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Posts tagged "Queens"

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Marching With a Message: Fix the Missing Link in the Most Important Bike Route in Queens

The St. Pats for All Parade is a wonderful, upbeat celebration of inclusion on Skillman Avenue in Woodside, Queens. The Queens Committee of Transportation Alternatives has participated since the parade's inception, and this year, they marched to renew their call for protected bike lanes on Skillman and 43rd Avenue.

The two streets are an important bicycle link to the Queensboro Bridge, but they're not safe. Last year, a driver struck and killed Gelacio Reyes as he biked home on 43rd Avenue from his delivery job in Manhattan. There's a DOT plan on the table to upgrade Skillman and 43rd with protected bike lanes, but momentum has stalled since it was first presented last fall.

With these protected bike lanes in the place, there would be a safe bicycle route connecting many neighborhoods along Queens Boulevard to the bridge. Queens residents are calling on Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer to advance the project.

The contingent of nearly 50 people marching for a safer Skillman and 43rd Avenue was one of the biggest of the 90 groups in the parade, getting lots of cheers and good vibes from the crowd.

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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.

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Tour the Safer 111th Street With People Who Fought 3 Years to Make It Happen

For people who live west of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the only way to walk or bike there is to cross 111th Street. But until recently, getting across this street was a death-defying risk, especially for parents with young kids.

The old 111th Street had five travel lanes and two parking lanes, forcing people to scramble across a wide street with rampant speeding to get to and from the park. Most people on bikes chose to ride on the sidewalk instead of mixing it up with motor vehicle traffic.

In 2014, a coalition of Corona groups banded together for safer biking and walking access to the park. Working with Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, advocates from Immigrant Movement International, Make the Road New York, and Transportation Alternatives pushed for a redesign that would narrow the pedestrian crossings and install a two-way protected bike lane.

Three years later, Mayor de Blasio finally gave the green light to DOT’s safety overhaul of 111th Street. It was the culmination of relentless advocacy by local residents, including the newly-formed collective Mujeres en Movimiento, who had to overcome opposition from local power brokers like Queens Community Board 4 transportation co-chair James Lisa and Assembly Member Francisco Moya.

With DOT crews wrapping up work on the 111th Street project, local residents went for a celebratory ride last week. Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson was there and put together this video tour of the redesigned street and retrospective of the three-year advocacy campaign to make this project happen. Congratulations to everyone involved on a hard-fought victory for safe walking and biking in the neighborhood.

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Just a Great Big Pile of August Kudos for NYC DOT

NYC DOT is on a very productive roll recently with many innovative projects going on in New York City. I guess this is my way of saying thanks.

I was away when NYC DOT officially debuted the new shared space (5 mph) street on Broadway near Madison Square Park. So I decided to get a quick look on Friday and, well, it works extremely well for NYC's big foray in to a new kind of street design! It'll be interesting to see where they might try this in the next few years. (And of a quick reference, check out this nearly ancient Streetfilm from when Madison Square Plaza was first created back in 2010!)

Another debut I missed due to travel was the fantastic two blocks on Broadway that have been transformed into car-free urban oases. It's called the Garment District Urban Garden and has been in the ground for nearly two months. I don't know why it took me so long to get over there (maybe because Broadway's eventual foregone destiny is to be car-free?) but the installation ends on September 1st. So get your posterior over there to see it. Lunchtime is fantastic!

To many, this green-paint-delineated, Queens Boulevard bridge path over the Sunnyside rail yards might night seem like a really big deal, but for those of us who ride it we've been made very, very happy. It's been many years coming and now that it is properly marked with #freshkermit, pedestrians are sticking to their posted side making the riding experience much less frustrating and smooth. For reference: if you are not familiar - this section is a direct link to the Queensboro (NOT Ed Koch!) Bridge ped-bike path. See some history on that here via this short Streetfilm!

And finally NYC DOT's amazing Summer Streets continues! An event I have never missed getting out to and enjoying since 2008! (Even being in tremendous pain for 2011 and 2012 following a hip injury due to a car crash and resulting surgery, blood clot and compartment syndrome!) We've even brought my son each year since he was born.

