2018-01-17 / Features

Vision Zero Shows Citywide Reduction Of Traffic Deaths

BY RICHARD GENTILVISO

Among statistics celebrating the fourth consecutive year of declining traffic deaths under Vision Zero, Queens showed the fewest citywide and represented the borough’s lowest number ever last year.

Citywide, there was a 32 percent drop in traffic fatalities with 214 deaths, a record. In Queens the new low was 59, a 9 percent decline in traffic deaths from 2016. The previous borough low was 63 fatalities in 2011.

For Queens Boulevard, once referred to as “The Boulevard of Death,” 2017 was the third consecutive year without a single pedestrian or cyclist fatality.

“It is encouraging to see how the plan (Vision Zero) has been successful in reducing, for the fourth consecutive year, the number of traffic-related deaths on our roads and streets,” said NYS Senator Jose Peralta in a January 8 press release from the Office of the Mayor.

Speaking on January 8 at NYPD’s central garage in Woodside, a short distance from Queens Boulevard, the Mayor referred to some of Vision Zero’s initiatives: “The lower speed limit, increased enforcement and safer street design are all building on each other to keep New Yorkers safe.”

In 2014, Mayor de Blasio ordered the speed limit on Queens Boulevard to be lowered from 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour – now the default city speed limit unless otherwise posted.

DOT has also adjusted traffic signal phases around the city to discourage speeding and to align with the new speed limit so that drivers exceeding 25 m.p.h. encounter more red lights. Lights have been retimed on more than 400 miles of city streets since the start of Vision Zero with 135 miles retimed in 2017 alone.

The Department of Transportation has engineered a $4 million redesign on Queens Boulevard, including bike lanes, additional crosswalks, and medians for pedestrians to wait in before crossing. DOT has also redesigned traffic lanes for cars to reduce the interaction between local and through-traffic. In addition, cameras have been placed near two schools to record speeders.

Next year (2019) DOT plans to add tree-lined medians, benches and a continuous bike and walking path to create what DOT envisions as a linear park to be enjoyed.

“We want it to be a place where people want to come,” said Ann Marie Doherty, a DOT Senior Director in a December 3, 2017 New York Times report.

“Queens Boulevard is proof that longstanding notions of intractable problems can be solved with determination, perseverance and fresh thinking,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer in the January 8 release. “I am proud of our work on Queens Boulevard and throughout the city to lower the traffic fatalities.”

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