Drivers accustomed to heading along 63rd Avenue in Rego Park may have come across a surprise in the last two weeks — new stop signs on both sides of the street as they approached the intersection with Wetherole Street.
The signs were adorned on the bottom by smaller signs saying “NEW.” But there were no new street markings, and until last Monday, no signs along 63rd warning that there was a new stop.
A random check conducted by the Chronicle on Thursday, April 5 and Friday, April 6 showed one driver running the signs every two minutes during the hours of observation.
Some 37 drivers missed or just ignored the new signs between 2 and 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 5. The street is one-way with all traffic coming from the direction of Queens Boulevard.
On one occasion a driver went around a school bus stopped at the signs to proceed through the intersection. Three drivers ran the signs after maneuvering around stopped cars.
One driver of a Mercedes SUV slalomed to the right around stopped cars and then had to veer to the left to avoid hitting the back end of a car crossing through the intersection on Wetherole, all while leaning on her horn.
Two drivers on Thursday and one on Friday had to stop abruptly to avoid hitting cars that sailed through the signs to turn right on Wetherole.
Many drivers appeared to stop a bit short, though there were no screeching tires heard during the two periods.
One pedestrian on Thursday had to bid a hasty retreat back to the curb when a car did not stop.
Friday’s results, witnessed between 8 and 9 a.m., were slightly better, with 24 drivers missing or ignoring the signs.
The Chronicle’s survey was unscientific, with the days and the one-hour periods chosen randomly.
The numbers did not include drivers who employed so-called “rolling stops,” where in the reporter’s judgment they slowed down enough to acknowledge the presence of the new signs if not honoring them.
They did include one moped operator.
There was no mechanism in place to determine if April 6 being the Good Friday Christian holy day had any impact on the volume of morning rush hour traffic.
The Chronicle has not done any counts singe the warning signs appeared earlier this week. Kevin Fuentes, who lives in a nearby building, said his stepfather had pointed out the signs to him a day or two earlier.
“It’s just another way for the city to collect money,” he said. If that was the primary reason for the signs, it may be defeated.
Frank Gulluscio, district manager of Community Board 6, said the intersection did not jump out at him as having been a major problem.
He also said the city’s Department of Transportation keeps an open line of communication with them when they are considering sign or traffic changes.
Though NYPD patrol cars often can be seen during the morning rush hour two block away at 63rd and Saunders Street, no officers or marked cars were observed at Wetherole.