NYPD: crashes up on 111th Street 1

Crashes are up on 111th Street in Corona ever since the street was redesigned to include a bike path and fewer travel lanes over the summer. According to NYPD data, there were 49 wrecks between Aug. 1 and Nov. 20, 2017 compared to 38 in the same period in 2016.

Corona’s 111th Street — which the Department of Transportation redesigned this summer — saw a double-digit increase in car accidents from Aug. 1 to Nov. 20, 2017 compared to the same time period in 2016, according to NYPD statistics provided to the Chronicle by Community Board 4.

During that nearly four-month stretch, there were 49 reported collisions on the roadway compared to 38 the year before.

Outside of the dates and times of the crashes and the reporting officers, the statistics don’t have qualifiers, such as a cause or if anyone was injured.

But in a Dec. 4 letter to DOT Queens Commissioner Nicole Garcia, CB 4 said it didn’t necessarily need that information, as the simple rise in collisions is all it needs to take the agency to task over its “disappointment” toward a perceived “lack of action.”

“While we understand the DOT is a ‘data-driven’ agency, we have incessantly expressed concern over the fact that while accidents aren’t always reported, they are in fact happening,” the letter reads. “Latest police reports show that accidents around the vicinity of 111th Street have actually increased since last year.

“Our community fails to understand how such a plan reaches this level of implementation, yet no known effort is being made to revisit or remedy what has become an obvious danger and burden to our constituency.”

After years of discussion, the DOT decided to trim 111th Street from two northbound lanes to one and three southbound lanes to two earlier this year.

In addition, a protected bike lane on the east side of 111th Street, bordering Flushing Meadows Corona Park, was installed over the summer, while medians were widened at 14 intersections to aid pedestrians trying to get from one side of the busy roadway to the other.

Cyclists and safety advocates have highlighted the bike lane as a major victory, saying the project will undoubtedly save lives.

The board’s letter — which was signed by Chairman Damian Vargas, District Manager Christian Cassagnol and Vargas’ predecessor, Transportation Committee Chairman Louis Walker — made no reference to the bike lane or cycling.

Instead, the issues with the project, they said, have been heavily vehicle-related.

“Since the plan’s implementation, the community board ... continues to receive reports of slowed response times for ambulances at the Rego Park Health Care Center,” the letter reads. “A more recent accident ironically took out an Emergency Response Services box.”

Borough President Melinda Katz also questioned the safety of 111th Street last year, telling the Chronicle it is still “unbelievably dangerous” and that she’s asked the DOT repeatedly to restudy it.

When contacted by the Chronicle last week, a DOT spokesperson said the agency has been made aware of the board’s worries.

“We recently implemented adjustments, including additional signage and daylighting to enhance visibility at the New York Hall of Science driveway,” the official said. “We will continue to review for other potential adjustments, as we do for all our projects.”

CB 4 said it has seen little evidence of a review, however, claiming that it has not been made aware of any such follow-up.

“We see no evidence of traffic counters — cyclists or otherwise — cameras or DOT presence as should be expected at this stage of the project,” it said. “It is our hope that conversations can be immediately initiated lest we have an ‘officially reported’ tragedy on our hands.”

(1) comment


Crashes could have gone up for various reasons only one of them is the safety improvements. The fact that crashes have gone up makes all the more necessary for the safety improvements.

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