Feb. 23, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
“Help is on the way.”
Those are the words of DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez who told residents in Glendale Tuesday that his agency is actively working on improving road safety in the neighborhood — following a number of serious crashes in the area recently.
Rodriguez was speaking at a press conference held at the busy intersection of Cypress Avenue and Cooper Avenue where a pedestrian last week was struck by a motorist in a car— and then by an SUV driver moments later.
A video of the graphic incident went viral online prompting Council Member Robert Holden to call for Tuesday’s gathering as a means of urging city officials to act on making streets in the district safer.
The DOT Commissioner was joined by Holden, State Senator Joe Addabbo, Assembly Member Jenifer Rajkumar and other traffic safety advocates. Some residents held signs that read, “prioritize pedestrians” and “safe streets now.”
Rodriguez said the DOT will be making a number of changes to the intersection—a notorious hotspot for crashes. For instance, from January 2014 to December 2021 there were 153 traffic incidents in and around the intersection, which left seven cyclists, 10 pedestrians and 56 motorists injured, according to city data.
Some of the improvements the DOT is considering, Rodriquez said, include raised crosswalks, pedestrian-only signal timing, new road markings and redesigned lanes.
“We can start with some of them that are easier to do,” Rodriguez said, reported StreetsBlogNYC. “There are other things that will take more time, but I can say that help is on the way. You will see changes here in the next couple of days.”
Holden, whose 30th Council District includes Glendale, called on the DOT to look into installing raised crosswalks at the intersection to help make pedestrians more visible to motorists.
He also demanded that the city enforce traffic laws at the intersection, noting that many drivers park their cars illegally which makes it harder for motorists to see pedestrians. Furthermore, motorists are known to cut through a gas station at the intersection to save time, he said.
“This is a ridiculously busy corner and the pedestrian is at a distinct disadvantage here,” Holden said.
Holden said that nine pedestrians have been killed within the confines of the NYPD 104th Precinct — which covers Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth — in the last two years.
“In this neighborhood, we’re really not as worried about violent crime, but I tell my wife every morning when she goes to work, ‘careful crossing the street.’ That’s the most danger to life and limb in this precinct,” Holden said.
He also displayed a number of rejection letters he has received from the DOT in response to his requests for safety improvements in the district. Holden’s district also covers Ridgewood, Maspeth, Middle Village and parts of Woodhaven and Woodside.
“I call them ‘turned-down letters’ because I’m always being turned down,” he said.
I thank @ydanis @NYC_DOT @JeniferRajkumar @SenJoeAddabbo and safe streets advocates for joining me, despite the rain, at today’s press conference about the urgent need for safer streets. Crosswalks shouldn’t be the most dangerous places in NYC. pic.twitter.com/kzb5mVVOux
— Robert Holden (@BobHoldenNYC) February 22, 2022
Meanwhile, Rajkumar recalled last week’s crash at the intersection, which she said shocked the community.
“It was captured on video for the whole world to see and we all watched in collective horror,” Rajkumar said.
Rajkumar said the intersection is not the only dangerous roadway in the area.
She said that there have been 536 reported crashes on a four-block stretch along Cypress Avenue, from the intersection to the Jackie Robinson Parkway exit ramp, over the last eight years, citing city data.
“This is traffic violence,” Rajkumar said. “Traffic violence is when we know about the dangers of this roadway and we don’t do anything about it. That’s violence against the community and it has to stop.”
My speech on traffic violence today at the site of a dangerous intersection. After a string of crashes at Cypress and Cooper Avenues, @NYC_DOT Commissioner @ydanis visited my district to re-affirm @NYCMayor’s support for design and signal upgrades. pic.twitter.com/AFSoGxXqrr
— Jenifer Rajkumar (@JeniferRajkumar) February 22, 2022