For many years, New York City's Queens Boulevard was known as the "Boulevard of Death", where from 2003 to 2013, 38 pedestrians & cyclists died and 450 suffered severe injuries. At seven miles long it cuts through the heart of Queens as it stretches to a chaotic 12 to 16 lanes in width in some areas - which makes it extremely dangerous for any human being using it, and yes, even just crossing it.
Last year, the New York City of Transportation announced that Mayor Bill de Blasio had committed $100 million dollars to make it safer and humanize the road in step with his administration's commitment to Vision Zero. Ahead of permanent reconstruction in 2018, the DOT wanted to fast track safety features immediately. After myriad meetings and consultation with communities along the corridor, the preliminary safety treatments are in, and they are completely wondrous.
If you're a urban planner or traffic engineer (or a student studying such) or an advocate or work in transportation for a living and want to see what can be achieved when looking at what seems impossible then do I have the Streetfilm for you! We were given an exclusive tour of the recent changes with NYC DOT Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo and he showed us the tremendous creativity their entire team put in to make the transformation a reality. Queens Boulevard is as complicated as a roadway there is: nearly every block is different from the one prior and has needs. To put a center-running bike lane and pedestrian mall on it, and one that feels relatively comfortable, seemed an insane task. Yet here it is.
I'll admit, it's hard to hide my accolades here as I have ridden on and lived nearby Queens Blvd for years. I was very skeptical when the inital announcement was made that I would truly see any life-altering change. And even if so, it might take 5, 10 years. But the installation has been swift and extremely well-planned. So much so, I was motivated to create this historical document & learning tool that people can put to use in their community. If you can put a quality protected bike lane on Queens Boulevard, then it should put nearly every road in America in play.
2015 ended with no deaths on the Boulevard.