Queens Boulevard Shows Signs Of Improved Safety
City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced that pedestrian countdown signals (PCS) have been installed at 66 intersections along Queens Boulevard, the latest in a decade of safety improvements that have helped bring sustained reductions in pedestrian injuries and fatalities along the seven-mile corridor.
The installations were among over 2,100 countdown signals installed boroughwide in 2011 and are in addition to traffic safety and mobility projects completed last year at 44th Drive; at 36th Avenue and Vernon Boulevard; and at Woodhaven Boulevard, making it easier and safer to drive, walk and bike in the borough. Once a notorious corridor, Queens Boulevard saw 18 pedestrian fatalities at its height in 1997. There were one or two such fatalities a year since 2004 and zero pedestrian fatalities in 2011, the first time this has been recorded since 1983, the year when detailed fatality records were first kept. There also was a record-low 62 traffic fatalities of any kind in all of Queens in 2011, part of the 242 traffic fatalities citywide—the fewest since records were first kept in 1910.
“Safety numbers are more than statistics, safety is a nonstop campaign to prevent
unnecessary, avoidable tragedies on our streets,” said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. “Though these tragedies are less common for pedestrians on Queens Boulevard today, we do not take these gains for granted and continue to take aggressive steps to make our streets even safer.”
The seven-mile stretch of Queens Boulevard was the focus of intense and sustained
safety engineering efforts, helping bring all categories of traffic fatalities down from a high of 24 in 1993 to four last year. DOT has made extensive safety improvements along the wide and densely trafficked road, including:
• Installed pedestrian countdown signals on Queens Boulevard from 32nd Place to 56th Avenue
• Lowered the speed limit on Queens Boulevard from 35 to 30 mph
• Installed 15 electronic boards displaying the speed of passing motorists
• Added eight red-light cameras to the corridor over the last 10 years
• Installed 46,000 linear feet of pedestrian fencing along the entire corridor to
• Installed median tip extensions with concrete protection barriers that enhance
safety for pedestrians crossing at 52nd, 54th, and 56th streets as well as 51st, 55th,
56th and 57th avenues
• Installed high-visibility crosswalks at several locations between Van Dam Street
and Roosevelt Avenue
• Reduced the number of lanes pedestrians have to cross at many locations
• Retimed traffic signals to give pedestrians a head start in crosswalks
• Closed cross streets at 33rd and 40th streets to provide safe pedestrian spaces
• Upgraded signs and modified signals to provide more pedestrian crossing time
• With Department of Design and Construction, redesigned the intersection of
Union Turnpike at Queens Boulevard
• Installed safety signs alerting pedestrians of particularly challenging crossings
Other DOT improvements boroughwide in 2011 include:
44th Drive: At the Long Island City community’s request, DOT implemented a traffic-calming project along this high-crash corridor, improving street markings, making crosswalks more visible and installing bike lanes;
36th Avenue and Vernon Boulevard: Enhanced the intersection to include safer, more direct
pedestrian crossings and connections to the Roosevelt Island Bridge sidewalk;
Jackson Heights: After an extensive community consultation, improved parking, signs
markings, signals and implemented turning lanes in addition to a new pedestrian plaza on 37th Road;
Maspeth Bypass: After a years-long study and analysis, implemented a new plan to reduce the impact of trucks through residential neighborhoods and redesigned the complex, accident-prone intersection of Maurice Avenue, Maspeth Avenue, 56th Terrace, 58th Street and 57th Place;
Woodhaven Boulevard: Improved signal timing and simplified lane striping to eliminate
congestion-causing unnecessary lane-changes and expanded pedestrian space to enhance safety.
The agency continues to study the area and meet with the community as it develops additional strategies to reduce congestion and improve safety.
A map and list of the 1,500 pedestrian-countdown intersections citywide can be viewed
here. As of early October, countdown signals have been installed at 842 of these intersections, including major arteries in all five boroughs such as Grand Concourse in the Bronx, 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, Hylan Boulevard on Staten Island and Broadway in Manhattan. The installation of pedestrian countdown signals was announced as part of DOT’s Pedestrian Safety Study and Action Plan. The study was based on an examination of over 7,000 crashes causing serious injuries or fatalities to pedestrians and identifies underlying causes. The analysis found that serious pedestrian crashes are about two-thirds deadlier on wider street corridors like the ones slated for pedestrian countdown signals.