The city identified three Queens roadways as priority corridors that have proven dangerous for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists and are now the focus of new safety initiatives by the Department of Transportation.
One of the three priority corridors is a 50-block length of 21st Street from 20th Avenue in Astoria down to 50th Avenue in Long Island City. This stretch of road saw 4.2 pedestrians killed or severely injured per mile from 2012 to 2016, an increase of 50 percent from the 2.8 pedestrians killed or severely injured in figure recorded between 2009 and 2013 on the roadway, according to the DOT.
“My first press conference as a Council member was to call on stronger traffic and pedestrian safety along 21st Street,” Councilman Costa Constantinides said. “More than five years later, this busy street still functions more like a highway than a street. Making this a Vision Zero corridor will begin the long process ahead to make this a safer thoroughfare, while we continue to explore how it can better serve people traveling by foot, bike, car and bus.”
The roadway is known to residents as a speedway where cars and trucks race between the Triborough Bridge and the Queens Midtown Tunnel. The DOT has made safety improvements in the past but safety advocates have said for years the measures have not been enough.
“Over the last four years, DOT’s groundbreaking Borough Pedestrian Safety Plans have enabled us to target our resources where they will save the most lives,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. “In these updated plans, we have used the freshest data to identify new crash-prone corridors and intersections most in need of our full menu of safety interventions.”
By the end of 2019, the DOT will change traffic signals along 21st Street to discourage speeding, and give pedestrians exclusive crossing time. The new priority streets and intersections are the roadmap for future Vision Zero safety projects and enforcement, ensuring tools like speed cameras, police enforcement and re-engineering are applied where they’ll save the most lives.
“Using our data-driven approach, we have identified hotspots around the city that are driving the majority of traffic fatalities, and are implementing targeted plans there and across the city that will make our streets safer for all,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “After our success last year with the safest year on record, we will continue building towards a safer and fairer city for all.”
Other roadways in Queens that are new priority corridors include 37th Avenue from 114th Street in Corona to Woodside Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard from Eldert Lane in Jamaica to Third Street.
“Preventing traffic fatalities and promoting the peaceful co-existence of pedestrians and motorists should be applauded,” state Senator James Sanders said. “Vision Zero has made positive improvements in keeping New Yorkers safe and I look forward to its continued success in the future. Traffic fatalities may not be at zero yet, but the numbers are getting lower and that’s a good sign that we moving towards that ambitious but worthy goal.”