While the city have been making improvements to Queens Boulevard in Woodside and Elmhurst since 2015, it will begin work on the area between Eliot Avenue and Yellowstone Boulevard in June.
Work between Yellowstone Boulevard and Union Turnpike will be completed at a later date.
“It’s the right decision,” said Peter Beadle, a member of Community Board 6 and the Transportation Alternatives Queens Activist Committee.
The DOT’s plan will add a protected bike lane and pedestrian path, as well as expand pedestrian space near busy intersections. The plan will also incorporate stop-controlled slip lanes, mall-to-mall crossings and median tip extensions.
With the installation of the bike lane and pedestrian path, the DOT said there will be an elimination of 198 parking spaces along the service road.
Beadle, who cycles and drives a car, said that while he understands the difficulty of driving and finding parking in the neighborhood, the new changes will be good for the community.
To deal with a growing population in an increasingly dense neighborhood, people must have more options for transportation, he said.
“Not everybody can bike, but there are people who can,” Beadle said. “If you can move those people out of their cars and bus seats to bikes, then you create a circumstance where someone else can move from a car to a bus, and that creates more room on the streets so we can deal with this growing population.”
He had a question for those worried about the loss of parking space.
“I mean this honestly, not accusatory, but when people argue about losing their parking, I have to ask them, what is the price for making that road safer?” Beadle asked.
“That’s really what’s at stake,” he continued. “We know it works, we have the data. This is not pie in the sky.”
Indeed, the first phase of the Queens Boulevard redesign shows how there have been fewer injuries and accidents.
The findings from a one-year analysis conducted by the NYPD in 2016 shows that the stretch of Queens Boulevard from 73rd Street to Roosevelt Avenue saw a 42 percent drop in cyclist injuries. Additionally, pedestrian injuries decreased by 49 percent.
Queens Boulevard between Eliot Avenue and Yellowstone Boulevard has seen it’s share of accidents. According to safety data provided by DOT, there have been 458 injuries between 2010 and 2014, including one death.
There were 101 injuries reported at the intersection of Queens Boulevard and 63rd Drive alone, making it the most crash-prone intersection. Furthermore, there were 71 injuries reported on Yellowstone Boulevard and 60 injuries near 62nd Drive.
The redesign will also include several gravel curb extensions to realign crosswalks to create safer turns and improve visibility of pedestrians. With the expanded medians, there’s also the potential for linear parks in the future.
With new developments and an increasing population, Beadle argued that the new design will improve the quality of life for residents.
“It’s a changing demographic and we need to figure out what the vision is going forward so that we can change with the neighborhood,” Beadle said. “To not pretend that things always get to stay the same, but to take control and adjust to the changing times.”