NYC March for Safe Streets

The news was horrifying. Two children were mowed down and killed by a reckless driver in Park Slope. Their mothers were seriously injured, and a busting residential neighborhood all witnessed it in broad daylight. This terrifying tragedy could take place on any street in New York City and could affect any person. Traffic violence doesn’t discriminate. We’re all at risk. We all mourn Abigail Blumenstein and Joshua Lew, and vow to support their devastated families.

That it happened in Park Slope is a tough burden for the elected officials who represent the area, and the activists who have for years, fought for safer street design and protected bike lanes. In fact, the Mayor himself exercises daily at the YMCA a block from the crash scene. This is a neighborhood of family cyclists, commuters and vibrant neighbors.

Within days, the driver’s license was suspended and the DOT pledged to put in the redesigns the community had been asking for, including a protected bike lane. This is far from standard. Often the driver is free to drive the very day. In fact, this driver was not charged, and still hasn’t been charged with any crime. In fact, something similar could happen here in Queens or the Bronx or anywhere, and barely make headlines.

This must be a tipping point for all New Yorkers. We must stop a cycle of violence that has killed and injured too many, only because no one has been tough enough to stand up to a car-culture and DMV that keeps reckless drivers on the road, despite long records of driving infractions. (this driver had myriad speeding and red-light running tickets). We can’t leave it up to politicians, community boards and activists to show up, whether at meetings or vigils such as this one. We must create a system of checks and balances that serve the millions of pedestrians, cyclists, mass-transit users, and more than anything our cities children, so that preventable deaths are indeed prevented.

The March for Safe Streets will be led by children and their parents and loved ones coming together as families that make up vibrant New York. Please join. You may have never considered yourself an advocate before, and you don’t have to. You just have to agree that we haven’t done enough to protect New Yorkers from traffic violence and demand measures are taken to keep our kids safe.

Let’s treat Abigail and Josh like they were our kids too. They were little New Yorkers full of promise and vibrancy. With their families, they played in parks, attended church, went to baby groups and should have had the promise of a life not taken by a reckless driver on a dangerous street in New York City.

Please join us for the NYC March for Safe Streets
Monday, March 12 at 6 PM – 7 PM
9th Street and Prospect Park West, Brooklyn

Tracking Progress: Vision Zero Year Four

The final year of Mayor De Blasio’s first term, 2017, was also the fourth complete year of the Vision Zero era. We continued to see unacceptably dangerous conditions on our neighborhood streets, with growing traffic injuries and flagging enforcement efforts. But on the most important measure, traffic fatalities, 2017 saw continued progress in Queens.

Fatalities. 2017 was the fourth consecutive year of decline for traffic fatalities in Queens. Total traffic fatalities in Queens are down by 35 percent, from 93 fatalities in 2013 to 60 fatalities in 2016. Pedestrian and cyclist fatalities also declined for the fourth consecutive year, a total of 37 percent from 54 fatalities in 2013 to 34 fatalities in 2016. Citywide, there was a 27 percent reduction in fatalities over the same three year period.

The chart above shows the progress that has been made in reducing traffic fatalities in Queens.

A partial list of the neighbors that we lost in 2017 is provided here.

Injuries. In 2017, there were 2,641 pedestrians injured in Queens by motor vehicles, a decline of 6% from the Vision Zero benchmark year, 2013 (but an increase of 1.3% from 2016). There have been 906 injuries to cyclists, a rise of 10% since 2013. Overall, including motor vehicle occupants, there have been 17,971 people injured in motor vehicle crashes in Queens over the past year, up 16% since 2013. Citywide, there has been a 8% increase in injuries over this time.

Enforcement. Overall, while enforcement of speeding, red light running, and not giving right of way to pedestrians remains significantly higher than pre-Vision Zero levels, tickets issued for illegal cell phone use, an important contributor to distracted driving, remains sharply down. Overall, enforcement across all four categories in Queens is up 16% since 2013. Citywide, enforcement is up 30%. Overall, the level of enforcement according to these measures is up about 9% in Queens relative to last year, the first sustained increase we’ve seen in several years.

