Coming in June: New protected bike lanes, crosswalks, and expanded medians will come to Rego Park and Forest Hills
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that Queens Boulevard has seen zero fatalities since 2014, and New York City will further extend the redesign of Queens Boulevard beginning in June. After overwhelming approval by Queens Community Board 6 last week, DOT will add major safety improvements to the street - including new protected bike lanes, more crosswalks, and expanded medians -- through Rego Park and Forest Hills. Queens Boulevard, which had 22 traffic fatalities as recently as 1997, has not had a single traffic fatality in two and a half years, the same time DOT began the street’s conversion into a Vision Zero Priority Corridor.
“Queens Boulevard offers the best and most dramatic proof that our efforts at Vision Zero are working,” said Mayor de Blasio. “What was once a ‘Boulevard of Death’ is no longer -- as pedestrians, cyclists and motorists all have become accustomed to enjoying a more vital, welcoming and safe street. As changes come this year to Forest Hills and Rego Park, we thank Councilmember Karen Koslowitz for her leadership and Community Board Six for its recognition that a new Queens Boulevard is a win-win for all of the community’s businesses, children and seniors.”
Last week, Community Board Six in Forest Hills voted overwhelmingly, by a 34-3 margin, to support DOT’s plan for a third phase of Queens Boulevard redesign, for the 1.3-mile portion of the street between Eliot Avenue and Yellowstone Boulevard. In the first two phases, DOT transformed 2.5 miles of Queens Boulevard through Woodside and Elmhurst. In addition to the absence of fatalities, DOT statistics show that since work began, crashes in the Phase 1 corridor have declined by 14 percent, with pedestrian injuries down by 49 percent and cyclist injuries down by 42 percent, yet cycling increased by 120%.
All of DOT’s changes to Queens Boulevard will cost approximately $4 million. Starting next year, the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) will begin major capital work -- for which the de Blasio Administration has committed $255 million – to transform the boulevard, making all three phases permanent, including by widening medians and adding new amenities like trees, landscaping and benches.
The Mayor also cited the latest Vision Zero fatality statistics for 2017. Year-to-date, New York City has seen 69 traffic fatalities in 2017, compared to 78 by this date in 2016 – a 12 percent decline. The number of pedestrians struck and killed has gone from 46 in 2016 to 38 in 2017, a 17 percent decline.
“The transformation of Queens Boulevard is among the greatest achievements of the Vision Zero era,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “In just a few years, what was once a forbidding highway-like street bisecting communities has started to become a grand and welcoming boulevard worthy of Queens. But we have much more to do -- and so we gratefully acknowledge Council member Koslowitz and Community Board Six for embracing the next phase of these exciting changes.”
“DDC is working in every borough to improve safety for pedestrians, motorists, and bicyclists alike,” said DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora. “Vision Zero is a great success and DDC is proud to be a significant part of it through our work on Queens Boulevard, and other Great Streets projects such as Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and the Grand Concourse in the Bronx. We will continue to create projects that realize Mayor de Blasio’s vision for a healthier, more resilient, and more equitable New York.”
About Vision Zero
In January 2017, after three successive years of declines in traffic fatalities, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced New York City would make an additional $400 million investment in Vision Zero – for a total of $1.6 billion over the next five years. DOT is implementing its most aggressive street redesign safety program, an increased investment in street redesign and traffic-calming measures citywide. Other Vision Zero changes announced by the Mayor include ensuring NYPD crossing guards at every post, faster replacement of street markings, intersection upgrades in the bike-lane network, more left-turn calming efforts, brighter lighting and more equipment at each police precinct to catch speeding.
For more information about the de Blasio Administration’s Vision Zero initiative, please see www.nyc.gov/visionzero