Last summer, a speeding motorist struck and killed Michael Schenkman, 78, as Schenkman attempted to turn onto the Joe Michaels Mile bike path, where he rode daily. The fatal crash drew attention to the lack of safe access to the path, with residents calling for protected bike lanes connecting to it. Now NYC DOT has produced a plan to link Joe Michaels Mile to protected bike lanes on Northern Boulevard and the approach from Alley Pond Park [PDF].
The project would add about four miles of protected bike lanes connecting Joe Michaels Mile to Douglaston via Northern Boulevard and the western border of Alley Pond Park. Agency reps presented it to Queens Community Board 11’s transportation committee on Wednesday.
Between 2010 and 2014, three pedestrians and one cyclist suffered severe injuries on the same stretch of Northern Boulevard where Schenkman was killed, according to DOT. It’s a dangerous situation that locals know all too well.
In September, Joani Emerson, owner of Douglaston’s Peak Bicycle Pro Shop, told Streetsblog that she often rents bike to tourists bound for Joe Michaels Mile. “We worry about them,” Emerson said. “People aren’t always aware of how crazy it can get over here.”
To make room on Northern Boulevard, DOT would repurpose the westbound curb lane with a two-way bike lane protected by a concrete barrier.
To the west of the Cross Island Parkway, the bike lanes would continue south along Alley Pond Park, connecting to the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway bike path before terminating at Springfield Boulevard. For much of that stretch, the two-way bike lane would be separated from traffic by a parking lane.
On 67th Avenue in front of P.S. 213, the route would be labelled “shared space” for pedestrians and cyclists to accommodate pick-ups and drop-offs.
East of the section on Northern Boulevard, the project calls for painted lanes on Douglaston Parkway and sharrows on 235th Street leading to the Douglaston LIRR station.
In 2015, DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia declined requests from a local homeowners’ group for protected bike lanes on Northern Boulevard because of “heavy traffic volumes and limited roadway space” [PDF]. That rationale appears to have been exaggerated: DOT’s studies presented to CB 11 forecast only a marginal impact on traffic.
“At the end of the day, somebody died and that needs to be made to never happen again,” said Joby Jacob, a resident of Hollis Hills and volunteer with Transportation Alternatives who attended the meeting.
The CB 11 committee did not vote on the plan, but the full community board may still take it up at its June 5 meeting. CB 11 has declined to support bike lane projects in the past, so it’s important that supporters attend and speak for these safety improvements. Stay tuned to the Streetsblog calendar for updates.
DOT Plans Four Miles of Protected Bike Lanes to Connect Eastern Queens Bikeways