The implementation of a slow zone in an area with two schools comes at a perfect time, residents and officials say.
“As school lets out for summer, parents will feel much safer having these tools in place,” Community Board 3 District Manager Giovanna Reid said at the new site in East Elmhurst.
The new slow zone, the second in Queens and the sixth in the city, with the other one in the borough not far away around 108th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, will cover about a quarter of a square mile. It includes the side streets in an area bounded by Astoria Boulevard to 31st Avenue and from the Brooklyn Queens Expressway to 82nd Street.
Slow zones are created under a Department of Transportation program that lowers the speed limit in an area from 30 to 20 miles per hour. A vast improvement since people used to race down these side streets at 50 to 60 miles an hour, neighbors said at the slow zone’s unveiling last Thursday.
In addition to lowering the speed limit, the streets were narrowed, with established parking lanes and a painted median in the middle of 30th Avenue.
“These cars are barreling down these roads,” said Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), who applied for the zone last February in response to constituents’ concerns. “When we squeeze in the lanes, it makes them slow down.”
Speed humps, including extra tall bumps to slow cars down further by Bulova Park, Our Lady of Fatima School and the Lexington School for the Deaf, were also installed.
Some parking spots were pushed back from intersections to increase vision and prolific signs stating the new speed limit also dot the quarter mile.
Twenty-one injuries occurred during the last year in the zone’s net, making it 71 percent more dangerous than average streets in the borough, according to the DOT. None were fatal, but Dromm said slowing down drivers in this area will also improve more congested retail areas farther south where fatalities have occurred.
“We are very happy with the slow zone,” said North Queens Homeowners Civic Association President Donna Raymond, who lives in the slow zone on 76th Street. “People need to slow down. It’s only 10 miles less.”
She said drivers frequently used to crash into a neighbor’s fence at 25th Avenue and 77th Street when speeding.
Dromm has proposed a third yet-to-be approved slow zone this month from 69th to 87th streets between Roosevelt Avenue and Northern Boulevard.