Tag Archives: DOT

Plans for proposed Sunnyside, Woodside slow zones revealed


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images courtesy of Department of Transportation

More streets in western Queens will soon be slower and safer.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) presented its plans for two proposed slow zones in Sunnyside Gardens, Woodside and Sunnyside, south of Queens Boulevard, before Community Board 2 (CB 2) during a public hearing on Wednesday night.

The slow zones were designed through input from the community, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and CB 2.

As part of the city’s Vision Zero initiative, the neighborhoods that will be included in these two slow zones were selected based on the transportation agency’s evaluation on crash history, traffic fatalities, community support, and the closeness of schools and senior and day care centers.

THE COURIER/File Photo

THE COURIER/File Photo

Slow zones are marked with high-visibility blue signs that warn drivers at all streets entering the zones. Each area has a speed limit of 20 mph and includes speed bumps and eight-foot-high letters on the road that read “20 MPH.”

The first proposed area, which would be called the Sunnyside Gardens-Woodside Slow Zone, would be bordered by 43rd Street, 38th Avenue, Barnett Avenue, 58th Street, Queens Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue. There are three schools and three daycare/pre-K centers in the area.

SG-W SZ

According to the DOT, since 2007 there has been one death in the proposed zone and three severe pedestrian injuries.

The Sunnyside Gardens-Woodside Slow Zone would include 18 proposed speed bumps, added to the already existing 12 bumps, and 19 neighborhood slow zone gateways.

In the proposed Sunnyside Slow Zone, which has four schools in the area, the borders would be 36th Street, Queens Boulevard, 51st Street and part of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The area is split diagonally by Greenpoint Avenue, which is not part of the slow zone, according to the DOT.

Since 2007 there have been four fatalities in the proposed zone and since 2008 three severe pedestrian injuries and five severe injuries involving vehicle occupants.

The Sunnyside Slow Zone would include 20 speed bumps, in addition to the current eight bumps, and 31 neighborhood slow zone gateways.

CB 2 will vote on the proposal during its next monthly meeting.

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Speed bumps installed along Juniper Valley Park, residents call for more safety measures


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Salvatore Licata

It’s going to be a bumpy ride for speeders along Juniper Boulevard North after the installation of three speed bumps last week.

The stretch along the north side of Juniper Valley Park has long been a source of community concern. Cars and motorcycles would routinely zip along the street, which had no traffic lights or stop signs, residents said.

After a request from Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and the approval from Community Board 5 (CB 5), speed bumps were installed at 78th Street, 77th Place and 75th Street to deter cars from speeding, according to a Department of Transportation (DOT) representative.

But on the south side, residents are calling for a traffic signal to make it safer for pedestrians to cross the street.

For over a year now, CB 5 has been asking the DOT to do a traffic signal study to possibly add a traffic light on Juniper Boulevard South.

“The transportation members of the board felt a traffic light would be more efficient on [the south] side,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of CB 5. “A lot of people go to the park each day. They should have a safe place to cross.”

The community board is calling for a light on 78th Street where there is an entrance to the park.

The request for a light at the intersection was denied once already by the DOT but the board is asking for a reconsideration.

The DOT did offer to put a speed bump in the area of 78th Street, due to a request from Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, according to a DOT representative.

But CB 5 turned it down because they would like to see a light there.

Board members feel that even though speeding is a problem all around the park, this spot would be safer with a traffic light because it will eliminate two problems: speeding and crossing issues, Giordano said.

The request for a reconsideration of a traffic signal study was made on March 31.

The DOT has yet to make a decision. Giordano hopes that the DOT will decide soon, especially because school is now back in session and P.S./I.S. 49 sits just two blocks away on 80th Street.

But if the DOT does again deny a traffic signal, Giordano said the board will be more open to other options.

“If the traffic signal gets denied again,” Giordano said, “then we will be more open to possibly putting a speed bump there.”

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Jackson Heights mural discourages drunk driving


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

The conversation against drunk driving has taken a colorful turn in Jackson Heights.

A 20-foot by 100-foot family-friendly mural focusing on the prevention of drinking and driving, titled “Hit the Brakes on DWI and Choose the Right Path,” was unveiled on Wednesday at 34-20 Junction Blvd.

The colorful piece, which is on a wall of a Food Bazaar Supermarket and promotes the role of the whole community in preventing DWIs, was completed by 16 teens participating in the Summer Leadership Institute of Groundswell, a local organization dedicated to community public art “advancing social change.”