The above compliation is really just the result of cruising down on my way to another shoot. I picked up about 20 shots and threw together this montage for future b-roll use, so figured why not share! The only suggestion I have is one I have every year: there needs to be more events and the course needs to be significantly lengthened. It's popular! It's getting ridiculously crowded at some bottlenecks. I hope Commissioner Trottenberg can give us something even more great in 2018!

screenshot989

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NYC 4-Boro Protected Bike Lane Ride

I've been riding a bike in NYC for more than 25 years. When I started, there wasn't much in the way of good bike infrastructure, but in that time I've watched the bike network expand and slowly get safer.

With recent bike lane additions and enhancements on Jay Street, Chrystie Street, and First Avenue, NYC DOT has pointed out that you can now ride on protected bike lanes almost continuously from Brooklyn to the Bronx. Connecting to other segments of protected bike lanes, with just a few blocks exposed to traffic, you can do enjoyable, low-stress rides of 10, 20, 25 miles on city streets.

So I pitched the good folks at Transportation Alternatives about doing a small group ride from Brooklyn to Manhattan to the Bronx to Randall's Island to Queens and back to Brooklyn -- about 25 miles. After sketching it out, we estimated that 97 percent of the ride could be done on protected lanes, car-free bridge paths, and greenways.

Of course, New York still has a long way to go to make cycling safe for all ages and abilities throughout the city. But we are on our way. As recently as 10 years ago, I can remember the huge advocacy effort that went into gaining two meager strips of white paint for bike lanes here or there. Now we are building up to a useable network.

So come along for the ride, get a good look at the protected bikeways and bridge paths along our route, and meet some of the volunteers who've been working hard to make biking better in New York City. As the soundtrack (which the great Eric Bazilian and Mats Wester generously gave permission to use) goes, "That's a good thing!"

Also, if you want to see the details of all the turns in this journey, I compiled this map.

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#Sneckdowns Before and After: The Final Storm

After a decade of documenting nature's traffic calming, I decided to go out to the snowy streets of Jackson Heights for one final Streetfilm about the craze we helped start: sneckdowns! There's a new wrinkle in this installment -- before-and-after images to show how dramatically the snow changes the dynamic of the street.

If you're new to sneckdowns, it's a portmanteau of "snow" and "neckdown" (a technical term for a corner sidewalk expansion). A nice snowfall constrains the area where motorists take turns and provides clear visual evidence of where street space can be repurposed for walking instead of driving, creating much safer intersections in the process.

Sneckdown spotting is now a global phenomenon. To get a sense of how it all started, you may want to check out the first two Streetfilms in the series:

And the rest is history -- which I recapped in this post from 2014.

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NYC Buses: Time for a Turnaround

New Yorkers take 2.5 million rides on the city's buses every day. While NYC's buses provide essential transit, especially in areas beyond the reach of the subway, they are among the nation's slowest and least reliable.

Now a coalition of transit advocates are promoting practical strategies to improve the performance of NYC buses systemwide.

Transit advocates knew something was wrong when they observed declining bus ridership despite increasing population, a growing economy, and record-high subway ridership. To figure out what could be done about it, they spoke to industry experts and researched successful efforts in peer cities to identify common sense solutions to NYC's bus problems. This research is summarized in their report "Turnaround: Fixing New York City's Buses".

The bus system faces big challenges, but these challenges have clear, proven solutions. By transforming how riders get on and off the bus, designing streets to prioritize buses, adopting better methods to keep buses on schedule, and redesigning the bus network and routes, policy makers in city government and the MTA can turn around the decline of the city's buses and attract riders back to the system.

We'll get to see how serious public officials are about tackling these problems on October 6, when the City Council transportation committee holds an oversight hearing on how to improve the quality of NYC bus service.

This Streetfilm was produced in partnership with TransitCenter, the second in a series of four films examining transit in American cities. If you enjoyed this one, check out the first film, "High Frequency: Why Houston is Back on the Bus."