For its own Vision Zero analysis, the city tracks a broader list of six categories of traffic violations, including Improper Turn, and Disobey Sign/Traffic Control Device. With these additional categories included, a clearer trend toward greater enforcement can be seen since 2013 (see chart below).

We continue to urge our representatives in the state legislature to authorize more urgently needed traffic safety cameras for the city.  And we continue to urge the NYPD to continue to increase its focus on enforcement 

Full detailed report, with results by community board, available here

2017 Zombie Ride & Upcoming Events

Over the next year, we’re pleased to be offering a series of family riding events in the areas of Jackson Heights, Corona, East Elmhurst and Elmhurst in the biking borough of Queens.
 
The Jackson Heights Beautification Group wrote and won a “Parks Build Healthier Communities” grant. Those funds will help facilitate many of the rides and skills training we do.
 
We’re blessed to be growing an active and involved community of bike riders and advocates, and are grateful to work with two other neighborhood groups, The Queens Bike Initiative and Ciclistas Latinoamericanos de Nueva York.
 
Below is a rough sample of future events. Check back here or at Make Queens Safer on facebook for updates.
 
1. Feeder Ride to Zombie Ride. October 28th.  The fourth annual Zombie Ride is a police escorted tour of Gantry Park and Astoria which ends at the Socrates Sculpture Park for their fall harvest festival.  It is a 6 mile ride. The feeder ride will take people from Corona, JH, Elmhurst on a route featuring the Queens Boulevard Bike Lane. (108, and 114 Precincts) Participants dress up in costume and trick or treat at bike shops along the route.
 
2. Jackson Heights Halloween Parade- Grant Kickoff October 31st.  The Jackson Heights Halloween Parade will celebrate its 27th year with a trip down 37th Ave. Roughly 15 schools participate but many children in Elmhurst and Corona have only come as spectators. We’ll kick off the celebration of winning the grant with children participating in the parade as a bike brigade. We will ride/walk bikes with a banner announcing the ride schedule and hand out postcards with ride dates. We will also hand out bike safety materials to spectators.
 
3. Santa Ride- December 3rd.  Originating with the bike group Ciclistas Latinoamericanos de Queens, this ride is accompanied by the 115 Precinct. It is a simple route featuring bike lane in East Elmhurst north of Northern Boulevard. Santa and his elves lead children safely between parks and landmarks with a stop for hot chocolate and bunelos to warm up on a cold day. Ride starts at Travers Park and ends at Playground for All Children. Flushing Meadows.
 
4. Family Biking Forum- March.  Each year before official biking season begins, members of Make Queens Safer bring together organizations involved in bike safety and education to address the needs and concerns of families who wish to incorporate biking into their routines. People bike for transportation, recreation, for commutes to activities and for family time. This is a mix of DOT, NYPD, Dept. of Health, Transportation Alternatives, Qns Bike Initiative and other groups that have been on the forefront of increasing bike infrastructure and advocacy to make biking safer for everyone.
 
5. Bike Skills Park Event – Corona Golf Playground.  It is very tough to teach young children how to safely ride in New York City. Our sidewalks are crowded and getting to a park can be a burden if you have to lug bicycles there in order to ride. By creating these bike riding practices events at local parks, we will bring together experts, willing volunteers, eager children and parents to practice riding and learning skills that could possibly prevent crashes, theft and anxiety.
  • Bike Rodeo events make games out of learning skills such as riding slow, turning and being aware of traffic.
  • Giveways including first aid and safety  gear
6.  Mother’s Day Ride- Corona.   In honor of the one year anniversary of the Mother’s Day event that supported safer bike and pedestrian access to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, we’ll gather to ride around the most recent DOT improvements to Corona.  The 110th Precinct will participate.  We will create a special token for all mothers who ride. Or perhaps have kids decorate a bike bell or helmet for their moms.
 
7. Pedal to Parks.  This ride is based on a successful ride held in Astoria. “Friends of “ groups of various parks got together to showcase the beautiful playgrounds. This ride will be approximately 5 miles and show off East Elmhurst Playground, Junction Playground, Playground 90, Corona Golf Playground, Moore Park, Hinton Park and Simone Park.
 
