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The Department of Transportation recently revived plans to install bike lanes on the J.J. Byrne Memorial Bridge, which links Greenpoint Avenue in Greenpoint and Sunnyside, Queens. Streetsblog reported on the proposal, which would cut two Brooklyn-bound lanes of traffic down to one in order to paint buffered bike lanes on either side. Currently, cyclists either have to weave through pedestrians on the sidewalk or bike alongside cars while crossing the bridge.

The DOT first tried to install bike lanes on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge in 2010, but Community Board 1 shot down the proposal because it eliminated too many parking spaces. Queens Community Board 2 heard the presentation last week, and Brooklyn CB 1’s transportation committee will consider the proposal on March 17.

DOT Has a New Plan for Bike Lanes on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge [Streetsblog]
More Holdups for the Greenpoint Avenue Bike Lane [Brownstoner]

Image by DOT via Streetsblog

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Construction on the Pulaski Bridge bike lanes has been pushed back once again. Streetsblog reported that the protected bike lanes, originally scheduled to finish this year, likely won’t open until the end of 2015. Last week, we reported construction would wrap in the spring.

Then the DOT gave a presentation [PDF] on the project and said the contractor will start work in April and continue through October or November. Pedestrians and bikers currently share the crowded walking paths, but the DOT plans to convert one lane of Brooklyn-bound traffic to a two-way bike lane.

Officials blamed the delays on the engineering of the 60-year-old drawbridge, which can’t support an additional concrete barrier, and the fact that funding for the bike lanes is tied to work on 10 other bridge projects that needed approval first. The cost of the improvements has also increased from $3,460,000 to $4,200,000.

At least the DOT has finalized a design, which will include textured rumble strips at both entrances to the bridge reminding cyclists to slow down.

Pulaski Bridge Bike Path Now Scheduled to Open by End of 2015 [Streetsblog]
Pulaski Bridge Coverage [Brownstoner]
Rendering via DOT

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Urban planners call it “wayfinding.” Wayfinding is a bit of an art, by which pedestrians or vehicles can be intuitively guided through city streets or transportation hubs. A good example of bad wayfinding would be Manhattan’s Penn Station or Port Authority Bus Terminal, both of which assume that visitors will be familiar with their idiosyncratic floor plans. Pictured in today’s post are the street instructions governing bicycle and motor vehicle lanes at the corner of 39th Street and Skillman Avenue in Sunnyside, found on the southern extent of the truss bridge that overflies the Sunnyside Yards.

As my grandmother might have said – “Oy Gevalt.”

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We know the Pulaski Bridge Bike lanes are happening, and they couldn’t come soon enough. Streetsblog reported today that Brooklyn’s Community Board 1 voted unanimously to support the project, Queens’ Community Board 2 is waiting on some more design details before taking a final vote. Here are the exciting details about the reconfiguration from StreetsBlog:

The path will run on the west side of the bridge, replacing one of three southbound car travel lanes over Newtown Creek… On the Queens side, the new bike path will curve alongside the existing walkway, which hugs a one-lane ramp that drivers use to access the bridge. To make room for the new bike path on the existing ramp, DOT will trim back the size of a Greenstreets traffic island at the bridge entrance. Drivers using the ramp will merge with southbound traffic from 11th Street entering the bridge, instead of continuing in the same lane as they do today.

So when’s it all happening? The DOT is waiting for state approval but expects it to come in the next few weeks. The DOT will then include the project in a contract including ten other small bridge rehab projects, but they hope to push this one to the first in line. Once construction actually starts, it will only take a few months before the bike lanes are a reality.

Next Year, Peds and Cyclists Won’t Have to Fight for Scraps on Pulaski Bridge [StreetsBlog]

Rendering via the DOT

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This week city officials told Community Board Two there are definite plans to install shared and buffered bike lanes on 11th Street, 39th Street, 49th Avenue and Skillman Avenue in 2014. The Daily News reports that the city wants to create north-south connections and east-west connections with the lanes, as well as connections to the Pulaski Bridge, Queens Plaza, Hunters Point, and of course to Sunnyside. CB2 asked for more bike parking locations in Long Island City and city officials said they’d look into potential spots. The board initially approved these changes over the summer, so there was no controversy at the meeting this week. Back then, the city aimed to install these lanes before the end of the year, but it looks like the timetable’s been pushed back.

