• June 25, 2019
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Queens Chronicle

Vallone proposes solar traffic control devices

New bill prompted by tragic Whitestone crash

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Posted: Thursday, June 6, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 12:36 pm, Thu Jun 13, 2019.

If a new bill introduced by Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) passes, dangerous city intersections could be made safer by flashing lights that alert vehicles driving down the street that a pedestrian will be crossing in the crosswalk.

The legislation would require the Department of Transportation to study the feasibility of adopting and installing the traffic control devices, which are solar powered. The agency would have to publish its findings and recommendations.

Localities in states like Florida, Massachusetts and New Jersey have already employed the solar-powered devices to enhance their street crossings and intersections.

The system is generally activated on demand by motion sensor or push button and provides an advance signal in the form of the flashing lights. The signaling system provides another layer of safety for pedestrians and is installed seamlessly with existing infrastructure, Vallone said.

A tragic car crash death in his district last year prompted Vallone to put forth the legislation. In June 2018, 17-year-old Madeline Sershen was walking in the crosswalk when she was killed by a driver who ran a red light at Utopia Parkway and 16th Avenue.

Pedestrian deaths have gone down since Mayor de Blasio started rolling out his Vision Zero program, though they still make up most of the city’s traffic fatalities.

“As the Administration continues implementing its Vision Zero plan, this inventive control measure could be a critical piece of preventing collisions like the one that tragically took the life of Madeline Sershen,” Vallone said in a prepared statement.

If passed, the bill would take effect immediately. The study findings would need to be submitted within a year of the effective date.

“My niece Madeline Sershen died last June in a horrible crash where the driver did not see her,” Rita Barravecchio, Sershen’s aunt, said in her own statement. “This new type of street design could help make pedestrians more visible to drivers. We need to make our streets safer, and by doing so, we will save lives and prevent tragedies like that of my niece’s.”

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