Tag Archives: traffic safety

$100M transformation to turn Queens Boulevard into ‘Boulevard of Life’ begins


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

For Lizi Rahman and all other family members who have lost loved ones on Queens Boulevard, their dream of putting an end to the “Boulevard of Death” is finally starting to become reality.

Rahman — whose 22-year-old son Asif was fatally struck while riding his bicycle home in 2008 — joined Mayor Bill de Blasio, Department of Transportation (DOT) representatives and local elected officials and community leaders on Thursday morning in Woodside to announce the beginning of the $100 million redesign of the busy thoroughfare which has claimed 185 lives since 1990.

“I decided to do everything in my power to get a bike lane on Queens Boulevard so that bicyclists would feel safe and no mother would go through this pain of losing a child,” Rahman said. “There were times when I was discouraged. I almost gave up but then I saw light at the end of the tunnel when Mayor de Blasio was elected. Now my dream is not a dream anymore, it became a reality.”

The first phase of the redesign project, which was unanimously approved by Community Board 2 last month, will focus on the 1.3-mile section of Queens Boulevard between Roosevelt Avenue and 73rd Street, an area which saw six deaths, 36 severe injuries and 591 more hurt in traffic accidents between 2009 and 2013.

“Here is a lesson if ever there was one, on the fact that we had to change things here on Queens Boulevard. We were losing too many good people, and we could avoid those losses. And finally, the actions are being taken to save lives here on Queens Boulevard that should’ve happened long ago,” de Blasio said on Thursday.

Lizi Rahman lost her son in 2008 after he was fatally struck by a truck on Queens Boulevard while riding his bicycle home.

Lizi Rahman lost her son in 2008 after he was fatally struck by a truck on Queens Boulevard while riding his bicycle home.

The redesign of the thoroughfare is expected to decrease drivers from switching repeatedly between the main line and service road. The overall plan will be to get rid of the “highway-like design features” which encourage drivers to speed.

The improvements on the stretch, which will be installed through October, include safer crossings installed along the corridor; pedestrian islands and new mid-block crossings constructed to give pedestrians more time to cross; and high visibility crosswalks and new signals will be added.

“We have an obligation to make sure that not one more person loses their life on this boulevard,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “We will transform Queens Boulevard into that ‘Boulevard of Life,’ we will make it safer for everyone, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. All living in harmony and in safety.”

The DOT will also add protected bike lanes with buffers and new pedestrian space along the median next to the service lane in both directions. A raised, concrete bicycle path will be constructed under the overpass on the eastbound service road from 67th to 69th streets.

The project will also include pedestrian ramps being upgraded to be ADA-complaint improving accessibility to those with disabilities, and service roads will be reduced to one moving lane in each direction.

The DOT plans to soon begin the phase of the redesign of Queens Boulevard from 73rd Street to Eliot Avenue, and after from Eliot Avenue to Jamaica Avenue.

“So for all the people who depend on this crucial road, life will change for the better. And we’re going to use every tool we have to continue that work — not just on Queens Boulevard, but all over the city,” de Blasio said.

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Councilman starts petition for traffic safety improvements surrounding Astoria Park


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Katrina Medoff

After the life of a 21-year-old woman was cut short last month on her way home, one local politician is putting his foot down and asking Astoria residents to join the fight to bring safety improvements in and around Astoria Park.

Councilman Costa Constantinides started a petition Monday calling for improvements to be made on streets such as Shore Boulevard, Ditmars Boulevard, 19th Street and Hoyt Avenue South.

“The streets surrounding Astoria Park are a dangerous stretch for pedestrians. The corridor is used by many families and children on the way to the park. All the while, many motorists race to and from the park at high rates of speed. A recent hit-and-run death that occurred in the area shows that we need better traffic safety,” Constantinides said. “We have made great strides recently in calming traffic in Astoria through safety improvements on 21st Street south of Hoyt Avenue and through the upcoming slow zone south of Astoria Boulevard. That’s why I have started a petition to support traffic improvements on the streets in and around Astoria Park. I look forward to working with DOT to make Astoria a safer place to live.”

