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Activists put up slow zone signs in borough to protest city delays

A company called Road Traffic Signs donates 110 professionally made metal signs for Right of Way's demonstration. Photo courtesy Peter Meitzler
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More than 100 safe-street activists posted mock traffic signs in three Queens neighborhoods and seven other communities citywide over the weekend.

Residents joined the safety group Right of Way in placing the signs in locations where slow zones have been delayed by the city Department of Transportation.

“There are currently dozens of communities that have applied for Slow Zones and await groundbreaking while people are dying,” organizer Keegan Stephan said. “These communities knew their streets were dangerous and asked the city to fix them, but were told no or not yet by the last administra­tion.”

Signs that read “Speed 20 is Plenty” went up along 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights as well as in Astoria and Jamaica in the hopes of slowing speeding drivers and reducing pedestrian fatalities.

“If you’re hit by a car going 30 mph, you have a 50 percent chance of dying,” Stephan said. “If you’re hit by a car going 20 mph, you have a 95 percent chance of surviving.”

Last year the DOT approved a plan to create a slow zone on 34th Avenue in Jackson Height between 69th and 82nd streets over to Roosevelt Avenue. The zones use traffic calming measures to lower the speed limit to 20 mph with signs, speed bumps and street markings.

The DOT will meet with members of Community Board 3 in the coming weeks to discuss the implementation of the plan for Jackson Height this summer.

Such delays moved Right of Way to act.

“These delays are largely due to the last administration granting community boards veto power over slow zones,” Stephan said. “If the water supply were poisoned and killing 250 people a year, would you ask for community board approval to fix it? No. The DOT must use the mandate of Vision Zero to revoke the veto power of community boards and begin installing life-saving infrastructure today.”

Vision Zero is the action plan to curb pedestrian fatalities using lower speed limits and using traffic calming methods like slow zones.

State Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) said, “Creating slow zones would almost certainly reduce traffic-related injuries and fatalities. I stand by the notion that even one traffic-related death is one too many.”

Meanwhile, elected officials and members of Make Queens Safer called for the public’s help in finding the killer of a 64-year-old Richmond Hill man who was struck and killed on Northern Boulevard March 8.

The NYPD is still looking for the driver of a black or dark-colored Chevy Blazer that fatally struck Kumar Ragunath while he crossed the street at 40th Road. The father of three and grandfather of six became the second person struck and killed on Northern Boulevard in the last three months. More than 550 people were injured on the boulevard last year.

“Northern Boulevard is one of the borough’s deadliest stretches, and making it safer for all will continue to be a priority for my office,” City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said.

Cristina Furlong, co-founder of Make Queens Safer, called for street redesign in the area.

“That stretch of LIC is like the Wild West of development with greedy property owners measuring square footage with dollar signs in their eyes,” she posted on the Make Queens Safer Facebook page. “It is tragic that a life can be taken without repercussions, detestable that drivers have a steady disregard for our pedestrians or cyclists old and young.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718.260.4538.

Updated 6:40 pm, March 20, 2014
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Reader feedback

tom tp2572@yahoo.com from Maspeth says:
de Blasio has got to be kidding ?

His Vision Zero Action Plan to make streets safer must not include Queens, or at least the town of Maspeth. E-mails about a major on going safety problem, to his office, Queens DOT commissioner Dalila Halls and NYC DOT commissioner Polly Trottenbergs offices go ignored and unanswered.

Almost 3 years ago, a group of residents along 70 St between 54 and 51 Aves asked the city to convert 70 St to a one way northbound. Our major concern after seeing parked vehicles being sideswiped and their mirrors torn off, as well as a number of fender benders, is for the safety of the children at IS 73. You see, many children, teachers and staff share the street with speeding school buses, racing TLC cars, parents dropping their kids off and the local citizens trying to get out and go to work. This is a narrow tertiary street. It runs from Queens B'lvd. to 54 Ave. where it ends at the entrance to IS 73. Someday, someone missing the stop sign, is going to drive through this "T" intersection and straight into the front entrance of this school !!! The city, in all its wisdom, moved the left turn lane on Queens B'lvd from 69 ST ( a secondary roadway ) to 70 St because of the volume of accidents. Drivers have discovered that they can avoid 6 or 7 traffic lights on 69 St by racing down our block.

On November 2, 2012, Community Board 5 received a letter from Maura McCarthy, former Queens DOT commissioner, responding to an October 18, 2011 request by the board for a one way conversion. Ms McCarthy responds by stating that traffic counts, street measurements, traffic circulation, area parking and the school congestion studies conducted by the DOT show that this area, and its pedestrians would be better served and safer as a one way street. The DOT recommends to the board that this conversion take place.

THREE YEARS LATER.......

We are still a two way street. Someone was hit by a car on 70 St one block before the school. 5 students were hit by a car that jumped the curb at 71 St and Grand Ave. One child later died. 70 Street ends at 54 Ave and the traffic funnels down 71 St to Grand Avenue.

Our local council member Crowely - useless in getting the DOT to get moving

Dot stated in the past it was a budgetary issue....we are talking 6 blocks here people !!! NOT all of Maspeth

CB 5 notifies residents by mail that the conversion will take place week of 4/14/2014...DOT now denies this


Where is the Action Mr Mayor.


You know the area well having filled potholes a few blocks away.

You demonstrated that our local streets make great speedways

Are you waiting to visit an injured or dead child and their parents before acting ?

Has your "vision" gone blurry ? or don't you care about Queens ?

You can take action here with much better results - in a much shorter time span

The DOT states that it will not convert this street while school is in session. Makes NO sense. Spring the change on drivers all at once on a Monday morning after spring vacation, or on bus drivers, parents, and taxis who will NOT travel through here all summer!!! DOT workers can NOT work outside if the temperature is below 45....poor guys. Take a look at the faded, missing, and falling street signs in the area. Watch the next pothole patrol...how hard they work....and my point will be well made.
April 8, 2014, 9:10 am

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