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Group Wants Safety Improvements for Greenpoint Avenue

SUNNYSIDE — A group of transportation advocates in Queens is pushing for safety improvements for a traffic-heavy intersection in Sunnyside they say is hazardous to crossing bicyclists and pedestrians.

Members of the Transportation Alternatives' Queens Committee say the intersection of Greenpoint Avenue and Borden Avenue, where Greenpoint Avenue passes over the Long Island Expressway, is "total chaos" because of unclear lane markings and poorly timed traffic lights, according to committee member Steve Scofield.

"It's horrible," said Scofield, an Astoria resident who said he used to bike across the heavily-trafficked intersection on his way to work in lower Manhattan. He said the group was prompted to take a closer look at the spot last spring after a cyclist was killed crossing Borden Avenue in April.

"There is a light cycle that’s a complete free for all," he said. "You have traffic going north on Greenpoint, going south on Greenpoint, making a left on Borden, at the same time that you have a crosswalk for pedestrians and cyclists."

The groups' suggestions were first outlined on the transportation blog Streetsblog earlier this month. Scofield says that in addition to adding northbound and southbound bike lanes along Greenpoint Avenue, the committee wants to add a delayed left turn light for cars heading south on Greenpoint and turning left onto Borden.

They also suggest adding a Leading Pedestrian Interval — a crosswalk that gives pedestrians a few seconds' head start before cars — to aid cyclists heading northeast on Greenpoint across the eastbound side of Borden, where they currently have to contend with cars turning right at the same time. Scofield said cyclists are forced to cross the street and and ride across Borden illegally — against traffic, instead of with it — because it's safer than trying to cross amidst the turning cars.

Scofield said another idea that's been discussed would be to convert Hunters Point Avenue to a westbound one-way street between Greenpoint Avenue and Van Dam Street as a way to cut down on traffic at the intersection.

The Transportation Alternatives committee presented their ideas to members of Queens Community Board 2 this month, and the board is asking the Department of Transportation to do a study on the intersection. 

CB2 Chairman Joe Conley said the board agrees with most of the groups' ideas, but worries that adding the traffic light delay for cars on Borden Avenue South could lead to more traffic getting backed-up on Greenpoint Avenue.

"We're going to ask the DOT to look at it," Conley said.