Community Forum on a Safer 111th Street

Julissa Ferreras is hosting a Community Forum meeting for the community to discuss and ask questions about DOT’s proposal for a safer 111th Street on June 30th, 2015 at 4 pm at the NY Hall of Science.   Some members of Community Board 4 oppose the proposal, and the full Community Board is due to vote in September.  The meeting is cosponsored by Councilmember Daniel Dromm, Community Board 4, the Partnership for a Healthier Queens, Immigrant Movement International, Make the Road New York, Transportation Alternatives, and Make Queens Safer.   If you live near Flushing Meadows Corona Park, or are a frequent user of the park via the 111th Street, please try to make it to this important meeting.

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Tracking Progress: May 2015

Tracker-2015-05Fatalities. There were five traffic fatalities in Queens in May, including two vehicle occupants and three pedestrians. The neighbors we lost included Sincere Atkins, an 8-year-old boy struck by a car in Jamaica; Favhad Chowdhury, a 63-year-old man struck by a car in Astoria; Nfn Loknauth, an 83-year-old man hit by a car in South Ozone Park; and Thomas Rourke, a 23-year-old man who died in a single car crash in Breezy Point. In the 12 months ending May 2015, there have been 82 overall traffic fatalities in Queens, down 12% from the 93 people killed in 2013, the Vision Zero benchmark year. Citywide, there has been a 16% decline in fatalities.

Injuries. In the 12 months ending in May 2015, there have been 2,425 pedestrians injured in Queens by motor vehicles, a decline of 13% from the Vision Zero benchmark year, 2013. In the same time, there have been 822 injuries to cyclists, a rate unchanged since 2013. Overall, including motor vehicle occupants, there have been 14,797 people injured in motor vehicle crashes in Queens over the past year, down 5% since 2013. Citiwide, there has been a 9% reduction in injuries.

Enforcement. Highlights of Vision Zero enforcement in May included citations for red light running in the 106th and 108th Precincts, speeding in the 101st Precinct, and cell phone use in the 104th Precinct.

In some parts of Queens, the overall trend has been toward fewer enforcement actions against driver behaviors that put pedestrians and cyclists at risk, particularly Community Boards 1, 4, 6, 7, and 13. Overall, it appears that Vision Zero traffic enforcement against drivers who speed, run red lights, and fail to yield to pedestrians has peaked and may be on the decline in all five boroughs. Enforcement actions against drivers using handheld cell phones continue to decline sharply. Given the very modest progress that has been made so far in reducing traffic fatalities and injuries, we’re hoping that NYPD can reinvigorate enforcement on all four of these categories before school lets out for the summer.

See our full report here, including results by borough and community board.

MQS Endorses the Move NY Fair Plan

Make Queens Safer believes that a robust, well-maintained public transit system promotes walking and biking and makes our city streets safer for everyone.  To that end, we support full funding for the MTA capital program.MoveNY2

In particular, Make Queens Safer endorses the Move NY Fair Plan because of its additional potential to reduce dangerous through traffic on neighborhood arterials in Western Queens.  Currently, many drivers go out of their way to use Northern Boulevard, Roosevelt Avenue, and Queens Boulevard to reach the free Queensboro Bridge, in order to avoid tolls on the Queens-Midtown Tunnel and the RFK Bridge.  Under the Move NY Fair Plan, the incentive to do this will be eliminated, helping improve conditions on these dangerous streets.

If tolls are implemented on the East River Bridges, we urge policymakers to give special attention to the needs of senior citizens and others who currently rely on a free Queensboro Bridge to reach medical appointments in Manhattan.  The City of New York stands to save perhaps ten millions of dollars each year from avoided bridge maintenance costs under this plan (more when major rehabilitation projects are required).  We believe it should be feasible and inexpensive to develop a program under which tolls for emergencies or medical visits by qualifying participants can be reimbursed from these savings.

Update: Move NY has more on our endorsement.

Tracking Progress: April 2015

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Fatalities.  There were nine traffic fatalities in Queens in April, including six vehicle occupants, one cyclist, and two pedestrians. At least two people were killed by hit-and-run drivers: a 61-year-old pedestrian on April 1st in Flushing, and Mohamed Ali, an 88-year-old cyclist on April 16th in South Ozone Park. In the 12 months ending April 2015, there have been 85 overall traffic fatalities in Queens, down 9% from the 93 people killed in 2013, the Vision Zero benchmark year. Citywide, there has been a 17% decline in fatalities.