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Street Transformations – Queensboro Bridge North Plaza Bike Lane (2000-2016 Timeline)

I edited together this montage on a whim to show a timeline on the progress on the Queensboro Bridge bike/ped path from 2000 to 2016 - just to see how much interest out there is in biking New York City history.
If this proves popular, there are dozens of spaces in New York City that have seen similar changes. I could put together many similar inspirational shorts since I've been documenting NYC streets since the late 1990s. So please let me know if you enjoy this.
The entire 20+ year fight from advocates from Transportation Alternatives and other groups to get dedicated space on the Queensboro bridge is the stuff of legend, but it require far more than the 2 minutes I have devoted here.

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Why are New Yorkers bicycling to work in record numbers?

Today is Bike To Work Day in NYC. And as usual Transportation Alternatives was out hosting some fueling stations in the morning.

We thought with the newest NYC DOT data showing bicycling at an all-time high, it would be great time to ask bicyclists why they are riding their bikes more. Interestingly, the answers seemed to fall in three distinct categories: it is safer, it is healthy and MTA is falling apart.

But don’t take our word for it, listen to what your fellow city riders told us.

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In Queens: 111 Moms Shut Down 111th Street for 111 Seconds

On the day before Mother's Day in Queens, 111 moms (and plenty of other supporters) angry that their Community Board (Queens, CB 4) has failed to even vote on a NYC DOT proposal that would add protected bike lanes, wide crosswalks and a road diet by completely re-designing 111th Street showed up for an act of civil disobedience to shut down the street to motorists and let their feelings be known.

Council member Julissa Ferreras has allocated $2.7 million dollars to the revamp of the road, which was last majorly designed for the Worlds Fair. The road features extremely wide driving lanes which leads to speeding and has been missing crosswalks at most crossing points, even though it is a popular commuting route for cyclists and for pedestrians going to Flushing Meadows Corona Park.  Here's another video we did showing just how scary it is to cross: https://vimeo.com/132055092

The group was led by Mujeres en Movimiento and many groups combined to make it happen including Make the Road, Transportation Alternatives, Make Queens Safer, Immigrant Movement International and Queens Bike Initiative.

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The Pulaski Bridge Protected Bike Path Is (Finally) Open!

Today was a milestone for traveling between Brooklyn and Queens, as NYC DOT opened the Pulaski Bridge bike path to lots of cheers with a celebratory ride.

Before today, the Pulaski Bridge walking and biking path was dangerously congested, with more pedestrians and cyclists crammed on to its narrow right-of-way every year. The solution? Convert one lane of the roadway to a two-way bike lane, making the original path exclusively for walking. Read up on the project in Streetsblog's coverage of the grand opening.

If a lane of the Pulaski can be taken from cars and given to active transportation, the same can be done on other bridges. One place I'd love to see NYC DOT tackle next? The insanely crowded bike-pedestrian path on the Brooklyn Bridge is begging for a solution like this.

 

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Peatónito in NYC: Protecting Pedestrians in the Crosswalk

Peatónito ("little pedestrian") might be the most beloved figure in the world of street safety. How can you not love a superhero who protects pedestrians from cars?! Since donning the cape and luchador mask three years ago, he's become a media sensation in Mexico. This week he's in New York City for Transportation Alternatives' Vision Zero for Cities 2016 conference, and Streetfilms was lucky enough to squeeze in this exclusive whirlwind walking tour of Brooklyn and Queens streets showing him in action.

Jorge Canez, the man behind the mask, has been a pedestrian advocate in Mexico City for quite a while. He's been involved with many tactical urbanism-type of interventions, like painting crosswalks with his own spray can. As Peatónito, he's attained a new level of fame for gently scolding drivers, escorting pedestrians though dicey intersections, and pushing cars (or occasionally walking over the tops of cars) to make motorists more aware of their transgressions.

Come along for a fun short as Peatónito hits the intimidating streets near Brooklyn's Barclays Center, the constantly blocked bike lanes on Jay Street by MetroTech, and crosswalks in Jackson Heights, Queens, helping children walk to school.

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The Transformation of Queens Boulevard, Block By Block

For many years, New York City's Queens Boulevard was known as the "Boulevard of Death." The street cuts through the heart of the Queens, expanding at some points to a chaotic 12 to 16 lanes of traffic -- which makes it extremely dangerous for human beings. From 2003 to 2013, 38 pedestrians and cyclists were killed and 450 suffered severe injuries.

Last year, the New York City DOT announced a $100 million dollar commitment from the de Blasio administration to humanize Queens Boulevard and make it safer, a flagship project in the city's Vision Zero initiative. Instead of waiting until the planned permanent reconstruction in 2018 to make any changes, DOT wanted to build in safety improvements immediately. After holding public workshops with communities along the corridor, 1.3 miles of Queens Boulevard have been redesigned, and the changes are already making a huge difference.

If you're an urban planner, transportation engineer, or advocate wondering just what can be done with what seems to be an irredeemably messed up street, then this is the Streetfilm for you. We got an exclusive tour of the changes with NYC DOT Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo, going block-by-block over the creative solutions the DOT team implemented. Queens Boulevard is as complicated a roadway as there is: Nearly every block is different. To add a functional bike lane and pedestrian mall seemed highly unlikely. Yet here it is.

I'll admit, I'm especially excited about this project since I've lived near Queens Boulevard for years. I was skeptical when the announcement was made that I would see any truly life-altering change, and even if the city pulled it off, it would take years and years. But the installation has been swift and extremely well thought out. The service road is noticeably slower, narrower, and easier to navigate for people walking or biking. So much so that I was motivated to document the transformation with this Streetfilm, which I hope will be a learning tool that people can put to use in their communities. If you can put a good protected bike lane on Queens Boulevard, then just about any street in America should be in play.

In 2015, no one was killed on Queens Boulevard.

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The Queens Boulevard Protected Bike Lane Celebration Ride

If Queens Boulevard can get a protected bike lane, you can probably put one on almost any street in the country.

Yesterday, the Transportation Alternatives Queens Committee hosted the first of what it hopes are many celebratory bike rides down Queens Boulevard, trying out the first 10 blocks of the bike lane installed this month by NYC DOT. When complete, this project will run 1.3 miles from Roosevelt Avenue to 73rd Street. It’s the first phase in what the city has promised will be a thorough overhaul of the “Boulevard of Death,” which is also the most direct east-west route in the borough.

Over the years, many lives have been lost on Queens Boulevard. I spoke to riders yesterday about all the hard work that volunteers and advocates put it in to make this bike lane happen.

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Documenting Dangerous Streets: Crossing 111th Street, Queens

As you know, in this space I am always trying to find ways to inspire and change our streets for the better, which means giving you tools or film ideas to use in your community. Of late I've been doing some documentation using my GoPro and have been pleasantly surprised at how incredibly educational the footage can be.

Here in NYC, there has been an intrepid battle fought by many groups and Queens leaders to improve 111th Street, a dangerous speedway to cross for pedestrians and cyclists. In April, NYC DOT, working from results of a Vision Zero workshop spearheaded by Make the Road and Transportation Alternatives, presented to Queens Community Board 4 a smart proposal to put 111th Street on a road diet, add a two-way bike lane, and make the pedestrian crossings safer for the copious numbers of families, children and seniors going to Flushing-Corona Park & The Hall of Science.

111th_street_plan

But some members of CB4 are pushing back, including NYS Assembly Member Francisco Moya, who “has expressed that he will do everything to block this project,” according to Julissa Ferreras, the council member who endorses the NYC DOT plan and has allocated $2.7 million in capital funding to make it happen. (The above graphic is the proposed new road alignment from NYC DOT.)

IMG_0346So last weekend I decided to go out, strap a GoPro to my head and provide some running commentary in an attempt to show people just how dangerous it is to cross 111th! I'm in that area frequently, and as an adult it is very scary. And now while sitting back and editing the footage I can't believe how much I was jerking my head around to constantly monitor the traffic. In fact, I've ridden with the GoPro on my head while bicycling all over the city and I have never seen footage quite like that (which admittedly might make some a little queasy.)

I'm hoping as the community gears up to further debate this plan, this footage will come in handy. The most amazing thing is that I only recorded about 15 minutes before my battery died, now I've been thinking about what the footage would be like on a more busy, perilous day.  Based upon how the next CB4 meeting goes. I'm pondering making a full film on the dangers of 111th Street if the plan continues to be blocked. CB4 Residents deserve better.

Wherever you are, documentation is the irrefutable key to getting real change on your streets. Go out and make it happen!