The group of teens worked as paid apprentices together with co-lead artists Angel Garcia and Olivia Fu over two months during the summer to complete the mural.

DSC_0529

Groundswell worked in partnership with the city Department of Transportation (DOT) and Food Bazaar Supermarket.

“This group has done a really great job making this mural and making this topic really clear and putting it into a positive light, really focusing on the solutions and choices people can make to avoid accidents,” Fu said.

On the mural, the slogan “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” appears in both English and Spanish. The artwork features colorful images and symbols such as the No. 7 train taking passengers away from accidents and a phoenix showing the rising of a community.

To add more context to the mural, the DOT also invited a former DWI offender, who is on probation, to speak with the mural’s project team and share his story and transformation.

“Groundswell youth had a memorable summer job experience, participating in the completion of something meaningful for the community and becoming an essential part of this family-friendly mural on road safety awareness,” said Amy Sananman, Groundswell founder and executive director. “Our youth muralists are eager to share their leaning with the broader community, including real life strategies for DWI deference.”

One the youth artists, Springfield Gardens resident De-Jean Rose, 18, said he had fun during the summer completing the mural and hopes that the community gets the message behind the piece.

“It’s a sensitive topic and throughout the whole summer we got the chance to elaborate more on the topic and note the seriousness,” Rose said. “It was a good experience, everybody was like family and the lead artists were very helpful. It was a good experience overall.”

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Cross Bay Boulevard gets more parking — for bikes


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Parking is never easy to find on Cross Bay Boulevard. But that has now changed — for bicyclists at least — as the Department of Transportation (DOT) has begun installing bike racks along the boulevard.

The installation of the racks is part of a citywide initiative of recycling and reusing the now-obsolete vehicle parking meter poles by converting them into bicycle parking spaces, according to a DOT representative.

“The bike racks being installed along Cross Bay Boulevard are part of a citywide project to recycle the single-space meters and retrofit the pipes into mini-hoop style bike racks,” the DOT representative said.

The installation began on Aug. 25 and a total of 86 bike racks are being put along both sides of the boulevard. The racks will extend from Liberty Avenue in Ozone Park, south to 165th Avenue in Howard Beach, according to the DOT representative.

The initiative was started in 2011 when many of the single-space parking meters had their heads removed as the muni-meters made their way onto city streets and demand grew for bike parking throughout the five boroughs. The bike racks are made to easily slide onto the old parking meter poles already installed on the sidewalk, according to the DOT website.

Howard Beach is part of the Jamaica Bay Greenway route, which has a bike lane running from the neighborhood into the Rockaways.

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Hamilton Beach street in disrepair, ignored by city, locals say


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

Hamilton Beach residents are furious that smooth streets in nearby Howard Beach are being repaved while, they say, the main artery into their tiny enclave has been ignored for years.

“It’s frustrating to drive into the neighborhood and see perfectly good streets [in Howard Beach] being ripped up,” Roger Gendron, president of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association, said. “104th Street was supposed to be a capital project plan but now we can’t even get it repaved.”

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has been doing street resurfacing projects throughout Howard Beach for about two weeks now but has not made its way over to Hamilton Beach. The neighborhood does not appear on this week’s resurfacing schedule on the DOT website.

DOT doing street resurfacing in New Howard Beach

DOT doing street resurfacing in New Howard Beach

104th Street is littered with potholes, pavement cracks and deteriorating previous repairs. Throughout the day, cars can be seen driving on the wrong side of the road to avoid the rough patch leading to a blind spot for oncoming traffic into the neighborhood.

Moreover, Gendron says the road is responsible for front-end car damage that many residents have experienced. He has filed a claim for his mother’s car which he says has $1,500 worth of front-end damage due to the many times she must travel the road to get into and out of the neighborhood.

“This is something that affects every resident in the neighborhood,” Gendron said. “We’ve been asking for something to be done since 2008.”

In 2010, a representative from the DOT came to a civic meeting in Hamilton Beach and said that 104th Street would be part of its 10-year capital project list with shovels in the ground for a totally new road by 2012, according to Gendron. This has yet to happen.

Betty Braton, chairwoman of Community Board 10, says the road has and will continue to be in the top 10 of the board’s capital budget request list.

“This is a difficult situation for residents of Hamilton Beach because of the nature of the roadway,” Braton said. “The people in Hamilton Beach deserve a street that is properly paved just as all residents of the city deserve a street that is properly paved.”

