Group Wants Safety Study On Queens Blvd.

BY LUIS GRONDA
Staff Writer

A transportation group is pushing for a safety study on a thoroughfare nicknamed the “Boulevard of Death.”

The Transportation Alternatives Queens Activist Committee presented their “Zero Queens Boulevard” plan at last week’s Community Board 6 meeting and asked the board for their support in the plan.

Queens Boulevard is well-known for being one of the most dangerous streets for pedestrians in the Borough and throughout the City as well.

The thoroughfare had six fatalities and 492 injuries, including 32 cyclists and 120 pedestrians, last year, according to Transportation Alternatives, who sent out a press release highlighting crash statistics throughout the City. Queens Boulevard had as many as 24 fatalities in 1993 and 18 in 1997, according to the Dept. of Transportation.

According to Transportation Alternatives, there were 890 pedestrian injuries and 17 fatalities between 2002 and 2011. Additionally, there were 205 cyclist injuries and two cyclist deaths within that same time period.

The DOT has made a number of safety improvements to Queens Boulevard in recent years, including installing pedestrian countdown signals at 66 intersections along the seven-mile boulevard.

Peter Beadle, a member of the Transportation Alternatives group and a CB6 member, said that while efforts have been made to make Queens Boulevard safer, there is still more that needs to be done.

Beadle said those changes were more focused on pedestrian behavior and not driver behavior. With the population continuing to increase, a sharper focus needs to be made on changing the way drivers navigate through Queens Boulevard.

“We’re losing people who had the right of way. Cars were going too fast and did not yield,” he said.
Their plan calls for a “complete street tool kit” for Queens Boulevard, which would attempt to make each corridor of the boulevard safer, depending on what it needs.

Beadle said that each area of Queens Boulevard is different and will have different solutions to the problem, which could include installing protected bike lanes and creating wider medians.

The group has an online petition up on its website. It has gathered more than 3,000 signatures so far and it calls for “protected bike lanes, pedestrian safety improvements and Select Bus Service on Queens Boulevard.”

In a statement, the DOT said it has made several safety improvements to Queens Boulevard in the last 10 years and is always looking for more ways to make it safer.

“DOT is always interested in working with Queens residents, community groups and all New Yorkers on achieving our shared goal of creating safer streets for everyone,” a spokesperson said in the statement.

The agency will also host two Vision Zero workshops in the Borough next month, on May 21 at the Bohemian Hall in Astoria and May 29 at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center in Southeast Queens.

Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, lgronda@queenstribune.com, or @luisgronda.