August 5, 2015
A dangerous intersection in Queens that has resulted in many car accident injuries
By Jonathan Damashek
The fourth worst intersection in Queens is located in the densely populated neighborhood of Rego Park, one block from Queens Boulevard, the Boulevard of Death and adjacent to the Rego Park Center, a shopping mall. The intersection of 63rd Road and 97th Street is the most dangerous, and every year there a dozens of car accident injuries.
The site had five collisions in 2014, but the stretch of 63rd Road from Queens Blvd to 112td Street saw 192 injuries, including 48 pedestrians, six cyclists and 138 vehicle occupants between 1995 and 2009. Of the 48 pedestrians, 36 or 78 percent were crossing with the signal.
The intersection is one block from the 63rd street station on the M and R lines and a matrix of bus routes criss cross the area.
The area around the mall is notorious for heavy traffic and a lack of parking spaces. The mall’s flagships stores include Old Navy, Marshalls and Sears. Other major stores like CVS pharmacy and a Foodtown Supermarket are on the opposite corner.
A 2012 Department of Transportation study noted that the corridor was in the 91st percentile for dangerousness. One block over on 62nd Drive ranked in the 86th percentile. A subsequent project focused on traffic flow improvements. pedestrian safety, particularly the needs of senior citizens. Seniors only make up 12 percent of New York City residents, but between 2006-2010 they comprised 36 percent of all pedestrian fatalities. Due to it’s large population of senior citizens, Rego Park was designated as a one of 25 Senior Pedestrian Focus Areas.
The wide streets encouraged speeding. In fact, when DOT studied the corridor, they found that 30 to 50 percent of drivers were above the speed limit. DOT opted to narrow them by removing a travel lane and creating a wide parking lane.
A post project analysis found that crashes and injuries declined by 21 and 27 percents respectively and speeding was reduced by 66 percent from 50 percent to 17 percent without adverse impacts on travel or emergency response times.
The area has seen improvements, but more are likely to follow when Queens Boulevard is redesigned as part of Vision Zero. Improving safety would benefit residents, business owners in the bustling retail corridor and anyone who ventures over for Russian or Bukharian food, even if it’s just a knish. Improving safety would also significantly reduce the number of car accident injuries.