Oct. 4, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan
Community members and local politicians gathered at City Hall today to demand the immediate implementation of a pedestrian safety plan on 111th Street in Corona today.
The fully funded $2.7 million plan was presented to Mayor Bill de Blasio over a year ago, though it has since been delayed and has not yet gone before Community Board 4. It would bring additional crosswalks, shorter crossing distances and a protected bike lane to the piece of 111th Street running along the west side of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
The plan would also help to slow down speeding cars, add parking spaces and fix persistent flooding in the area.
“It is time to make 111th Street safer. We have developed a plan in consultation with New Yorkers who use the street every day, which would calm traffic, create safer crossings, and add a protected bike lane,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, who allocated funding for the plan.
“The street should be a gateway, not a barrier, for the thousands of people in Corona, Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and East Elmhurst who use Flushing Meadows Corona Park.”
A group of mothers and children presented over 1,600 petitions to de Blasio on behalf of the plan today.
The Department of Transportation noted the 111th Street corridor as a priority for Vision Zero in March 2015, given that pedestrians must cross 94 feet of street without crosswalks or lights to get to the pedestrian entrance to the park. A report also noted 884 cyclists travelling through the corridor each day without any bike lanes.
Local residents gave input on the safety plan, which was drawn up by September 2015, but it stalled out and never moved forward, despite evidence supporting the need for a redesign.
“Residents in communities like these throughout New York City are some of the people most at risk from traffic violence. These under-represented communities are often not invited to the decision-making that affects them,” said Jaime Moncayo, organizer with advocacy group Transportation Alternatives.
“Here, we see a community that has been leading the fight, and fighting hard for much needed improvements to their neighborhood. It is time to honor their efforts.”
Members of local advocacy groups and a representative from Community Board 4 rallied behind the cause.
“We ask the Mayor to think of the security of all the children and pedestrians who use 111th St, and to remember that the street is very wide and is always scary to cross,” added Roberta Chalian, a mother from Mujeres en Movimiento, a collective of mothers from Corona advocating for the new safety plan.