BY YVETTE BROWN
The city is trying to make one of Western Queens’ busiest and most dangerous thoroughfares a bit safer.
Last Friday, Councilmen Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, transit advocates and members of Community Board 1 introduced a safety improvement project created to make 21st Street easier to cross for pedestrians.
The project will affect 21st street between Hoyt Ave South and Queens Plaza. The roadway is two miles long and 60 feet wide, allowing a heavy flow of traffic, which drivers treat as a highway. 21st Street also allows the passage of trucks, which add large and heavy truck traffic. And because there are many elderly and women with children, the community worries for their safety.
“It’s a two-mile stretch from Queens Plaza up to Hoyt Avenue and it’s an area where from 2009 to 2013, we’ve had five fatalities and 19 serious injuries of pedestrians,” Trottenberg said. “We heard a lot from the community that this part of 21st Street felt very unsafe, that seniors didn’t like crossing the street.”
“Cars use it to get from one bridge to another and it’s been an incredibly dangerous street,” said transportation committee member Nancy Silverman. “Along the street, there are schools, there are senior centers, there are residents, there are stores and shops and it’s a really dangerous place to walk across, to try to drive on and to try and bike on. I’m a cyclist, I avoid 21st Street at all costs because cars move extremely fast, they’re acting as if it’s a highway, moving from one bridge to another.”
The safety improvement project is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, an interagency product created by DOT, NYPD, and other agencies. It aims to eliminate fatalities by 2024 through a combination of engineering, policy, enforcement, and high-impact education and awareness efforts.
The next steps of the project will take place over the next few weeks and will include painting 12 curb extensions at nine intersections along the high-crash corridor, which will allow for a shorter crosswalk for pedestrians The curb extensions will take place along 21st Street on 41st, 40th, and 35th Avenues, Broadway, 31st Drive, 31st Road, 30th Drive, 29th Avenue and Hoyt Avenue South.
“I am proud to stand with DOT and my colleagues in championing these new traffic safety improvements at 21st Street,” said Constantinides. “This thoroughfare has long been notorious for pedestrian fatalities. Cars frequently travel above the speed limit and there have been several deaths due to ca accidents on the street over the last decade. These Vision Zero improvements will make the street, home to major senior and youth developments, safer for pedestrians and drivers from across the community.”
Improvements by DOT have already begun, earlier this year, with 10 seven-second Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPIs) located at 10 different intersections on 21st Street. The implementation of the LPIs reduces pedestrian-vehicle issues and gives pedestrians time to cross the street before the light turns green. The project has also included the recent implementation of a new traffic signal at 21st Street and 29th Avenue.
Reach Reporter Yvette Brown at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128 or email@example.com