April 26, 2021 By Christina Santucci
The city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) is seeking community input about bus routes – as well as pedestrian and bike safety – on 21st Street in western Queens, as part of a study of the corridor.
The agency has established a community advisory board to solicit feedback and has set up a website where members of the public can comment.
The goal of the review – called the 21st Street Bus Priority and Safety Study – is to create a stakeholder-supported plan to improve bus speeds between Hoyt Avenue North and Queens Plaza North and to make the busy roadway safer for all those who travel on it.
Five bus routes are located on the section of 21st Street being studied – three south of 35th Avenue and two north of 35th Avenue.
The DOT has asked members of the public to submit comments about issues – such as crowded bus stops, aggressive drivers and double parking – via an interactive map. As of Sunday, 81 comments had been submitted, including 18 about a lack of crosswalks along the busy thoroughfare.
Meanwhile, the advisory board is composed of a variety of organizations and individuals – including neighborhood and transportation groups, elected officials, NYCHA buildings, representatives from city agencies, and area schools and youth organizations.
The DOT said local elected officials helped choose Community Advisory Board (CAB) members, and that the MTA was also on the board. The CAB is slated to hold its second meeting Thursday.
Richard Khuzami, president of the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association (OANA), said his community group has been gathering comments about 21st Street to bring to the CAB next meeting. OANA is a member of the advisory board.
“We have gotten a good amount of feedback already. We do the best we can to represent what the community wants,” he said.
So far, opinions have varied about what changes – if any – are needed on the corridor, Khuzami said.
A spokesperson for the DOT said the agency plans to use all of the feedback to develop several potential designs for the roadway, which would then be shared with the advisory board and members of the public. Dedicated bus lanes are among many potential options under consideration.
Agency officials said last week that they are in the initial stages of outreach and data collection, and expect to complete the study later this year.
The 21st Street corridor is among several Queens roadways included in the city’s Better Buses Action Plan – aimed at improving bus speeds citywide by 25 percent and reversing downward bus ridership trends.
Previously, the roadway was identified as one of 21 primary bus priority corridors by the DOT and the MTA through the Queens Network Redesign Draft Plan, and 21st Street was also designated as a Vision Zero corridor in 2019 because of an increase in pedestrians killed or seriously injured.
The DOT wrote that it launched the study “in light of 21st Street’s importance as a transit street and the evident need for safety improvements on the corridor.”
Additional information about the 21st Street study can also be found in a PDF presentation published by the DOT.