City Announces More Bike Lanes for Long Island City [NY Daily News]
New Bike Routes, Lane Markings Coming to LIC, Sunnyside [Q’Stoner]

Map via DOT

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The New York Daily News reports an update on the Pulaski Bridge bike lane proposal, something that DOT committed to back in May. DOT plans to remove a single lane of traffic to make way for a dedicated bike lane between Long Island City and Greenpoint some time next year. The city is just finishing up with an engineering study of the bridge, after which it expects to present the proposed streetscape changes to the Queens and Brooklyn community boards in December. At this point, local pols, pedestrians, community boards and nearby businesses have all expressed support for the proposed bicycle lane.

Bikers to Get Dedicated Lane on Pulaski Bridge Between Brooklyn and Queens [NY Daily News]
Headway on Several Streetscape Proposals for Long Island City and Astoria [Q’Stoner]

Photo by NYC Tom

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The Community Board 5 Transportation Committee has spent the last several months working with the Department of City Planning and the Department of Transportation to install bike lanes in Ridgewood, Maspeth, and Middle Village. After the committee’s latest meeting, attended by Streetsblog, it looks like these plans will come to fruition next year. The Department of City Planning proposed these bike routes: Eliot Avenue from Metropolitan Avenue to Woodhaven Boulevard; Juniper Boulevard South from 69th Street to Dry Harbor Road; Woodward Avenue, Onderdonk Avenue, and connecting streets from Metropolitan Avenue to Cypress Hills Cemetery; Central Avenue and Cooper Avenue from Cypress Hills Street to Woodhaven Boulevard; 69th Street from Calamus Avenue to Metropolitan Avenue; and 80th Street from the Long Island Expressway to Myrtle Avenue. Streetsblog also notes, “There are four additional routes that could receive further study: Grand Avenue, a north-south route between Ridgewood and Maspeth, a route between Ridgewood and Bushwick, and a loop around Juniper Valley Park.” As you can see in the map above, central Queens sorely lacks bike lane infrastructure, so these plans will be welcome news to bikers. The Department of City Planning will host a workshop with the Community Board next month for more feedback on lane placement. The DCP and DOT are hoping to install bike lanes as soon as fall of next year.

The Transportation Committee also looked at plans to make the 71st Avenue Plaza in Ridgewood permanent. It’s expected that the committe will write a letter of support for the permanent plaza proposal, which heads to the Public Design Commission next month.

Queens CB 5 Set to Move Ahead With Bike Lane Planning, Plaza Construction [Streetsblog]
Temporary 71st Avenue Plaza Likely to Become Permanent Fixture in Ridgewood [Q’Stoner]
Map by NYC DOT

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Where to buy your New Year’s Eve party food in Queens

We put together a list of five spots in Queens where you can get some pretty kickass food for your New Year’s Eve party – Irish and UK products at Butcher Block in Sunnyside; Greet treats at Titan Food in Astoria; all sorts of party food at Trader Joe’s in Rego Park; dumplings and Pocky at Family Market in Astoria; and bread, sausages, and cheese at Slovak Czech Varieties in LIC. So many great noms!

The Throgs Neck Bridge gets an honor

The Throgs Neck Bridge – a Robert Moses project – is 50 years old this year, and the Bayside Historical Society (BHS) is recognizing that with exhibit on the bridge. The exhibit displays rare construction photographs selected from the BHS archives, as well as from the MTA Bridges and Tunnels Special Archive. Alison McKay, archivist for the BHS, said about the bridge, “The construction of this span had a major affect on the entire Bayside community. The bridge comes into Queens by way of the Clearview Expressway which cuts right through an already established part of the community.” The exhibit runs through 2013.

The Q58 is the slowest bus in Queens

The Straphangers folks are at it again and are doing some end of the year assessments. The Q58 bus won the 2012 Pokey Award for Queens, an award given the the slowest running buses. On the brighter side, no Queens buses were given the Schleppie Award, the award given to buses that are unreliable. The Q58 runs between Ridgewood and Flushing.

