For Immediate Release
March 19, 2014
Contact: Shachar Sharon

City Officials Host Pedestrian Safety Town Hall Meeting
Panel Discussion on New Vision Zero Initiatives

Astoria, N.Y. – Elected officials, local leaders, and advocacy groups gathered at a town hall meeting to discuss pedestrian safety and traffic issues in Astoria. Panelists and audience members discussed the city’s new Vision Zero directives, as well as concerns that residents have had regarding pedestrian safety.

“One of the chief concerns that I hear from residents most is how we can make our streets safer,” said Council Member Constantinides. “I’ve heard requests for more countdown clocks on 21 Street, speed bumps on 21 Avenue, or better traffic planning on 31 Street. This Town Hall event served as a way to listen to residents’ concerns and inform the public about how the city is working for them to help resolve these issues.”

“Queens has some of the highest numbers of traffic related fatalities in our city and we can’t afford to lose focus when it comes to pedestrian safety,” said Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx). “This town hall is an opportunity for our city agencies to hear from the members of our community and get their input on how to make our streets safer. New Yorkers do more walking than anyone else in the country and we need a comprehensive approach if we are to reverse the alarming trend of pedestrian fatalities in our area. I thank Council Member Costa Constantinides, State Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblymember Aravella Simotas for their work on this issue and for joining us at this important event.”

Constantinides and Crowley were joined by NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, Police Department 114th Precinct Deputy Inspector Kevin Maloney, State Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White, Community Board 1 Transportation Committee Chair Robert Piazza, representatives from Make Queens Safer, and others.

Part of the city’s Vision Zero directive, a city-wide inter-agency initiative to reduce traffic deaths, is to improve traffic planning on a local level and to make enforcement a top priority. The Department of Transportation and the Police Department work together with elected officials to implement the directives.

“Vision Zero gains momentum every time a New Yorker requests safer streets in their neighborhood,” said Commissioner Trottenberg. “I thank Council Member Constantinides and Congressman Crowley for hosting this town hall, which takes us one step closer to making Queens and the rest of the city a safer place for everyone. I appreciate hearing from residents who came together tonight to give us their suggestions and DOT looks forward to continuing these conversations in this borough and citywide.”

“I was happy to serve as a panelist during the Pedestrian Safety Town Hall,” said Deputy Inspector Maloney. “As we implement Vision Zero directives, we have been focusing on agency coordination and giving individualized attention to each community. It was extremely helpful to hear about safety and traffic concerns directly from residents. I’m looking forward to continuing to work on pedestrian safety initiatives and I commend Congressman Crowley and Councilman Constantinides for their leadership on this issue.”

Senator Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said: “Pedestrian safety is all too often a matter of life and death and our neighborhoods are home to some of the most dangerous roads in New York City. I am glad to see that my fellow elected officials, neighborhood residents and community groups are as focused as I am on letting the Department of Transportation know that we need traffic safety improvements, and I hope DOT responds to our pleas before any more tragedies occur.”

Assemblymember Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) said: “Pedestrian safety has consistently been a top concern for members of our community. Since taking office, I have worked to ensure that the various dangers identified by local residents are brought to the attention of the Department of Transportation so that appropriate action can be taken. As elected officials, it is our responsibility to ensure safety for all pedestrians, especially the many senior citizens and young families who live here in Astoria. The Town Hall event with Congressman Crowley, Senator Gianaris, and Councilman Constantinides is an opportunity for the community to come together and identify broader solutions and strategies that will help make our streets safer.”

Local advocacy group Transportation Alternatives and Community Board 1 also participated in the panel discussion and highlighted the importance of Vision Zero as a new platform for community activism.

“Twenty-first Street is an important commercial corridor, but its design encourages cars and trucks to speed through densely-populated neighborhoods in Long Island City and Astoria,” says Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “Over the past decade, drivers have killed several pedestrians and bicyclists, and injured many more. As part of the Vision Zero goal to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries around New York City, 21st Street needs critical pedestrian safety improvements and bicycle infrastructure to save lives.”

“Bringing the community together to discuss traffic issues that are important to them is the perfect example of governing at the grassroots level,” said Robert Piazza, Chair of Community Board 1 Transportation Committee. “This Town Hall meeting allowed Astoria residents to have their voices heard and served as an educational platform to learn about how the city is taking on the issue of pedestrian safety. I look forward to working with the community and our local officials as we implement Vision Zero’s directives. I commend Congressman Crowley and Council Member Constantinides for their leadership on this issue.”

Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair the City Council’s Sub-Committee on Libraries and sits on seven standing committees: Civil Service & Labor, Contracts, Cultural Affairs, Environmental Protection, Oversight & Investigations, Sanitation, and Transportation. For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.

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