Gendron said he hopes that one day a capital project will be done for the street but for now would be content with the same project that is being done one neighborhood over.

“At this point all we want is the surface pavement to be re-done,” Gendron said. “Hopefully, that would hold us over until a capital project can actually be put in place.”

The DOT did not immediately respond to calls for comment.

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Residents ask for parking lines along Lindenwood streets


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

SALVATORE LICATA

Residents of Lindenwood want parking to be spot on.

More than 100 cars can be parked nose-first adjacent to the Belt Parkway on 157th Avenue between 77th and 80th streets, but that number is often reduced because there are no marked parking spaces.

Street signs tell drivers to back in at a 90 degree angle but since spaces aren’t marked, there are often wide gaps between vehicles too small for parking, which cut down the available space for other drivers.

So residents and politicians are calling for the Department of Transportation (DOT) to draw lines perpendicular to the curb to create defined parking spaces.

“A small effort from the DOT will allow local residents to have more parking spaces to access their neighborhood,” said Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder, who wrote a letter to the DOT urging them to do so.

Some residents have received summonses for parking haphazardly along the avenue but feel they are not at fault due to the city’s lack of designated parking spots for them.
“Marked legal parking spots are unclear and people are receiving summonses,” said Joann Ariola, president of the Howard Beach-Lindenwood Civic Association. “Redefining the lines will clear up all confusion when parking.”

The DOT is still reviewing Goldfeder’s request and did not have a response for how they would handle this situation.

 

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De Blasio signs package of Vision Zero bills at fatal Queens accident site


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Diana Robinson/Mayoral Photography Office

A Woodside intersection, where a fatal accident involving an 8-year-old student occurred last December, became the site where a package of traffic safety bills were signed in hopes of a brighter and safer future.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was joined by other elected and city officials as well as family members of victims of traffic fatalities, signed 11 bills supporting the city’s Vision Zero initiative on Monday at P.S. 152, less than a block from where third-grader Noshat Nahian was fatally struck by a tractor trailer in December.

“We’ve been taking aggressive action from that day forward, because we understand these collisions injure almost 4,000 New Yorkers a year, and kill over 250 New Yorkers in recent years,” de Blasio said. “And that’s been the minimum. And that’s been an unacceptable reality each year.”

Before signing the bills on June 23, de Blasio paid a visit to the completed Department of Transportation (DOT) project at Northern Boulevard and 61st Street, which includes two pedestrian islands, enhanced crosswalks and parking regulations.

Later this year the busy roadway, between 62nd and 102nd streets, will become one of the first Arterial Slow Zones, lowering the speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph.

The package of bills includes requiring the DOT to study left turns and come up with a report every five years; to respond to and address major traffic signal issues within 24 hours; to produce a report on work zone safety guidelines on bridges; to install seven Neighborhood Slow Zones this year and in 2015; and to annually lower speeds to 15 to 20 mph near schools. The bills also require the agency to study major roadways and produce a report every five years.

The bills also refer to “Cooper’s Law,” named after 9-year-old Cooper Stock who was fatally struck in Manhattan, which requires the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) to suspend drivers involved in a crash where a person is critically injured or killed and where a driver receives a summons for any traffic-related violation. The package also included the establishment of penalties for vehicles that fail to yield to pedestrians and bicyclists, and requiring the TLC to review crashes with critical injuries or death.

“The passage of today’s bills will bring us closer to making Vision Zero a reality in every neighborhood in the City of New York,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. “These laws will also will help reduce reckless driving and speeding through our local neighborhoods. Traffic safety is an issue our city takes seriously. Through this legislation, we will make our streets safer for all pedestrians, motorists and cyclists alike.”

The bills also address prohibiting stunt behaviors on motorcycles.

“We have promised the people of this city that we will use every tool we have to make streets safer,” de Blasio said. “Today is another step on our path to fulfilling that promise, and sparing more families the pain of losing a son, a daughter or a parent in a senseless tragedy.”

 

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Greenpoint Avenue Bridge lanes closed one at a time Tuesday


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC DOT

On Tuesday, between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) Division of Bridges will close one lane at a time in both directions on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge over Newtown Creek (John Jay Byrne Bridge) for drain cleaning.

At least one lane will remain open to traffic at all times. The work may be rescheduled if necessary due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances.