The bike lanes are installed in Astoria Park and they look great

We checked in on the bike lanes installed in Astoria Park and Ralph DeMarco Park along the waterfront in Astoria – they are part of the Queens East River & North Shore Greenway. There are separated lanes for peds and cyclists; some parts are share-the-road; and there are times when peds and cyclists split off to their own lanes. It looks pretty cool. And this will increase usability in park, which is a good thing.

The folkloric dancing of Ecuador is alive in Queens

We came across this fascinating video about the traditional dances of Ecuador, which is a way to stay connected to the culture. Esau Chauca, executive director of Ayazamana Cultural Center in Queens (they practice in LIC) says, “Its very important [that]we teach others about Ecuadorian culture] because what happens is, a lot people say they’re Latino, but they don’t really have an understanding or identify themselves with a particular group or a culture.” The dancing looks like a lot of fun!

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/55166665]

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We thought we’d update you on the bike lanes that have been installed in Astoria Park as part of the Queens East River & North Shore Greenway. They’ve come a long way since we first visited them in October 2012, and are looking great.

The bike lanes extend all the way from 20th Ave to Astoria Park South along the waterfront, which is split up between Ralph deMarco Park and Astoria Park proper. On the stretch between Ditmars Blvd. and 20th Ave, it’s a shared lane (bladers, walkers/runners, cyclists) and is indicated as such.

Heading north, with the East River on the left

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Beer-infused food is coming to Astoria

Snowdonia, a “trappist-style gastropub” will hit Astoria in the near future, likely in the new year. The owner is pretty excited about this new venture, and has been researching craft beers to include at the restaurant. It would be cool if he brought in some fresh brews from SingleCut Brewsmiths and Rockaway Brewing Company, both of which are making tasty beer locally. We shall see, and when construction starts, we’ll let you know.

Bushwick has its own 5 Points, and it’s also full of beautiful street art

When we first heard about Bushwick Five Points, we immediately thought of 5 Pointz, the premiere center for aeresol art, right here in LIC (but it will be saying bye-bye in a year or so for a new development). Bushwick’s version has some amazing art in it as well and you can see it along the building walls on Scott Avenue, Troutman Street, and St. Nicholas Avenue near the 5 points itself (five streets come together at one point). Joseph Ficalora is the curator of Bushwick Five Points, and is a native to the area, having grown up in Bushwick, and boy-howdy has he seen a lot in his days. The art is pretty amazing and you should really check it out, just over the border from Ridgewood.

Vegetarians rejoice! You’ve got a friend in Richmond Hill

CitySpoonful wrote about a vegetarian restaurant in Richmond Hill called Veggie Castle. It has become popular as a “first-stop destination for reggae artists like Taurus Riley, Mr. Vegas and Luciano, as well as sports players like L.A. Laker Lamar Odum, who quench their appetite for vegetables, soy products and smoothies.” They offer all sorts of food in a steam table set up, and it has become quite a popular spot in the neighborhood. The restaurant is the progeny of Sybil’s, an excellent Guyanese restaurant and bakery in the area.

In Manhattan and Brooklyn, pedestrian plazas and bike lanes help bring in the $$

This morning we learned that those pedestrian plazas and bike lanes are helping the local economy. According to the WSJ, a study by the DOT, “shows that retail sales jumped 172 percent three years after the very first pedestrian plaza opened in Brooklyn’s Dumbo section.” And about the bike lanes, “three years after the project was completed, shops along the route of the protected bike lane on Ninth Avenue between 23rd and 31st streets saw a 49 percent increase in retail sales.” Not bad, not bad at all. We’d love to see a study done in Queens, especially when it comes to those pedestrian plazas, including the ped plaza in Corona and the plaza in Ridgewood, too.

NYC small businesses can compete for free fiber optics in the ConnectNYC Fiber Challenge

The New York City Economic Development Corporation has put together a competition for NYC-based businesses – small and medium-sized commercial and industrial businesses with 100 employees or less – to get fiber optics installed at their business for free. It’s called Connect!NYC Fiber Challenge and the deadline to enter is Tuesday, November 27, 2012. Tech startups really do have an edge here, since one of the criteria the judging panel is going to look at is just how badly a business needs high speed connectivity. And getting startups connected like this can only help the reputation NYC is working to develop as an important center for tech in the US, if not the world (LIC is well on its way toward that goal).