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Bike Lanes on 'Boulevard of Death' Among Best in Nation, Cycling Group Says

 The new bike lanes on Queens Boulevard and 50th Street.
The new bike lanes on Queens Boulevard and 50th Street.
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WOODSIDE — Queens Boulevard's reputation as the "Boulevard of Death" may be changing.

The roadway's recently installed bike lanes were ranked among the best new bike paths built in the country this year, according to an annual list from the national cycling group People for Bikes, which also included projects in cities such as Lincoln, Neb. and Cambridge, Mass.

Queens Boulevard's bike lanes — installed this summer between Roosevelt Avenue and 73rd Street, the first phase in a $100 million redesign of the street — were selected because of their location on the notoriously dangerous and heavily trafficked roadway, the organization said.

"This is not a super easy place to do this," said People for Bikes president Tim Blumenthal. "But my understanding is that the de Blasio administration is firmly behind it, and it happened relatively quickly and that it's been popular."

Queens Boulevard — which has earned the moniker "Boulevard of Death" — has long been regarded as one of the city's most dangerous thoroughfares for pedestrians and cyclists, with 185 people killed on the roadway since 1990, officials said.

Construction on the first 1.3-mile stretch of the street began this past summer and included the installation of 5-foot-wide protected bike lanes in either direction, protected from cars by a 2-foot-wide buffer. In 2018, a more permanent version of the bike lanes will be incorporated into a new raised pathway that will connect to the traffic median, according to the Department of Transportation's plans.

"There's real benefits in this design for drivers and pedestrians and bicyclists," said Peter Beadle, co-chair of the Queens committee for the transportation advocacy group Transportation Alternatives.

"It really creates a more predictable and therefore much safer street for everyone who needs to use it."

The new bike lanes haven't been without criticism. At a Queens Community Board 2 meeting earlier this month, a handful of residents blasted them as an unnecessary addition, with one resident saying they'd "ruined" the street by worsening congestion there.

A DOT spokeswoman said earlier this month the agency had not received any official complaints about the bike lanes, but is looking into reports of congestion issues on Queens Boulevard.

Beadle defended the bike lanes, saying they couldn't be blamed for slowing traffic because they were installed on a buffer space along the roadway that wasn't previously used by cars. 

"No travel lanes were taken away," he said.