Spring 2001, p.16

Taming the 'Boulevard of Death'

NO: A pedestrian gets caught halfway crossing Queens Blvd. Some medians provide walkers with only 6 feet of safe space.Since the Daily News Queens Boulevard crusade began in late December, the Department of Transportation has made several key pedestrian improvements to the 'Boulevard of Death.' The DOT has installed two red light cameras, lowered the speed limit to 30 mph along the entire boulevard, and most importantly, added a crucial twenty seconds more of crossing time during peak hours at two dozen intersections. The Police Department has also instituted several zero-tolerance traffic crackdown weeks, issuing over 22,000 traffic summonses since December.

These are good, important first steps towards improving safety on Queens Boulevard. However, the Boulevard if still far from safe. DOT's own spokesman called it a "New Jersey Turnpike with crosswalks." In February, 83 year-old Eugene Eisenberg, who survived Nazi concentration camps and two heart bypass surgeries, was the Boulevard's 73rd fatality since 1993. And in March, a family of three struck by a car joined the 1000+ others injured on the Boulevard in the same time period. There's much more that needs to be done before Queens Boulevard will cease to be a menacing, dangerous highway that divides Queens. The following are needed next steps to follow up on the DOT's recent improvements.

Next Six Months
1. Give all pedestrians enough time to cross all day, at every intersection.
2. Widen the service road medians by 12 feet to narrow the service roads to one 14-foot lane, using inexpensive, appealing techniques such as temporary curbs, planters, bollards, and asphalt fill.
3. Install Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPIs) at all intersections. LPIs give pedestrians a three second head start before motorists get a green.
4. Set the signal progression speed (which is currently 38 mph during rush hour) at or below the speed limit at all hours.

YES: This traffic calming treatment at Yeshiva University in Northern Manhattan shows how streets can be easily and cost-effectively narrowed using temporary curbs, planters, and thermoplastic bollards.Next 18 Months
1. Use raised crosswalks at intersections along the service road.
2. Widen the center median to a minimum of 12 feet all along the boulevard. Use the same techniques as on the service road. Currently, some of the medians are only six feet wide-not wide enough for a parent and a stroller.
3. Install curb extensions with steel bollards at additional intersections.
4. Add 10-15 more signalized mid-block crossings so that area residents don't have to walk further than 400 feet to get to the next crossing.

Next Two Years
1. Begin a study for the fundamental redesign of the boulevard similar to the $9 million federally funded study planned for the Grand Concourse.

Next Five Years
1. Rebuild Queens Boulevard from the ground up, significantly widening medians, narrowing the roadway, and integrating the street with the surrounding street grid. Add more traffic calming, trees and landscaped medians, and on-street bicycle lanes.

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