Tag Archives: DOT

Community pushes for pedestrian safety in western Queens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Update Tuesday, October 1, 6:00 p.m. 

After three pedestrians were struck in the last three months — two fatally and one left in critical condition — the western Queens community is asking for safer traffic measures. 

According to police, on Friday, September 13 a woman was struck and killed as she was crossing Queens Plaza North and 27th Street. Just two month before, on July 2, another woman was struck and critically injured on 29th Street, just two blocks down. 

“We have a growing epidemic where pedestrians are not safe on the sidewalks and the streets of Queensboro Plaza,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who recently helped bring improvements to an intersection in front of LaGuardia Community College where a 16-year-old high school student was struck and killed in March. “Dutch Kills and Long Island City are home to thousands of new residents as well as hundreds of growing businesses. More and more people are crossing through Queensboro Plaza every single day.”

Van Bramer gathered along with other elected officials and residents on Friday, September 27 at the intersection of Queens Plaza North and 27th Street to ask the Department of Transportation (DOT) for street safety enhancements to the busy plaza near the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge. 

The changes to increase pedestrian safety at Queensboro Plaza include extending the current 20 second countdown clocks at the crosswalks to give pedestrians more time to cross the congested streets and installing more street signage allowing pedestrians to be more alert of bicycle lanes.

“Crossing Queens Plaza should not be like playing Frogger,” said Noah Budnick, deputy director of Transportation Alternatives. “We’re sending the message that traffic crashes are preventable.”

According to the DOT, between 2007 to 2011, there has been one reported pedestrian injury at the intersection of Queens Plaza North and 27th Street and from 2007 to present, there has been one fatality.

“Safety is DOT’s top priority and the agency is currently reviewing the location to see if there are ways to further enhance safety at this intersection and the surrounding area for all street users, including possible upgrades to signage,” said Nicholas Mosquera, DOT spokesperson.

A day after the call for safety measures in Queens Plaza, 19 year old Luis Bravo lost his life in a hit-and-run along Broadway in Woodside.

“Yet another person has been killed here in western Queens as a result of a vehicular collision,” said Van Bramer. “For over a year now the Department of Transportation has not done anything about motorists speeding along Broadway here in Woodside. Every time a pedestrian is struck and dies as a result of a vehicular collision we will speak out against it.”

Photo Courtesy Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer

The councilmember gathered with local officials and residents on October 1 at the corner of 58th Street and Broadway where Bravo was struck and the vehicle fled the scene, to ask the DOT to bring safety measures to that area as well.

“It is heartbreaking anytime a young person’s life is lost, but this instance hurts because it was so sudden and the driver who killed Luis and sped off is still at large,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “I urge everyone in our community to join together to bring this hit-and-run driver to justice, and I urge the DOT to do everything it can to make our streets safer.”

Anyone with information on the hit-and-run is encouraged to contact NYPD’s Crime Stoppers by calling 800-577-TIPS.

 

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Op-Ed: Ensuring the safety of our children


| oped@queenscourier.com

COUNCILMEMBER ELIZABETH CROWLEY

Drivers need to be more conscientious near schools. Just a few days ago, students of I.S. 73 in Maspeth got seriously injured by an out-of-control vehicle. As police investigate this accident, we owe it to those injured students and their classmates to make our streets safer.

Grand Avenue is a very busy street. The vehicular traffic is made worse during school arrival and dismissal time as P.S. 58, I.S. 73 and Maspeth High School are all located within six blocks of each other. I believe it is imperative to implement changes as soon as possible, and on Monday, along with PTA leaders, I met with Queens DOT Commissioner Dalila Hall on site to discuss how to make Grand Avenue safer.

The stretch of Grand Avenue near P.S. 58 and I.S. 73 is in need of “Safe Routes to School” program and a slowdown zone where the speed limit is reduced to 20 miles per hour. The safe routes program redesigns streets, which include expanding sidewalks, new lane paintings and improved signal timing, to ease congestion around schools.

