June 17, 2016 By Michael Florio
A new bike route connecting multiple western Queens neighborhoods got a green light from Community Board 3 last night.
CB 3 voted in approval of the Department of Transportation’s plan to install new bike lanes along 31st and 32nd Avenues at its monthly meeting on Thursday.
The new bicycle route will connect Astoria and Jackson Heights with links to East Elmhurst, Flushing Bay and other bikeways as well.
The DOT’s proposal includes eastbound and westbound bike lanes on 31st Avenue from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to 73rd Street. Then from 73rd Street to 101st Street, 31st Avenue will have a dedicated eastbound bike lane and westbound cyclists will share the road with vehicles.
Westbound cyclists who want a dedicated bike lane can take 32nd Avenue along this stretch.
“These streets are not wide enough for a [dedicated] bicycle lane in each direction,” DOT project manager Nick Carey said. “But they are large enough for a lane in one direction.”
Additional bicycle lanes will be implemented on 74th and 75th Streets, to allow riders to connect to the existing bicycle network in the area – namely, the lanes on 34th Avenue – according to Carey. New lanes on 100th and 101st Streets between 31st and 27th Avenues will connect to the bicycle network near Flushing Bay.
(See below for diagrams of the bike lanes.)
The DOT will use paint to mark the streets in order to create the bike lanes. The agency will also create high-visibility crosswalks along all the streets, Carey said.
“There will be no loss of parking or travel lane because of this project,” Carey said.
The DOT chose 31st Avenue for the new bikeway because it serves as a connection between multiple neighborhoods, according to Carey. Additionally, it crosses the BQE and the railroad in a low-traffic environment.
“A lot of streets either come to an end at the BQE or have a high volume of traffic,” Carey said. “We were looking for a street with lower traffic that could safely connect these neighborhoods.”
The 31st Avenue bikeway also extends into Astoria, stretching all the way to the waterfront. Community Board 1 will vote on the proposal on Tuesday.
Not only will the lanes create a safer environment for bicyclists, but also the narrower vehicle lanes will discourage speeding, according to Carey.
“We will improve connectivity in a way that is safe for bicyclists and drivers,” he said.
Numerous residents spoke in favor of the proposal, including members of the Queens Bike Initiative and Make Queens Safer.
“We [QBI] are a local group that loves our neighborhood and visiting what it has to offer on bicycles,” James McIntyre said. “Together we can make it safe for an 8-year-old or an 88-year-old to ride a bike in Queens.”
“This proposal will be a wonderful step up for our community,” he added. “We ask that you approve these lanes.”
CB 3 ultimately voted overwhelmingly in approval of the bike lanes.