 

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Interactive Vision Zero map asks for traffic safety input


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via visionzero.herokuapp.com

The city is asking residents to help map out a plan to reduce traffic deaths.

As part of the city’s Vision Zero initiative, the Department of Transportation (DOT) just released an interactive map on its website to help create a traffic safety plan in the five boroughs.

The goal of Vision Zero, which Mayor Bill de Blasio launched in January, is to end traffic-related deaths for both drivers and pedestrians.

Currently, as it develops its plan, the city is gathering information from the public to help improve safety at intersections and corridors.

The website is an online complement to in-person mapping exercises that are part of the ongoing series of Vision Zero workshops that are taking place throughout the five boroughs, according to a DOT spokeswoman.

Those who cannot attend the workshops can still provide input on traffic safety in their neighborhoods and contribute to the Vision Zero plan through the map.

With the map, users can mark a specific location, then indicate an issue, such as not enough time to cross, speeding or jaywalking, and provide more information about the problem if needed. Users can also agree and give a written response to other comments.

To provide in-person input, there will be Vision Zero town hall meetings on Thursday, May 1, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at I.S. 231, 139-00 Springfield Blvd.; on Wednesday, May 21 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Bohemian Hall, 29-19 24th Ave.; and on Tuesday, May 29, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center, 153-10 Jamaica Ave.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Sunny. High 61. Winds NW at 20 to 30 mph. Thursday night: Clear skies. Low 41. NW winds at 15 to 25 mph, decreasing to 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Tone and Color Concert

The Quintet of the Americas, a woodwind group widely known for its expertise in South American music, performs Latin jazz, tango and other genres at Community Mediation Services 89-64 163rd St., Jamaica, 1 p.m. Free. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Red Flag Warning issued in New York City due to brush fire danger

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for Thursday in New York City, meaning that a combination of dry fuels and weather conditions support extreme fire danger. Read more: ABC New York

1,000 additional police officers included in City Council budget proposal

The New York City Council unveiled its recommendations for upcoming budget negotiations with Mayor Bill de Blasio. Read more: CBS New York/AP

DOT chief wants Congress to look at federal gas tax

The city’s transportation chief on Wednesday said the federal gasoline tax of 18.4 cents a gallon does not cover what the DOT spends on the nations highways — and its a troublesome situation. Read more: New York Post

Bratton on NYPD Twitter backlash: We won’t quit social media

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton admits he was caught off guard after a Twitter request by the NYPD backfired in a very public way, but said Wednesday he has no plans to abandon social media. Read more: CBS New York/AP

FDA proposes first regulations for e-cigarettes

The federal government wants to ban sales of electronic cigarettes to minors and require approval for new products and health warning labels under regulations being proposed by the Food and Drug Administration. Read more: AP

 

Mother of Astoria creek crash victim to sue city, driver: report


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook

The mother of one of the four East Elmhurst friends who died when their car plunged into an Astoria creek two weeks ago is planning on filing a negligence suit against the city and surviving driver, according to a published report.

Velma Elliot, the mother of 21-year-old Darius Fletcher, also plans to meet with the Queens district attorney’s office which is investigating if the driver, 20-year-old Andrew Gramm should receive criminal charges, the NY Daily News reports.

Elliot additionally wants changes to be made to the dead end where the car crashed, the publication said.

On April 4, after coming home from a birthday celebration, the car carrying Gramm, Fletcher, Jada Monique Butts, 19, Crystal Gravely, 19, and Jaleel Feurtado, 20, was traveling on 19th Avenue near 37th Street when it hit the curb and rolled over into Steinway Creek.

Gramm managed to escape the vehicle and call for help, but Fletcher, Butts, Gravely and Feurtado were later removed by FDNY divers and pronounced dead.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris called on the Department of Transportation (DOT) to conduct a review of safety measures on the various roads, which lead to the water.

A DOT spokesman said the agency had installed an “END” sign where 19th Avenue terminates and two highly visible “Dead End” signs at the intersection last October and which were in place at the time of the accident.

The spokesman said the agency will be looking into the report of a section of the guiderail missing, even though a preliminary review does not point to any recent reports on the missing section. The DOT will also review conditions at streets ending near water.

 

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Probe continues into fatal Astoria crash as loved ones mourn victims


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos via Facebook

Police are continuing the investigation into an accident that killed four friends after their car plunged into an Astoria creek as one politician calls for a review of safety measures on roads leading to the water.

