The long-delayed fourth section of the Queens Boulevard bike lane finally will wrap up on Oct. 29, making the notorious roadway once known as the “Boulevard of Death” safer for cyclists and pedestrians, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in Forest Hills Wednesday.
“The Boulevard of Death becomes the Boulevard of Life,” hizzoner said at a press conference next to the newly-green-painted lanes on Queens Boulevard near 70th Road. “The final phase of Queens Boulevard, the final act of Vision Zero on Queens Boulevard will be completed next month, October 2021, once and for all.”
The four-phase project originally began in 2015 heading east from Roosevelt Avenue, and the final section between Yellowstone Boulevard to Union Turnpike was supposed to be installed almost three years ago in November 2018, but was delayed repeatedly until May when de Blasio committed to finishing it.
The upgrades include new bike paths on the service road separated from traffic by plastic flappers, new stop controls at ramps heading on and off the roadway to avoid clashes with cars, and longer left-turn bays for safer turns, according to the Department of Transportation.
In parts of the thoroughfare where the bike lanes were installed earlier, the city registered a 55% drop in pedestrian injuries and 19% less crashes, according to 2018 DOT stats.
“Let me tell you it has worked. As each phase has been completed, Queens Boulevard has become safer and safer,” de Blasio said. “The number of injuries has plummeted — thank God — and this will make it even better.”
Advocates praised the new bike lane as life changing for Queens cyclists.
“Couldn’t be happier to finally ride on this just this morning, it’s amazing and it’s going to change lives of so many people,” said Juan Restrepo of Transportation Alternatives.
But the pedaler also repeated a push by activists for the city to go further and extend the lanes all the way to Hillside Avenue in Jamaica.
“[We want] to eventually pass this by Borough Hall, bring it all the way down to Jamaica,” Restrepo said.
When pressed about the extension by amNewYork Metro, the mayor declined to make a commitment to bring the “Boulevard of Life” to the more Black and brown neighborhood to the east during his three months and change left in office.
“One step at a time, we’re looking citywide where all the next steps should be, but Vision Zero’s going to keep rolling,” he said following the press conference. “Constant expansion, that is what Vision Zero is all about.”
A DOT rep would only say that the agency will keep an eye on the boulevard as a “priority corridor.”
“Queens Boulevard beyond Union Turnpike is a Vision Zero priority corridor, and therefore, as with any priority corridor, we are looking into potential future improvements,” said Brian Zumhagen.