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DOT Celebrates Completion of Northern Boulevard Bike Lanes, Releases Bike Safety Study

The protected cycle path on Boulevard du Nord. Protected cycle paths are painted green and are separated from vehicular traffic by an open space, vertical boundary or barrier (Photo: DOT)

October 21, 2021 By Max Parrott

The city’s Department of Transportation on Wednesday marked the completion of 4 miles of protected cycle lanes on Boulevard du Nord with the publication of a bicycle safety study that touts the benefits of protected and painted cycle lanes.

The new study, titled “Safe Streets for Cycling: How Street Design Affects Bicycle Safety and Ridership” used crash data over the past three years to find that protected bicycle lanes reduce the risk of injury by 34% and that painted / conventional lanes reduce risk by 32 percent city-wide.

In Queens, however, protected cycle lanes added an even higher level of protection than the city average, reducing risk by 40%. In the streets most at risk, the risk of cycling is reduced by more than 60% throughout the city, according to the study.

DOT commissioner Hank Gutman released the report while touring the protected cycle paths along Northern Boulevard that the agency recently completed.

The Boulevard has become a priority due to its death and serious injury rate which has ranked it among the top 10 percent of Queens’ most dangerous corridors. Between 2014 and 2018, the section of the boulevard stretching from 41st Avenue in Long Island City to 60th Street and Broadway in Woodside killed three people.

In assessing the difference between painted and protected cycle lanes, the city does not limit the definition of protection to a physical barrier, but includes all lanes that are “separated from motor vehicle traffic by an open space, a delineation. vertical or barrier ”, as reported by Streetsblog. Cycling advocates have often criticized the definition as being too vague.

Conventional / painted cycle lanes (pictured) were in place on 43rd Avenue in Sunnyside before DOT turned them into protected lanes (DOT 2018)

The DOT concluded from the report that “conventional cycle paths”, those delineated by paint, are “crucial for the safety of the cycle path network”.

He described protected lanes as the “backbone” of the cycling network, which can take root in wider or one-way streets, while painted lanes “feed this network into slower, narrower local streets.”

“Our data-driven approach to Vision Zero means we can intelligently allocate our resources and target our street redevelopments for maximum efficiency,” Gutman said in a statement. “While this point may seem redundant, data is essential for effective governance, and we can now say with scientific precision that all kinds of bike lanes both make the streets safer and encourage more cyclists to ride.”

To measure cycling risk, the study used the number of cyclist injuries per mile divided by the volume of cyclists.

In September 2020, the DOT accelerated a plan to add temporary protected bike lanes along Northern Boulevard and Broadway in Astoria and Woodside. The completed lanes of Boulevard du Nord, located curbside on both sides of the street, were covered in green kermit paint and separated by flexible plastic poles in some places and kwik curb barriers in others.

The press event brought together representatives from Transportation Alternatives, the NYC Food Delivery Movement Coalition and the Los Deliveristas Workers Justice Project, who welcomed the additional protections.

“Bike lanes are the first step in making delivery work safer and more efficient,” said Juan Solano, founder of the NYC Food Delivery Movement Coalition.

While the addition of Boulevard du Nord lanes adds protections for cyclists, as the report documents, some bike commuters continue to oppose the use of flexible poles and other forms of cycling infrastructure that do not physically prevent cars from entering the North Boulevard bike lane.

Chong Bretillon, a Dutch Kills cyclist and volunteer member of Transportation Alternatives, told the Queens Post that there are a lot of car dealerships and residences that continue to use the bike path as a parking space.

“The flexible poles are maybe 2 meters apart, I mean they are very far from each other. It’s almost like telling drivers I know it’s here and it’s getting on your nerves, but we’ll give you a workaround, ”she said.

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