Recently, the DOT studied vehicle speeds around all schools in New York City, and they found that 98 percent of vehicles driving around P.S. 58, I.S. 73 and Maspeth High School are going over the speed limit. This is dangerous and simply unacceptable. A comprehensive study by the DOT to change traffic patterns and slow down drivers through its “Safe Routes to School” program would be a major help in reducing congestion around these schools.

There must be constant traffic enforcement by the NYPD and DOT today. I have called on both agencies to ticket trucks that are not making local deliveries, and speeding drivers who are endangering our children must be stopped. New York recently approved speed camera enforcement at 20 schools in the city. Placing one of these cameras at Grand Avenue near P.S. 58 and I.S. 73 would certainly slow drivers down once tickets begin arriving in the mail.

Nothing is more important than ensuring the safety of our children traveling to and from school. I have brought the concerns of the community to DOT, and together, we must demand the DOT prioritize safety on Grand Avenue. Our most vulnerable and precious resource are our children, and we must do everything to keep them safe.

Elizabeth Crowley represents the 30th Council District, covering Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood and Woodhaven

 

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Ozone Park could be home to new pedestrian plaza


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes / Renderings courtesy of the DOT

A pedestrian plaza could be coming to an area of Ozone Park the Department of Transportation (DOT) said is under-utilized and in need of more open space.

The Bangladeshi American Community Development & Youth Service (BACDYS) applied to create a plaza at the intersection of Liberty Avenue and 101st Avenue near Drew Street, just on the Brooklyn-Queens border.

The plan already has the support of Brooklyn Community Board (CB) 5, as well as area businesses in both boroughs and local elected officials, including Councilmember Eric Ulrich, according to the DOT. Community Board (CB) 9 will vote on the proposal next month.

 

“The project would provide additional open space, serving pedestrians and customers of local businesses,” said a DOT spokesperson.

However, reservations still exist for CB 9.

The plaza would close off the Drew Street through-way from 101st Avenue to Liberty Avenue and would also change both streets from two-way to one-way. Eleven parking spots would also be lost.

Mary Ann Carey, CB 9’s district manager, said these are the “biggest issues” for the board.

“Why didn’t they choose a much a much larger plaza,” she asked, pointing to the space near Elderts Lane and Liberty Avenue just a few blocks down.

She continued that now the board is “just fact finding” and preparing for next month’s vote.

The DOT said this particular proposed area has an active retail business and existing open space, and is being under-utilized.

If approved, BACDYS would be responsible for the upkeep of the public plaza, which anyone can visit and also apply to hold events.

The plaza, whose cost was unclear as of press time, would be made up of gravel, granite blocks, planters, flexible delineators, movable tables and chairs, benches, permanent bench seating and bike parking, similar to other city plazas.

After the CB 9 vote, the DOT projects a potential implementation in late September. Public outreach for a permanent plaza design would then begin in the spring of 2014.

 

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Pols call for traffic calming measures in Fresh Meadows


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A group of leaders in Fresh Meadows are trying to put the brakes on lead-footed drivers who they say whiz down a stretch of homes daily.

The speeding motorists use 75th Avenue, a residential road, to bypass traffic on Union Turnpike, according to Councilmember James Gennaro.

For about one mile, between Utopia Parkway and 164th Street, drivers need only slow down twice for a speed bump and a stop sign, local leaders said.

“It’s a straight run” otherwise, Gennaro said. “It creates a very dangerous situation for people living in and around 75th Avenue on this particular stretch.”

At least four people were injured near 75th Avenue and 172nd Street between 2007 and 2011, according to the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT), though none were severely hurt.

That number jumped to 14 in 2012, according to a spokesperson for Gennaro, who said crashes and near collisions are increasing as more drivers discover the detour.

Assemblymember Nily Rozic said she recently saw a speeding driver jump the curb in an attempt to avoid hitting another car.

“It missed and parked on top of a lawn,” she said. “It’s actually not the first time that I’ve seen that on 75th Avenue. Enough is enough. We really need to figure out a strategic and innovative way to calm the neighborhood to speeding traffic.”

Gennaro said his office has made three requests for traffic studies since 2011. The calls for an all-way stop sign at 172nd Street and 75th Avenue were all denied by the DOT, the councilmember said.

