Sept. 30, 2013 By Christian Murray
Elected officials held a press conference on Friday to draw the public’s attention to the number of pedestrian deaths/injuries in the Queens Plaza and Dutch Kills neighborhoods.
The event was held following the death of a pedestrian at Queens Plaza on Sept. 13 who was crossing from the south side of Queens Plaza to the north side. The woman’s death followed a July incident where a woman almost died crossing Queens Plaza as well.
“We have a growing epidemic where pedestrians are not safe and we are calling on the DOT [Department of Transportation] to make it safer,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.
Van Bramer said Queens Plaza is becoming one of the busiest neighborhoods in the city, as residential towers and hotels continue to be built—while corporations flock to the area. With this influx, “a greater number of people are living and working here—and are crossing the street,” Van Bramer said.
A common problem cited by business owners and residents is that the pedestrian countdown clock is too short and pedestrians don’t have enough time to cross the street. Officials want the pedestrian time clock to be extended.
Furthermore, the bike lanes are not clearly visible—putting pedestrians at risk of being hit by cyclists. Van Bramer said that there is a greater need for bike-lane signage.
Van Bramer said the Department of Transportation needs to take a closer look at the traffic issues in Queens Plaza. He said that the DOT is about to conduct a $6 million study of the traffic patterns in Long Island City– but fails to include the Queens Plaza and Dutch Kills sections of LIC in its review.
Van Bramer, State Sen. Mike Gianaris and the Long Island City Partnership are all urging the DOT to include these areas in its study.
“We want a city with a zero tolerance for pedestrian fatalities and a comprehensive study of this area will help,” Van Bramer said.