THE COMMUTE: In July, I discussed confusing signage on the Gowanus Expressway regarding the Belt Parkway exit existing for months. It could lead to accidents due to drivers making last minute decisions, and the State Department of Transportation (DOT) stated that they could not do anything about it.
Last week I asked, how many other dangerous situations like that exist. Have delays in remedying them resulted in unnecessary accidents and deaths? Disappearing lanes, and left turn lanes without prior warning, are also dangerous and exist all over the city. The city appears to be very concerned about pedestrian deaths, but less so about other traffic deaths. Lane markings and center dividers are not repainted until they are completely worn out, which can be potentially be very treacherous.
A few weeks ago, I was driving to a meeting held by Queens Community Board 5 and was appalled by a dangerous road condition I encountered. As I was exiting the Jackie Robinson Parkway at Cypress Hills Street going east, I noticed the double yellow line indicating a two-way street was completely missing and there was no sign to alert drivers exiting the parkway that they were entering a two-lane roadway. Had I not used that exit many times before, I would have assumed it was one way and would not have expected opposing traffic.
I made a mental note to mention it at the meeting I was about to attend. However, that was not necessary as someone else brought up the same issue complete with pictures. There was a brief discussion about City and State DOT shifting responsibility to one another when such matters were previously raised.
I had a private discussion with the NYC DOT representative in attendance who first appeared disinterested, telling me it wasn’t City DOT’s responsibility until I convinced him the problem was on a city street. I also informed him the street name is either marked incorrectly as Cypress Avenue or needs to be changed (if it is correctly marked) since it is really just an entrance and exit to the parkway, and not the real Cypress Avenue that is 100 feet away. Anyone needing Cypress Avenue is mistakenly directed to this street forcing him onto the highway unless they make a dangerous U-turn in front of cars just exiting the parkway. The representative informed me that he would bring both matters to the attention of his superiors.
(Photo: Google Maps)
Why should such dangerous situations exist in the first place? Why isn’t the city placing the same amount of emphasis on these situations as they do with pedestrian safety, particularly when almost as many drivers and passengers are killed yearly as pedestrians? Dark sections of highway with signs that are not visible at night constantly plague us and are not repaired for years. Just last week, politicians faulted DOT on the condition of Ocean Parkway and how numerous potholes can cause accidents.
It took DOT about a month to replace a parking sign that should have been replaced 10 years earlier. They still have not addressed the “No Stopping” signs on Oriental Boulevard, which serve no purpose other than providing a source of revenue, should the city decide to enforce the regulation.
Those situations were not emergencies. The situation on the Jackie Robinson entrance and exit at Cypress Hills Street is. How long will it take them to correct it now that they know about it? Is the city’s concern with safety real or were speed limits lowered just to increase revenue? Why is the city proposing to shift car and truck traffic from Woodhaven Boulevard onto narrow residential streets such as Trotting Course Lane near Metropolitan Avenue if safety is really their prime concern?
The Commute is a weekly feature highlighting news and information about the city’s mass transit system and transportation infrastructure. It is written by Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of MTA/NYC Transit Bus Planning (1981).
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