“It’s frustrating,” Gennaro said. “The Department of Transportation has to figure something out. This situation may not lend itself to some kind of cookie cutter solution, but there has to be some sort of solution.”

DOT spokesperson Nicholas Mosquera said the location did not meet federal guidelines for more traffic controls. However, he said the department is looking into other measures.

The legislators proposed putting speed bumps instead of stop signs in problematic parts of 75th Avenue. A DOT feasibility study for the measure is not slated to be finished until October.

“A speed bump is a true traffic calming device,” Gennaro said. “That’s what it’s made for, to slow traffic down and make it a less desirable alternative to Union Turnpike.”

Principal Mary Scheer of nearby Holy Family School said traffic along 75th Avenue will only increase in the meantime.

“They want to keep speeding. I’ve seen cars pass each other on this road. It’s very dangerous,” she said. “There’s total neglect of any of the rules of the road on this street.”

 

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Speed cameras to go into effect near city schools September 9


| dromano@homereporter.com

Photo courtesy of the New York City Mayor’s Office

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan have announced that the speed camera pilot program would roll out at yet-to-be-determined locations near schools citywide beginning the first day of school, Monday, September 9.

The law allows the city to install speed cameras at 20 locations within a quarter mile of schools in high crash locations and it allows the city to rotate the cameras to school locations across the five boroughs. The cameras would work much like the red-light cameras already in place; they would not photograph the driver or share the license plate number of the car.

Default penalties for speeding would be set at $25 with a maximum penalty of $50 for speeding between 10 and 30 miles above the speed limit and $100 for speeding over 30 miles above the speed limit.

The mayor and commissioner were joined by NYPD Chief of Transportation James Tuller on Monday, August 26 at W.E.B. Dubois High School in Crown Heights, one of the candidates to receive speed camera technology nearby due to a high crash rate in its vicinity.

“Keeping streets safe for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians is one of the most important public safety challenges any government faces,” said Bloomberg. “Our streets are the safest they have ever been, due in large part to our enforcement efforts and innovative traffic engineering that have brought traffic fatalities to record lows. Curbing speeding around schools will help us continue to make our city’s streets safer for everyone.”

“Over the last six years, we’ve kept an unrelenting focus on the safety of our most vulnerable New Yorkers, and with speed cameras we’re now putting an even sharper focus on safety near our schools,” Sadik-Khan added. “Motorists who play fast and loose on our streets need to learn the critical lesson that the New York City’s speed limit is 30 mph for a reason, and that it’s literally the difference between life and death.”

Transportation Alternatives has been working with the DOT and community groups to identify the best locations for the cameras. Since August 14, 72 requests have been made for 220 locations.

“New Yorkers want to save lives and they know speed cameras will do just that,” said Paul Steely White, TA’s executive director. “Just in time for the school year, several dozen school zones will be safer. We look forward to the day when every school has the same protection against reckless drivers.”

 

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Citi Bike share program headed to Astoria


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Cristabelle Tumola

Citi Bike is coming to Astoria.

Although the Department of Transportation (DOT) has yet to set a timetable as to when the Citi Bike share program will be coming into Queens, Senator Michael Gianaris has announced he has worked with the DOT to include Astoria in the future plans.

“Citi Bike will be a great addition to Astoria, which has a growing cycling community and is already one of the most bike-friendly neighborhoods in the city,” said Gianaris.

Astoria now joins Long Island City and Sunnyside as future locations in the borough for the Citi Bike share program.

Long Island City was supposed to be part of the Citi Bike’s initial phase which debuted in May but was pushed back after equipment damages from Superstorm Sandy caused a delay.

The DOT previously told The Courier that although the expansion into Long Island City was delayed, it is working to bring the Citi Bike stations to the neighborhood as soon as possible. “Bike share will allow people to enjoy the neighborhood in a fun and healthy way and will help people more easily travel around western Queens, an area in dire need of better mass transit,” said Gianaris.

 

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Safety improvements at fatal Long Island City intersection


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer

Months after 16-year-old Tenzin Drudak was struck and killed near LaGuardia Community College, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has answered students and residents’ pleas for safety enhancements.

