A rally for safer streets near schools drew hundreds Friday after two boys were struck by cars within the same week, leaving one 11-year-old boy in critical condition.
City Councilmen Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) and other elected officials spoke with over 100 students, faculty members and concerned residents about the challenges of establishing slow zones and a three-bill package he plans to pass in the City Council.
Alongside Vallone, was state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), state Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows), and Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Fresh Meadows), as well as students and staff of JHS 185 at 147-26 25th Drive in Flushing, near where the 11-year-old was hit.
Vallone’s triple-hitter legislation will require a 20-mile-an-hour limit near all elementary and middle schools as well as an re-examination of the current slow zones within the city to determine whether they fit the new safety requirements, additional speed bumps and crossing guards, enhanced signs and flashing lights.
Vallone is also drafting a resolution to scrap what he calls “antiquated” federal guidelines, which often lead to the denial of requests for additional safety requirements.
“We put in legislation this week after the two most recent incidents, one here at [JHS 185], one at [PS 194],” Vallone said. “As a father, I couldn’t take it anymore. I’m tired of being rejected [by DOT] when you ask for a speed bump, a light, a crossing guard, signs, tickets, enforcement, and then saying we can’t do it. This legislation, which is supported by everyone you see here, says ‘you have to do it.’ And that’s the only way it’s going to make change.”
Since legislation is often caught in a bottleneck at the state level, Rozic said, it is important for city officials to pass the legislation that may encounter snags in Albany.
“We need to pass this bill in the City Council, and we need to make sure all of our students are supported in every way and we are doing everything we can to protect our schools,” Rozic said.
Avella has grappled with DOT over having four-way stops and other safety measures brought into play in his district and has publicly expressed anger when his requests were denied from the city agency.
“How many years do we have to go back and forth with the city’s Department of Transportation before they finally do the right thing?” Avella said. “No child should ever be injured when coming to school or going back to home. This is unacceptable for the city of New York to continue.”
Grodenchik said he has been rejected repeatedly by DOT when asking for safety measures, including one study that was conducted and rejected at Benjamin Cardozo High School.
Angela Sierra and Vincent Farruggio, both students at JHS 185, also expressed concern about their safety relating the recent incidents and the need for increased safety measures at schools.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall