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.

A look at Jackson Heights Collisions in Advance of Pedestrian Town Hall

The way to reduce reckless driver behaviors like we just saw on 37th is meaningful enforcement.

     We looked at NYPD Collision Data for the time period December, 2015 to the present. There were 1,318 reported collisions in the zip code 11372. This is how the numbers break out: 

Number of People Injured                         327

Number of People Killed                                 4

 Number of Pedestrians Injured               120

Number of Pedestrians Killed                      3

Number of cyclist Injured                           87

Number of Cyclists Killed                              0

Number of Motorists Injured                   154

Number of Motorists Killed                           1

Note that a total of 38 collisions are unaccounted for. 

By clicking on each located collision you can see the NYPD reported contributing factor as well as any injury or fatality reported. We are dismayed to see that too often these contributing factors go unreported in reports filed when officers respond to the scene. This glaring misrepresentation of the cause of fatalities and injuries leaves our court system with an inability to properly prosecute those reckless drivers that are causing harm to residents. Of the 819 unspecified factors, how may are alcohol involved or failure to yield? Unless the NYPD does a better job of reporting on crashes, many victims will suffer without the support of a justice system that could and should be prosecuting reckless and dangerous drivers. 



A tragedy in our home neighborhood

Our home base is Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, Corona, East Elmhurst. Last night, we learned a senior in our neighborhood was killed by a turning driver who failed to yield to this man who was in a crosswalk. What follows are comments made to our neighborhood list serve. Our hearts go out to this mans family and loved ones. 

My heart goes out to the friends, family and neighbors who suffer this loss on the very streets we walk, bike, bus, shop and drive every day.

It’s true, I had contacted the previous commanding officer last year about 37th and spoke at precinct council meeting just the night before this tragedy. I spoke specifically about 37th. I also mentioned that hazards such as double parking create road rage events, as frustrated drivers plow through streets once freed from behind a double parker.

Vision Zero initiatives have reduced fatalities. City-wide there has been a decrease of 60 fatalities over the last year. Sadly, they are on the rise again. Mind you, vision zero kind of started here with a march in November of 2013 after three kids were killed on Northern Blvd in about 10 months. Redesign came quickly on Northern. Left turn lanes, larger medians, changes to signal timing and sporadic speed camera use have all been added. 

Last year Olvidio Jaramillo was killed in a cross walk at Junction/Northern by a hit and run driver who was never caught and never turned himself in.  Senator Peralta and Council Member Ferreras-Copeland had a press conference and a walk about with DOT and NYPD. They both have pushed for more speed cameras in their districts. 

NYPD has said that resources are directed to crash areas- they are not proactive. If there have been crashes, then an area gets looked at. I will look at data.

NYPD said they had 5 or 7 (will check) fatalities in the 115 last year. A few on GCP and at least 3 on our neighborhood streets. Note that they are not listed on the traffic stat photo posted here.

What else goes unreported? What is under-reported, such as the category, “contributing factors”. Cops hardly ever cite any factors in police reports (cell phone, driver distraction, drowsy driver, speed) and this directly affects prosecution rates. 

I’m proud of the success we’ve had on Northern, though we are far from truly successful. We have prevented some tragedies. I stressed at115 Community Council that I biked there in the hard rain because “a tragedy is imminent on 37th.” 

We as a community are well placed change driver behavior. ( Yes, pedestrian and bike behavior as well, but please start a new thread for that ) We have many, though underfunded, volunteer groups and caring citizens. Schools and PTA’s can request DOT to do presentations. Our elected can distribute more pertinent info in their offices, of course legislation and street re-design need 311 complaints, active participation in community meetings and people who will make the call when they see “a crime in progress” which is a 911 call. Let police decide what level emergency your concern is. It’s your right, and it’s the advice NYPD gives. 911 is for a crime in progress. And traffic enforcement is law enforcement. Download the 311 app to your phone. You can send a photo, a mapped location and a complaint in less than a minute. Police are detailed based on 311 complaint data. 

We have here in JH, the founders of Make Queens Safer. We can’t do much, but we keep these tragedies in the news, attend community meetings, write about these topics, arrange press conferences and have the ear of legislators from local to the Mayor’s office. 

We have the Transportation Alternatives Queens Committee, which meets right there on 76th and 37th monthly. TA Queens sadly doesn’t have the respect of TA Manhattan/Brooklyn, but you can change that. 

We’ve got Van Bramer, Dromm, Peralta and Ferreras- who’ve all held press conferences for previous deadly traffic incidents.

We have Streetfilms! Clarence has made hundreds of videos documenting safe streets activism. Some months ago, he shot right here in JH, regarding yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks, when Mexican activist Peatonito came to New York for Vision Zero cities conference. 

With all respect for the serious and tragic circumstances today, I’ll still share the peatonito video. (Jh begins around 2 minutes). It may inspire you to engage your kids and neighbors. Peatónito is in NYC: Protecting Pedestrians from Cars in the Crosswalk

Tracking Progress: October 2016


Fatalities. Since we last reported in June, there have been 25 traffic fatalities in Queens. Some of the neighbors we lost included:

  • Mary Alice D’Amico, 76, Pedestrian, struck on May 14 at Myrtle Avenue and Fresh Pond Road in Ridgewood (104th Precinct), died in early July (Streetsblog).
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, female, 61, struck on May 17 at Mott Avenue and Beach Channel Drive in Far Rockaway (101st Precinct) by an oversized tractor-trailer, died in early July (Queens Tribune)
  • Antonio Flores, 59, Cyclist, struck on July 7 at Broadway and Baxter Avenue (110th Precinct), and died later from injuries (Queens Chronicle)
  • Terrence Montrose, 26, Pedestrian, killed on July 24 on Rockaway Point Boulevard in Breezy Point (100th Precinct) (Streetsblog)
  • Roberts Nukheimra, 29, Pedestrian, killed July 27 on the Van Wyck Expressway service road near 115th Ave. in South Ozone Park (106th Precinct), hit and run (Daily News)
  • Martin Smith, 50, Pedestrian, killed August 14 at Springfield Boulevard at Murdock Avenue in Queens Village (105th Precinct) (Streetsblog)
  • Michael Schenkman, 78, Cyclist, killed on August 24 on Northern Boulevard near 223rd Street in Bayside (111th Precinct) (Streetsblog)
  • Arline Smeal, 80, Pedestrian, killed August 30 on sidewalk by empty van at Broadway and 32nd Street in Astoria (114th Precinct) (Streetsblog)
  • Unnamed Male Cyclist, killed on September 5 on 111 Street near Grand Central Parkway, East Elmhurst (115th Precinct) (Streetsblog)
  • Dian McLean, 54, Pedestrian, struck on September 19 on Rockaway Boulevard and 144th Terrace, Springfield Gardens (105th Precinct), died later from injuries (The Aqueduct Blog)
  • Jun Hiu Liu, 70, Pedestrian, killed on September 27 on Centreville Street in Jamaica (103rd Precinct) (WPIX 11)
  • Unidentified Pedestrian, female, 36, killed on September 29 on Rockaway Freeway at Beach 59 Street (100th Precinct) (Rockaway.com)
  • Unidentified Pedestrian, male, 67, killed on October 6 on Van Wyck Expressway near Atlantic Avenue in Jamaica (103rd Precinct) (Queens Chronicle)
  • Unidentified Pedestrian, male, 79, killed on October 16 on Northern Blvd. at Prince Street in Flushing (109th Precinct) (Daily News)
  • Jazmine Marin, 13, Pedestrian, killed October 24 on Cross Bay Boulevard at 149th Avenue, Ozone Park (106th Precinct) (Streetsblog)
  • Navraj Raju, 8 months, Pedestrian, killed on sidewalk on October 28 on Astoria Blvd. near 92nd Street in East Elmhurst (115th Precinct), unlicensed driver (Streetsblog)

In the 12 months ending October 2016, there have been 72 overall traffic fatalities in Queens, down 23% from the 93 people killed in 2013, the Vision Zero benchmark year. Citywide, there has been an 18% decline in fatalities.

Injuries. In the 12 months ending in October 2016, there have been 2,609 pedestrians injured in Queens by motor vehicles, a decline of 7% from the Vision Zero benchmark year, 2013 (but an increase of 7% from the year ending in October 2015).  In the same time, there have been 879 injuries to cyclists, a rise of 6% since 2013. Overall, including motor vehicle occupants, there have been 17,532 people injured in motor vehicle crashes in Queens over the past year, up 13% since 2013. Citywide, there has been a 5% 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 2% since 2013. Citywide, enforcement is up 18%.

Overall, the level of enforcement according to these measures has be declining in Queens, and we have been watching for the promised surge in enforcement efforts timed with the beginning of the school year.  This only materialized in a few scattered locations in September, but in October we finally began to see the enforcement numbers begin to increase.  We encourage the NYPD to remain focused on this.

Noteworthy precincts.  Overall, the 109th, 110th and 114th precincts show sharply reduced enforcement relative to 2013, while the 100th, 102nd, 104th, 112th, and 113th precincts have seen enforcement levels increase more than the citywide average (18%).  The 103rd, 105th, 106th, 109th, 113th and 114th precincts show significantly increased traffic injuries, and only the 100th, 110th and 115th Precincts has seen small reductions traffic injuries.

Click here to download our full detailed report.

World Day of Remembrance 2016

Via Fnov2016amilies for Safe Streets and Transportation Alternatives:

After a week that has seen a spike in traffic deaths and injuries, Families for Safe Streets, a group of New Yorkers who have lost loved ones or been injured in traffic crashes, will join street safety advocates from Transportation Alternatives to observe the annual World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims on Sunday, November 20th at City Hall Park.

“We are gathering to remember and honor those who have been killed or severely injured by aggressive or reckless driving and dangerous conditions on our streets, and we will stand together to remind New Yorkers that we can create a safer city for everyone,” said Sofia Russo of Families for Safe Streets, whose 4-year-old daughter Ariel Russo was killed by a speeding driver who crashed on a Manhattan sidewalk.
On a single day this week, one man was struck and killed by a driver who fled the scene, a bicyclist was killed by a truck driver on the Upper West Side, while nearby two pedestrians were seriously injured when a driver drove onto a sidewalk.
“Too many people have been needlessly killed and maimed on our streets, as we have been reminded in recent days. We are standing with New Yorkers who have suffered those losses to tell our city and the world that traffic violence is preventable,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “The World Day of Remembrance is an opportunity for all of us to renew our Vision Zero commitment to keep working to change the culture of reckless and careless driving, and to rebuild our streets so they’re safer for everyone who uses them.”
TransAlt will debut a large Vision Zero sculpture at the event and is inviting people to bring yellow ribbons to add to the sculpture, commemorating loved ones killed or injured in traffic. Participants have the opportunity to join one of several group rides and walks listed below to reach the gathering at City Hall. The World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2005, is commemorated each year on the third Sunday of November, in locations around the world.
WHAT: NYC World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims
WHERE: City Hall Park
WHEN: Sunday, November 20th, 12:00 pm
WHO: Families for Safe Streets, Transportation Alternatives, City Council Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez, Council Member Margaret Chin, Council Member Brad Lander, State Senator Brad Hoylman

Vision Zero for School Kids

Make Queens Safer strongly supports Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative.  After two years of the program, we believe that the city needs to begin putting more focus on initiatives to improve safety for vulnerable populations, including children, teens, and the elderly.

In particular, schools have not been sufficiently integrated into the city’s Vision Zero efforts.   There have been a number of good early steps.  We were pleased by the recent announcements  DOT and DOE would collaborate on a new Vision Zero curriculum for 4th-6th graders.  We applaud the use of speed cameras in school zones and the Mayor’s commitment to broadening their deployment and hours of operation. We appreciate the efforts of some schools to put in place safer arrival and dismissal procedures. And we’re fans of the DOT Safety Education and Outreach office’s excellent programs.

But there is much more that needs to be done to sharpen the focus on safe access to schools.  The Department of Education only recently joined the interagency coordination process established to implement Vision Zero (which initially included only NYPD, DOT, TLC and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene), and their role is limited to the new 4th-6th grade VZ curriculum.  DOE’s role in Vision Zero needs to be much more central, befitting its tremendous impact and reliance on the city’s streets.   DOE educates more than 1 million children in over 1,800 public schools whose parents, teachers and school administrators travel during set hours daily.  DOE employs over 135,000 people.

Key Issues at NYC Schools  

  • School safety plans don’t mention street safety
  • Lack of coordination and follow-up for safety complaints
  • Extremely small reach of DOT school safety education
  • Limited resources of NYPD crossing guards and traffic agents

Better interagency cooperation and more DOE involvement is needed to help schools with policies and procedures for safe student arrival and dismissal. At elementary schools, afternoon dismissal is particularly challenging, because of the need to monitor that children are being delivered to the correct adults, and the large number of parents who drive to the schools to collect their children. The number of crossing guards is inadequate, their deployment appears to be uneven and arbitrary, and they lack the training and authority to perform traffic management on busy corridors. The city lacks effective channels for raising these concerns, so they tend to be addressed only when they capture the attention of a sympathetic elected official. The overall program needs to be addressed in a more comprehensive manner, and would benefit tremendously from the proactive, data-driven, interagency approaches that characterize the city’s other Vision Zero efforts.


