The parking meters between…
By Jennifer Warren
Some of the safety measures implemented along Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills and Rego Park to slow traffic and protect pedestrians are welcome and some of them are not, as was evident at a Community Board 6 meeting May 30.
The parking meters between Kneeland Avenue and Union Turnpike recently installed by the city Department of Transportation have been a source of frustration for many residents, who say the project has simply made things more congested in the accident-prone area.
Queens Boulevard is one of the most dangerous roadways for pedestrians in New York City. Since 1993, 74 people have been killed on the boulevard.
Last Thursday police reported that a 73-year-old Forest Hills woman was hit by a van on Queens Boulevard and 71st Road. Edilia Garcia was taken to Parkway Hospital where she was listed in stable condition, police said.
Members of the community board complained of gridlock and bottlenecking caused by a second service lane’s conversion from through-traffic to parking. They also said that it was dangerous for people exiting their cars from the new left lane parking spaces.
Board member Angelina La Chapelle said she had learned of a woman hit by a Q60 bus while leaving her car in one of the newly metered spaces. The woman who ventured into the roadway was not crossing in a cross walk, and La Chapelle had little faith that pedestrians would change their jay-walking ways.
“The people are not going to listen. They do not listen. I think it’s a traffic nightmare,” she said.
Other community board members confessed to driving along in the service lane only to discover they were idling behind a parked car and trapped in gridlock, unable to re-enter the flow of traffic.
City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), who attended the meeting, said she had told DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall of the community’s concerns.
“I saw the commissioner and she promised if it doesn’t work they will take it out,” Koslowitz said.
The councilwoman said she had asked Weinshall to put her promise in writing, in the form of a letter.
Capt. John Essig of Forest Hill’s 112th Police Precinct said there was little he or his officers could do to ease the congestion. And ticketing was not an option.
Essig said that until yellow tiger striping was added to the roadway, “there’s nothing I can do to enforce that. They are two legal lanes,” he told board members.
Other changes along the boulevard include the next phase of fence installation in Rego Park.
Residents have said that walking along the medians was difficult with the fence’s undulating style which left them little space to maneuver. The fences, which are posted along the medians on both sides of the street, separate the service lanes from the central roadway.
Koslowitz assured the board and members of the public that the new fences would be straight and the fences installed earlier would be straightened.
The police and DOT have enforced traffic changes including extending pedestrian crossing times at crosswalks, lowering the 35 mph speed limit to a consistent 30 mph, adding median fences to prevent crossing outside of the crosswalks, and ticket crackdowns on speeders, jaywalkers and drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.
Joy Bennett, a lifelong Forest Hills resident, still remembers Queens Boulevard safety campaign jingles dating back to the 1950s.
She said that despite the efforts to safeguard pedestrians — or in this case because of the DOT’s efforts — the problems on the boulevard are the worst they have been in years. “It’s hardest on the community itself,” she said. “I don’t know that in the end that it’s going to be any safer.”
Reach reporter Jennifer Warren by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 155.