Jan. 27, 2016 By Michael Florio
The Department of Transportation will continue efforts to increase pedestrian safety along Northern Boulevard with plans to build five more pedestrian islands on the dangerous road.
The DOT proposes putting the pedestrian islands between 105th Street and 114th Street, a stretch that measures less than half a mile. The islands would sit at the intersections of 105th, 106th, 110th, 111th and 114th Streets.
This proposal is nothing new for the DOT, as the agency has been addressing pedestrian safety with islands at numerous intersections in recent years.
In 2014, the DOT constructed nine pedestrian islands on Northern Boulevard from 61st Street to 102nd Street. Last October, the agency introduced Community Board 3 to a school safety capital project bringing four pedestrian islands to Northern Boulevard, at 98th Street, 99th Street, 100th Street and 101st Street.
But local concerns for pedestrian safety just east of these intersections remained. Community Board 3 requested islands on Northern Boulevard from 105th to 114th Streets in 2014, while Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland requested traffic calming near P.S. 330, located on Northern Boulevard between 110th and 111th Streets, in 2015.
DOT statistics show that along this stretch from 2010 to 2014, there were 249 total collisions that caused injuries and eight that caused severe injuries. Since 2010, there was also one fatality at 105th Street.
According to the DOT, pedestrian islands have been shown to decrease pedestrian crashes by 46 percent and reduce vehicle crashes by 39 percent.
“These are federal statistics done on a nationwide study of pedestrian islands,” Chris Brunson, Project Manager, explained to those in attendance at CB 3’s monthly meeting last Thursday.
The DOT states that not only will these islands make crossing the street safer for pedestrians, they will also create safer left turns from cross streets and reduce contact between vehicles and pedestrians.
“These are especially important for seniors and children,” Brunson said. “We know we have a high population of both in this area [Jackson Heights].”
High visibility crosswalks help drivers identify a cross walk from further distances, which helps keep pedestrians visible, Brunson added.
CB 3 overwhelmingly supported the DOT’s plan, with all but one of the 30 Board members present voting in approval.
There were islands all along Northern Blvd, when I grew up in Jackson Heights. Then, the powers that be decided to remove them to make traffic flow better, not thinking of people trying to cross. Just goes to show, what goes around, comes around again. You just have to be patient and wait for it:)