Woodside community advocate questions redesign of Queens Boulevard

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After a brief tour of the new Queens Boulevard bike lane in front of the Razi School in Woodside Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio offered praise for the city Department of Transportation.

Just six months into the first phase of its $100 million Queens Boulevard Reconstruction project its new bike lanes were recognized as being among the best in the country by a national cycling group.

More importantly, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg produced a chart that showed there were no fatalities on Queens Boulevard in 2015 when the phase one redesign began, and just two in 2014 when the speed limit was lowered to 25 miles per hour.

The chart shows there were 185 fatalities on Queens Boulevard between 1990 and 2015 with a single-year high of 24 in 1993.

“When we talked about Vision Zero starting in 2014, one of the things we said in my team was we were not going to allow any street in this city to be called the Boulevard of Death anymore,” de Blasio said. “The notion that somehow that had been tolerated for years was absolutely unacceptable to us and it had to be changed. It had to become a boulevard of life.”

But one 25-year resident of Woodside has a different name in mind. Community advocate and safety consultant Bill Kregler believes that if changes are not made to the boulevard’s redesign plan, it will become known as the “Road to Ruin.”

During a walking tour with DOT officials and community leaders last week, Kregler handed Trottenberg a 35-page detailed report, complete with 116 photographs, that he authored. The report documents the deterioration of the service road driving lanes that have been neglected as construction of the bike lanes became the DOT’s priority.

“In their rush to create a commuter lane for cyclists, and removing travel lanes along one of the busiest roadways in the city for the first time, they’ve created a mess with potholes, cracking asphalt and sinking and collapsing of the service utility cover, because all that traffic is being forced into one overused lane,” Kregler said. “Since its implementation, vehicles have slowed to a crawl during the morning and evening rush hours, creating bottlenecks, and motorists peel off dangerously down our side streets, creating a safety hazard for our children and seniors. Woodside is getting the shaft here and it is becoming a dangerous situation.”

Kregler said Trottenberg did not seem to be pleased to receive his report, although a DOT spokesman confirmed it was being reviewed. Kregler is a former housing cop turned firefighter who went on to become a fire marshal and current president of the Fire Marshal’s Benevolent Association. He also spent 10 years on the Community Educational Council as a representative of the borough president.

Kregler emphasized that he believes in the bike lanes, but that their location was poorly conceived and this is affecting the quality of life along the boulevard in Woodside.

“I offered my services to the commissioner to walk with two union engineers, not managers, but they don’t want to do it,” Kregler said. “I may have ruffled some feathers, but the fact is they didn’t have to take away traffic lanes, they could have put the bike lanes by the sidewalk. It’s not too late to fix this design because nothing is permanent until they start pouring the concrete. Then it will be everyone’s problem as they move further east for Phase 2 and 3 beginning next year.”

Kregler is not alone as many residents spoke out against the project at a recent Community Board 2 meeting. The DOT is still conducting “very careful analysis” and tweaking the timing of lights to help traffic flow better.

“Certainly, Queens Boulevard has seen a big change,” Trottenberg said Tuesday. “I think a lot of people are still adjusting to some of the changes and one of the things we say in this project—it’s still in its operational phase, so we’re still working with the community board and elected officials.”

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

Updated 12:32 am, July 10, 2018
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Reader feedback

Steve from Rego Park says:
Kregler said:

“In their rush to create a commuter lane for cyclists, and removing travel lanes..."

No travel lanes were removed from Queens Boulevard. All that changed was that a wide buffer on the service roads were changed into space for walking and biking.

You can see the before and after here.

Given his understanding of the project, I'm not surprised DOT isn't exactly rushing to work with him.
Jan. 21, 2016, 9:37 am
David Lee from Woodside says:
The bike lanes are immaculate and the service lane for cars is a disaster.If lowering the speed limit reduced fatalities why do we need bike lanes? I see thousands of cars travel there everyday and not one bicyclist. To repave the service lane will require ripping up the bike lane and repainting them. What a waste of taxpayer money. The lane transitions are unsafe to motorists. The fatality comparison may be comparing apples to oranges. Queens Boulevard stretches from LIC to Jamaica. Bike lanes in Woodside are responsible for zero fatalities? Praise for Mr Kregler.
Jan. 21, 2016, 10:01 am
bikes do not belong from Queens says:
Sorry cars and pedestrians come first. Bikes should be used in parks and local streets only.
Jan. 21, 2016, 10:09 am
Rob from NY says:
Sounds like this guy is more concerned with moving cars than protecting lives.

Let's see how many deaths and injuries result from the new design, and then compare with past years. If more people are dying, then we can hire a new "safety consultant."
Jan. 21, 2016, 1:38 pm
Bill from Woodside says:
Regarding Steve from Rego Park Comment:

The area you are referring to is the left lane (east & west) of the service roadway that was striped over to condense (and congest) traffic into the right service lane. These were previously used car lanes. This was the true “Phase I” of the bike lane project by first taking away lanes of vehicle traffic under the ruse of “safety” in order to confiscate space for the bikes. To say that we didn't lose car lanes is not true.