8. Celebrating Bike Lanes- To World’s Fair Marina.   The best part of riding is finding out how close we are to wonderful getaways. The World’s Fair Marina is a bit inaccessible by public transportation, but just a quick and safe ride by bike. Once there we’ll enjoy watching Dragon Boats, people fishing and small cruise ships while making a mural reimagining the location as a family friendly destination.
 
9. Flushing Bike Skills Park Event- The Park Between Us.   This will be a complete tour around Flushing Meadows Corona Park, with a bit of history and nature observing tucked in. Riders will become aware of the parks past, it’s transformation for the World’s Fair, and be shown the many diverse uses from baseball, playgrounds, bike lessons, swimming, soccer as well as public art. This will bring together perhaps two groups, families from Flushing and families from Corona.
 
10. Kissena Corridor to Cunningham Park, FMCP Ride November 11th.  Families from our part of Queens feel quite removed from nature, but it’s closer than you think! The Kissena Park Corridor is an off-road bike path that begins at Flushing Meadows park, goes alongside the Queens Botanic Garden and up a tree lined path filled with community gardens, sports and nature enthusiasts. Kissena Park by bike is a wonderful ride and destination that will truly show families the benefit of getting outdoors. Roughly 8 miles.

Tracking Progress: August 2017

Fatalities.  Through the end of August, there have been 37 traffic fatalities in Queens in 2017. Some of the neighbors we lost since April included:

  • Robert Falk, 89, Pedestrian, killed on May 7 killed at Cross Bay Boulevard and 160th Avenue in the Rockaways (Queens Press)
  • Jihne Niu, 67, Pedestrian, killed on May 29 at 46th Ave. near 149th St in Flushing by driver under influence of drugs (109th Precinct) (Daily News)
  • Unidentified Female Pedestrian, 73, killed July 1 at  Saunders Street at 63rd Avenue in Rego Park (112th Precinct) (Streetsblog
  • Donna Hahl, 70, Pedestrian, killed July 7 at Jamaica and 217th Street in Queens Village (105th Precinct), tow truck failure to yield (105th Precinct) (Streetsblog
  • Kevin Zeng, 25, Pedestrian, killed July 21 at Union Turnpike near Grand Central Parkway in Forest Hills (112th Precinct) (Daily News)
  • Unidentified Male Pedestrian, 30s, killed on July 30th at 63rd Drive and Booth Street in Rego Park, Hit and Run (112th Precinct) (DNAinfo)
  • Christopher Swanson, 71, Pedestrian, killed August 1 at 120th Street near 85th Avenue in Kew Gardens (102nd Precinct) (DNAinfo)
  • Arkadiy Dibin, 29, Pedestrian, killed August 6th at Yellowstone Blvd. near Selfridge St. in Rego Park (112th Precinct) (Daily News)
  • Unidentified Male Pedestrian, 36, killed on August 10 on Beach 29th St.  and Seagirt Blvd in Far Rockaway by unlicensed driver (101st Precinct) (Daily News

In the 12 months ending August 2017, there have been 55 overall traffic fatalities in Queens, down 41% from the 93 people killed in 2013, the Vision Zero benchmark year. Citywide, there has been a 26% decline in fatalities.

Injuries. In the 12 months ending in August 2017, there have been 2,636 pedestrians injured in Queens by motor vehicles, a decline of 6% from the Vision Zero benchmark year, 2013.  In the same time, there have been 933 injuries to cyclists, a rise of 13% since 2013. Overall, including motor vehicle occupants, there have been 17,867 people injured in motor vehicle crashes in Queens over the past year, up 15% since 2013. Citywide, there has been a 7% increase in injuries over this time. Across the city, there has been a general leveling off of injuries from vehicular crashes since the beginning of the year, a pattern that is seen across every borough. But overall since 2013, Queens has seen the greatest percent increase in traffic-related injuries of any of the five boroughs.

Enforcement. Overall, while enforcement of speeding, red light running, and not giving right of way to pedestrians remains significantly higher than pre-Vision Zero levels, tickets issued for illegal cell phone use, an important contributor to distracted driving, remains sharply down. Overall, enforcement across all four categories in Queens is up 16% since 2013, the lowest of all of the boroughs. Citywide, enforcement is up 32%. 

