Mayor overrides CB 4 to allow bike lanes in Queens Blvd. plan

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Mayor Bill de Blasio is overriding a decision by Community Board 4 to approve Phase 2 of the Queens Boulevard $100 million redesign Tuesday night.

While the board voted 31-1 with two abstentions to approve the safety upgrades, Chairman Louis Walker made a motion to approve without the bike lane component, setting off a chaotic scene inside the ballroom of Italian Charities of America.

“A lot of you think I don’t like bikes, but I do,” Walker said. “But I don’t think Queens Boulevard is necessarily the place for a bike lane. Put it on Woodside Avenue or Grand Avenue. This is not a park, this is a very heavily traveled vehicular roadway.”

The mayor fired back midday Wednesday.

“I respect those who disagree with us, but in the end, the safety of our neighbors and our children is the fundamental responsibility we have in this work,” de Blasio said. “Today, I have instructed the Department of Transportation to move forward on the next phase of safety enhancements to Queens Boulevard, including a protected bike lane for cyclists.”

The modified CB4 vote came after a city Department of Transportation presentation of the plan, which includes the elimination of 88 parking spots along the commercial corridor. During the question-and-answer session that followed, A. Redd Sevilla of the New Life Fellowship Church complained that Elmhurst’s large immigrant community had been left out of the DOT’s outreach effort.

But the mayor has made the board’s issues a moot point.

“Achieving Vision Zero means protecting the lives of everyone on our streets whether they are walking, in a wheelchair, in a car or on a bike,” de Blasio said. “We are committed to ending the senseless loss of life on our streets, and there is no more potent symbol or example of that transformation than Queens Boulevard. Working together, we will close the book on the Boulevard of Death and make this roadway a Boulevard of Life.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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Reader feedback

Peter B from Rego Park says:
Last night was an absolute travesty. The Chair rushed a vote on a modified proposal creating an immense amount of confusion. Board members who just moments before had spoken in favor of the bike lanes ended up voting for the Chair's motion, I believe without realizing the impact of what happened. Not only that, but the prior to this motion the Chair had repeatedly refused to allow other Board members to make a motion to vote for the plan, despite at least one such motion receiving a second. This was a violation of procedure and an abuse of the Chair's powers.

The Board ignored the professional road engineers in the room, all of the elected officials in the room who supported the plan, and dozens of residents and others who have been campaigning for this redesign for years. Not only that, but the Board acted as if they had not been given any time to consider the DOT proposal, despite the fact that DOT presented to the Transportation Committee in March and was willing to present to the whole Board in April, but was rebuffed by Transpo Chair James Lisa. Moreover, Transportation Alternatives volunteers spoke to the Board in April and handed out materials to every Board member that included examples of community support, the data that shows how bike lanes are an important part of a safe street design, making every road user safer, and were given the URL for the DOT's plan online. They had at least a month [much more time if they had bothered to look for it] to study the proposal, but it was very clear few had done so.

And as for New Life Fellowship's opposition; that was surprising and incredibly disappointing. New Life Fellowship has been part of the coalition calling for a redesign of Queens Blvd. They receive every email update that has gone out on this project since before it was approved by CB1. A member of its congregation is a TA volunteer. We have held outreach events in the Church and have always been available to discuss this proposal. By his own admission DOT came personally to New Life Fellowship Church to present on this idea. Another Board member from the Rock church said that church also received a direct presentation and she was impressed with the outreach. But not once was the concern raised by Pastor Redd shared with us. His statement took us completely by surprise. And is also just blatantly false. At a press conference prior to the CB meeting a member of Mujeres En Moviemento, just one of the groups that represent some of the immigrant families in the community who support the redesign, spoke in favor of the proposal. TA and the DOT have done an incredible amount of outreach, to suggest otherwise is just wrong.
May 11, 2016, 11:32 am
wise move from queens says:
Wise move not to include bike lanes. They do not belong on busy streets even in the odd instance that a biker actually obeys traffic laws.
May 11, 2016, 11:33 am
Samuel from St. Albans says:
I thank the mayor for recognizing that bicycling IS used as a legitimate form of transportation, not a toy only. He is standing up for those who choose to bike to key destinations on the boulevard, and through and across the boulevard.

The city has a track record of incorporating bike lanes into busy and large streets going on nine years. The ones off the top of my head are 1, 2, 8, & 9 Avenues in Manhattan. Queens Boulevard and those avenues have this in common: 1) they are now convenient and safe routes through to another specific part of the city; 2) they are convenient and safe routes to destinations right on the route; 3) pedestrian safety improvements are perfectly integrated.
May 17, 2016, 11:05 am

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