DOT Proposes East-West Bike Route on 31st Ave in Queens

DOT's proposed 31st Avenue bike lane would connect the East River waterfront to the Flushing Bay Promenade. Image: DOT
In line with a proposal made last year by the Queens Bike Initiative, DOT’s 31st Avenue plan would create a bike route between the East River waterfront and the Flushing Bay Promenade [PDF]. Image: DOT

Last summer, a group of Queens residents began organizing as the Queens Bike Initiative. Their mission: to push the city to build bike connections linking their neighborhoods in northern Queens to the borough’s parks. Nine months later, DOT has presented a plan to stripe a bike route on 31st Avenue [PDF], which the Queens Bike Initiative is lauding as the first step toward realizing their greater vision.

Between new bike lanes in Astoria, the second phase of the Queens Boulevard bike lane coming to Elmhurst and Corona, and the protected lane on 111th Street, the Queens bike network is set to grow significantly this year. Still, there are few east-west bike routes, especially in the northern part of the borough.

Last week at Queens Community Board 1, DOT presented the first phase of an east-west route that will eventually connect Socrates Sculpture Park to the Flushing Bay Promenade. This phase consists of painted bike lanes and sharrows on 31st Avenue, from Vernon Boulevard to the BQE, and will be completed this year. DOT does not a have a timeline for the next leg of the route, which is located in Community District 3.

DOT is proposing sharrows for the 40-foot wide segments of 31st Avenue, but Queens bike advocates say the plan is an important step towards creating safe and far-reaching bike connections between Queens' parks and neighborhoods. Image: DOT
DOT is proposing sharrows for the 40-foot-wide segments of 31st Avenue and painted bike lanes for wider sections of the street. Image: DOT

On the 40-foot wide segments of 31st Avenue, from Vernon Boulevard to Crescent Street and again from 32nd Street to 49th Street, DOT’s plan calls for sharrows in 13-foot travel lanes. From Crescent Street to 32nd Street and 49th Street to the BQE, where the street is 50 feet wide, DOT wants to install a four-foot flush median and five-foot-wide bike lanes.

The Queens Bike Initiative’s ultimate goal is protected bike infrastructure connecting various parks with the neighborhoods in between. The group has worked closely with representatives from the mayor’s office and Council Member Danny Dromm.

Laura Newman, a Jackson Heights resident and Queens Bike Initiative member, welcomed the 31st Avenue project as an important step toward bringing safe bike infrastructure to more parts of the borough. “It’s a huge step in the right direction but it’s not enough to get parents to let kids cycle on it by themselves,” she said. “Would I let my 11-year-old ride on that out to Socrates by herself, or even my fourteen year old? I wouldn’t — and that’s kind of the litmus test [that we’re aiming for]. You have to be able to let your kid cycle by him or herself to the park.”

Since last summer, members of the Queens Bike Initiative have called on the city to build the above bicycle lane connections in northern Queens. Image: Queens Bike Initiative
The Queens Bike Initiative’s suggested bike network linking up with the borough’s parks. Image: Queens Bike Initiative