Injuries.  In the 12 months ending in April 2015, there have been 2,454 pedestrians injured in Queens by motor vehicles, a decline of 12% from the Vision Zero benchmark year, 2013. In the same time, there have been 798 injuries to cyclists, a reduction of 3% since 2013. Overall, including motor vehicle occupants, there have been 14,703 people injured in motor vehicle crashes in Queens over the past year, down 5% since 2013. Citiwide, there has been a 9% reduction in injuries.

Enforcement.  Across Queens, several NYPD stepped up enforcement actions against speeding this month. Highlights of Vision Zero enforcement in April included citations for failure to yield right of way to pedestrians by the 102nd Precinct, speeding in the 105th Precinct, and red light running in the 108th Precinct.

But the overall trend is that Vision Zero traffic enforcement against drivers who speed, run red lights, and fail to yield to pedestrians appears to have peaked in Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, and may even be on the decline (enforcement in Manhattan and the Bronx continues to rise). Enforcement actions against drivers using handheld cell phones continue to decline sharply.  Given the very modest progress that has been made so far in reducing traffic fatalities and injuries, we’re hoping that NYPD can reinvigorate enforcement on all four of these categories before school lets out for the summer.

See our full report here, including results by borough and community board.

Traffic safety awareness at IS 230

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By Cristina Furlong

On Tuesday, April 28th, students from IS 230, The Magnet School for Civics, in Jackson Heights celebrated the completion of an innovative traffic safety program. The Traffic Safety Sign Design Program pairs safety educators from the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the arts-advocacy group Groundswell to create site specific and beautiful traffic signs for school zones. The 7th grade “Art Talent Class” at IS 230 spent weeks with artist Chris Soria, safety educator Julia Glauboch, as well as their art teacher, Ms. Bonilla to create the work. The program included a neighborhood traffic survey and a trip to the DOT sign making shop in Maspeth, where up to 12,000 signs are fabricated each month.

“This school year, DOT safety educators have been reaching out to middle school students, one of the most vulnerable groups for traffic related injury. “ said Theresa Berry DOT Safety Education and Outreach Director of Special Events for Vision Zero. “Vision Zero accepts no traffic fatality as inevitable. The success of Vision Zero involves fully engaging the public to become part of the solution”. Berry said.

The partnership of DOT and IS 230 has been going strong for about a year, since Make Queens Safer members provided information on DOT programs to the former PTA president. It was arranged that Safety Educators would come to the school and address parents at a PTA meeting. Last fall, students participated in the Make Queens Safer street fair and traffic study, for which they received community participation credits for class.

Dr. Laura Newman, from Make Queens Safer spoke about the incredible partnerships and community that were involved in the process. Dr. Newman recognized that IS 230 had lost a former classmate, Luis Bravo to a hit and run driver over a year ago. In his honor, 2015 will mark the first year of the Luis Bravo scholarship to a graduating 8th grader. The school was fully engaged through participation from the parent coordinator, guidance counselor, principal, art, civics, social studies, band and math classes, highlighting the fact that safety education can be incorporated into common core curriculum in many ways.

Students spoke about the experience being a long lasting one for them, whether it was the new awareness of traffic safety, the enormity of the sign-making process of New York City, or the collaborative creative process.

“At Groundswell, we like to say that art creates community, and community creates change” said deputy director Sharon Polli. The creative process begins with a challenge. The challenge that all of you faced was how to work together to create a dual image that increases safety awareness and prevents accidents around your school.” You have created change. The message you have all created will resonate with thousands of community residents and your fellow students.”

Other members of the DOT present were Kim Wiley-Schwartz, Assistant Commissioner of Safety Education, and Marjorie Marciano, DOT Vision Zero safety educator. “You have a right to be safe on your walk to school” Wiley-Schwartz said.

Make Queens Safer is hoping to make contacts with manis230.3y more schools in Queens to help facilitate the implementation of safety programs for students of all ages. Beyond the DOT, there are many resources for parents, teachers and students.

In the coming year, we hope to create resources for parents and concerned neighbors to report unsafe conditions and have a platform for which to make changes. Specifically, implementing safe procedures for arrival and dismissal, ensuring crossing guards for dangerous intersections, promoting walking and biking to school, and increasing the well-being and participation of school communities as it relates to traffic safety.

If you are interested in working with your school to have a traffic safety program or presentation, don’t hesitate to contact us via facebook message, or info@makequeenssafer.org for tips and resources.

