CB2 City Services Committee Report

Last night we presented our petition for “daylighting” at the northeast corner of 52nd Street to the City Services Committee of Community Board 2. Several of our members were in attendance, and I handled the presentation. I discussed the crash on May 13 of last year that sent a girl to the hospital, and the six previous crashes that have been documented over the period 1995-2005. I also pointed out that this is used at several other locations around the neighborhood.

I took the opportunity to clear up a few misconceptions about the proposal. We are focusing on the corner of 52nd Street. We would like to see similar arrangements at other intersections, but this is only necessary where there are no traffic lights. There are only two other intersections along Skillman that fit this condition are 55th Street and 51st Street. Since these are one-way streets, there is only one corner at each intersection where this is necessary. This means only three corners, for a maximum of nine parking spaces total.

Some of the committee members expressed concern about the loss of parking; a resident echoed this concern, as well as Principal Efkarpides and some teachers from P.S. 11. In light of these concerns, Committee Chair Patrick O’Brien asked about other possible safety improvements that would not require removing parking. He asked about installing a traffic light. I explained that the DOT had looked at the intersection and determined that a light was “not recommended.”

I suggested that sidewalk extensions would do a lot to improve safety, but that they were expensive and Commissioner McCarthy had told me that they probably wouldn’t be installed any time soon. I mentioned that Al Volpe and I had discussed the possibility of a raised crosswalk at that intersection.

At the end, Jodi Hernandez, President of the P.S. 11 PTA, reminded the committee that this was an issue of children’s safety. Mr. O’Brien said that he would discuss the various possible improvements with the DOT and then either have another discussion at a later meeting or refer it to the full Community Board. No action was taken by the committee last night.

All in all, I think we made it clear that we had over 200 people who went on record saying that they were willing to give up parking for safety. Sidewalk extensions and a raised crosswalk would make a big difference in the safety of the intersection, but daylighting would help even more.

Thanks to everyone who came out to the meeting! We’ll probably have a Coalition meeting in February to discuss our plans for the next few months.

Skillman/43rd Avenue Bike Lane Update

On Tuesday I attended the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce‘s monthly luncheon at Dazie’s.  The Chamber’s Board of Directors voted last week to support the bike lanes on Skillman and 43rd Avenues.

That evening there was a hearing of Community Board 2 to discuss transportation-related issues.  Skillman Avenue was on the agenda, but when I got there I found out that it wouldn’t be discussed after all.  I did get a chance to ask Commissioner McCarthy about some of my requested bike lane improvements.  She was noncommital about the idea of extending the lanes to Roosevelt Avenue, but accepted the request and said, “You’ll probably be seeing more bike lanes in the near future.”  I didn’t get a chance to ask about the idea of making the ones on 43rd and Skillman protected cycle tracks, or about making the route on 48th Street and 39th Avenue striped or separated.

I did ask about bike racks near the planned route, though.  The Commissioner said that bike racks near businesses are best requested by the businesses.  She said that her staff could canvass the businesses, but I think it would be good if we also suggested it to them.  Request forms (PDF) can be downloaded from the DOT’s website.  Feel free to print them out and bring them to your favorite businesses.  If I can find the time I’ll try to coordinate a group effort, but if anyone else wants to coordinate it, please send a message to our mailing list!

Girl Injured at 52nd and Skillman

This morning my wife called to tell me that she had seen a crash at the corner of 52nd Street and Skillman Avenue. She was walking our son to school, and she saw a girl, about six or seven years old get knocked down by an SUV. The SUV was going south on 52nd Street and did not stop at the stop sign. The girl got up immediately. The driver of the SUV got out and asked the girl if she was okay, and the girl said yes, and the driver got back in and drove away.

The girl was not okay, however. Almost immediately after the driver left, she complained about pain. A man had gotten the license number of the SUV and gave it to the girl’s mother, and my wife left our phone number and went to work.

A few minutes later I got a call from the girl’s father. He didn’t speak much English, and didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know that the 911 service has operators who speak almost every language. I went downstairs and helped them call 911. The girl’s foot was swollen, and she couldn’t walk on it. Within a few minutes the fire department came, and then an ambulance, and then the police. Officers Morse and Crooks of the 108th Precinct filed an accident report, and the ambulance took the family to Elmhurst Hospital. If anyone has more information about the collision, please call 311.

My wife has been saying for a long time that this is one of the most dangerous of the dangerous conditions on Skillman Avenue. As you can see from the photos I took in February, drivers have difficulty seeing traffic coming down Skillman, so they pull out into the crosswalk without always looking for pedestrians. In addition, the width of the street and the lack of parking on the west side of the intersection encourage drivers to roll through the stop sign without stopping.

The solution to the lack of visibility is to remove parking spaces. I know that it’s difficult to find a parking space in the area, but I don’t believe that a few parking spaces are worth putting children in danger. None of the drivers I’ve talked to about this do, either.

Removing those parking spaces will make it easier for drivers to stop at the stop sign, but some will still be tempted to roll through. To discourage that and to shorten the walking distance, the sidewalk should be extended on both sides, leaving just enough room for vehicles to get through.

Tonight I will be attending the DOT’s presentation to Community Board 2 about safety improvements on Skillman. I will ask that the plans include removing these parking spaces and adding sidewalk extensions at this intersection. I hope to see you all there.

Important Meeting

Mike Heffron of the Transportation Alternatives Queens Committee was at the Community Board 2 meeting on May 1.  He writes:

I saw a notice at the meeting last night for a Special Mtg of CB2 Tues 5/13 at 6:30p at the Community Center re: “A discussion by DoT Commish Maura McCarthy on Barnett Ave – One Way and suggested DoT improvements and Skillman Ave – DoT improvements additional to the signalization”  Also a “Presentation/Discussion on East Side Access by Audrey Heffernan.”

This should be a very exciting meeting!

Community Board to Discuss Street Safety

Thursday, April 3 at 7 PM, Community Board 2 will be discussing several proposals related to street safety:

A street conversion of Barnett Avenue to a one-way westbound from Woodside Avenue to 39th Avenue, and a request for speed bumps to be placed at the following locations:

45th Street between 39th Avenue and Skillman Avenue
46th Street between 39th Avenue and Skillman Avenue
49th Street between 39th Avenue and Skillman Avenue
50th Street between 39th Avenue and Skillman Avenue
51st Street between 39th Avenue and Skillman Avenue

We will be at the meeting to support these measures, and to thank Commissioner McCarthy for the light retiming and discuss crosswalk improvements.  Please join us!

Sunnyside Community Center
43-31 39th St. (bet. Queens Blvd. & 43rd Av.), 2nd floor
Sunnyside,  NY 11104