Nov. 15, 2021 By Max Parrott
Bike advocates and elected officials celebrated the completion of the final phase of the Department of Transportation’s Queens Boulevard redesign on Sunday.
The event showcased the results of a decade-long advocacy push to redesign the stretch— commonly referred to as the “Boulevard of Death” — into roadway that now includes protected bike lanes, a series of pedestrian paths and improved crosswalks from Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside to Union Turnpike in Kew Gardens.
The achievement, however, is not the end of the push from street safety advocates Transportation Alternatives. Senior Organizer Juan Restrepo told the Queens Post that the group will now focus on extending the Queens Boulevard redesign all the way to the southeast end by Jamaica Avenue.
“With two recent fatalities on Queens Boulevard east of where safety improvements have been made, we hope Mayor-elect Adams will look at extending this project to its original endpoint, Jamaica Avenue in Jamaica, Queens.” said Restrepo.
Restrepo said the idea for the Jamaica endpoint came from an earlier and broader version of the Queens Boulevard bike lane plan that the DOT had put together years ago.
“Southeast Queens [is] essentially a bike desert. For us, if we’re talking about an equitable version of the Queens Boulevard plan that makes it safe for everyone to use, it would include a connection going east of the current endpoint,” Restrepo said.
The celebration Sunday began with a bike ride from Sunnyside to Queens Borough Hall along the redesigned boulevard, and brought out state Sen. John Liu, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, and councilmember-elects Lynn Schulman, Shekar Krishnan and Julie Won.
Once at borough hall, the riders gathered with Lizi Rahman, whose son Asif was killed by a truck driver while riding his bike on the boulevard in 2008, to mark the occasion. Transportation Alternatives has called on the city to co-name a street on Queens Boulevard in memory of Rahman.
“Many years after Asif Rahman was killed on Queens Boulevard, cementing its notoriety as the Boulevard of Death, the grief and pain is still felt by his family and community,” said Liu in a statement.
“We honor his memory with the completion of this bike lane, an important milestone in the continuing transformation of Queens Boulevard into a boulevard of life, and look forward to seeing more improvements and reconstruction of other thoroughfares into more human-friendly zones,” Liu added.
Restrepo said the milestone provided a joyous moment to reflect on the accomplishments under the de Blasio and Bloomberg administrations, and consider what the future holds.
The Queens Boulevard redesign also connects to the protected bicycle lanes on Skillman Avenue and 43rd Avenue that were constructed in 2018 and takes bicyclists to the Queensboro Bridge. This redesign was a significant victory for the group too.
“There were definitely a lot of good vibes in the air,” said Restrepo. “It’s good to have these moments where we can come celebrate something we achieved before the pandemic, through the pandemic.”