When students return to school at M.S. 74 in Bayside this September, they will be greeted with brand-new safety features along Oceania Street and 210th Street that will make their trips to and from school safer for everyone.
For years, staff at M.S. 74 raised concerns over traffic safety in front of and near the middle school where drivers were known to speed, make illegal U-turns, drive on the painted median, double — and sometimes triple — park, and get into accidents. These conditions often pose threats to the safety of students, parents, pedestrians, and drivers around that area.
In order to remedy the dangerous situation, Councilman Barry Grodenchik wrote a letter to the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT), which came out to survey the conditions. Once the agency’s survey was completed, DOT proposed the new safety features aimed at calming traffic, protecting students during drop-off and pick-up times at M.S. 74, and keeping cyclists safe who bike along Oceania Street.
The safety features DOT proposed include a two-way protected bicycle lane along Oceania Street and 210th Street; buffered bicycle lanes on Oceania Street over the Long Island Expressway; increased space for drop-off and pick-up in front of M.S. 74; a one-way conversion of a small portion of 210th Street where it meets Oceania Street; new crosswalks and a painted curb extension on 210th Street; a high visibility crosswalk on 210th Street at 64th Avenue; and a speed bump on 210th Street south of 64th Avenue.
“This is a perfect example of how the school, the park, [and] the community in general have really come together for a really tangible safety benefit,” said Albert Silvestri, DOT deputy Queens commissioner.
To create the two-way protected bike lane, DOT simply shifted the parking out a few feet which will not only protect cyclists from traffic, but also slow down cars on a roadway known for speeding vehicles and cut back on aggressive U-turning in front of the school, Silverstri explained.
“This really helps improve the quality of life here in the neighborhood and will literally go to save lives,” said Congresswoman Grace Meng. “In Congress we’ve co-founded a bipartisan kids safety caucus, so as someone who’s part of the caucus, and as a parent of two young kids, I’m really thankful to the city for making this happen.”
Community Board 11 unanimously approved the plan back in March. Since then, DOT has begun work at the location and plans to have all the safety measures complete before the start of the new school year.