Click here to download our full detailed report.

Tracking Progress: April 2017

Fatalities.  Through the end of April, there have been 16 traffic fatalities in Queens in 2017. Some of the neighbors we lost included:

  • Thomas Bradley Jr., 52, Pedestrian, killed January 1 on Rockaway Boulevard and South Conduit Avenue in Springfield Gardens (105th Precinct), hit and run (Times Ledger)
  • Unidentified Male Pedestrian, 65, killed on January 11 on Main Street and 58 Avenue in Flushing (109th Precinct) (Streetsblog)
  • Henry Bomiel, 67, Pedestrian, killed on January 19 on 76 Street at 37 Avenue in Jackson Heights (115th Precinct) (DNAinfo)
  • Ping Xie, 81, Pedestrian, killed on March 9th on Kissena Boulevard at Holly Avenue by truck driver failing to yield (109th Precinct) (Streetsblog)
  • Skylar Perkins, 1, baby in stroller, killed on March 23rd by driver failing to yield in a crosswalk on 23rd Avenue and 94th St, East Elmhurst (115th Precinct). (DNA Info)
  • Gelacio Reyes, 32, Cyclist, killed on April 1 on 43rd Avenue at 39th Street in Sunnyside by drunk and unlicensed driver (108th Precinct (Streetsblog)
  • Khavir Ahmed, 88, Pedestrian, killed on April 11 on 168th Place by 88th Avenue in Jamaica (103rd Precinct) (Streetsblog)

In the 12 months ending April 2017, there have been 61 overall traffic fatalities in Queens, down 34% from the 93 people killed in 2013, the Vision Zero benchmark year. Citywide, there has been a 20% decline in fatalities.

Injuries. In the 12 months ending in April 2017, there have been 2,608 pedestrians injured in Queens by motor vehicles, a decline of 7% from the Vision Zero benchmark year, 2013.  In the same time, there have been 912 injuries to cyclists, a rise of 10% since 2013. Overall, including motor vehicle occupants, there have been 17,922 people injured in motor vehicle crashes in Queens over the past year, up 15% since 2013. Citywide, there has been a 7% increase in injuries over this time. Across the city, there has been a general upswing in injuries from vehicular crashes in recent months, a pattern that is seen across every borough. Part of this is likely due to an underlying citywide increase in traffic and pedestrian activity.  But this contributing factor notwithstanding, Queens has seen the greatest percent increase in traffic-related injuries of any of the five boroughs.

Enforcement. Overall, while enforcement of speeding, red light running, and not giving right of way to pedestrians remains significantly higher than pre-Vision Zero levels, tickets issued for illegal cell phone use, an important contributor to distracted driving, remains sharply down. Overall, enforcement across all four categories in Queens is up 11% since 2013, the lowest of all of the boroughs. Citywide, enforcement is up 25%.  Back at the beginning of the school year, the city promised a surge in enforcement efforts to protect pedestrian safety.   Boroughwide, there has been an uptick in enforcement actions over the past six months.  , but the pattern is not seen in every precinct.  Communities with a significant increase in tickets issued over the past six months include the 100, 102, 105, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 114, and 115 precincts.

Click here to download our full detailed report.

 

A vote of confidence for 111th St

The community board 4 meeting for the DOT Safety improvements for 111th is tonight. You can call CB4 to express support at this number- 718-760-3141. The safety plan was established after 111th was given Vision Zero priority status due to a high rate of crashes and injuries to pedestrians, cyclists and vehicle operators. However, the board has never acted on the original plan or the modified one the DOT has researched and vetted.

The streetscape of 111th has changed in these years. The DOE has gone forward with added trailers to PS. 28, and adding UPK seats to the New York Hall of Science.  Both places have unprotected crossings for young children and their caregivers.

During this time, also, a new stadium was built at Flushing Meadows Corona Park which will bring excessive vehicle traffic to the area. Included in that plan was a relocation of a road. Last year, the USTA US Open was a disaster for pedestrians and cyclists. 

