While Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) stood at the podium during last Friday’s press conference outside PS 232 in Lindenwood to implore the city Department of Transportation to move on installing some permanent safety improvements at the corner of 83rd Street and 153rd Avenue, an example of their concern played out behind them.
A woman drove by, stopped, backed up into the path of parents and students leaving the school and then drove up onto a heavily used sidewalk to look at purses at a kiosk in the parking lot of the Lindenwood Shopping Center.
Her maneuvers forced a woman crossing the street to stop in her tracks — and in the path of traffic.
Luckily, no cars were coming in the other direction and the woman was able to safely wait for the driver to “park” her car.
“See,” Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park) said immediately after. “See what I mean? It’s dangerous here.”
It was almost a year to the day since the same officials gathered in the same spot with parents, school staff and students calling for the DOT to put a crosswalk and a stop sign or traffic light at 153rd Avenue in the intersection, which parents and students and other residents use to access the shopping center.
Though there was a temporary electronic sign installed for several months last fall, nothing permanent has been in place. Queens DOT Commissioner Dalia Hall was even at the site last month when the agency unveiled signs created by students at PS 232 focusing on safety.
At the time, state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) and PS 232 Principal Lisa Josephson warned her: It was only a matter of time before tragedy strikes.
Then it did.
On May 29, a mother and her child, who is disabled, were hurt when they were hit by a car crossing 153rd Avenue. Though their injuries were minor, it was the last straw for this community.
“We want something here and we want it now,” Addabbo, whose daughters go to the school, said at Friday’s press conference. “We need to keep our children safe. If we can’t do that, then we are failing.”
He added that he has been in constant contact with Hall about the situation for weeks.
The DOT has said it was studying the intersection, but members of the community have heard that long enough.
“No more studies, now is the time for action,” retorted community activist Barbara McNamara.
Ulrich said the intersection has already been studied and another one wouldn’t change the outcome.
“We don’t need another study to tell us what we already know,” he said.
One issue with the intersection is the entrance and exit to the shopping center meet the intersection at a weird angle. A straight line across 153rd Avenue from the curb cut on the southeast corner would lead you into the middle of the ramp.
But on the west side of the intersection, two curb cuts on either side of 153rd Avenue invite pedestrians to cross, but there is no crosswalk or stop sign at the location.
The strip — one of the busiest in the area — lacks traffic control for most of its route. There are no lights for the entire six-block length of the road east of 84th Street and only two corners have stop signs. Cars heading east often speed to catch the 84th Street traffic light, barreling through the dangerous intersection at high speed. Residents living along 153rd Avenue have seen a number of accidents take place in recent years, especially after development on the western end of the neighborhood caused the community’s population to grow.
Ulrich added if nothing is done, he’ll call on the city to close 153rd Avenue between 83rd and 84th streets during admission and dismissal times — something that is done at many schools across the city, including nearby St. Helen, as part of the federal “Safe Routes to Schools” program. But he noted that a move like that wouldn’t help residents who use the corner to cross 153rd Avenue at other times.