Drudak, a student at the Applied Communications High School inside the community college’s building, died after being struck by a minivan that lost control and mounted the sidewalk at the intersection of Thomson Avenue and 30th Street in Long Island City. Four of five other pedestrians hit in the same incident were students at LaGuardia.

After Drudak’s death, residents, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, Community Board 2 and LaGuardia Community College officials called on the DOT to enhance pedestrian safety at the intersection.

“No New Yorker should feel their life is in jeopardy when they are walking along the sidewalks of our City streets” said Van Bramer.

Since April, the DOT has implemented short-term improvements including adjusting the timing of signals near the intersection and installing pedestrian countdown signals at Thomson and Skillman Avenues, 30th Street, 30th Place, 31st Street and 31st Place. The agency has also added signs and improved markings at Thomson Avenue and Van Dam Street.

In the latest changes, the DOT said it has redesigned Thomson and Skillman Avenues by closing the slip ramp and making it illegal for vehicles to makes left turns from Thomson Avenue onto Skillman Avenue.

The department added it has installed new signs and plastic markers to limit left turns from Thomson Avenue to 30th Street.

There is also a brand new 550-square-foot pedestrian space at the intersection of 30th Street and Thomson Avenue. It is bordered by stone blocks, plastic markings and six planters.

According to the DOT, all the changes were aimed at improving safety for the large volume of students and residents that walk through the intersection daily.

 

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Residents: Area around Whitestone park unsafe for pedestrians


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Getting to and from a Whitestone playground is no walk in the park, some residents say.

The lack of a crosswalk or traffic controls at the 3rd Avenue and 147th Street entrance to Francis Lewis Park is dangerous to pedestrians, said Malba Civic Association president Alfredo Centola.

“It’s a beautiful park,” Centola said. “These poor kids, with their parents, whenever they come to the park to play, they have to take their lives in their hands.”

Most residents must cross three-way traffic to enter and leave the park, located at the edge of the East River, since the majority of homes in the area lie across 147th Street.

Irene Rama of Whitestone said sometimes she and her kids are forced to stop in the middle of the street to avoid an oncoming car even after stopping to look in every direction beforehand.

Residents say a piece of property, bordered by jutting construction boards, that is being developed directly next to the park impairs the vision of pedestrians trying to cross.

“It’s a long stretch,” said Rama. “There are kids running all the time. There should be something here. It’s a huge intersection.”

Mark Felber, 67, who lives down the street from the park, said he would like to see better traffic controls.

“This is a popular street,” he said. “I have grandkids. They run over there and there’s no stop sign.”

There were no injuries at the intersection in question between 2007 and 2011, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) said.

But the department said there were four serious ones from car accidents, not involving pedestrians, during that period at 3rd Avenue and the westbound Whitestone service road.

“While DOT has not received any recent requests related to this location, the agency will study the applicability of a stop sign or other traffic controls at 3rd Avenue and 147th Street as well as the feasibility of speed bumps in the area,” the spokesperson said.

Centola said he has sent the DOT a letter of complaint every 18 months since 2005.

Queens Borough Commissioner Maura McCarthy mailed the civic leader a response in 2011 saying the department completed an analysis and determined “Multi-Way Stop controls are not recommended at this time.”

“Factors such as vehicular and pedestrian volumes, vehicular speeds, visibility and signal spacing were all taken into consideration in making our determination,” the correspondence reads.

Shortly after the letter, the city installed one pedestrian crossing sign in front of the park, but it only faces one direction of traffic. Centola said the sign is also too high for drivers to see.

“At this point, I’m speechless and dumbfounded,” he said. “The DOT is once again being negligent and refusing to take care of the issues.”

 

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Long Island City neighborhood calls for traffic safety improvements


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Benjamin Fang

ANGY ALTAMIRANO AND BENJAMIN FANG

As the Dutch Kills neighborhood in Long Island City continues to grow, local politicians and residents are calling on the Department of Transportation (DOT) to improve traffic safety.

“The city must ensure that its priority remains the safety of neighborhood residents,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “We are trying to be proactive on this side of the plaza and make sure that the residents and people who are staying in hotels here are safe as they walk the streets and visit all the new businesses.”

