Dec. 13, 2019 By Allie Griffin
Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer and Queens transit advocates rallied for a safer Northern Boulevard on Wednesday morning.
The advocates called for a dedicated bus lane, a protected bike lane and safer street designs along the road, where 1,200 people have been injured since 2014, according to Van Bramer’s office.
Community members have expressed dissatisfaction with the Q66 bus line and asked for service improvements. They say bus stops are frequently blocked by personal and official vehicles.
“If we are going to fix Northern Boulevard and tame this wild-west roadway we must have a busway, we must have bus lanes, and we must make it safer in every possible way,” Van Bramer said.
He noted that many children go to schools along the dangerous roadway.
“We want more people riding buses, but we must make bus service work,” he added. “The buses cannot be blocked by cars, delivery vehicles and other commercial vehicles.”
The snowy morning rally was one of several across the city organized by the Riders Alliance and Transportation Alternatives. They launched the #BetterBuses day of action to encourage the City to improve bus service, add more designated bus lanes and create more busways like 14th Street in Manhattan.
Northern Boulevard was chosen as it has a high number of traffic crashes and several pedestrians have been killed along the busy corridor over the past few years.
However, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has run into obstacles in the past when planning ways to make Northern Boulevard safer.
The DOT organized a series of workshops in 2018 to brainstorm safety improvements for the roadway after two pedestrians, including a 9-year-old boy, were killed crossing Northern Boulevard that year.
At the workshops, DOT representatives said one of the major challenges the agency faces in redesigning the stretch is the boulevard’s limited width — which at 70 feet is about half that of Queens Boulevard.
The stretch consists of two moving lanes either way, although a third lane is available for rush-hour traffic. Meanwhile, the roadway is a truck and bus route. There are also schools and small businesses along the roadway.
The smaller space makes it difficult from a redesign standpoint, officials said.