Oct. 17, 2018 By Christian Murray
About 75 people turned out for a workshop in Jackson Heights on Monday to put forward their ideas as to how to make Northern Boulevard safer.
The workshop, the first of three to be held by the Department of Transportation, focused primarily on the stretch of Northern Boulevard between 68th Street and the entrance to the Grand Central Parkway. This section of the corridor has seen eight pedestrian deaths from Jan 1, 2012 to Sept. 15, 2018, according to DOT data.
The attendees were briefed on the many challenges the DOT faces in redesigning the stretch. The most limiting is its width, which at 70 feet is about half that of Queens Boulevard. The stretch consists of two moving lanes either way, although a third lane is available for rush-hour traffic.
Meanwhile, the roadway is a truck and bus route. There are also schools and small businesses along the roadway.
“On Queens Boulevard there is a lot more space to work with,” said Alicia Posner, a senior project manager for the DOT. “Northern Boulevard is more confined.”
The DOT has been looking for solutions to make the thoroughfare safer since de Blasio introduced Vision Zero in 2014.
The agency has installed 13 pedestrian safety islands between 75th and 114th Streets since 2015; added 10 crosswalk signals on that stretch that allow people to cross before the light turns green–known as leading pedestrian intervals; banned left turns at four intersections; and installed high-visibility crosswalks.
However, the death toll on the boulevard has continued to mount, with a 9-year-old boy being killed while crossing near 70th Street on April 30, and a 70-year-old man being killed by 109th Street on Sept. 9 this year.
“We are redoubling our efforts,” Nicole Garcia, Queens Commissioner for the DOT, told the attendees. “We are looking for creative ideas.”
There was almost universal support for greater police enforcement; curb extensions to shorten crossing distances; additional pedestrian islands; more leading pedestrian intervals; greenery and beautification; and greater traffic safety education.
Many people were split on whether the DOT should add a protected bicycle lane. Some argued that it would increase safety by slowing traffic down while adding another transportation option. Others feared that it would reduce the number of moving lanes and add to congestion.
Furthermore, some of those who were opposed to adding a bicycle lane, noted that there is a bicycle route going east-west on parallel streets such as 34th, 31st and 32nd Avenues. Those routes, however, do not have protected bike lanes.
“I would like to see a bicycle lane but I can’t see how it can be done,” said Tim Kesecker, a resident who attended the meeting.
Meanwhile, Dia Qirreh, a Jackson Heights resident and an advocate for a protected bicycle lane, said that a lane could be installed. “The DOT just has to be creative.”
Others wanted a bus lane given the number of buses that use the corridor. However, some feared this too would reduce the amount of space for other vehicles.
The DOT said that it would consider the attendees ideas and viewpoints when it puts together its redesign. There has been no timetable released as to when the redesign will take place.
The next workshop will be taking place at P.S. 151 (50-05 31st Ave.) on Oct. 22 between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. The final workshop is on Oct. 29 at P.S. 166 (33-09 35th Ave.) from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
***PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT***: Queens is not Manhattan. People use cars in Queens. GET OVER IT.
Don’t let them fool you! It is about a war on cars, nothing more. They don’t give a shit how many people die, they have been dying for decades and no one cared. It is about getting more people in Queens and getting them to be cattle in cattle cars. Fight like hell!
Moll Flanders u r 1000% correct.
Vision Zero the one sided approach to traffic safety, more speed bumps, more stop signs, more traffic signals, more pavement markings, more barriers, more summonses for motorist, lowering the speed limit. My question is what has been done to impact pedestrians. Where is the pedestrian awareness, their responsibility? Nowadays pedestrians cross streets while wearing headphones, wearing ear pieces, talking on the phone, texting , listening to music, playing their PXP, etc. etc. Mayor deblassio, Jimmy Van Bramer’s, and the idiot DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg have made driving in NYC a disaster, their myopic ways are old, without , vision, or any new ideas. Yes we can make the speed limit five miles per hour and add traffic lights, and stop signs, every twenty feet. I think that would make NYC really safe. Nothing would get done , but the roads will be much safer. It’s time to make pedestrians, and bicyclist obey the rules of the road, if you really want safety. If not, just keep adding bike lanes where they put bikers at risk, keep allowing people to run amok in front of cars against red light signals. As for bad drivers, instead of making a road test so simple that even a chimp can pass it, make it much more difficult, so that you actually must has driving skills.
While stating that cyclists and pedestrians on their phones obey the rules you neglected to mention that drivers do the same. Stats show that most deaths on roads are caused by distracted (use of phone) drivers.
Paul Connelly, motorist get tens of thousands more summonses that bicyclist and pedestrians… Wake the fcuk up.
I am a car. Look at me. I need a place to sleep. Keep looking at me. I’m just here, not being used, but I need to be because someone paid money for me. I’m still here. Now there are two of me. Oh look a few hundred of me. Now several thousand. We all need places to sleep. Cars are life. Your life cannot continue without us. We also kill you, but that’s another story.
Don’t people realize how important cars are. Without them people can’t get from one spot to another, and it is not good to cramp their style. OVERDEVELOPMENT has to stop not put in bike lanes.
Yeah the city should provide places for me to store my private property for free. Sure people will die, but it’s more convenient for me.
I’m 62, have a few health problems, and get around without a car on Staten Island, a borough not known for adequate public transit or cycling infrastructure. I submit that your opinion is way over general, to say the least. All over this city people are getting from place to place without cars. “Cramp their style”? Oh, please.
Look at me, I can’t afford a car. I am a grown man who rides around on a skate board because I moved here from bum fcuk Ohio and I can’t afford a car, or parking , or insurance. So I am mad at all the other people who have cars.
Funny I have a car but I use my bike and electric skateboard to get from point A to point B no problem. I also pay hundreds of dollars a month for parking just to have my car for work emergencies. This country is going down the tubes because it’s always about me me me and never US. A car in NYC is a luxury not a necessity.
it’s interesting that the width of Northern Blvd is too small but the width of Skillman Ave was just right.
anyone else feel the need to call “bullshit!”
No, not when you consider that differing levels of traffic volume are behind that assessment. Skillman and Queens Blvd, despite being as different than they are, were both overbuilt for cars and therefore had rampant speeding and maneuvering around like a racetrack. The fixes there were more straightforward than on Northern, which has a different pattern depending on the neighborhood and is ruthlessly deadly. Best to leave the work of assessing traffic volume levels and applying civil engineering principles to the professionals, Matt. Anything else would be bullshit.