2016-04-20 / Features

Civics To City: Dump Bicycle Corral, Give Us Safe Crossing

BY LIZ GOFF


29th Street and 39th Avenue was the scene of a collision. 29th Street and 39th Avenue was the scene of a collision. Civic leaders and Dutch Kills residents have a message for city transportation officials who installed a bicycle corral at a dangerous intersection to increase traffic safety in the Long Island City community.

“It didn’t work,” Dutch Kills Civic Association President Thea Romano said. Romano provided a photo of a recent collision at the intersection of 29th Street and 39th Avenue and said the crash is “proof of the ineffectiveness” of the traffic-calming measure installed at the site earlier this month by the Department of Transportation.

Eyewitnesses told police the driver of a yellow cab traveling eastbound on 39th Avenue at about 8 p.m. on April 13 slowed to a stop at 29th Street, to check for oncoming traffic.

As the cab inched forward, a speeding car tore through a stop sign on 29th Street and slammed into the cab, shattering glass as it screeched to a halt, the eyewitness said.

“It was a miracle that no one was killed,” Romano said. “How is a bicycle corral supposed to stop drivers from speeding up 29th Street? How many people will have to be injured or die here before someone takes steps to properly secure this intersection?”

City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer visited the intersection in October, at the request of a local restaurant owner. The visit took place just days after a seven-year-old boy was struck by a van as he attempted to cross the highly trafficked 39th Avenue.

Van Bramer called on DOT officials to perform a new traffic study to determine ways to keep pedestrians and motorists safe.

“DOT officials said they had previously studied the intersection and it was safe,” Van Bramer said. “They said none of our suggestions for increased safety were practical.”

A DOT spokesperson said the agency determined the intersection did not meet necessary criteria for all-way stop signs or other requested safety measures.

Community Board 1 officials said the owner of a restaurant on 29th Street and 39th Avenue petitioned the board several times over the last few years for a bicycle corral outside the eatery. Both the community board and the DOT denied each of those requests.

The board did not receive or process a new request for a bicycle corral outside the restaurant, and was unaware that DOT was installing the bicycle corral as a safety measure until the installation was completed. CB1 officials filed requests with several agencies to determine how and why the board was bypassed in the approval process.

“The new traffic study was a waste of taxpayer dollars spent to accommodate the agenda of a private individual,” Dutch Kills Executive Director George Stamatiades said. “The bicycle corral does nothing to increase safety at the site. It has done nothing but eliminate two parking spots needed by the local commercial district. But it has fulfilled the personal agenda of this private individual. We want to know how it was approved, who signed off on the project, why the community was left out of the approval process and why no one was advised in advance of the installation.”

Romano said the civic group is demanding answers. “We refuse to accept the excuse that the bicycle corral is going to increase safety at the intersection,” she said.

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