The event featured a presentation of some of the statistics driving the Vision Zero initiative, followed by several small-group discussions that brought up some of the key issues and trouble spots that Queens residents feel should receive focus from the DOT as they move forward.
“Our approach to this is we look at fatality trends, severe injuries and where you have corridors that are particularly problematic,” said Kessia De Leo, a DOT project manager. “We look at the types of crashes for patterns, at places where speeding is a problem and pedestrian behaviors.
“Community feedback is an important part of it,” she added. “That helps us to pinpoint what areas we need to work on as a priority. That is why the workshops will be very helpful to us to get local feedback.”
Among the suggestions fielded at Table 9, where this reporter was embedded for the workshop, were extended curbs, staggered traffic signals and the Barnes Dance, a traffic system that allows pedestrians to cross freely across an intersection in all directions while traffic is fully stopped.
Bayside resident Albert Matican fiercely advocated for the Barnes Dance to be enacted at New York City’s most dangerous intersections.
“No way in hell should a human being ever be in competition with a vehicle. You’re going to come out second-best, I don’t give a crap who you are,” Matican said. “And all the things that are in the Vision Zero plan, they’re good. I’m not knocking that.
“But a lot of them are down the line because it takes construction, design, a lot of people,” he added. “I’m looking for immediacy and expediency – so is de Blasio – and the only way you’re going to get close is the Barnes Dance, the rotation system.”
Along with vehicle and pedestrian issues, cycling problems around the city were also discussed. Joby Jacob, a lifelong Hollis Hills resident, said that as someone who regularly traverses his neighborhood streets on a bicycle, “My biggest fear isn’t getting hit by a car, it’s getting doored.”
Jacob started a website, MotorParkwayEast.com, to advocate for an extended bike path at Winchester Boulevard, where the bike path currently dumps cyclists into what Jacob says is “essentially an on ramp to the freeway.”
“If you want to ride to Commonwealth, Floral Park or Glen Oaks, it’s basically as fun as riding on the BQE,” Jacob said.
A Community Board 10 representative present for the workshop suggested that one way to create safer streets would be to release all traffic violation information to insurance companies, even if that policy may not be popular among drivers.
“If you get a fine, you won’t like paying it, but you’ll keep doing it because the insurance company will never find out about it,” said the representative. “The vehicle needs to be taken away from the people who can’t abide by the rules.”
The CB 10 rep also suggested stricter enforcement for jaywalking infractions.
“For the pedestrian that walks in front of cars, police should not feel like they’re doing a bad thing if they give a jaywalking summons,” he said. “Maybe that ticket might save that person’s life.”