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TA Queens Tackles 21st Street

Working to Bring Attention & Solutions to Pedestrian-Challenged Crossings On Long Island City & Astoria Streets

ta queens transportation alternatives queens nycOctober 10, 2015 / Long Island City Neighborhood / Astoria Neighborhood / Traffic Safety Issues Queens / Queens Buzz.

I was invited to attend / witness a Halloween themed street performance by volunteers of Transportation Alternatives Queens [aka TA Queens] to improve pedestrian safety along the 21s Street corridor, which connects Astoria and Long Island City. The street serves as the major conduit inside the Astoria and Long Island City neighborhoods between the RFK / Triborough Bridge and the EK Queensboro Bridge.

As I arrived at 21st Street and 31st Road, I took note that there are public housing projects along the eastern side of the street and a shopping center along the west side of the street, where the group had convened. Since I had come from the east I had to cross 21st Street to meet with the TA Queens petitioners, and making that crossing on a Saturday afternoon supported their cause as this street is challenging to cross at best, and treacherous for youngsters to cross on a simple shopping errand.

The TA Queens volunteers quickly described the problem in a couple of minutes and they made some recommendations for potential solutions - all of which is contained on the full report rendered in both print and on video on the following page. This is a snippet from their release.

"According to data from the New York State Department of Transportation, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and the New York Police Department, traffic on this mere 1.8 mile stretch of 21st Street between the two bridges [EK Queensboro & RFK Triborough] caused seven deaths and left 102 people with serious injuries from 2002 to 2011. From 2012 to 2015 alone, 105 pedestrians and 34 cyclists have been injured along the corridor."

Click here to learn more about how TA Queens is trying to help the Mayor reach his Vision Zero Queens goal, by identifying safety challenged hotspots along 21st Street in the Long Island City neighborhood & Astoria. We also included several photos of the Haunted Halloween TA Queens volunteers.


TA Queens Tackles 21st Street

Working to Bring Attention & Solutions to Pedestrian-Challenged Crossings On Long Island City & Astoria Streets

transportation alternatives queens ta queens photoOctober 10, 2015 / Long Island City Neighborhood / Astoria Neighborhood / Traffic Safety Issues Queens / Queens Buzz. Continued.

This is a video I took of the volunteers collecting signatures for the addition of several street lights along the 21s Street corridor that runs between the EK Queensboro Bridge in Long Island City and the RFK Triborough Bridge in Astoria. In it the TA Queens volunteers talk about the DOT's ongoing efforts to improve street safety, as well as DOT statements regarding some of the obstacles to adding more stop lights along 21st Street.

There's a lot of public housing along 21st Street, including the Queens Bridge and Ravenswood Public Housing projects. It seems a fair question to ask whether the residents in the Public Housing projects along the street are being given fair treatment with regard to addressing this pedestrian safety issue. The TA Queens volunteers informed me that there was a fatality only about a block away within the past few years, from where they held their petition signing drive. You can see a complete listing of safety issues below the video in a statement drafted by TA Queens.

According to the TA Queens volunteers the DOT said that they are unable to erect a new traffic safety light because they are constrained by federal traffic safety regulations regarding the distance between traffic safety lights [see video].

Hit The Refresh Button If Video Not Present Below



The following is a copy of the TA Queens press release which outlines the issue. The authors are listed at the end of the statement.

A Statement by Transportation Alternatives Queens:

vision zero lic long island city astoria queensOn October 10, 2015, at 2 pm, the Transportation Alternatives Queens Activist Committee and the Coalition for Traffic Calming on 21st Street will perform a colorful Halloween-inspired street action on 21st St at 33rd Rd in Astoria to call attention to the traffic light the community is requesting at this location, as well as to other lifesaving traffic safety upgrades urgently needed along the dangerous 21st Street corridor in Astoria and LIC.

Over the summer, the NYC Department of Transportation has started to make a series of important improvements on 21st Street in response to requests from local residents united in the Coalition for Traffic Calming on 21st Street (a group 22 local nonprofits, 20 businesses, and over 1,400 individuals who signed a petition), from Community Board 1, and from Councilmembers Costa Constantinides and Jimmy Van Bramer.

The DOT measures include: leading pedestrian intervals at 10 intersections that give pedestrians a 7-second lead to cross the street, curbside extensions at 9 intersections that shorten crossing distances and make pedestrians more visible, better street markings, bright LED lighting along the corridor, and a traffic light at one intersection-- 29th Avenue.  The street will also be resurfaced.

The community is profoundly relieved and deeply grateful for these important changes— they are a great first step.

However, a number of critical upgrades also requested by the community were not included in the DOT plan.  Over the past months, local residents and political representatives have voiced their concern that the current DOT plan is not enough to keep the many school children, seniors, and adults who live, work or travel along 21st Street safe.  

map of 21st street vision zero queens lic astoria long island cityThese are the critical upgrades the Coalition requested that were not included in the DOT plan:  
• Traffic lights at 28th Ave, 30th Road, 33rd Road, mid-block between 34th and 35th Ave, and 39th Ave.
• Bike infrastructure for the many bicyclists using the street
• Safety improvements to the dangerous three-way intersection with 27th Ave and Astoria Boulevard
• Other measures to reduce speeding and help pedestrians cross, such as mid-street pedestrian islands

These changes will save lives.

DOT is working hard to keep the NYC community safe, and we trust in the agency’s deep expertise to give 21st Street the road diet the community needs and deserves.

The 21st Street corridor between Queens Plaza and Hoyt Avenue has been notorious for pedestrian fatalities for a long time. Once a mostly industrial district, the area is now a densely populated residential area with many schools, residential buildings, senior centers, and community centers. 21st Street is used by cars, trucks, and other heavy vehicles traveling between Queensboro and Triboro bridges, cutting right through this neighborhood and making the simple task of crossing the street a life-or-death decision.  As residential development increases west of 21st  Street especially along the waterfront, the volume of pedestrian traffic crossing 21st Street will also increase greatly in the near future.

Arterial streets like 21st Street make up 10 percent of NYC’s road network but are the site of over half of our pedestrian and cyclist fatalities. According to data from the New York State Department of Transportation, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and the New York Police Department, traffic on this mere 1.8 mile stretch of 21st Street between the  caused seven deaths and left 102 people with serious injuries from 2002 to 2011. From 2012 to 2015 alone, 105 pedestrians and 34 cyclists have been injured along the corridor.

To improve these frightening statistics, 21st Street needs a true road diet.

Jaime Moncayo, TA organizer, jaime.moncayo@gmail.com, 917-348-2805
Angela Stach, TA Queens volunteer, angela.stach@gmail.com, 917-480-7772
Steve Scofield, TA Queens volunteer, stevsco@gmail.com , 718-721-5777

End of Statement by Transportation Alternatives Queens.


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