2015-08-26 / Editorials

Comprehensive Traffic Safety Around Astoria Park

Op-Ed:
BY COUNCIL MEMBER COSTA CONSTANTINIDES, SUSAN CARTY, JOSEPH DIBIASO AND SARA ROTGER

As Astoria residents, we know that the streets surrounding Astoria Park can be unsafe for pedestrians. This danger was recently made too clear on the night of June 27, when our friend and family member, Betty Jean DiBiaso, passed away after being hit by a careless driver.

Unfortunately, this recent crash is not unique. There have been three fatalities and over 100 injuries due to traffic crashes near the park since 2009.

We cannot let this tragedy happen again.

For too long, there has been a traffic disconnect between the park and the streets around it. Many motorists race through at dangerous speeds. It is especially treacherous at the corner where the hit-and-run occurred, 19 Street and Ditmars Boulevard, as there is no traffic light.

The surrounding sidewalks are full of families walking to and from the park, or people leisurely strolling to enjoy the waterfront and the beautiful views. This area’s streets are as important to pedestrians as the inside of the park and the traffic patterns of the area should reflect this.

We need a comprehensive traffic safety plan that better connects Astoria Park with the streets around it.

This is not about one street. This is about the entire system of streets around the park.

There are many possible solutions to these issues. We hope the Department of Transportation (DOT) will consider everything, from traffic lights to additional crosswalks to creating speed humps around the park.

We treasure Astoria Park. We have all called it our neighborhood park for decades. We understand its charm and the desire to visit.

We can all agree that drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians alike should be able to safely enjoy Astoria Park and the surrounding community without the constant fear of personal injury. Our petition ( http://council.nyc.gov/d22/html/members/petition-traffic-safety.shtml ) calls for better traffic safety around the park. By signing, you can join us in making Astoria a safer place to live.

In the coming months we will be working with the DOT to provide some real relief for these burdened streets. We encourage everyone who is interested in the topic to stay tuned for future opportunities for the public to get involved.

Let us learn from this tragedy.

The petition can be viewed at council.nyc.gov/Costa and click on “Petitions.”

Susan Carty, Joseph DiBiaso, and Sara Rotger are the family of Betty Jean DiBiaso.

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