Transforming Queens Boulevard

In 2009, Harold Kahn's only son was hit by while crossing the street in Manhattan in 2009. That is why he formed Families for Safe Streets and why he came to a New York City Department of Transportation community meeting in Queens Tuesday night to try to make sure the next phase of the Queens Boulevard Vision Zero program moves forward.

"We heard that this one segment of Queens Boulevard has a problem—that the people said parking is more important than saving lives," Khan said. "We wanted to come out and say, 'No, it's not.'"

The DOT has already begun to transform Queens Boulevard in some places, including Rego Park. The next phase would add new protected bike lanes and pedestrian medians from Yellowstone Boulevard to Union Turnpike. It would also reduce the number of parking spaces.

Parking is at a premium in the neighborhood. You can understand why business owners and residents are concerned about losing more parking spaces.

"We try to work with everyone," DOT Senior Director Ann Marie Doherty said. "We are trying to balance everyone's needs along the corridor."

Doherty has helped move the multiphase project forward for the DOT. She said her staff came to get input from concerned business owners and residents before reconstruction of the rest of the boulevard begins in the summer.

Juan Restrepo is with the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives. He gets around Queens on his bike and is eager to see these changes happen.

"I used to work as a bike messenger... it was extremely dangerous when I did it," Restrepo said. "I am really proud I can be part of changing that for other people."