A Honda Accord carrying four passengers and a driver was traveling on 19th Avenue near 37th Street about 10:40 p.m. Friday when it hit the curb and rolled over into Steinway Creek, police said.

The driver, identified in reports as 20-year-old Andrew Gramm, was traveling at 60 mph when he decided to make a u-turn on the wet road, according to reports. Once the vehicle went into the water, reportedly 8-feet deep, Gramm managed to escape the vehicle and call for help, cops said, but four people were still inside the car when authorities arrived.

FDNY divers then extracted the passengers, Darius Fletcher, 21, Jada Monique Butts, 19, Crystal Gravely, 19, and Jaleel Feurtado, 20, all from East Elmhurst, according to police.

The women and one of the men were taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center where they were pronounced dead, officials said. The second man was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital where he was also pronounced deceased.

Gravely would have celebrated her 20th birthday on Saturday, reports said.

Gramm was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center, police said. He was given a preliminary breath test where results showed he was sober during the time of the accident, according to police.

The NYPD’s Highway Collision Investigation Squad is still looking into the accident.

On Facebook, family and friends are mourning the loss of the four young lives through posts and photos.

“Speechless…The only reason I can cope with this is trusting and knowing if God took these kids from us it’s because God has plans for them. Just a tough pill to swallow,” wrote Kay Roberts on Saturday together with a photo of the four friends.

Vernon Feurtado, who according to Facebook posts is one of the victim’s fathers, remembered his son, Jaleel, through photos of the two together.

Senator Michael Gianaris is now calling on the Department of Transportation (DOT) to conduct a review of safety measures on the various roads, including 19th Avenue, which lead to the water. According to the senator, reports of the crash have created questions about the chain-link fence that is supposed to serve as a barricade between the street and the creek. There is also not sufficient signage specifying that the street becomes a dead end.

“As our community deals with this tragic accident, we must work together to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future,” Gianaris said. “DOT must make our streets safer by reviewing all roads leading to waterways as there may be similar dangers in other neighborhoods throughout our city. This accident was avoidable, and something must be done to keep people safe as they drive, walk or cycle on our roadways.”

A DOT spokesman said  the agency had installed an “END” sign where 19th Avenue terminates and two highly visible “Dead End” signs at the intersection last October and which were in place at the time of the accident.


Photo Courtesy of the Department of Transportation

Early Saturday afternoon the DOT also secured the area with jersey barriers and barrels, and also replaced the “END” sign. The spokesman said the agency will be looking into the report of a section of the guiderail missing, even though a preliminary review does not point to any recent reports on the missing section. The DOT will also review condition at streets ending near water.

 

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Ridgewood newsstand razed, problems persists across street


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Office of Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley

One long-standing Ridgewood problem down, and one more to go.

The troublesome newsstand on Metropolitan Avenue near Fresh Pond Road, which had been an eyesore in the community, attracting garbage and graffiti for more than two decades, has finally been taken out of sight.

The MTA/LIRR, which owned the land, demolished it on Friday with $100,000 allocated from Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley.

“After long delays from both the DOT (Department of Transportation) and LIRR, I am happy to see persistence pay off,” Crowley said.

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre 

Crowley called a press conference in 2009 with Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assemblymember Mike Miller to announce that they would remove the structure, and transform the space into a community garden.

But those promises were derailed due to complications with the LIRR and the DOT, which both have rights to the property.

The city was reluctant to have any work done in the area, according to Crowley, because of the renovations on the nearby bridge on Metropolitan Avenue.

Community leaders appreciate that the site has finally turned a corner, but now they want elected officials to focus on the other problem — literally across the street.

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre 

The DOT assumed control of the abandoned gas station on Metropolitan Avenue across from the newsstand site several years ago, but the property has also attracted graffiti. However, unlike the newsstand, the gas station is fenced in, meaning community volunteers can’t clean it up.

“The city takes available property, because they have to fix the bridge and then they let it go,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, which has cleaned up the newsstand site in the past. “They don’t keep it up, and this is a disgrace. If we, regular property owners, did that, we’d get fined.”

Photo courtesy Bob Holden

Plans aren’t complete for what the newsstand site will become, but for now the DOT “will make it nicer,” according to a Crowley spokesperson.

 

 

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Four Queens streets among region’s most dangerous for pedestrians: report


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

As Mayor Bill de Blasio and other local leaders push to lower traffic deaths, a new report has identified four Queens roadways as some of the most dangerous  for pedestrians in downstate New York.