We would like to propose the following to integrate schools more completely into the Vision Zero program.


  • Refresh the Safe Routes to Schools program. The city’s “Safe Routes to Schools” plans are outdated. NYCDOT needs resources to update and overhaul this program.
    • The report on “General Mitigation Measures” used for these plans was developed 12 years ago. It needs to be updated to incorporate NYCDOT’s current street design toolkit.
    • The Safe Routes to Schools program should be broadened to incorporate curb management, traffic management and other operational strategies. These could include temporary street closures and the establishment of additional no-parking zones during school arrival and dismissal hours.
    • The program should continue to look beyond the immediate school perimeter to address safe crossings for students at major arterials nearby.
    • NYCDOT should work with schools and precincts to reassess conditions in the field, update school traffic safety maps, and develop new data-driven priorities for capital and operational investments.
  • Safe arrival and dismissal policies manual. Elementary schools are unique- as afternoon dismissal poses the challenge of delivering the child to the correct adults, especially in schools where parents drive to pick up.  NYCDOT should lead development of a “best practices” manual to provide guidance to schools on techniques for managing sidewalk crowds and vehicular pick-ups and drop-offs in congested neighborhoods.
  • Recognition for best practices.  NYCDOT should publicly recognize a handful of schools each year that have taken innovative and comprehensive approaches to school access safety.
  • Increase reach of traffic safety education programs.  Unfortunately the school reached by these programs has been steadily declining.  In 2013, DOT visited over 700 schools.  In 2015, they visited 580 schools.  The current safety education goals in the Vision Zero Year Two report are to reach 500 schools each year.   More resources are needed.



  • A Vision Zero champion in every school. Every school should designate a person to lead its Vision Zero efforts. This person would:
    • Act as a site coordinator and liaison for the city’s Vision Zero efforts.
    • Review and update policies and procedures for student arrival and dismissal.
    • Work to integrate school access safety into School Safety Plans.
    • Participate in Parent-Teacher Association meetings to report news about school safety plans and receive feedback on issues and concerns.
    • Be empowered to elevate issues and concerns about school access safety and request an official review by the local NYPD precinct and DOT borough commissioner.
    • Reassess and coordinate the school’s participation in DOT safety education programs.
  • A Vision Zero Coordinator at DOE. This person would oversee the overall program within DOE, including:
    • Providing guidance, training, and support to the school VZ champions.
    • With NYPD and NYCDOT, prepare an annual report on access safety issues raised by school coordinators, and how these concerns are being addressed.
    • Solicit feedback from school VZ champions on safety educational programs that reach each school, and publish annual statistics on the numbers of students reached by each program, and teachers’ assessments of the programs’ quality and effectiveness.  Establish an online feedback and rating system, so that teachers and administrators can weigh in on which programs they found to be effective and productive for their students.


  • Expand and rationalize the use of school crossing guards.  The number of crossing guards is inadequate, and their deployment appears to be uneven and arbitrary.  The city lacks effective channels for addressing concerns raised about crossing guard placement, and is often in a position where it is forced to react to the communities that complain the loudest.  The placement of crossing guards would benefit tremendously from the comprehensive, data-driven, interagency approaches that characterize the city’s other Vision Zero efforts.
  • Mobilization of other NYPD resources. Crossing guards are not trained or empowered to manage traffic.  On major dangerous arterials near schools, NYPD should be assigning Traffic Enforcement Agents to manage traffic and perform targeted enforcement during school arrival and dismissal hours.  Strategies should be developed to discourage discharging passengers in traffic, and citations should be issued for U-turns, cell phone use by drivers, and other dangerous behaviors in school zones.

Department of Health and Mental Hygiene:

  • Integrate pedestrian safety into school wellness programs.
  • Part of Vision Zero year two goals (section 2.38) was to “Create new partnerships with schools and priority neighborhoods that will promote Vision Zero and active living.”  Department of Health should be involved in safety education
    • As a health risk topic
    • As a school based active design project, Safe Routes to Schools should be incorporated.
  • DOH already produces a child fatality report which shows that motor vehicle injury is a leading cause of death in school aged children. They have studied this further in Understanding Child Injury Report which further investigates motor vehicle related deaths.  They should continue to expand their analysis and publications on this topic.

NYS Legislature

  • Pass legislation permanently authorizing NYC’s use of traffic safety cameras in school zones; authorize their use at every school in the city; and extend their operation around the clock.

See also:

School map

1/24/2016, Updated 5/17/2016