By Bill Parry
Looking to build on the first year success of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero Initiative, the Department of Transportation rolled out its comprehensive plan for “a safer Queens” in 2015.
The borough plans were the result of a year’s worth of public outreach and highly detailed data analysis as well as public workshops and 28 town hall meetings along with 10,000 comments submitted by New Yorkers.
“Queens is a challenge,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. “We launched Vision Zero in Queens a year ago and today we proudly return to the world’s borough to release the first of our five ground-breaking Pedestrian Safety Action Plans. They will help the city target its engineering, enforcement, and education efforts to make New York’s streets the safest in the world.”
The plan identifies the borough’s most dangerous corridors, intersections and areas, which are clearly visible in the DOT’s new Queens Priority Map. It shows 47 “priority corridors” that comprise just six percent of Queens streets but make up half of the borough’s pedestrian injuries and fatalities. The plan identifies 72 dangerous “priority intersections” as well as 17 square miles that are prone to crashes that severely injure or kill pedestrians.
The joint announcement by the DOT and the NYPD was held at PS 82 in Jamaica, near the intersection of Metropolitan and Hillside avenues, one of the “Priority Corridors” that will be the focus of future engineering, planning and education and enforcement activity. Other major crash locations include high-density historic town centers in Flushing, Elmhurst and Jamaica.
In each of these areas, the DOT plans to design better streets and intersections, expand pedestrian crossing times, alter signal timing to reduce speeding, install more safety cameras, improve the lighting beneath elevated trains, expand the bike network and ramp up enforcement.
“The Borough Pedestrian Safety Plans are another step forward in our collaborative goal of achieving Vision Zero,” NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan said. “They are a manifestation of the city’s strong commitment and dedication to Vision Zero and will assist the NYPD in deployment of its traffic safety resources. The plans will also draw awareness to Vision Zero and the unified approach to make our roadways safer. We will be out there in 2015 and do our best to replicate what we accomplished last year.”
An average of 43 pedestrians were killed in Queens each year in the three-year period from 2011 to 2013, according to the DOT. During the first year of the Vision Zero Initiative, total injuries in downtown Flushing dropped 29 percent, pedestrian injuries fell 38 percent along the Hillside Avenue Corridor and pedestrian injuries declined by 79 percent around Broadway and Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst.
Such improvements allowed the DOT to declare the first year of the initiative a success, not just in Queens.
“Last year we had the lowest number of pedestrian fatalities since the city began keeping records” in 1910, Trottenberg said.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 260–4538.