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Protected Bike Lane Network to be Installed in LIC This Fall

44th Drive, an east-west route that links Court Square with Hunters Point, where protected bike lanes will be installed (Photo: Queens Post)

June 21, 2022 By Christian Murray

Community Board 2 voted earlier this month in support of the Department of Transportation’s plan to install three protected bicycle lanes in Long Island City.

The vote, which was passed unanimously, has cleared the way for the DOT to install the protected bicycle lanes that will provide essential links between the Queensboro and the Pulaski bridges—as well as between Court Square and Hunters Point. The plan, however, will result in the loss of 107 parking spaces.

The DOT plans to install protected bike lanes on 44th Drive—between Vernon Boulevard and 23rd Street—an essential east-west corridor from Court Square toward the Long Island City waterfront.

The plan also involves a protected bike lane on 11th Street–between 44th Drive and Jackson Avenue—a key connection between the two major bridges, as well as a protected bike lane on Jackson Avenue, between Vernon Boulevard and the Pulaski Bridge.

The purple lines indicate where the DOT will be installing the protected bicycle lanes. The green lines are where protected bicycle lanes are already in place. The DOT is also reviewing the Borden Avenue link (represented in red) between Vernon Boulevard and Center Boulevard to see whether it should install protected bicycle lanes there too. The blue lines indicate the location of standard bike lanes, while the pink lines are shared lanes (DOT)

The DOT plans to install the protected bike lanes late summer/early fall.

“This is a critical part of the bike network, not only for Long Island City but for all of Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan because this is where the Pulaski Bridge and the Queensboro Bridge connect,” said Nick Carey, with the DOT’s bike unit, during the board meeting.

The DOT also noted that the new protected bike lanes will be installed at a time when there has been a big uptick in bicycling. The agency said that cyclists are crossing the Queensboro bridge 6,400 times per day, with more than 2,000 trips across the Pulaski bridge.

The plan also comes in the wake of bike safety advocates and elected officials urging the DOT to complete a protected bike network in the Long Island City area.

The push for bike safety came to a head when Robert Spencer was killed in a crash in March 2019 while riding his bike at the intersection of Borden Avenue and 2nd Street in Hunters Point.

The DOT is likely to install a protected bicycle lane on Borden Avenue between Center Boulevard and Jackson Avenue– although the agency is still evaluating the concept.

The plans for the three protected bike lanes were largely well received, although the board did have some reservations.

There were concerns about the loss of parking spaces—particularly on Jackson Avenue near the Pulaski Bridge—since many local businesses have customers that need parking.

Additionally, others urged the DOT to find parking spots elsewhere, noting that some residents are sick or handicapped and are unable to use public transportation or ride a bike. Some also argued that the loss of parking spaces would be a burden for low-income residents since they would struggle to afford parking in a commercial garage.

The DOT said that the loss of parking was a concern but the benefits of the protected bicycle network outweighed the downside.

“We recognize that there is a downside,” Carey said. “But considering the safety benefits for all road users…we think it is on balance a net positive for the neighborhood.”

Meanwhile, Gretha Suarez, a planner with DOT’s Queens office, said that the bike network might also encourage some drivers to use public transportation or ride a bike.

Stephen Cooper, a board member, said that he wants the DOT to be responsive to the community once the lanes are installed. He said that when the DOT installed the 39th Avenue Bike Boulevard in Sunnyside last year it promised the community that it would review the design—in terms of whether it needed to be tweaked or not—soon after its completion. He said that this had not occurred and called on the DOT to pledge to review the Long Island City plan shortly after its implementation.

Meanwhile, Thomas Mituzas, a board member and co-chair of the board’s Transportation Committee, called on the DOT to do conduct outreach prior to installing the lanes. He said that when the 39th Avenue Bike Boulevard was installed last year most residents were completely unaware. He said that he doesn’t want a driver in Long Island City to go out one morning and then discover that the area where they typically park their car is gone.

Suarez said that the agency gets the message out about DOT projects via social media and through the help of community boards. She also said the projects are also on the DOT website. Additionally, fliers about the work are typically circulated.

But Morry Galonoy, the chair of Community Board 2, said that the board is largely a volunteer, unfunded government body that doesn’t have the ability to conduct large scale outreach. He said that it was up to the DOT to do more.

Some called on the DOT to do tabling events and similar outreach—as well as send staff out to the area to inform residents.

The board’s approval did come with conditions. The conditions require the DOT to make provision for handicapped parking spaces; add loading zones for small businesses; educate bicyclists as to the rules pertaining to bike lanes; and to come back to the board after its implementation for feedback.

Click here to see the plans.

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6 Comments

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LICNative

“We recognize that there is a downside,” Carey said. “But considering the safety benefits for all road users…we think it is on balance a net positive for the neighborhood.” – a person who can afford a parking garage in their own neighborhood. Give me a break. These people are delusional to the lives of real working people in the neighborhoods. If you want less of these people running the city then citizens need to actually vote for different individuals, that’s where it counts!

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Sara Ross

When are bicyclists going to obey traffic laws? Pedestrians cross with the light and bicyclists go against the light, zig zagging in between traffic and in front of cars and other vehicles that can’t stop on a dime! The roads, which they don’t pay for, need to be fixed – Jewel Avenue, Main Street, Queens Blvd., and on and on. Money that comes from drivers who pay for insurance, parking, inspections and registration. Those on 2 wheels, pay for NOTHING.

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Ocsar

“We recognize that there is a downside,” Carey said. “But considering the safety benefits for all road users…we think it is on balance a net positive for the neighborhood.”

I want statistics. Last count pedestrian and bike accidents increased with the greenwashing of our streets.

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Cars and Bikes need to coexist

No matter what a certain group of people seem to think, parking IS needed in LIC. I’m not against bikes but reality says you can’t overdevelop a neighborhood the way LIC has been overdeveloped and not provide a place for people to park. Like it or not, cars aren’t going anywhere. People drive to the new Trader Joe’s and they’ll drive to the new Target when it opens. There needs to be more options in the neighborhood otherwise it’s going to be chaos. There’s a better way to provide bike lanes that aren’t completely protected and that don’t eliminate parking. Neighborhoods in Manhattan seem to have this figured out, why can’t LIC?

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Anonymous

This will be installed just in time for the cold weather when less people ride bikes anyway. Makes sense.
And taking public transportation when there are so many criminal incidents on the subway? No thanks.

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MRLIC

Good idea. Protexted bike lanes are good but we all know the electric bikes and scooters will be zooming by regular bikes going slower than them. Most bikers I saw go through Red Lights even some delivery drivers. Enforcement will be minimal at best. Fund these projects iif you want to be serious sbout them.

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