Jan. 28, 2016 By Michael Florio
On the heels of a Department of Transportation proposal to redesign several major roads around Astoria Park, Council Member Costa Constantinides has proposed a slow zone in roughly the same area.
Under the Councilman’s proposal, all the streets bounded by Shore Boulevard, Ditmars Boulevard, 31st Street and 20th Avenue would be considered a slow zone, which would drop the speed limit to 20 mph.
The slow zone would affect only the streets within this area, not the boundary streets.
Constantinides said he sees a need for a slow zone due to the number of traffic injuries here. Based on Vision Zero data, he said there have been 72 traffic injuries and one death in the area north of Hoyt Avenue in the last year.
“When pedestrians are hit by cars traveling at 20 miles per hour, they have a 95 percent survival rate – and that is ultimately why I am so serious about this initiative,” he said.
The Councilman considers this slow zone proposal Phase 1 of a larger traffic safety initiative. If it is implemented, he would like to then see the slow zone extend past Ditmars Boulevard to Hoyt Avenue, “encompassing the entire northwestern portion of the district.”
In order to realize this new slow zone, Constantinides will have to file an application with the DOT when its slow zone application process opens. That will occur later this year, he said.
After that he would have to present his proposal to both Community Board 1 and the DOT, which would have to approve it.
“We want this to occur sooner rather than later,” he said.
Improving traffic safety conditions around Astoria Park is a heavy focus of Constantinides’.
As part of this focus, he supports the DOT’s proposal addressing streets around Astoria Park, including 20th Avenue.
The DOT’s proposal involves adding a protected bike path to this road and making each driving lane one foot narrower.
“This significantly shrinks what is now a very large street, to just 11 feet on each side for traffic,” he added. “I think that will help calm traffic and those speeding issues.”
“People have complained for years about the speeding and drag races on this street,” he added.
The Councilman also approves of the DOT’s plan for Shore Boulevard, which would become a one-way street and separate existing bike lanes out from Astoria Park.
CB 1’s Transportation Committee unanimously approved turning Shore Boulevard into a one-way street and the installation of bike lanes along 20th Avenue last week.
Those proposals are expected to go up for a vote from the full board.