FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 5, 2004
MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG AND TRANSPORTATION COMMISSIONER IRIS WEINSHALL ANNOUNCE SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS TO QUEENS BOULEVARD
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Iris Weinshall today announced that DOT has begun another round of safety engineering improvements along Queens Boulevard. DOT is focusing on two areas - the 3.5-mile stretch from Van Dam Street to the Long Island Expressway and the 1-mile segment from Union Turnpike to Hillside Avenue. These are the westernmost and easternmost sections of Queens Boulevard. Most of the prior Queens Boulevard engineering improvements have been from the Long Island Expressway to the Union Turnpike. Mayor Bloomberg pledged that DOT would increase pedestrian and vehicular safety along Queens Boulevard in his January State of the City Address.
"The Department of Transportation and the NYPD have significantly improved the safety of the pedestrians who cross Queens Boulevard," Mayor Bloomberg said. "Today's improvements will increase safety and ease traffic flow even more. Although we have drastically reduced the hazards facing pedestrians who use Queens Boulevard, we will keep focusing on them until we can drive the amount of fatalities each year to zero."
"These improvements are the result of an intensive and far reaching program of improving safety on Queens Boulevard," said Commissioner Weinshall. "In addition to the changes announced today, DOT completed many initiatives, including increasing crossing time for pedestrians during peak period from 63rd Drive to 83rd Avenue; adding two more red light cameras; adding pedestrian fencing from Hillside to Roosevelt Avenues; installing signs in more than 400 locations, including some that read 'A Pedestrian Was Killed Crossing Here/Be Alert/Cross with Care.'"
The 7.1 mile long Queens Boulevard was the site of 72 pedestrian fatalities, from 1993 to 2000. In 2001, there were four fatalities; in 2002, there were two fatalities; and in 2003, there were five fatalities.
Last month DOT installed "Quik Curb" or plastic barriers at the intersection of Queens Boulevard and 65th Place as part of its first initiative. Quick curbs keep cars in specified turning lanes, controlling traffic and protecting pedestrians. Other engineering improvements include changing traffic signals so pedestrians can have more crossing time, as well as implementing Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPIs), which give pedestrians exclusive time to cross streets. LPI's freeze intersections of all traffic except for pedestrians allowing them to cross unimpeded by turning vehicles.
New York City has the fewest traffic fatalities of any large City in the Untied States and the number of motor vehicle and pedestrian fatalities are at the lowest they have been in New York City since the 1910s. In 2003, there were 344 people killed in automobile crashes, involving 165 pedestrian deaths. This is a dramatic improvement from just 13 years ago, when 701 motor vehicle deaths occurred, involving 366 pedestrians. DOT and the Police Department continue to work together to identify problem areas throughout the five Boroughs and DOT's "Safety City" program, has sent hundreds of DOT employees to senior centers and schools, including many along the Queens Boulevard corridor over the past four years, to discuss traffic and pedestrian safety.
Edward Skyler / Jordan Barowitz (212) 788-2958
Keith Kalb (DOT)