Sept. 11, 2019 By Shane O’Brien
Elected officials and community organizers are called on the Department of Transportation to install traffic calming measures to prevent injuries and deaths on Thomson Avenue by LaGuardia Community College.
Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, LaGuardia Community College Interim President Paul Arcario and members of Transportation Alternatives rallied on Tuesday to demand that the DOT improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians along the busy thoroughfare.
They say that the area around the college should be a designated “school zone,” since the area generates about 50,000 students. The speed limit in a school zone is lowered to 20 mph during school hours.
The group is also asking for one of the avenue’s six lanes to be removed– and to be designated for pedestrian use. The lane would be painted beige and Jersey barriers would be installed to protect pedestrians from traffic.
They also asked the DOT to extend the Skillman Avenue bike lane from Queens Boulevard to 49th Avenue in order to improve the Queens bike network and allow more people to ride safely to school.
In addition, the group calls for the closure of two streets off Thomson Avenue. They want to close 29th Street to create a campus plaza with more walking space. Furthermore, they want a stretch of 30th Street closed to prevent motorists from making high-speed turns as they come off the Queensboro Bridge.
Van Bramer said that the DOT hadn’t done enough to protect students and other road users. He said that DOT needs to come up with a long-term redesign of the avenue to make it safe, but urged the agency to make short term improvements in the interim.
“I’ve been advocating with the community to make Thomson safer for years. We were here back in 2013 after 16-year-old Tenzin Drudak was tragically killed while walking on the sidewalk, and over 150 more pedestrians and cyclists have been injured in this area since,” Van Bramer said.
“DOT must start by implementing these critical safety measures that would immediately improve conditions and then prioritize a complete redesign of Thomson to ensure the safety of this busy urban campus.”
Meanwhile, Arcario, of LaGuardia Community College, said that the safety of his students, faculty, staff and visitors is of paramount importance and he urged the DOT to take action.
He said that there had been several incidents near the campus where pedestrians were injured while crossing the street.
“These are serious, life-threatening issues that must be addressed urgently in order to safeguard lives and prevent future tragedies,” Arcario said.