By Bill Parry
A state lawmaker is calling on the city Department of Transportation to bring its Vision Zero initiative to a chaotic stretch of Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights.
When state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and a group of traffic safety advocates gathered on a strip of concrete at the base of the 90th Street subway station last Friday, they had to fight to be heard over the sound of blaring horns from cars trying to negotiate turns around double-parked trucks off-loading cargo for nearby stores..
Young people weaved in and out of traffic on their bicycles and pedestrians dodged motorists making turns on to Case and Benham streets. Since 2013, two area residents have been fatally struck by vehicles, and another 10 pedestrians injured along with two bicyclists, according to the NYPD.
“These intersections cry for a complete redesign,” Peralta said. “Most of the accidents in this area are preventable, and with a new configuration and more police enforcement, I am positive we can drastically reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities.”
Peralta called for traffic calming measures to be implemented specifically at Roosevelt Avenue intersections with 90th Street, Elmhurst Avenue and Case Street where drivers make illegal left turns that cause some of the accidents. A DOT spokesman said signs where left turns are prohibited were upgraded over the summer and that its signals division is still reviewing the location.
“There is a lot of foot traffic in this particular area,” he said. “There are a few schools. We need to do everything that is in our power to protect New Yorkers and redesigning this area will go a long way towards achieving that goal.”
. Peralta stated that the solution to improve road and street safety should include street lights, more traffic signs, public education campaigns and better lighting, especially under the elevated tracks of the No. 7 subway line.
“We all need to be part of the solution to improve road and street safety,” Peralta said.
A DOT spokesman said that signage had been upgraded over the summer and that its Signals Division is still reviewing the location/
Longtime Jackson Heights resident Rocio Molina, who suffered an ankle injury when she was injured in a motor vehicle collision at the intersection of 90th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, said, “Clearly something must be done in this area. Some drivers ignore street signs and they don’t yield to pedestrians.”
Deputy Inspector Brian Hennessy, the commanding officer at the 115th Precinct, said he would increase education on street safety. Cristina Furlong, a founding member of Make Queens Safer, said educating the youth was an important aspect of Vision Zero.
“Within a half-mile of the intersection of 90th and Roosevelt there are over 5,000 students at four schools,” she said. “Their safety as well as that of their caregivers is the No. 1 reason to improve the traffic environment on Roosevelt Avenue. Senator Peralta has championed the safety of school kids through persistence in getting crossing guards and other safety measures in his district. Enforcement, better lighting and traffic design are needed as well as education for cyclists, drivers and pedestrians.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr