BY LUIS GRONDA
To go along with the Mayor’s Vision Zero plan, the Dept. of Transportation launched its pedestrian safety action plan in Queens as well.
The plan, announced Tuesday morning at PS 82 in Jamaica, is a continuation of the traffic plan that has been among the pilot programs launched by Mayor Bill de Blasio and focuses more on pedestrian safety.
The transit agency identified the most dangerous areas in Queens, which they called “priority corridors,” as far as pedestrian safety is concerned and aims to address those corridors for pedestrian and driver safety. The priority corridors were chosen because they have had historically high rates of death and injuries to pedestrians.
The areas highlighted by DOT include the Jackson Heights-Corona corridor, which encompass intersections such as Broadway and Queens Boulevard as well as much of Northern Boulevard; the downtown Flushing corridor, which includes much of Main Street as well as parts of Roosevelt Avenue and Kissena Boulevard; and the Hillside Avenue corridor, which includes parts of Hillside and Jamaica avenues as well as Merrick Boulevard.
The city agency identified those areas through its own traffic studies and they came up with its plan through a combination of its crash analysis and public workshops held in each community.
“These Borough Plans combine cutting edge data analysis and community input from thousands of New Yorkers in all five boroughs. They will help the City target its engineering, enforcement and education efforts to make New York’s streets the safest in the world,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said.
According to DOT statistics, an average of 43 pedestrians were killed in Queens between 2011 and 2013 and those deaths make up 55 percent of all traffic fatalities in the Borough.
The agency listed several steps it will enforce in order to address the safety problem in Queens and throughout the rest of the City. According to a booklet handed out at the press conference detailing their plan, among the steps they will take are expanding pedestrian crossing time on all the priority corridors by the end of 2017, adding crossing time exclusive to pedestrians at those corridors before vehicles are given the green light to move and expanding speed limit signage at those priority corridors.
DOT also announced that it will launch a motorcycle safety study for the first time, as motorcycle fatalities were up 14 percent, according to Trottenberg.
“We’re looking forward to doing some studying in order to make those trips safer as well,” she said.
When asked how the average Queens resident will see the changes DOT is implementing, Ryan Russo, the deputy commissioner for transportation, planning and management, said that one noticeable difference will be signal timing during off-peak hours, specifically between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. Russo said signals will be changed to account for the high speed drivers’ travel during that time.
“What’s interesting is one out of every five car-pedestrian fatalities occur between midnight and 6 a.m, when pedestrian volumes are low, but the speeds are high so people don’t expect pedestrians,” Russo said.
DOT will be rolling out pedestrian safety plans in the other four boroughs in addition to the Queens plan announced on Tuesday.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @luisgronda.