Spring is a time of rebirth, and as the weather begins to warm up, some of Queens most dangerous roadways will be getting their own rebirth of sorts.
The latest round of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $1.6 billion Vision Zero safety initiative will include major changes to Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards, which span multiple neighborhoods, as well as Jamaica Avenue in Jamaica and 23rd Avenue and Corporal Kennedy Boulevard in Bayside.
“Dangerous streets have to change,” de Blasio said. “We want to get the word out: we’re moving lanes, adding new space for pedestrians and making it safer to cross intersections — all to keep your family safe. These changes have helped make each of the last three years under Vision Zero safer than the last.”
According to the Vision Zero initiative, the addition of Select Bus Service (SBS) for the Q52 and Q53 routes will be coming to Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards, along with numerous pedestrian and corridor safety improvements; Jamaica Avenue will receive a major pedestrian and school safety project that includes the creation of new pedestrian islands; and 23rd Avenue and Corporal Kennedy Boulevard will see a complex intersection redesign that will create simpler and safer pedestrian crossings as well as clearer vehicle traffic patterns.
Since 2014, Vision Zero has steadily reduced the number of traffic-related fatalities across the city, and de Blasio aims to keep those numbers dropping though a series of Vision Zero education and enforcement campaigns.
According to de Blasio, the first quarter of 2017 has seen a 20 percent drop in fatalities, or 8 fewer deaths, compared to 2016 which had 48 deaths, thanks to a campaign to increase traffic regulation enforcement during the dark evening rush hour. With spring here, the NYPD has implemented failure to yield and speeding enforcement in the early morning hours — the most dangerous time during the spring.
“Thanks to planners, designers, engineers and construction crews, DOT is looking forward to another banner year of street redesigns,” said city Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “While traffic fatalities are increasing nationally, New York City is bucking those trends, with the last three years under Vision Zero the safest in our city’s history. Under the leadership of the mayor and with the hard work of our sister agencies, we will together continue to make progress.”
The NYPD also conducted a citywide pedestrian safety initiative from March 6 through March 12, during which officers handed out 1,915 failure to yield to a pedestrian summonses and another 12,088 Vision Zero summonses. A total of 17,416 summonses were issued during the initiative.
Drivers are currently in the midst of a NYPD speed enforcement initiative that kicked off on Monday, March 20, and ends on Sunday, March 26. The NYPD is planning for two more of these initiatives in April, along with other enforcement blitzes throughout the remainder of the year.