To say the scene around PS 232 in Lindenwood is chaotic on a typical weekday afternoon when school lets out may be an understatement. The line of double-parked cars runs nearly the entire length of the block along 83rd Street. School buses sit stacked along the north end of the school on 153rd Avenue and the sidewalks all around the building are often impassable.
Two crossing guards, one at 84th Street and 153rd Avenue and the other at 83rd Street, scurry through the intersections trying to keep cars and children away from each other.
At 84th and 153rd, the crossing guards job is helped by the traffic light that exists at the intersection. But a block away at the T-intersection of 153rd and 83rd, the scene is very different.
Traffic entering the intersection northbound on 83rd Street is subject to a stop sign and there is a crosswalk, but traffic along 153rd Avenue is uncontrolled.
Between 79th and 84th streets there are no traffic lights or stop signs. Often cars heading east fly down the stretch of road to catch the light at 84th.
That puts them right in the path of children and parents crossing the avenue between the school and the Lindenwood Shopping Center, where many parents park their cars to pick up their children.
“I park there so I can do some shopping before my daughter gets out,” one parent said. “It’s easier and quicker.”
Stefanie Calise said she and her son Landon, 6, were nearly killed when a car narrowly missed them just earlier this month while crossing 153rd Avenue.
“We were walking across and this car came flying down the street,” she said. “The car did not even stop. They just don’t care. It happens all the time.”
Using a megaphone and surrounded by children and parents holding up signs demanding the city Department of Transportation do something about the dangerous situation on 153rd Avenue, state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) and several parents demanded on Friday that something be done at the corner.
Putting a crosswalk at 83rd Street is only one of several suggestions parents had. They’d also like to see a stop sign along 153rd Avenue at the intersection, speed bumps on the avenue and, if possible, a traffic light. Though 83rd Street does not go through the intersection, on the other side is an entrance into the Lindenwood Shopping Center’s parking lot, which creates a de facto four-way intersection at the location.
Nobody has been seriously injured at the intersection and DOT records show no incidents with injuries at the location between 2007 and 2011, which the department said negates the need for a crosswalk, though a DOT spokesman said it will review other options.
“Though DOT has received a request for this location, an analysis found that it did not meet federal guidelines for additional intersection controls,” DOT spokesman Nicholas Mosquera said in an email. “While an entrance to a parking lot is not eligible for a crosswalk due to safety concerns, the agency will review the potential for other traffic-calming measures in the area.”
But parents say the city should move pre-emptively at the intersection.
“We should not have to wait until someone gets killed,” parent Lisa Neumann said at the rally.
Addabbo said that while the intersection of 83rd Street and 153rd Avenue is a problem, the issue is bigger, noting the other intersections along the road are dangerous. A number of accidents have been reported at 82nd Street and 153rd Avenue, only a block away from the school, and Addabbo noted the neighborhood is populated with senior citizens who often cross 153rd Avenue where there are no crosswalks or stop signs in order to get to the shopping center.
“You’ve got five or six blocks with no traffic controls here,” he said. “There needs to be something. It’s too dangerous.”