So far, the buzzword for 2014 has been “traffic safety.” Since Mayor de Blasio announced his Vision Zero initiative, several more people — including young children — have been killed by cars and Council members have called on the Department of Transportation to address busy corridors.
It has become a priority for many, especially in Western Queens.
On March 19, the first of a series of meetings on the Vision Zero directives was held in Astoria.
“One of the chief concerns that I hear from residents most is how we can make our streets safer,” Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) said at the meeting, held in the Bohemian Beer Hall. “I’ve heard requests for more countdown clocks on 21st Street, speed bumps on 21st Avenue or better traffic planning on 31st Street. This town hall event serves as a way to listen to residents’ concerns and inform the public about how the city is working for them to help resolve these issues.”
Similar sessions will be held in the Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn so that the DOT can get a better idea of what residents want to be addressed in Vision Zero’s first year.
“As we implement Vision Zero directives, focusing on agency coordination and giving individualized attention to each community,” 114th Precinct Deputy Inspector Kevin Maloney said, “it was extremely helpful to hear about safety concerns directly from the residents. I’m looking forward to continuing to work on pedestrian safety initiatives ...”
Constantinides was joined by Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Bronx, Queens), DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, state Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria), Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria), Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White, Community Board 1 Transportation Committee Chairman Robert Piazza and others.
“Vision Zero gains momentum every time a New Yorker requests safer streets in their neighborhood,” Trottenberg said.
The Vision Zero task force — made up of several city agencies, including the NYPD, and DOT — recently released its first handful of intersections and corridors that will be revamped.
The first Queens site to be visited is the intersection of Jackson Avenue and the Pulaski Bridge in Long Island City.
The task force would like to widen medians, delay light-signal changes, clarify lane designation and add crosswalks. No official date for construction was available.
The mayor hopes to address 50 troublesome corridors each year for the next 10 years.
“Pedestrian safety has consistently been a top concern for members of our community,” Simotas said. “As elected officials, it is our responsibility to ensure safety for all pedestrians, especially the many senior citizens and young families who live here in Astoria.”
There is no specific date slated for the release of additional danger areas but as Queens had the highest number of pedestrian deaths in 2013, the borough is likely to have more intersections added to the Vision Zero initiative list.