Last week, John and Patrick with the Bicycle Coalition were guided through NYC’s best bike infrastructure through Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan by Corey Hannigan with Tri-State Transportation. A few notable highlights include 34th Ave in Jackson Heights and Queens Blvd, a thoroughfare in Queens that was once a mirror image of Roosevelt Blvd in northeast Philadelphia and has been totally overhauled to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians, including pedestrian zones, bump outs and protected bike lanes.
The map below shows the destinations that were toured along the way through neighborhoods in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan. Additionally, the map has photos embedded at each project location for context.
Listed below are additional photos that were captured along the tour with a brief summary of each project. It is a must visit for urban planning students and civic leaders. With political will, it could be replicated in Philadelphia along with every medium and large city in North America.
34th Ave (Photos above): In Jackson Heights, approximately 1.3 miles of 34th Avenue is closed off to vehicular traffic from 7am to 8pm every day. The plan was put into action in 2020 near the beginning of the pandemic in order to address the lack of open space that was highly sought after during a challenging time. Despite some initial opposition from the neighborhood, the city’s DOT says the project is nationally celebrated, is home to the longest Open Street in the city, and brought a 41% drop in crashes involving pedestrians.
39th Ave Bike Boulevard (Photo above): In Woodside, the NYC DOT enhanced 39th Ave with the Open Street treatment by implementing a bike boulevard design. The project goals included simplifying entrance intersections and improving pedestrian and bike connections; reducing through traffic and conflicts with mid corridor diversion; slowing speeds; and improving connections to existing bike facilities in the neighborhood. Our experience along the blvd was calm, comfortable, with little to no interaction with vehicular traffic.
Queens Blvd (Photo above): In Queens, the NYC DOT identified Queens Blvd as a Vision Zero Priority Corridor as part of the de Blasio administration’s Great Streets Initiative. Members of the community made it clear that there was a need for safety improvements along the “Boulevard of Death” nearly a decade ago. At the time, the corridor was listed in the top ten percentile of traffic injuries and fatalities for streets throughout Queens and resembled the current design of Roosevelt Blvd here in Northeast Philadelphia. As a result of these concerns addressed by members of the community and several years of advocating for life-saving changes to the Blvd, the DOT phased out the redesign of the corridor by removing two of the three outer lanes and added protected bike lanes.
Brooklyn Bridge (Photo above): In 2021, the city opened the two-way bike lane connecting riders from Brooklyn to Lower Manhattan which became an apparent need to alleviate the increased usage of bike facilities after the first year of the pandemic. While the project is considered an improvement by local advocates, there is plenty of criticism among cyclists who argue that the city would be better off building one-way lanes on each side of the bridge, rather than squeezing a two-way path in a single car lane. Personally, I would have liked to share the view of the city along the pedestrian walkway.
Empire State Trail / Hudson River Valley Greenway Trail (Photo above): What’s not to love? There’s a lot to say about the Empire State Trail but our tour only had us riding along the trail for a mile or so. The Empire State Trail is a portion of the Hudson River Valley Greenway which consists of hundreds of miles through New York State and is a portion of the East Coast Greenway.
The High Line: Our tour concluded with a brief stop at the High Line’s new Moynihan Connector near Penn Station before we traveled back home. Thanks again, Corey! We look forward to the next one.
There’s still so much to tour throughout the city but what we were able to ride along was inspiring and can be made possible here in Philadelphia with political will and the efforts made by advocates like you who share a vision of seamlessly reaching your destination by bike in a safe and fun way.