According to Gianaris and Dominic Stiller, president of the Dutch Kills Civic Association, there have been six to seven car crashes and accidents over the past several months at intersections in the neighborhood from 38th Avenue and 40th Avenue to 21st Street and 30th Street.

Through a petition, residents are asking the DOT for curb extensions, speed bumps, more four-way stop signs, new stop signs and enforcement of existing traffic laws to reduce speeding and unsafe driving as well as enhance pedestrian safety.

“This is a topic where lives can be saved,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “We don’t want to wait until someone dies here before the Department of Transportation takes all of these really good suggestions.”

A DOT spokesperson said safety is department’s first priority. Nicholas Mosquera added the DOT has met with Gianaris to discuss safety enhancements at 39th Avenue and 29th Street, an area which the agency is reevaluating for extra stop signs and marking upgrades. The DOT is also inspecting the Queensboro Plaza area to figure out if there are any additional methods needed to increase safety.

The DOT has also launched an outreach initiative in the area and positioned street safety managers to help pedestrians and bicyclists near Dutch Kills Park.

“This initiative is part of a citywide campaign to educate and promote shared responsibility for everyone using the streets,” said Mosquera said.

 

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Forest Hills, Rego Park get more bike racks


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Rosa Kim

Forest Hills and Rego Park cyclists are getting nearly 40 more places to lock up and park.

The city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) has installed most of its proposed 39 bike racks within Community Board 6, a spokesperson said, with remaining sites to be scheduled over the next few weeks.

“Without a doubt, we need these bike racks,” said cyclist Sterling Dadone. “We don’t have places to lock up, so we lock up to whatever we can — fences and gates.”

Specific locations of the racks were not disclosed as of press time. But CB 6 District Manager Frank Gulluscio said they will be scattered throughout the district in high volume areas.

Bikers can already find the racks up and down Yellowstone Boulevard and along Woodhaven Boulevard, Queens Boulevard, Austin Street and Selfridge Street near commercial, civic or recreational hotspots. Sidewalks have to be at least 11 feet wide to support a rack.

“More and more people are asking us about bike racks and paths in the district,” Gulluscio said. “It’s a good thing. You just see more and more people on bikes.”

He added that the district’s close proximity to Manhattan and its lack of parking makes it an ideal hub for bikers. According to the district manager, there are currently less than ten bike racks in Forest Hills and Rego Park.

“Why not leave your car and take your bike if you can lock it up near a store?” he said. “We look forward to the city going green. That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day.”

Resident Victor Ortega said the racks will make life easier for him and his fellow cyclists.

“I wouldn’t have to park my bike somewhere and worry about it,” he said.

Additional reporting by Rosa Kim

 

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City to install pedestrian signs in LIC


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the Department of Transportation

Finding your way around Long Island City is going to get easier.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced the first phase of installations for the city’s new pedestrian sign system, WalkNYC. The program will install 100 free-standing signs by the end of the year in four initial areas including Chinatown, Herald Square and the Garment District in Manhattan, Prospect Heights and Crown Heights in Brooklyn, and Long Island City in Queens.

“You don’t need to be a tourist to feel turned-around on New York’s streets and this first-ever unified pedestrian sign system is a step in the right direction,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

The signs, which already appear in more than 300 Citi Bike stations, will be installed in sidewalks and subway stations in the four areas. The maps will show streets, major points of interest and other info. The maps feature a “heads-up” design to show pedestrians the way the street appears in front of them.

Installation has already begun in Manhattan and will work its way around the four areas. The signs are scheduled to reach Long Island City in August.

“The launch of this new pedestrian navigation system will provide New Yorkers as well as millions of tourists who visit our city each year directly with the information they need to access some of the greatest attractions and essential venues we have to offer,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

The program was established mainly through federal grants. Working together with community partners, the DOT was able to research, identify and note popular locations, primary routes and distinct points in each neighborhood. In Long Island City, the DOT has worked alongside the Long Island City Partnership as the program developed. Once the signs are installed, the LIC Partnership will be responsible for sign maintenance and monitoring for needed updates or repairs.

