Northeastern Queens (CD-11), encompassing the neighborhoods of Bayside, Douglaston, Douglas Manor, East Flushing, Little Neck, Auburndale, Oakland Gardens and Hollis Hills, in many ways resembles a slice of suburbia in New York City. The prevalence of single family homes, well-regarded public schools, low crime and ample parkland points to Northeastern Queens’ orientation towards families and a strong sense of community. The area’s street network remains largely unaltered since the area was first settled in the late 19th and early 20th century when cars were both the dominant form of transportation and the promise of the future. Today, the street network reflects an outdated paradigm and does not adequately serve the district’s mobility needs.
The street network primarily requires the use of automobiles, and the range of available transportation options require significant time and cost trade-offs. Retrofitting Northeastern Queens’ auto-dominated streets into human-centered streets, or Complete Streets, can allow for multiple modes of transportation, provide commuters options, and improve the community’s quality of life through increased safety, accessibility, and connectivity. Northeastern Queens is a community in transition: the population is aging, becoming more diverse, and experiencing more vehicular traffic on the road. Furthermore, there is a growing interest in sustainable forms of travel and an increased number of cyclists on the road.
These trends necessitate taking a fresh look at how to modernize the street network to meet the community’s current and future needs. Bike and pedestrian infrastructure improvements can be immediate, low-cost and effective implementations that produce incremental, positive effects on quality of life. In our one-semester Studio project, we completed planning theory, best practice and quantitative research and analysis, as well as community outreach, to develop a vision plan that provides ideas for:
· A unified network map of bike lanes that connects cyclists safely to key destinations (parks and playgrounds; schools and youth friendly sites; commercial corridors and transit hub)
· Pedestrian and intersection interventions
· Increased bike parking
· Expanded wayfinding
· Potential programming
Our hope is that this Vision for Complete Streets can help advance the discussion by demonstrating how Complete Streets can improve safety, accessibility, connectivity — and most importantly, livability. Re-imagining Northeastern Queens with a unified network of Complete Streets can be achieved with simple, low-cost,and often reversible interventions. This Vision will make streets safer, more accessible and more connected for residents and visitors of all ages, and secure the long-term livability and future of Northeastern Queens.