected bicycle lane would be installed on both sides of the street.
Under the plan, there would be two travel lanes on each side of the street, along with a parking lane and a protected bicycle lane. There would be no loss of parking spaces with this route and it would also alleviate some of the streets double parking issues.
Pedestrian and transit access would also be improved with possible floating bus islands and better pedestrian crossings, Friedman said.
Friedman stressed that both Crescent Street and 31st Street designs were both in their concept phases and are still subject to change.
The DOT said it plans to install a number of other lanes as part of the bicycle network in Astoria—although none would be protected lanes.
It put forward six new routes, which involve conventional or shared bike lanes. None of these routes involve the loss of traffic lanes or parking spaces.
The routes feature a north south connection that goes that from 20th Avenue to 34th Avenue incorporating 42nd, 43th and 44th Streets; as well as a connection between 20th Avenue and Hoyt Avenue North on Crescent Street and 24th Street.
Council member Costa Constantinides, who spoke before the workshop, said there needs to be greater bicycle connectivity in the area.
“We need to have a borough wide plan and a neighborhood plan in western Queens that ensures people are getting out of their cars and getting onto safe modes of transportation,” he said.
The plans form part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $58.4 million Green Wave bicycle plan which seeks to expand the bike lane network in all five boroughs as a response to the rise of cycling fatalities in 2019.
After the presentation, attendees broke off into groups to discuss the proposal.
Attendees were in agreement with the DOT’s plans but also emphasized east-west protected routes were just as important.
Improved signage, speed bumps and greater police enforcement to quell the dangerous levels of speeding, particular along 31st Street, were also proposed.
Calls for extra bike parking as well as a reduction in vehicle parking were also voiced.
One attendee yelled out “any parking loss is a victory,” that was greeted to great applause. Another person said all bike lanes should be “protected or nothing,” that also generated a similar response.
The designs are expected to be presented to Community Board 1 in spring, with plans to install the protected bicycle lanes this summer. The conventional and shared lanes are planned to be installed this fall.
— Michael Dorgan (@MDorganNYC) February 12, 2020