The DOT is also working with other business improvement districts and community partners to expand the pedestrian sign system to more neighborhoods around the city.

 

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Forest Hills biz owners: Parking plans would ‘kill us’


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Rosa Kim

BY MELISSA CHAN AND ROSA KIM

The city’s plans to make a dangerous Forest Hills intersection safer would crush local shops, business owners said.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has proposed turning 14 metered parking spots along Metropolitan Avenue, between 70th Drive and 71st Avenue, into No Standing zones.

The measure is meant to improve traffic flow, ease congestion and make the crosswalk safer for pedestrians and simpler for motorists, a DOT spokesperson said.

Thirteen people were injured at Metropolitan Avenue and 71st Avenue between 2006 and 2010, the DOT said. Two were pedestrians who were severely hurt. In 2011, a left-turning car struck and killed another person who was crossing the street.

But business owners said the change would devastate already struggling stores that rely on more than just foot traffic.

“Without parking spots, we cannot operate,” said Tony Sparacino of Father and Sons Florist. “As little as we have, we need them. It’ll kill the drugstore, the bakery, all of us.”

Sam Cardenli of Piccola Italia said parking is already sparse.

“Sometimes you go around and around and you don’t find any parking,” she said. “If they remove the parking from here, it’s going to make it harder for the customers and we’re going to lose business.”

The DOT said many Metropolitan Avenue businesses have their own parking lots. Surveys conducted by the department show low Muni Meter usage, with only a fraction of spaces being occupied throughout the week.

There are also plans to relocate the 71st Avenue bus stop to 70th Drive and install a painted center median with a left turn bay. The DOT said the projects are not yet scheduled.

“If it happens, there’s going to be an uproar,” Sparacino said.

Forest Hills resident Wolfgang Rapp said he crosses the intersection daily without thinking he is in danger.

“This intersection is nothing compared to Queens Boulevard, which is really a death trap,” he said. “Reasonable people cross the street in reasonable ways. They look around and cars don’t really speed. So that concern about the safety of this area, it’s a non-issue.”

Pedestrian Karah Michaels said she could see the logic behind moving the bus stop.

“Despite the lights, a lot could happen here,” she said. If it’s going to a street where there’s a lot less traffic, I think it would be a lot safer.”

 

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State lawmakers approve speed cameras near NYC schools


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

The New York State Legislature passed a bill over the weekend allowing for the installation of speed cameras near 20 schools with documented speeding issues.

Drivers caught speeding by the cameras will face $50 fines.

“The Legislature has clearly stated that the streets around our schools should be safe havens, not speed traps. Speed cameras will help put a freeze frame on the number-one killer on our city’s roads,” said Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

Though the city experienced historic lows in annual traffic deaths last year, vehicle accidents increased from 49 in 2011 to 81 in 2012, and were “the greatest single factor in traffic deaths,” according to the DOT.

In March, the City Council approved a resolution calling on the state Legislature to pass a law for a city speed camera pilot program that would test 20 to 40 speed cameras at high-risk locations.

The DOT asked that priority be given to streets near schools with documented speeding problems.

But the following month, the state Legislature failed to include funding for the program when it passed the 2013-2014 budget.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has supported speed cameras along with the City Council and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, publicly lambasted local state Senators for failing to approve the pilot.

“[Speeding] remains the single greatest contributing factor in traffic fatalities in New York City, and we have long advocated in Albany for the authority to install speed cameras to help save lives,” Bloomberg said in a statement Saturday. “If a driver strikes a child at 40 miles per hour, there is a 70 percent chance the child will be killed. At 30 miles per hour, there is an 80 percent chance the child survives.”

 

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Maspeth residents continue to fight truck traffic


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Maspeth residents have road rage for big rig drivers.

Community leaders and residents held a rally at the intersection of 64th Street and Flushing Avenue on June 20 to bring attention to a perceived excess of tractor trailer traffic in the area.

Residents have long contended drivers ignore laws and use residential streets as shortcuts to avoid traffic on the Long Island Expressway. They say the trucks increase noise and pollution in the community and are calling for more enforcement by police.

“Maspeth deserves a community with fewer trucks,” Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley said. “It’s one thing to have local deliveries, but it’s another thing to have huge trucks.”

