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City Installs Traffic Light Where Man Was Killed in Astoria Hit-and-Run

By Jeanmarie Evelly | September 13, 2016 9:25pm
 An NYPD sign about the hit-and-run at 21st Street and 30th Road in April.
An NYPD sign about the hit-and-run at 21st Street and 30th Road in April.
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DNAinfo/Jeanmarie Evelly

ASTORIA — The city has installed a traffic signal at an intersection on 21st Street where a man was killed in a hit-and-run this spring — though advocates say more safety measures are still needed to protect pedestrians on the busy roadway.

The new stoplight was put up last week at the corner of 21st Street and 30th Road in response to the fatal crash in April, when the driver of a silver or gray four-door sedan hit the 45-year-old pedestrian before fleeing the scene, officials said.

"We learned from this tragedy and are taking action to ensure something like this doesn't happen again," Councilman Costa Constantinides said in a statement about the change.

The Department of Transportation had previously rejected calls for a stoplight at this corner, saying it studied the location in 2015 but found that it didn't meet the criteria for a light at the time.

"This is long overdue," said Angela Stach, a volunteer with Transportation Alternatives, which has been pushing for changes on 21st Street for at least three years, adding that the wide street and its four lanes of traffic is inviting for speeding drivers.

The corner of 30th Road previously had no stoplight or crosswalk, despite seeing a lot of foot traffic — including many children — because of the Variety Boys and Girls Club located there.

"The parents at the club have been freaked out about his for a long time," Stach said.

And while advocates welcomed the new stoplight, they say more is needed to make 21st Street safe for pedestrians.

"It's great that the DOT finally stepped up and put a traffic light there, [but] I don't think I'm alone in saying that this is not enough," said Macartney Morris, an Astoria resident and activist.

He and Stach say they want to see the entire street redesigned in order to make it more narrow and less conducive to speeding.

"Something that you could call a road diet," said Stach. "You would need to completely change the nature of the street."

Morris said he would like to see an overhaul like the one the city is doing along Queens Boulevard, a notoriously dangerous roadway where the DOT began a $100 million redesign last year that includes the addition of protected bike lanes and other safety features.

"They redesigned that street from the ground up," Morris said. "21st Street needs the Queens Boulevard treatment."

DOT plans to continue discussions with the community and elected officials to bring more Vision Zero changes to 21st Street, according to the agency.