By Dylan Campbell
Despite the many successes of the New York City’s Vision Zero initiative, preventable deaths and injuries continue to plague Queens’ streets.
A few in particular stand out.
At least 32 have been injured or killed on Northern Boulevard and 22 more have been injured or killed on Jamaica Avenue, according to city data on traffic accidents.
Overall, 1175 pedestrians were injured and 17 others were killed in Queens this year —four more people killed and 20 more people injured than in the same period last year,, the city reports.
Citywide, however, there was a record low number of traffic related deaths during the first six months of 2018. It was just the latest traffic safety feat achieved by city.
Last year, the city announced that pedestrian traffic fatalities fell by nearly a third to the lowest number in more than a century
The decline began four years ago when Mayor Bill de Blasio launched the Vision Zero initiative to improve street safety. The program goal is to decrease traffic deaths to zero.
Since de Blasio took office, the city has reduced the speed limit to 25 miles per hour, began to more strictly enforce moving violations, restructured hundreds of street corners to slow turning cars and reprogrammed crossing signals to give pedestrians a head start. The city has also taken on large-scale redesigns of major roadways and laid out hundreds miles of bike lanes.
Despite the improvements, many incidents occur at the same locations and streets. And certain roads and street corners still stick out as pinpoints for multiple injuries.
After analyzing the New York City traffic data, The Queens Daily Eagle identified the most dangerous places to be a pedestrian or cyclist.
Most Dangerous Places For Pedestrians:
- 110-00 Rockaway Blvd.: 5 Injuries this year
- Corner of Atlantic Avenue and 104th St: 4 Injuries this year
- Corner of Liberty Avenue and Sutphin: 4 Injuries this year
- Archer Avenue and Sutphin: 4 Injuries this year
- Archer Avenue and 160th Street: 4 Injuries this year
- Seneca Ave and Menahan Street: 4 Injuries this year
- 81st and 37 Avenue: 4 Injuries this year
- Northern Blvd and Union Turnpike: 4 Injuries this year
- Northern Boulevard: 32 Injuries
- Jamaica: 22 Injuries
- Queens Boulevard: 17 Injuries
Most Dangerous Places For Cyclists:
- Roosevelt Ave. and 58th St: 3 injuries
- 47-01 111 St.: 3 injuries
- 34th Ave. and 103 St: 3 injuries
- Roosevelt Ave.: 17 injuries
- Northern Blvd.: 7 injuries
- 31 Ave.: 6 injuries
Bustling regions with the highest concentration of residents and businesses struggle the most with safety.
Zip codes in Flushing, Corona, Elmhurst, Jamaica and Jackson Heights were the regions with the most injured and killed pedestrians and cyclists.
Most Dangerous Zip Codes
11432 (Jamaica Hills): 70 injuries
11385 (Glendale): 64 injuries
11368 (Corona): 64 injuries
11373 (Elmhurst): 50 injuries
11372 (Jackson Heights): 49 injuries and 2 deaths
11368 (Corona): 44 injuries
11372 (Jackson Heights): 29 injuries
11385 (Glendale) 24 injuries
11101 (Sunnyside): 22 injuries
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that traffic fatalities increased nationwide by more than 13 percent between 2013 and 2016. New York City, however, has seen a 28 percent decrease in traffic fatalities since 2013.
That decrease can be seen in changes across Queens, too. The borough saw a 9 percent decline in traffic deaths in 2017, according to the mayor’s office. Many, including activists from Transalt, an organization that promotes alternative forms of transportation and safer streets, say that’s because of the new attention to redesigning streets for pedestrians.
Perhaps the crowning achievement of the Vision Zero initiative slice through Queens. At least 138 pedestrians died on a 2.5-mile long stretch of Queens Boulevard from 1990 to 2013, the New York Times reported.
But after the DOT redesigned the roadway to provide more space for pedestrians and cyclists in 2016, injuries declined by 63 percent per year
Queens has seen improvements to dozens of other once-dangerous hotspots.
These include directional changes on 50th Avenue; the installation of a median, raised bike lane and other traffic calming elements on Atlantic Avenue; and three new mid-block signals along Steinway Street.
There is still work to be done, pedestrian safety advocates say.
Transportation Alternatives Queens Organizer Juan Restrepo said his organization is focusing on getting walking lanes on the Queensboro Bridge and demanding changes on the Northern Boulevard, which he called the new “Boulevard of Death.”
Restrepo said community residents must demand the changes they want to see before someone is killed or injured.
“For the city Department of Transportation, a key metric for redesigns is the [killed/severely injured] rate on a street,” he said. “Often, this metric doesn’t meet the criteria until someone is killed which is a retroactive solution to a problem that needs proactive thought,” said Restrepo.
New Yorkers rarely realize they have the power to affect change by raising their street safety concerns with their local officials, he said.
“They can reach to their local city council member or community board and demand something like safety improvements on a dangerous intersection, or a harder look at a very dangerous arterial street going through their neighborhood,” he said.