In 2011, the city passed the Maspeth Bypass plan to prevent trucks from using local streets to make deliveries.

However, Crowley and others say drivers continue to exit the expressway and use Flushing and Grand Avenues when going to Brooklyn due to a lack of signs that direct trucks to streets they may use, and the fact the official truck map does not reflect changes in the plan. The Department of Transportation (DOT) maintains a map showing approved paths for trucks.

The 104th Precinct said while officers do ticket trucks for infractions, judges throw the cases out on grounds the signs and maps have not been changed.

“We’ve been trying to get the map adjusted, but as it stands, it still is a lawful route,” said Lieutenant George Hellmer of the 104th Precinct. Locals say the trucks — most of them 16- and 18-wheelers, but sometimes longer — rattle houses and awaken people when they go by as early as 2 a.m.

Residents also say the traffic light at 64th Street and Flushing Avenue has been knocked over and fixed multiple times as trucks have struggled to turn off Grand Avenue onto Flushing Avenue.

Residents are also concerned about children, citing an August 2010 incident in which a truck struck and killed 12-year-old Frederick Endres while the boy was riding his bicycle on Fresh Pond Road.

“This is a residential area and people just want to have peaceful lives,” said Anna Zacalunov, who lives on Grand Avenue.

As the rally progressed, residents counted the number of trucks that drove by. In an hour-and-a-half, more than 250 tractor trailers of varying sizes were seen up and down the intersection.

“They don’t care. They are giving us the finger, some of them,” said Roe Daraio, president of Communities of Maspeth & Elmhurst Together (COMET), the civic association that organized the rally. “Laws with no enforcement mean nothing.”

The next step for the community is to meet with DOT to get the maps changed and signs put up.

But not all residents think drivers are the only ones to blame.

“Also, I think they should ticket the dispatcher,” said Maspeth resident Bob Nastasi. “He’s the one telling these out-of-state guys where to go.”

 

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Parents, officials call for crosswalk outside Lindenwood school


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

As students poured out of school, a crowd gathered on the corner of 153rd Avenue and 83rd Street in Lindenwood.

Passing through were parents and guardians, sometimes holding the hands of several children as they tried to cross 153rd Avenue toward the Lindenwood Shopping Center. The crossing guard shuttled people across 83rd Street, but could not stop traffic because there is no crosswalk.

Parents, teachers and community leaders rallied outside P.S. 232 on Friday, June 14. They urged the Department of Transportation (DOT) to install a crosswalk across 153rd Avenue at the corner of the school.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo, whose daughters are students there, hosted the rally.

He said the goal was to first get a crosswalk, and then get proper signs to make the intersection a little safer. He added he has also spoken to the 106th Precinct’s commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Thomas Pascale, who said a crosswalk there would increase safety

“I did have a conversation with Inspector Pascale,” Addabbo said. “He said he’s in favor of a crosswalk if they ask [...] He would want one here to allow his crossing guard to cross people.”

Community Board 10 would support a crosswalk plan if DOT were to come up with one for the street, Board chair Elizabeth Braton said.

“If DOT indicates that it’s safe from their standpoint of traffic engineering,” she said, “I don’t see any reason why the board would not support it.”

“We don’t feel safe without that crosswalk there,” said parent Lisa Neumann. “Hopefully, they’ll get our message.”
Stefanie Calise, whose son attends nearby P.S. 146 and gets dropped off at the intersection, said she nearly got hit by a car last week trying to cross the street.

Children “can’t cross that by themselves,” she said.

However, a DOT spokesperson said the intersection does not meet the criteria for a crosswalk under federal guidelines. Officials are looking into other ways to ease traffic at the intersection, the spokesperson said.

The most recent data DOT has to go by are from 2007 to 2011, when there were no injuries at the intersection.

Addabbo addressed the statistics at the rally and called for a more aggressive approach.

“Far too often, our city reacts to a bad situation,” he said. “They’ll give us statistics about not enough accidents here, not enough fatalities here. What we’re asking: let’s not be reactive, let’s be pro-active. Let’s prevent an accident.”

 

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