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Van Bramer Votes in Favor of Overhaul of City Streets, Including 250 Miles of Protected Bike Lanes

Phase 3 Construction (DOT)

Oct. 30, 2019 By Allie Griffin

The majority of Queens council members voted today in favor of a plan that will bring hundreds of miles of protected bicycle and bus lanes to city streets.

The legislation introduced by Council Speaker Corey Johnson passed the full council by a 35 to 10 vote with two abstentions. The $1.7 billion plan will add 250 miles of protected bike lanes and 150 miles of bus lanes as well as other bus and pedestrian priority measures over a 5 year period beginning in 2022.

Council Members Jimmy Van Bramer, Costa Constantinides, Donovan Richards, Daniel Dromm and Antonio Reynoso were strong supporters of the plan. Each were listed as co-sponsors. Meanwhile, Council Members Karen Koslowitz, Francisco Moya, Peter Koo, Rory Lancman and Barry Grodenchik voted in favor of it.

Council Members Robert Holden, Paul Vallone and I. Daneek Miller were the only three from Queens to vote down the plan. Holden and Vallone said that their districts were in transit deserts where residents have no other options but to drive vehicles. Queens only Republican Council Member Eric Ulrich abstained from the vote.

Johnson created the plan in response to a spike in cyclist deaths this year. Year-to-date, 25 cyclists have been killed on city streets— the highest toll in at least a decade, according to city data.

“The way we plan our streets makes no sense and New Yorkers pay the price every day on slow buses, biking on streets with no bike lanes, or walking on streets without enough sidewalk space,” Johnson said in a statement last month. “Far too often New Yorkers pay the price for our poorly designed streets with their lives.”

Johnson’s sweeping plan, which has Mayor Bill de Blasio’s support, aims to make New York’s streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists as well as speed up buses.

The plan would require the implementation of “transit signal priority” at 1,000 intersections each year. With transit signal priority, traffic signals are programmed to turn green when buses approach.

In addition, the master plan would require the DOT to upgrade 500 bus stops a year; add accessible pedestrian signals at 2,500 intersections over course of the 5-year plan; assess and amend commercial loading zones and truck routes; develop parking policies to improve safety; and create one million square feet of pedestrian space by the end of 2023.

“My master plan bill will revolutionize the way we plan our streets and will bring our city into the 21st century in terms of prioritizing mass transit users, pedestrians, and cyclists over private automobiles,” Johnson said last month.

The DOT is tasked with creating the five-year master plan by Dec. 1, 2021, with it taking effect the following year.

The legislation also requires the DOT to implement a new transportation master plan every five years with new benchmarks added each time. The next plan would be due in 2026 and would include the completion of a protected bike lane network among other measures.

The passage of Johnson’s plan comes at a time in Queens when road redesigns have proven to be controversial.

For instance, the redesign of Queens Boulevard has not generated universal support, with opponents arguing that it has cut the number of parking spaces, hurt businesses and lead to congestion.

Phase IV of the Queens Boulevard plan, which will go from Yellowstone Boulevard to Union Turnpike when completed, was rejected by Community Board 6 in 2018, with Council Member Karen Koslowitz also opposed to it.

Phases of Queens Boulevard Redesign (DOT) The first three phases have been completed

Despite the opposition, the DOT said it was going to complete Phase IV last summer. The agency has yet to begin work and supporters of the plan have held rallies calling on the city to construct it.

Advocates argue that the changes need to be made to reduce traffic deaths, which should be the priority.

Likewise, Queens Community Board 2 voted down the installation of protected bike lanes and other traffic measures along Skillman and 43rd Avenues in Sunnyside in June 2018. Despite their disapproval, the DOT moved forward with that plan and completed the bike lanes that fall. More than 120 parking spaces have since been removed.

Bicycle and pedestrian advocates–as well as Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer–say the Sunnyside plan has been a success and the roadways are much safer.

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19 Comments

Anonymous

If only bike riders were held accountable for their actions. So many do not follow simple rules and lack basic courtesy for people trying to cross the street.

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Ever driven faster than the speed limit?

