A transit advocacy group is moving to make changes to a hazardous Sunnyside intersection.
Representatives from the Queens Committee of Transportation Alternatives say the juncture of Borden Avenue and Greenpoint Avenue, running above the Long Island Expressway, is perilous for pedestrians and cyclists due to unclear markings and poorly-timed traffic signals.
“Frankly, it’s an absolute nightmare,” said Transportation Alternatives member Steve Scofield, who rides his bike through the intersection frequently. “There really is no safe way for a pedestrian or cyclist to get through the intersection safely.”
Many northbound cyclists choose to navigate the intersection illegally to optimize safety, crossing Greenpoint Avenue and riding against traffic on the southbound side. Scofield said it’s safer for bike rides to move in the opposite direction rather than be at the mercy of drivers with limited visibility. Nearly half of cyclists who cross the intersection use this method.
According to Streetsblog.com, a cyclist was struck and killed by a livery cab at the intersection in April 2012.
The driver of the cab was not charged with any crime. According to CrashStat.org, since 1998 there have been four accidents at the crossing, all of which resulted in injuries.
In order to create a safer intersection, Scofield wants to implement protected left signals and shared lanes for bikes and cars; convert Hunters Point Boulevard into a westbound one-way street; and add more lights for cyclists and pedestrians.
“This daunting intersection has had a history of accidents in recent years due to a lack of the appropriate traffic light timing and issues with speed control,” said Van Bramer. “These hazards have put the lives of pedestrians, motorists and cyclists in danger and action must be taken before another life is lost. ”
According to a spokesperson from the Department of Transportation (DOT), the agency will conduct a study on the intersection based on Community Board 2’s recommendations.
Fed up with commuters using their neighborhood as a parking lot, residents and community leaders of Long Island City banded together with the Department of Transportation, (DOT) and announced the reduction of 12-hour parking meters.
The new meter regulation, which accounts for 39 spots where Vernon Boulevard meets Borden Avenue, one block from the No. 7 Train, will now only allow two-hour parking from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer said that this new parking rule will keep commuters from hogging the spots while they work in Manhattan.
“Long Island City is not a parking lot,” said Van Bramer. “It is a thriving community where thousands have come to live and where we are seeing many businesses open every month. For Long Island City residents and businesses this is a welcome announcement.”
Businesses along the thriving Vernon Boulevard made numerous overtures for DOT officials to review the neighborhood’s parking regulations, making the claim that long term parking was hurting business and a short term parking plan more suited the area.
“Long Island City is not just a commuter stop on the way to Manhattan,” said Sheila Lewandowski, executive director of The Chocolate Factory, a theater in L.I.C. “A lot of people come here to eat and to shop – these new regulations will help ensure that when people park here, they are spending their money here.”
Mike Del Rey, owner of Bricktown Bagels on Vernon Boulevard for five years, said that parking has been a constant headache for him and his customers since opening in the neighborhood. He said that these new rules will enable bagel buyers to run in and get a quick breakfast.
“L.I.C. needed this,” he said. “I’ve only been here for five years, and I’m sure we needed this long before then.”
Maura McCarthy, Queens Borough Commissioner of the DOT, said that the new regulations will be studied and reviewed, and more changes could be on the way.
“Adjusting meter regulations can go a long way toward increasing parking options for Long Island City residents, visitors and businesses,” she said. “We are glad to work closely with local elected officials to make parking easier.”
Van Bramer also announced short-term metered parking was being added and parking regulations were adjusted along Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside, making parking more accessible for motorists, especially to customers of local businesses lining the corridor.