Monday, June 29, 2015

"Steal" These Ideas to Improve Bicycling in Council District 23

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    I've met two of the candidates in the race, and I look forward to speaking with the others soon. The two I've met with (Barry & Ali) want to improve cycling in the area. District 23 actually has a lot of cyclists, and interestingly, it seems many use their bicycles for recreation as opposed to travel and for daily errands.

Big Capital Projects: The following projects have the potential to greatly improve the quality of life for District 23 residents.


    Make Funding the Motor Parkway East Proposal a Priority: The Motor Parkway East project would use government property to connect the 3 miles of greenway in Queens with the massive 40 mile Motor Parkway Trail project in Nassau. This greenway would essentially create an east-west emerald ribbon that connects parks, schools, tourist destinations, and business districts, with will increase the quality of life for everyone in District 23. Right now our council district is cut in two by Creedmoor Hospital and the Cross Island Parkway, making crossing this facility easier for both pedestrians and bicyclists will increase the quality of life for everyone who lives in the district. Since this a relatively short greenway and requires the acquisition of no land, it can be built rapidly.

    Work With NYC Department of Transportation to Plan and Build The Southern Queens Greenway: The Southern Queens Greenway is an ambitious proposal to build a greenway along the Cross Island Parkway—think Joe Michaels’ Mile but the entire length of the Belt Parkway system.

    Improve Access to Joe Michael’s Mile: Joe Michael’s Mile is technically outside of the district but it is a destination for many cyclists who live here and is just outside the district's borders. A 3 mile long greenway that sits between the Cross Island and Little Neck Bay getting to this greenway is an experience (Northern Boulevard has cars speeding along at 40 MPH, there are 4 on/off ramps for the Cross Island Parkway here and cyclists and pedestrians have to contend with it all) any improvement to make crossing this street more pedestrian and bike friendly will connect our communities better.

Quick fixes: The following fixes can be made rapidly in the district and would cost relatively less money than the big capital projects.


    Install more bike parking in the district: This would allow more people to come and park their bikes while making a quick stop into a grocery store etc. In most cases it can be done with no impact on street parking for cars.

    Complete The 73rd Avenue Bike Lane: Currently the bike lane ends abruptly at 73rd Ave & 199th St. And there's no indication of what one should do from that point forward.
  • Extend the 73rd Avenue Bike Lane east 1.6 miles to 230th Street: The extension of the lanes would provide a backup route for the Motor Parkway when the park is closed after dark and during times when the snow has not yet been cleared on the path.
  • Install Wayfinding Signs at 199th St: Signs would indicate that cyclists could turn south to access the Motor Parkway at 75th Avenue & 199th Street.
At 73rd Avenue & 199th Street the bike lane ends abruptly

    Improve the experience of Getting to the Cunningham Mountain Biking Trails: Cunningham Park is a destination for Mountain Bikers across the region—a lot of parents bring their kids to the trails by car—simply putting a parking-protected bike lane along the eastern edge of Cunningham from the Motor Parkway north to the trails would encourage more cyclists to ride to the trails. It could also beautify and soften the hard edge of the street by adding plantings.

Improve The Safety of People Who Use The Motor Parkway in Fresh Meadows:







  • Paint a crosswalk and install a sidewalk bulb-out at 75th Avenue & 199th Street: (see the crossing as it is now on the right) would tremendously improve visibility for pedestrians and cyclists entering and leaving the Motor Parkway. Sidewalk bulb-outs push the sidewalk into the parking area and make crossing pedestrians more visible to drivers (see the pic on the bottom right). It would also be a beautiful entrance to Fresh Meadows.
  • Work With the Parks Department To Redesign the Trail between the Clearview Expressway and Francis Lewis Blvd: Currently, the trail narrows west of the Clearview‡.  The trail is too close to the softball fields, and runners and cyclists often have to contend with spectators and children walking unawares onto the trail. This can be dangerous for all. Widening the path, moving the softball fields a few yards north and west or moving the trail south to connect with the remains of the old Motor Parkway roadbed are all ways to improve safety and the park experience for all. ‡(If you're interested, this is because the when the Clearview was built, it cut the Motor Parkway in two; the section east of the Clearview remained as a trail, but west, they had to reroute under the Clearview. The western section is still there, but is no longer used as a trail.)

    The 75th Ave/199th St Motor Parkway Exit                
    (From: Google Street View)



    A bulb out / mid-block crossing in San Francisco.                

    Install Trail Maps & Wayfinding signs: If greenways are truly going to help drive business in district 23, then folks using these facilities need places to check in and see where they are and what’s nearby. The Motor Parkway, Joe Michael’s Mile, etc would be good places to start. At greenways across the country, this is standard practice but this has not yet caught on in New York. Below, you can see two examples one from Massachusetts (showing nearby places to eat, bike shops, and a visitor center), the other from Ohio (showing a general trail map).

Greenway sign indicating nearby shopping & restaurants

A Greenway Trail Map
(From Ohio Bikeways)


    Paint New Bike Routes: There are several ways to go east/west in district 23, but only Winchester and Commonwealth allow safe north/south pathways.
  • Plan & paint a new North/South Bike Route: There are several ways to go east/west in district 23, but only Winchester and Commonwealth allow safe north/south pathways. That means you have travel far to the east to go south, a bike lane on either Francis Lewis Boulevard through Cunningham Park would allow faster north/south travel. Additionally, a bike lane on Bell Boulevard (or alternatively, on Corporal Kennedy & Oceania) would allow more to come and enjoy Bayside without using a car - perhaps relieving some of the parking congestion in the area.
  • Plan & paint new bike routes in Queens Village: There are a lot of ways to get around North of Union Turnpike but south of Union there aren’t very many bike lanes. For example, a 90th Ave Bike Lane between Braddock Avenue and Francis Lewis Boulevard would provide a great east/west bike route

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