Ever jaywalked? I hope not or you’d be a giant hypocrite!

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Cars never break the law

If only motorists were held accountable for their actions. So many do not follow stop signs or speed limits, and they’re the #1 cause of pedestrian deaths.

Oh also, bikes are to blame.

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Anonymous

No one is saying motorists shouldn’t be held accountable. I’m saying, as a pedestrian, I’ve been yelled at by people on bikes. This happened after the light changed and the walk sign said “Go”, because I was walking through the bike lane to start crossing the street. (Sorry that this is how the lanes are designed, not my damn fault) The biker did not stop with the light, which is why he was yelling at people trying to cross the street (who had the right of way).
People who drive cars aren’t 100% innocent either, but when they run red lights or whatever it is, there are at least cameras to send expensive tickets to their homes. This doesn’t happen with bikes. It’s it’s going to be fair, it needs to be fair for everyone equally. Don’t act like bikes can’t hurt people, too.

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The vast majority of pedestrian deaths are caused by cars

but bikes are super dangerous lol. If only they had a lane separate from other traffic…

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Anon

Bikes have killed people too. I believe the last one was a 67-year old woman crossing the street in Manhattan who was smashed into by a bicyclist. I believe her skull cracked after she hit the pavement. She died.
I don’t expect most of you bicyclists to accept this reality, because then you would have to accept being held accountable for your actions. Something the city doesn’t think matters.
Again, I don’t have a car, nor do I ride bikes. There are issues on both sides. Wake up and accept it. We all need to live together in this city and try not to be a**holes to each other. I know that’s difficult for some.

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Agreed, the vast majority of pedestrian deaths are caused by cars

But you have one example of a bike hurting someone. You don’t even have a link to the article for some reason…

LIC Direct

This is not a bike friendly city and it will never be, no matter how many bike lanes are built. NYer’s don’t have the patience, decency or ethics to wait for the green light while riding a bike and practicing safe biking. The more bike lanes — more death on our roads and streets of cyclists that is for sure.

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your_neighbor

NYer’s don’t have the patience, decency or ethics to wait for the green light to walk across the street either.

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Please, no more crap.

The roadways in Sunnyside are not much safer by a long shot. Many cyclists hit the pavement. Fire trucks can’t get through. People will die because of the redesign but cars will be blamed because it isn’t really about safety at all. It’s about new players making money. No one believes the “safety” story.

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Sunnysider42st

This is an absolute joke. You want to penalize drivers because most cyclists do not stay in the bike lanes , nor do they follow traffic signals. It’s criminal for these guys to do what they have been doing. More people should use mass transit . Why ? Because the MTA needs more money to waste? This is NEW YORK CITY ppl dont need space to have a picnic on a city block . Its alot more productive to have more parking so people arent searching for hours a day. Van bramer you really dont care about our neighborhood you only care about your party and photo ops. This city is going to lose everything because you want to make it suburb. Amazon deal is shot down and now JP Morgan Chase is about to leave. Thanks for ruining the greatest city in the world so ppl can ride bikes to the unemployment line . You should all be ashamed of yourselves

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Gone are the good old days

No one in Sunnyside ever had an issue with cars , until all the newbies moved in.

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Old Timer

I’m a native New Yorker, born ,raised, and still in Queens. Those days were good , they were very good.

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Rob

I think you may be confused about the definition of “suburban.”

Driving everywhere is what happens in the suburbs. Using public transportation, biking, and walking is what happens in cities.

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Think

What if you live in Sunnyside ,but work on Long Island, or Westchester, and your job is no where near the LIRR or Metro North? Please don’t tell me to move, Queens has been my home for 59 years. I know many people in Sunnyside Woodside, Astoria and other Queens neighborhoods that have to drive to get to work in the suburbs, or parts of Queens where public transportation is limited or non-existing.

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Gone are the good old days

Yes, Sunnyside is an urban area. You fail to realize that not all city residents work in the five boroughs. People have to commute outside the city for their jobs. I would not be able to get to work without a car. If you job involves doing sales outside the city, a car is an absolute necessity.

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