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The Northern Boulevard Protected Bike Lane Celebration Ride

Despite the chill, nearly 75 people turned out Sunday to celebrate the new protected bike lane on Northern Boulevard connecting to the popular path known as Joe Michaels Mile in Eastern Queens.

This NYC DOT project added a two-way, concrete-protected bikeway to a high-speed section of Northern Boulevard that's frequently used by parents, kids, and commuters. The ride followed an eight-mile loop of bike lanes, some of which are still in the process of being installed by DOT.

Project opponents upset about the conversion of a car lane to make room for the bikeway have enlisted State Senator Tony Avella to help gin up negative press about it, claiming that the street is now more dangerous.

But people were getting maimed and killed in traffic before this bike lane was added. The impetus for the project was the 2016 death of Michael Schenkman, 78, who was riding on Northern Boulevard to get to Joe Michaels Mile for his daily exercise when a driver struck and killed him. Neighborhood residents and businesses are grateful DOT followed through and made this key connection on Northern Boulevard safer for biking and walking.

Clarence Eckerson Jr. has been making fantastical transportation media in NYC since the late 1990s. He's never had a driver's license and never will.

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  • gneiss

    It's important to point out to local media outlets that VisionZero design doesn't necessarily mean that there will be fewer car crashes. Instead, the overriding design principle is that fewer people will have serious life changing injuries and deaths.

    If there are more "accidents" where drivers are caught on the concrete barriers, that's not necessarily a bad thing if they aren't getting seriously injured. It should serve as a lesson to all the other drivers that they need to pay more attention to their surroundings and drive more slowly. We should not be in the business of facilitating fast attention free travel by motorists. They should instead be slowing down and keeping a close lookout instead.

  • http://www.streetfilms.org/ Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    It's still amazing how fast the drivers are going with one less lane. Maybe a smidgen slower, but still 40-50 mph most of the time. Crazy.

  • van_vlissingen

    Thanks for coming out and sharing our joy and success.

  • Driver

    Great film and props to Peak Bikes, they run a great shop.

  • Lameist

    Those 2 way lanes are not ample enough. One day there is going to be a hassle there between bikers going in opposite directions. And if anyone thinks bikers aren't as volatile as reckless drivers, you are super naive.

    Those concrete barriers are road hazards too. The city could have put a shared bike and pedestrian lane on the sidewalks there. Cross Bay Blvd in Gateway Park has that.

  • AnoNYC

    Those concrete barriers are only hazardous if you are not paying attention or driving in a reckless manner.

    If bicyclists volumes increase than modifications can occur.

  • Joe R.

    A shared bike and pedestrian lane is an even better way to cause hassle to both cyclists and pedestrians. Those were all the vogue in the 1950s when planners thought cyclists were just slightly faster pedestrians. Now we realize unless volumes of both cyclists and pedestrians are very low shared lanes just don't work.

    The concrete barriers aren't a road hazard unless you're driving with gauze over your eyes. I fail to see how any driver could miss them unless they're going way too fast, or just aren't looking.

  • Lameist

    There were accidents because there were no signs ahead like "road narrows".

    Queensbridge has a bike/pedestrian lane, It would be better if they were on both sides though. As I mentioned, Crossbay blvd has the same too although it's not indicated by symbols, but people should know which lane in the direction they choose to go.

    Judging by the way these barriers are placed, it looks like anyone can hit them even by driving cautiously. The city really overreacted with these lanes because a man tragically died in the area. What needs to be done is more surveillance and enforcement to prevent reckless driving.

  • Lameist

    The only possible modification would be to cut a lane on the road, this will exacerbate the problem.

  • http://www.streetfilms.org/ Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    It is a little bit tight if two cyclists are passing opposite directions going full speed, but ten times less dangerous than it was before, there is plenty of room for negotiation at the levels of ridership now. It'll be fine. If we start having THAT many cyclists 5-10 years from now we can try to get more changes. The city couldn't have done that on the sidewalk, there are narrow spots there and there are width issues. Let the peds now have the sidewalk, they'll feel even safer now.

  • https://twitter.com/aunt_bike Aunt Bike

    A ride over the Brooklyn or Manhattan Bridges, or the East or West Side Greenways, will show you how adept and skillful cyclists manage two way lanes, even with oblivious pedestrians wandering into them.

    Anybody who goes out and actually observes what goes on and comes away thinking cyclists are as volitile as reckless drivers, and manage to avoid more conflict than drivers, is being willfully obtuse and ignorant.

    How have the cyclists on Northern Blvd avoided hitting the concrete barriers the motor vehicle drivers have hit and in at least one case, hit fast and hard enough to mount?


  • https://twitter.com/aunt_bike Aunt Bike

    The only problem seems to be drivers hitting concrete barriers, and I suspect it's more an issue of inattentive driving than anything else.

  • Joe R.

    So to me the solution is to put in a warning sign, not redo the entire bike path into something which is arguably inferior, like a shared path. That would be dangerous for pedestrians, especially given the fact part of this path is on a long downhill where cyclists will build up lots of speed. Better to separate cyclists and pedestrians completely, as this design does.

    Roads narrowing are commonplace. It's not like this is the first time in their lives drivers have encountered this.