The analysis, from the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a nonprofit policy watchdog organization, found that from 2010 to 2012, Woodhaven Boulevard had the most pedestrian deaths with eight fatalities.

It was ranked sixth overall out of 12 counties in downstate New York and the second worst in the city, behind Broadway in Manhattan.

Tied with the 14th most deaths were Union Turnpike, Queens Boulevard and Northern Boulevard, which had five fatalities each.

Union Turnpike and Queens Boulevard, nicknamed the “Boulevard of Death,” were new to the list this year.

Over the weekend four pedestrians, including a 7-year-old girl, were struck in a hit-and-run at a bus stop on Northern Boulevard and 48th Street.

An 8-year-old Woodside boy was killed on his way to school in December when a truck driver, who was operating his vehicle on a suspended license, hit him at the intersection of 61st Street and Northern Boulevard.

On Jan. 15, with the child’s family at his side, de Blasio launched his Vision Zero initiative at the boy’s school.

The mayor and his administration is launching an interagency working group, together with the NYPDDepartment of TransportationDepartment of Health and Mental Hygiene and Taxi & Limousine Commission, to implement the plan, which aims to reduce traffic fatalities to zero within the next 10 years.

Nearly 60 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred on arterial roadways, multi-lane roads that often have speed limits of 40 mph or more and little pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, according to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign analysis.

“These findings make it clear once again that we need to redesign our most dangerous arterial corridors,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of advocacy group Transportation Alternatives. “We can save lives by building complete streets with protected bike lanes, wider sidewalks and pedestrian safety islands.”

 

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Op-ed: Make traffic safety a priority


| oped@queenscourier.com

COUNCILMEMBER COSTA CONSTANTINIDES

The 21st Street corridor between Queens Plaza and 20th Avenue has always been notorious for pedestrian fatalities.  It serves as a conduit between the Queensboro and Robert F. Kennedy Bridges, resulting in cars, trucks, and other heavy vehicles using the street to move quickly between these two points.

21st Street is also home to major senior and youth developments, such as I.S. 126, Long Island City High School, Bishop Iakovos Senior Housing, Vallone Family Senior Residence, Variety Boys & Girls Club, Queensview and North Queensview.  The increase in youth and senior populations, combined with increased commercial and cycling traffic, brings a need for improvement of traffic flow and an awareness of pedestrian safety.

According to data analyzed from the New York State Department of Transportation, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and the New York Police Department, traffic on this stretch of 21st Street caused seven deaths and left 102 people with injuries from 2002 to 2011.

And these statistics have not improved since then. That data also showed that Queens had the highest incidents of fatalities due to traffic accidents in the city in 2013.

It’s easy to see why these deaths and injuries are occurring.

Some intersections along 21st Street have no crosswalks or countdown clocks at all. Many pedestrian crosswalks are bumpy, obscured with gravel or cracked asphalt, or otherwise impossible to cross if you’re in a wheelchair or pushing a stroller.  Some crosswalks are impossible to cross because the lights are non-existent or don’t allow for enough time to make it to the other side of the street.

This is an issue that plagues our entire city.  According to a Daily News analysis of NYPD reports, pedestrian deaths from vehicles, especially the number of children, are increasing and we are on pace to outnumber 2013 deaths in 2014.  So far, there have been 11 pedestrian deaths in 2014 across the city.

We clearly need a solution.

Earlier this month, we held a press conference on 21st Street, calling on the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) for action. State Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, local advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, Community Board 1,  parents from local schools, neighborhood community groups and senior centers, and other local activists joined. They agreed that real change is required to make 21st Street safer for everyone.

I therefore ask that the DOT conduct a traffic study of the 21st Street corridor, with the goal of creating a more safe and accessible street for all.

We need calming measures, such as countdown clocks and traffic lights for pedestrians, as well as well-maintained flattened crosswalks with no physical impediments for pedestrians with disabilities or children in strollers.

Our growth in population and small businesses is a boon to our local economy, but we need to make sure our infrastructure keeps up with increases in traffic. There is no excuse for us not to reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities by vehicles to zero.

Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Long Island City, Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair the City Council’s Sub-Committee on Libraries and sits on seven standing committees: Civil Service & Labor, Contracts, Cultural Affairs, Environmental Protection, Oversight & Investigations, Sanitation, and Transportation.

 

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