Town Hall on Move NY Fair Plan

The Move NY Fair Plan is a proposal to address chronic funding shortages to keep our transit and roadway systems in a state of good repair, and to begin investing in much-needed improvements in the city by establishing tolls on the city’s free East River Bridges and at 60th Street in Manhattan.  A key feature of the plan is that it would reduce tolls by more than 40% on other key bridges used by Queens residents, including the RFK Bridge, the Throgs Neck Bridge, and the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge.  More information on the plan is available on the Move NY website.

Make Queens Safer has been following this proposal with great interest because of its potential to reduce dangerous through traffic on neighborhood arterials in Western Queens, including Northern Boulevard, Roosevelt Avenue, and Queens Boulevard.  Currently, many vehicles use these routes to reach the free Queensboro Bridge, in order to avoid tolls on the Queens-Midtown Tunnel and the RFK Bridge.  Under the Move NY Fair Plan, the incentive to do this will be eliminated, helping improve conditions on these dangerous streets.

On Thursday, May 14, 2015 at the Jackson Heights Jewish Center, Make Queens Safer will be co-hosting a community forum on the Move NY Fair Plan, with Friends of Diversity Plaza, the Jackson Heights Green Alliance, Jackson Heights Beautification Group, and the New Visions Democratic Club, as well as Councilmember Daniel Dromm and State Senator Jose Peralta.  Come hear a presentation on the plan, and bring your questions.

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Tracking Progress: March 2015

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Street safety in Queens continues to improve. In the 12 months ending in March 2015, there have been 2,469 pedestrians injured in Queens by motor vehicles, a decline of 12% from the Vision Zero benchmark year, 2013. In the same time, there have been 795 injuries to cyclists, a reduction of 4% since 2013. Overall, including motor vehicle occupants, there have been 14,708 people injured in motor vehicle crashes in Queens over the past year, down 5% since 2013. Citiwide, there has been a 9% reduction in injuries.

There were two traffic fatalities on Queens streets in March. This is the lowest total since April 2013. The two fatalities were Robert Walker, who died when his car struck a median on the Belt Parkway in Jamaica; and an 80-year-old woman who was struck while crossing Astoria Boulevard in Jackson Heights. In the 12 months ending March 2015, overall traffic fatalities in Queens are are down 9% from 2013. Citywide, there has been a 16% decline in fatalities.

In many precincts across the borough, the NYPD stepped up enforcement actions against drivers running red lights, and continued last month’s trend of stronger enforecement actions against failing to yield right of way to pedestrians.

See our full report here, including results by borough and community board.

Tracking Progress: February 2015

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February was a bad month for pedestrian fatalities. Five pedestrians were killed on by motor vehicles on the streets of Queens, the highest tally since October.  Nonetheless, many fewer pedestrians and cyclists were injured by motor vehicles in Queens this month than at any time in over three years. There were 164 pedestrian and cyclist injuries, sharply fewer than the 220 injuries in February 2014.   The short month and cold weather were certainly factors, but hopefully this at least partially reflects a trend that can be sustained as the weather warms.

Across the borough, many NYPD precincts notably stepped up enforecement actions against drivers failing to yield right of way to pedestrians, most notably precincts 103, 104, 108, 109, 110, and 112.

Precincts 108, 112, 115 continued their trend of increasing enforcement against speeding.

See our full report here, including results by borough and community board.

Tracking Progress: January 2015

Queens-2015-01To kick off 2015, we’re launching a new dashboard to track Vision Zero progress in every community board in the borough of Queens. Check it out here.

There are a few key changes from the way were were tracking progress last year. It’s based on the same NYPD data, but we’ve organized results by community board rather than precinct. Also, instead of measuring traffic enforcement and injuries/fatalities as a year-to-date statistic, we’re now tracking it as a rolling 12-month total. At any given point in time, we’re looking at how we’ve done over the past year relative to the total for 2013, the year Mayor de Blasio set as the city’s Vision Zero baseline.

We’re releasing this report without a lot of analysis this month. We published a detailed review of the results for 2014 last month, and will be publishing this new tracker on a monthly basis throughout 2015. Please let us know what you think at MakeQueensSafer (at) gmail.com.

One final note. We see that NYPD has improved the quality of the datasets that it posts on its website. The files now separate crashes on city streets from those that occur on highways. It is also possible to track every crash back to the precinct where it occurred. Thank you, NYPD, for this improvement.

Kidical Mass Forum

Join the Kidical Mass Forum
Saturday, January 31st, 2015, 10 am – Noon
Renaissance Charter School, 35-59 81st Street, Jackson Heights

The forum will feature discussion of how to get your kids and your family cycling safely in the city.   Please join us!

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