Yet, pedestrians are expected to fend for themselves. They are the neighbors and locals who use the park daily, yet their safety remains up to chance and their own vigilance. The crossing distance is currently 94 feet. The safety improvements will reduce that, and include wider pedestrian islands as refuge. Currently, there are three lanes of traffic, for what DOT has surveyed as just 400 cars per hour on the average day. Misuse of the road, by speeding and lane changing causes motor vehicle crashes like this one from January. It’s right at an intersection where refuge islands are recommended. (photo by Delia Trufino)

As advocates, we’ve done our due diligence. We’ve attended every meeting, done our own research, written elected, and even travelled to City Hall. We have witnessed injuries and crashes and know the real affect of dangerous streets. Because we are observant and asking the questions, we can say that many in our communities have been injured by reckless drivers and poorly designed streets. We have witnessed and documented many crashes over the years. Yet the legwork, commitment and continued pleas are secondary to those who currently hold the power.

Another stakeholder is Assemblyman Francisco Moya, who has consistently chosen to play politics with this safety concern, making it a hot potato at the community, city and even state level. It’s in the article. However, we asked Assemblyman Moya about the status of his support at his recent town hall in Jackson Heights. (recorded by Juan Restrepo)

We expect anything can happen at tonight’s meeting. There has been pandemonium at the Queens Blvd vote, and a recent uproar over a board member’s comments. There’s the possibility of making it a closed meeting in order to discuss the discipline or suspension of the board member as per the community board handbook guidelines on governance.  The board has also declined to vote on the DOT proposal, and a recent presentation was to a transportation committee of just two members. It’s the responsibility of the district leader to make sure the board has available information. We sure hope they follow the protocol of other boards like CB1 and CB5 who have distributed the full DOT bike, plaza and street design plans to attendees of their meetings.

We hope that CB4 will vote for a civilized roadway for all users. This safety improvement will extend medians, slow down the road and add protected bike lane. As any commuting cyclist in Queens will tell you, we see these improvements all over the city, why not here? Why not?

Tracking Progress: Vision Zero Year Three

The year 2016 marked the third complete year of the Vision Zero era.  We continued to see unacceptably dangerous conditions on our neighborhood streets, with growing traffic injuries and flagging enforcement efforts.  But on the most important measure, traffic fatalities, 2016 marked a year of significant progress in Queens.

Fatalities.  2016 was the third consecutive year of decline for traffic fatalities in Queens.   Total traffic fatalities in Queens are down by 32 percent, from 93 fatalities in 2013 to 63 fatalities in 2016.   Pedestrian and cyclist fatalities also declined for the third consecutive year, a total of 35 percent from 54 fatalities in 2013 to 35 fatalities in 2016.  Citywide, there was a 22 percent reduction in fatalities over the same three year period.

A partial list of the neighbors that we lost in 2016 is provided here.

Injuries. In 2016, there were 2,607 pedestrians injured in Queens by motor vehicles, a decline of 7% from the Vision Zero benchmark year, 2013 (but an increase of 7% from 2015).  There have been 884 injuries to cyclists, a rise of 7% since 2013. Overall, including motor vehicle occupants, there have been 17,907 people injured in motor vehicle crashes in Queens over the past year, up 14% since 2013. Citywide, there has been a 7% increase in injuries over this time. Across the city, there has been a general upswing in injuries from vehicular crashes in recent months, a pattern that is seen across every borough. Part of this is likely due to an underlying citywide increase in traffic and pedestrian activity due to the city’s strong economy.  But this contributing factor notwithstanding, Queens has seen the greatest percent increase in traffic-related injuries of any of the five boroughs, while Manhattan has seen a decline in injuries.

Enforcement. Overall, while enforcement of speeding, red light running, and not giving right of way to pedestrians remains significantly higher than pre-Vision Zero levels, tickets issued for illegal cell phone use, an important contributor to distracted driving, remains sharply down. Overall, enforcement across all four categories in Queens is up 3% since 2013. Citywide, enforcement is up 19%.

Overall, the level of enforcement according to these measures has flat in Queens.  We watched for the promised surge in enforcement efforts timed with the beginning of the school year, but nothing more significant than previous years was ever implemented.  We urge the NYPD to increase its focus on enforcement until the state legislature authorizes more urgently needed traffic safety cameras for the city.

Click here to download our full detailed report.