New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, Council Member Costa Constantinides, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer and transit advocates today unveiled corridor safety improvements for 21st Street between Hoyt Ave S and Queens Plaza in Astoria, Queens. The two-mile corridor, a 60-foot wide road with two travel lanes in each direction, which is also a truck route with large and heavy truck traffic, has seen five fatalities and seven severely injured pedestrians between 2009 and 2013. This safety improvement project is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, an interagency product created by NYCDOT, NYPD, and the other agencies in the task force, which aims to eliminate fatalities through a combination of engineering, policy, enforcement, and high-impact education and awareness efforts.
The project, which was supported by Community Board 1 in March, adds a new pedestrian crossing at 29th Avenue via a new traffic signal; enhances lighting on 21st to improve visibility at night by upgrading all existing street lights to brighter LED lights and adding additional street lights; provides parking lane stripes along the corridor to better define moving lanes and help reduce speeding; and adds 12 painted curb extensions along 21st Street to shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians at nine intersections along the high-crash corridor.
DOT also installed earlier this year seven-second Leading Pedestrian Intervals at 10 intersections on 21st Street in February to reduce pedestrian-vehicle conflicts and give pedestrians a head start when crossing 21st Street. Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPIs) provide pedestrian-only walk time before vehicles receive a green light.
“My Vision Zero partners Council Members Van Bramer and Constantinides helped make 21st Street a priority and these Leading Pedestrian Intervals, curb extensions and additional signal are a testament to the great community efforts here,” said NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “We launched Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative in Queens over a year ago and every day we see the difference these safety projects have throughout the world’s borough, from 21st Street to Queens Boulevard and beyond.”
“For far too long 21st Street has been known as a deadly speedway and the improvements we are introducing will help put an end to the reckless driving that has claimed too many lives,” said New York City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “I applaud Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and the NYC Department of Transportation for hearing our community’s concerns and implementing concrete solutions that will begin improving traffic safety for all residents of Astoria, Ravenswood and Queensbridge. I look forward to continuing our work with NYC DOT and Council Member Costa Constantinides in Western Queens as we expand our City’s Vision Zero initiative to protect to lives of all New Yorkers who use our neighborhood streets.”
“I am proud to stand with NYC DOT and my colleagues in championing these new traffic safety improvements at 21st Street. This thoroughfare has long been notorious for pedestrian fatalities. Cars frequently travel above the speed limit and there have been several deaths due to car accidents on the street over the last decade,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides. “These Vision Zero improvements will make the street, home to major senior and youth developments, safer for pedestrians and drivers from across the community. I thank Commissioner Trottenberg and the NYC DOT for working to make our neighborhood safer.”
This safety improvement project includes a new traffic signal, which was installed a few weeks ago at 21st Street and 29th Avenue to provide additional pedestrian crossings, 10 LPIs on 21st Street to provide safer pedestrian crossings by reducing pedestrian-vehicle conflicts and giving pedestrians a head start before vehicles get the green light allowing safer pedestrian crossings in a heavy truck traffic area. The parking lane stripes will define moving lanes and help calm traffic in an area where empty parking spaces create wider moving lanes that contribute to speeding. Also, the painted curbed extensions with flexible delineators will shorten crossing distances and slow turning vehicles and the enhanced street lighting will improve visibility for all road users.