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Mayor de Blasio Announces October 29th Completion Date for a Safer Queens Boulevard

September 22, 2021

Protected bike lanes, pedestrian safety improvements to transform the corridor once known as the “Boulevard of Death”

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today joined New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) Commissioner Hank Gutman in Forest Hills to announce that the final phase of the administration’s signature redesign of Queens Boulevard will be complete by October 29th. The Mayor and Commissioner installed a flexible delineator dividing a bike and car lane at 70th Road, one of several major street safety improvements included in the redesign. NYC DOT is also adding two miles of protected bike lanes to the corridor.

“New York City is proud to complete the redesign of one of Queens’ most important roadways – and give new life to the notorious ‘Boulevard of Death,’” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Safety improvements like these make our city more livable for everyone who uses our streets – and they recognize that our responsibility is to make sure a car doesn’t turn into a weapon. I’m proud of all the public servants who worked hard to complete this project, and I look forward to a safer and more equitable future for Queens.”

“It’s so satisfying to see green paint on the protected bike lane and new pedestrian safety improvements along this stretch of Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills, after witnessing the great benefits of this project’s previous phases,” said DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman. “We want to thank our State and Federal partners for helping us move forward, along with Council Member Koslowitz, Community Board 6 and the street safety and cycling groups who have worked so hard to advocate for the completion of this lifesaving redesign.” 

Under the de Blasio administration, Queens Boulevard has seen traffic injuries decline by 19%. Pedestrian fatalities and injuries declined by 24%.

Phase 4 includes new protected bike lanes and a pedestrian path along the medians between the service road and the main roadway. Other safety improvements for pedestrians and cyclists include:

  • New and improved crosswalks at intersections and between median malls
  • New stop controls at slip ramp access points to allow for safer pedestrian and bicycle crossings
  • Elongated left-turn bays for simpler, safer turns and better vehicle processing.

The project will also include elements to preserve access to local businesses in this mixed-use residential and commercial area, including:

  • New truck loading zones
  • Additional hours at existing commercial loading zones to improve curbside access for businesses.

The first three phases of the redesign included these elements and also created new pedestrian space at intersections and closed slip lanes between the mainline and service road, to reduce conflicts between vehicles and cyclists.

The ongoing Queens Boulevard redesign is part of a plan announced by Mayor de Blasio and DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman to build on last year’s record protected bike lane installation, with a record 30 miles of protected bike lanes in 2021.

“The completion of the Queens Boulevard redesign will dramatically improve safety for all of the pedestrians, motorists and cyclists who use this busy thoroughfare,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “The statistics show the first three phases of the redesign have already done a great deal to make Queens Boulevard safer, and the completion of the fourth phase will go a step further to add additional protections. I commend Mayor de Blasio, the Department of Transportation, and all the agencies involved in the Vision Zero initiative for making our streets safer and making changes like the Queens Boulevard redesign.”

“Protected bike lanes are effective safety tools we must continue expanding across the City. We must continue implementing the tools we know work,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chairman of the Transportation Committee. “As Chairman of the Transportation Committee, my priority has been to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe while reducing the number of vehicles on our roads. I will continue to work alongside Mayor de Blasio and DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman to ensure we continue making the safety improvements needed to keep all New Yorkers safe.”

“We are thankful to the determined DOT team and local Families for Safe Streets activists whose years of hard work to transform the Boulevard of Death into the Boulevard of Life are paying off with phase four's upcoming completion," said Juan Restrepo, Senior Organizer at Transportation Alternatives. "The results of this project so far are proof that Vision Zero can be achieved by reclaiming space from cars and physically redesigning streets. Now, New York City must build on this momentum by expediting plans to make dangerous corridors safe across the five boroughs. We look forward to celebrating on Queens Boulevard next month as the current project wraps up, and begin advocating for these safety treatments to equitably be extended past Queens Borough Hall into Jamaica.”

“Every now and then we look around to notice change. It’s rush hour. At a city intersection we see MTA buses, school buses, many passenger vehicles, a commercial garbage truck, a plumber's van whizzing by. If we close our eyes, we could confidently identify these vehicles by their sounds: engine, brake, horn. We could identify them by their smells too, car exhaust mostly. On the sidewalk around us there are families rushing to daycare, a healthcare worker walking with coffee, a middle schooler waiting to cut across the traffic to get to class. Cars block the crosswalk. The change we notice here is the increase in traffic: people and cars. But the people traffic is hardly seen. The street space is overtaken by cars. People, here, are an afterthought. Everyone is forced to focus on the car and truck. Is it going to stop? Should I cross? Up until several years ago we, in NYC, had no frame of reference for the kind of street system that puts people first but Vision Zero makes people the priority, not the cars or trucks we drive. On October 29th, the city will complete the final phase of Queens Boulevard street redesign. Some of us will say it took too long. Some of us will say it’s not enough. Some of us will even say it shouldn’t be redesigned at all. But if we take a moment to notice the change we will see people become more prominent, more visible, and that is tremendous. Yes, more can be done, always. We continue to work with our communities, elected officials, and fellow advocates to make sure more does get done but today we applaud the city and look forward to being seen on Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills and its neighboring communities,” said Angela Azzolino, Get Women Cycling, Founder and Executive Director.

“Families for Safe Streets joined Mayor de Blasio in 2014 when he launched Vision Zero and pledged to transform the Boulevard of Death into the Boulevard of Life,” said Lizi Rahman, mother of Asif Rahman, who was killed in 2008 by a reckless driver on Queens Boulevard while riding his bike. “Queens Boulevard has caused tragedy for too many New York families like my own, and we feel immense relief that phase four of the redesign will finally be completed. Today’s announcement is a testament to years of relentless organizing by Families for Safe Streets members who have turned anguish into action and are saving lives across the five boroughs.”

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