By Macartney Morris
While I applaud the Department of Transportation for finally installing a traffic signal in front of the Variety Boys & Girls Club on 21st Street at 30th Road, the time of piecemeal fixes for this deadly speedway is over. The hit-and-run death of Sean Crume came even after the minor safety improvements DOT installed in 2015, sadly proving to us once again that we must completely redesign this street from the ground up to make it safe for all road users.
The Department of Transportation can act quickly to address these issues, as we have seen with the quick implementation of the Queens Boulevard bike lane and other life-saving Complete Street redesigns throughout the city. An operational project designed with safety as the No. 1 priority can save the lives of many and preserve the well-being of countless others. Everything should be on the table with the goal of narrowing the roadway and slowing the traffic down, including parking removal, pedestrian medians, protected left turns and protected bike lanes.
We must also never forget that the driver who killed Mr. Crume April 6 is still at large. While the 45-year-old father and husband is dead, his killer is still driving on the streets of our city, alongside many other deadly hit-and-run drivers who remain unapprehended by the NYPD.
Failure to act on our part or not acting strongly enough along this corridor would only belittle the losses that have already been suffered, dismiss the effort of engaged and concerned neighbors, and ignore the willingness of community board members to put safety over convenience. After CB 1’s vote in April to send a second resolution again asking the DOT to give 21st Street a Complete Streets redesign, Chairman Joe Risi said: “21st Street needs the Queens Boulevard treatment.” I heartily agree with Chairman Risi and strongly urge DOT Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia, Council Member Costa Constantanides (D-Astoria), state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) to heed the desires of the community by fixing this dangerous road once and for all.
Macartney Morris is a resident of Astoria and a member of the Transportation Alternatives Queens Activist Committee.