The petition comes after Betty DiBiasio was struck on June 28 by a car as she was crossing a marked crosswalk at the intersection of Ditmars Boulevard and 19th Street, just blocks from her home.

The car, which was being driven by 24-year-old Astoria resident Nicholas Colleran, drove through a stop sign and then struck DiBiasio, according to officials.

Colleran allegedly called 911 about an hour after the accident to report that his car had been stolen and in his vehicle theft investigation report claimed it had been taken from a parking lot in the back of his residence. The vehicle was discovered in another location in Astoria with a broken windshield and driver’s side-view mirror, and a damaged driver’s side front fender.

There also appeared to be blood and hair in the driver’s side windshield, where it was broken, and, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, was consistent with a vehicle striking a pedestrian and the pedestrian hitting the windshield.

Colleran then turned himself into the police where he admitted that he had two beers before driving and striking DiBiasio and then leaving the scene.

He was charged with leaving the scene of an incident without reporting a death, third-degree falsely reporting an incident, failure to stop for a stop sign, driving by an unlicensed operator, failure to exercise due care and a violation of the city’s administrative code.

To sign Constantinides’ petition, click here.

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Students from P.S. 207 in Howard Beach call for traffic safety


| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Office of Phil Goldfeder

Students from P.S. 207 in Howard Beach have stirred Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder to call for improved traffic safety near the school.

After third-graders from the school held a rally for improved traffic safety around school grounds on Friday, June 26, Goldfeder sent a letter to Department of Transportation (DOT) Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia requesting yield signs at crosswalks outside of the school.

“I am truly inspired by the students of Class 301 for their efforts to improve pedestrian safety in our community,” Goldfeder said. “Installing yield signs outside P.S. 207 will help ensure that our students can come home safely from school each and every day. I urge the Department of Transportation to take immediate action and make these necessary upgrades before someone gets hurt.”

At the rally, Goldfeder received more than 500 signatures from Howard Beach residents calling for the installation of signs around the school to urge drivers to yield to pedestrians. The yellow pedestrian signs already installed have not been effective in spurring cars to yield when a crossing guard is not present, residents said in the petition.

Goldfeder also met with the students of Class 301 to offer his support and received handmade yield signs from students thanking him for his efforts. In his letter, Goldfeder asked Garcia to install yield signs at the four intersections around P.S. 207 including 88th and 89th streets between 169th and 160th Avenues.

“No parent should have to fear for their child’s safety when sending them off to school each morning,” Goldfeder said. “This small step will help give area families the peace of mind they need and deserve.”

A formal request has been sent to the DOT and Jon Greenfield, communications director for Goldfeder, said they are looking forward to working with the agency to install these yield signs.

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Students study local street to make Jackson Heights safer


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Noah Beadle

Groups of “kid engineers” came together over the weekend to try to understand how to make Queens safer, one street at a time.

The advocacy organization, Make Queens Safer, hosted a Safer, Greener Streets Fair and Bike Bonanza on Saturday at Travers Park in Jackson Heights to raise awareness and allow visitors to learn more about street safety while also getting the chance to participate in activities.

One of the interactive events, called the Kid Engineers Traffic Study, allowed students from I.S. 230, P.S. 69, P.S. 212, P.S. 280, the Academy for Careers in Television and Film, the Baccalaureate School for Global Education, McClancy High School and Voice Charter School to assist in documenting traffic conditions down 34th Avenue between 74th and 80th streets.

The study was chosen for that particular stretch in Jackson Heights, which has a speed limit of 30 mph, because it is parallel to Northern Boulevard, is a major bike route and is near three schools and several parks, according to organizers.

“Providing the tools and knowledge on how to safely navigate the streets of our neighborhoods can help reduce accidents and improve the quality of life for all members of our community,” said Councilman Daniel Dromm, who joined the students as they conducted the study.

TS-3

The students measured traffic speeds using radar guns westbound on 34th Avenue at 75th Street and eastbound on the avenue at 79th Street.

According to the students’ data, with more than 100 measurements taken, about 17 percent of the vehicles traveled 31 mph or faster at 75th Street, while 7 percent exceeded the limit at 79th Street.

Traffic was light compared to weekday traffic, according to organizers. Other notes taken at the sites included vehicles running red lights.

The final field study involved intersection safety observations.

The “kid engineers” examined driver, pedestrian and cyclist behaviors at 76th, 77th, and 80th streets along 34th Avenue.

Students collected data on vehicles stopping in crosswalks while ignoring painted stop lines, drivers using hand-held cellphones, and pedestrians talking on cellphones as they crossed the intersections. During this time the students also talked about ways pedestrians should stay safe while crossing the streets.

Other information collected involved two near collisions, vehicles turning without signals, cyclists running red lights and pedestrians walking out into the street before checking for traffic.

For the full data collected by the Kid Engineers Traffic Study, click here.

Throughout the day other events of the a Safer, Greener Streets Fair and Bike Bonanza included a Learn to Ride Class hosted by Bike New York, a helmet giveaway from the Department of Transportation and free youth bike repair by Recycle a Bicycle and Bike Yard.

“Our family spent the entire day talking about safety – bike safety and street safety,” said Veronica Marino, whose 11-year-old daughter participated in the events. “So many times it takes a tragedy to get people talking about these things.”

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Signs of life: Howard Beach 7th-graders make their own traffic safety signs


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

ERIC JANKIEWICZ 

Students at P.S./I.S. 232 Walter Ward School have first-hand experience with the dangers of traffic and speeding cars.

The Howard Beach school is located across the street from a shopping center, and the everyday task of crossing the streets is always tinged with danger, according to students, parents and faculty members at the school.

In response to the constant speeding that they see daily, students from a seventh-grade class designed their own traffic sign as part of a wider Department of Transportation (DOT) project for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero” policy. The signs went up on two locations Friday around the school.

“It’s so dangerous, “Rosemarie Asselta, a parent, said about the intersection of 153rd Avenue and 83rd Street. “They’re rushing past the school in a hurry and zooming into the [shopping center] parking lot. It’s terrifying.”

Asselta explained that the problem isn’t that drivers in the area are particularly careless. But between 84th and 79th streets on 153rd Avenue there is no stop sign or red light. Add to this the fact that the crossing guard can’t control traffic on the high-speed Avenue, and you get an area where “close calls” happen all the time, Asselta said.

The traffic sign designed by the seventh-grade class was put up on the avenue itself as well as 83rd Street, advising students that, “ready and alert wins the race.” The sign depicts a green human figure crossing the street as a yellow car, presumably, slows down as it reaches the intersection.

Jamee Lopez is one of the seventh-graders that helped design the traffic sign and for her, traffic incidents take a personal note. Last year she was crossing the avenue when she was almost hit by a car.

“I was like, ‘Oh, my God.’ And it made me realize how dangerous this area really is,” Jamee said. “Because in this school you always hear stories about kids almost getting hit but then when it happens to you, it becomes really serious.”

Jamee and her fellow classmates worked on the design process since the beginning of the school year in September 2013. During that time, they collaborated with one another on a design and visited the DOT’s sign shop in Maspeth, according to Theresa Bary, a DOT representative.

“They see it from start to finish,” said Bary, the department’s deputy director of safety education outreach. “They really take this to heart.”

 

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Crash victim’s parents take safety oath with hundreds of students


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Melissa Chan

Studying for the year’s biggest standardized tests can wait, District 26 Superintendent Anita Saunders said.

Scholars at P.S. 173 have a more important task at hand — memorizing the 120-word oath they took Friday to put safety first as passengers and pedestrians.

“This pledge you’re taking is very, very important,” Saunders said to a packed auditorium of wide-eyed youths. “It’s even more important than your ELA and math test.”

Almost all 940 students at the Fresh Meadows school raised their right hand and promised, in unison, to buckle up, be alert and “value the preservation of life above all else” when riding in cars or crossing the street.

The pledge was taken in honor of 3-year-old Allison Liao, who was tragically killed by an SUV in Flushing last October, while crossing Main Street at Cherry Avenue.

“We’re here today because something bad happened to our family,” Allison’s father, Hsi-Pei, said to the students. “She did nothing wrong, and she was holding an adult’s hand.”

The Liaos’ tragedy has aided a local push to stop short-tempered parents from double parking, blocking the school bus stop and letting students run across the street outside of P.S. 173, where Allison’s 5-year-old brother Preston attends.

Nearly 700 parents have signed a driver’s version of the pledge so far, PTA President Italia Augienello said.

Educators hope to hold each to their word.

“Just signing [the pledge] once is not enough,” Saunders said. “We don’t want to have another terrible tragedy.”

 

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Street Talk: Do you think more should be done to keep pedestrians safe?


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Street Talk

We think a lot more should be done to keep pedestrians safe. We’re from Woodhaven and Woodhaven Boulevard is an unsafe road. We think more speed bumps should be put in, as well as longer lights so people can cross safely.
Kendall & Elaine O

Although countdown clocks have been added, I think more should be done.  There is still a lot of traffic and the drivers don’t seem to have a care in the world.
Hermina Diaz

Personally I don’t see anything wrong with how things are, and I don’t see any change that could be made.  I think people just need to be cautious and aware of their surroundings.
Laura C.

I think for the sake of the elderly and younger children more needs to be done to keep pedestrians safe.  I think if street lights were longer it would make it safer to cross the street.
Alex Forbes

I believe some roads in Queens are very unsafe, and I see people all the time crossing the street at a red light, so I think more should be done to prevent jay walking.
Alicia S.

I feel that streets are fine the way they are. I haven’t seen any dangerous action while I’ve lived here, I just think people need to be more careful when crossing the street.
Innilys Rodriguez

I’ve never had a bad experience, but these streets are very unsafe so I think something needs to be done to keep pedestrians safe and fatalities down.
Martha Culma

We believe that these streets are unsafe. Sometimes we get nervous crossing the street because the cars will just speed by, so they should decrease the speed limit on the most dangerous roads.
Angela R. & Ariana D.

 

-BY KATELYN DI SALVO

 

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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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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

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Monday: Cloudy early with peeks of sunshine expected late. High around 40. Winds WSW at 15 to 25 mph. Monday night: Partly cloudy. Low 14. Winds WNW at 10 to 20 mph.

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Woodside residents put up community stop sign to demand safer streets


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer’s Office

Woodside residents are taking matters into their own hands to make it safer to cross their streets.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer gathered with residents young and old on October 25 to rally against the dangerous traffic conditions along 47th Avenue in Woodside. The group then also put up their own community-made stop sign at the intersection of 47th Avenue and 60th Street.

“The reckless speeding and steady traffic along 47th Avenue presents serious safety hazards to countless young school children and seniors who cross the street every single day,” said Van Bramer. “We are taking matters into our own hands.”

The surrounding community is home to two Big Six Towers co-op apartment buildings and the Towers Play and Learn nursery school, bringing large numbers of children and seniors crossing 47th Avenue to get to school or the co-op’s senior program.

Van Bramer’s office has been contacting the Department of Transportation (DOT) since 2010 asking for traffic calming measures, like speed bumps and stop signs, to be installed along 47th Avenue between 59th and 61st Streets.

According to the councilmember, the DOT has said that based on their studies such additional measures were not necessary in the area.

“The time to act is now,” said Van Bramer. “Without a stop sign at this heavily trafficked intersection or speed humps along this street, the chances of an accident happening will continue to escalate.”

Based on the latest data available, between 2001 and present day, there have been no fatalities at the intersection and one reported pedestrian injury.

“Safety is DOT’s top priority,” said spokesperson Nicholas Mosquera. “While the agency’s recent study of this location last winter found that it did not meet the federal guidelines for additional stop signs, DOT will review the location to see what potential enhancement can be made, including adding a temporary speed board at the location to remind drivers of the safety reasons for adhering to the speed limit.”

 

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