This bike lane is not meant for leisurely bike riding of families but for bike commuters outside of Woodside (Rego Park, Forest Hills, Astoria, etc…). It was designed to be the most direct bike route in and out of Manhattan into Queens.

Elected/ appointed city officials and community leaders failed to realize the impact it would have on the commuters (including bus riders) and the residents of Woodside.

By the way, the tan colored buffer zone you are probably referring to is slated to be filled in with concrete to widen the traffic dividers between the main and service road. As you pointed out, this will be used by both pedestrians and bicyclists. The concentrating of pedestrians and bicyclists into these areas will most certainly increase accidents between them.

There are solutions and the space available to correct the problem and address all concerns. Yet there seems to be more of a mentality of “circling the wagons” by those responsible in hopes to weather the storm of criticism then have to acknowledge mistakes made in order to fix them.
Jan. 21, 2016, 2:20 pm
Bill from Woodside says:
In response to Rob from NY:

The accidents, injuries and deaths along Queens Boulevard are not the sole responsibility of car drivers. A closer review of all the factors including jaywalking (crossing against the traffic light, not crossing in crosswalks, crossing between cars or in the middle of the block instead of at the corners), inattentive pedestrians (cell phones), intoxication of both drivers and pedestrians, unlicensed drivers, etc.. would show a more complete and clearer picture on how these accidents occurred. To label this the Boulevard of Death in order to waste $100 million dollars for (at most) 100 bicyclists is wrong. Queens Boulevard should have a commuter bicycle lane, but not at the expense of everyone else.

We no longer have a rush hour problem on Queens Boulevard. We now have a rush day and rush evening problem that is affecting everyone who lives along or uses Queens Boulevard. To say that deaths along Queens Boulevard are decreasing because of the bike lanes is misleading. The reason for the decline is that vehicles are stuck in traffic most of the time. So deaths by vehicles will certainly decrease. What will increase are the accidents between pedestrians and bicyclists.

We can’t wait and see if this works out while wasting millions of dollars in the process. The problems can be fixed and concerns addressed now if those in charge are willing to see them.
Jan. 21, 2016, 2:53 pm
Bill from Woodside says:
Vote on this issue:
POLL: Do you like the bicycle lanes on Queens Blvd ...
Jan. 21, 2016, 3:53 pm
Guest from NYC says:
Public health should ALWAYS take precedence before travel time.

The he11 is wrong with some of you people!?

Queens Blvd is and always will be a jammed up mess so long as so many drivers from Queens and LI choose to utilize it. To solve congestion we need parking reform, toll balancing and congestion pricing. These bicycle lanes and other reconfigurations that improve safety have little to no impact of congestion.

Perhaps some of those drivers may now opt to ride along Queens Blvd instead, now that is substantially safer with physical separation at leas along the current implimentation. Even if mass transportation users switch modes, its beneficial because it increases capacity on buses and subways.

Anyway, don't confuse more orderly traffic for a slower commute time. Traffic lights, double parked vehicles and other realities ensure that you will always average less than the city speed limit of 25 MPH. Only now it may be harder to gun it between lights.
Jan. 21, 2016, 4:19 pm
Bill from Woodside says:
In response to Guest from NYC:

Would accumulation of fumes from rush hour idling car exhausts qualify as a health issue? If you are associating public health with vehicle-pedestrian accidents, then you need to dig deeper into the factors that contributed to the accidents.

People in this city prioritize their travel options when it comes to commuting. It is based on several factors (cost, time, effort, safety, etc…). To infer that Queens and Long Island drivers selfishly choose to drive is short sighted and baseless. To say that the bike lanes and re-configurations have little to no impact on congestion is totally false.

It is just wishful thinking on your part that drivers and mass transit commuters will switch to riding bikes to work. The fact is the added commuting time from the re-configurations has made public buses not a variable option anymore. More people will have to decide (not choose) to take their cars based on the added time. They won’t be riding bicycles.

To say that the added congestion, deteriorating road conditions and poor design is nothing more than “orderly traffic” shows total oblivion of the facts.

Why don’t you become a Guest of Woodside. This way you can gain valuable knowledge and experience in understand the issues and be able to present a competent opinion.
Jan. 21, 2016, 10:50 pm
AMH from Harlem says:
The long-term reconstruction of the street will solve the pavement problems. The placement of the lanes seems good for high-volume bike traffic, without conflicts from turning vehicles and pedestrian traffic. I'd wager that bike volumes will pick up significantly over time.
Jan. 22, 2016, 11:02 am
Bill from Woodside says:
In response to AMH from Harlem:

Do you wanna bet?
Jan. 24, 2016, 2:53 pm

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