Friday, October 22, 2021
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Biketober: DOT Announces New Bicycle Lane Connecting Parks in Eastern Queens Neighborhood
Over two miles of new conventional bicycle lanes and other major safety improvements in Oakland Gardens ease access from Cunningham Park to Alley Pond Park and Eastern Queens Greenway, calming traffic and making wide thoroughfare safer for all users
QUEENS -- Officials from the Department of Transportation today joined local elected leaders to cut the ribbon on street improvements in the Eastern Queens neighborhood of Oakland Gardens, including new bike lanes along 73rd Avenue. The street provides the most direct connection between Cunningham Park and Alley Pond Park, and has grown more popular with cyclists as a route to reach the Eastern Queens Greenway. Improvements beyond the two new miles of bike lanes (one mile in each direction) include new left turn lanes, lane markings, and high-visibility crosswalks that better organize the street -- and make it safer for all users.
"Since the start of the pandemic, thousands of cyclists in Eastern Queens have discovered the joys of the Eastern Queens Greenway, and these improvements allow convenient and easy connections to safer riding, " said DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia. "However, the safety benefits here also extend to pedestrians and motorists, who will no doubt discover what we have found over and over – including along the nearby section of 73rd Avenue in Fresh Meadows. That is, a better-organized street with bike lanes, new crosswalks and turn bays reduces speeding and deadly crashes. We thank all our elected officials for their strong support of this critical safety project. "
According to a new DOT study released this week, Safe Streets for Cycling: How Street Design Affects Bicycle Safety and Ridership, the addition of new bike lanes – conventional or protected -- to a given street reduce those killed or seriously injured there by about one third. For the five-year period between 2014 and 2018, this portion of 73rd Avenue had a crash rate twice that of the adjacent stretch of 73rd Avenue in Fresh Meadows, which has had conventional bicycle lanes for over two decades.
"As more and more New Yorkers are choosing to strap on helmets and hop on their bikes for commuting and recreation, we are excited to see this upgraded 73rd Avenue connection between Alley Pond and Cunningham Parks, " said NYC Parks Commissioner Gabrielle Fialkoff. "In addition to the adjacent Vanderbilt Motor Parkway currently under construction, this new connection will increase access and recreational opportunities for countless Oakland Gardens residents, providing a new, safer corridor to visit our beautiful greenspaces. "
"It's most heartening to see that 73rd Avenue has been upgraded with these improvements which will allow for better sharing of the road and protect cyclists and pedestrians from serious injury or death and we appreciate DOT for their efforts," said NY State Senator John Liu.
"These traffic safety treatments in Oakland Gardens will go a long way in ensuring the well-being of everyone traveling through the area, " said Assembly Member Nily Rozic. "I'm grateful for the DOT's partnership in working with our offices and the community to not only improve traffic flow along 73rd Avenue for cyclists and drivers but also prioritize ease of access to Cunningham and Alley Pond Parks — two thriving green spaces in our community. "
"Investments in transportation infrastructure is the path to safer roads for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians alike, " said Assembly Member David Weprin. "That's why I'm thrilled to celebrate the street improvements in Oakland Gardens. I commend the NYC Department of Transportation for completing the necessary work to improve the quality of life for Oakland Gardens residents. "
"The street improvements on 73rd Avenue are already making this neighborhood safer and more convenient, " said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik. "For many years, the bicycle lane on 73rd Avenue abruptly ended at Francis Lewis Boulevard. Now it continues all the way to Springfield Boulevard, where it connects to another bicycle lane that was in place. Bicycle riding is a pandemic-safe mode of transportation and a great way to exercise, and Eastern Queens just became an even better place to ride. "
"This extension of the 73rd Avenue bike lane — a critical artery for decades — will make cycling to and through Eastern Queens safer. Cycling is immensely and increasingly popular in this corner of Queens thanks to the Motor Parkway section of the Eastern Queens Greenway, Cunningham Park Mountain Bike Trails, and the extensive path network through Alley Pond Park. DOT must continue to expand the network and upgrade its quality to enable New Yorkers of all ages and abilities access their parks, schools, libraries, and stores by bike," said Laura Shepherd of Transportation Alternatives' Eastern Queens Committee.