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Documenting Dangerous Streets: Crossing 111th Street, Queens

As you know, in this space I am always trying to find ways to inspire and change our streets for the better, which means giving you tools or film ideas to use in your community. Of late I've been doing some documentation using my GoPro and have been pleasantly surprised at how incredibly educational the footage can be.

Here in NYC, there has been an intrepid battle fought by many groups and Queens leaders to improve 111th Street, a dangerous speedway to cross for pedestrians and cyclists. In April, NYC DOT, working from results of a Vision Zero workshop spearheaded by Make the Road and Transportation Alternatives, presented to Queens Community Board 4 a smart proposal to put 111th Street on a road diet, add a two-way bike lane, and make the pedestrian crossings safer for the copious numbers of families, children and seniors going to Flushing-Corona Park & The Hall of Science.

111th_street_plan

But some members of CB4 are pushing back, including NYS Assembly Member Francisco Moya, who “has expressed that he will do everything to block this project,” according to Julissa Ferreras, the council member who endorses the NYC DOT plan and has allocated $2.7 million in capital funding to make it happen. (The above graphic is the proposed new road alignment from NYC DOT.)

IMG_0346So last weekend I decided to go out, strap a GoPro to my head and provide some running commentary in an attempt to show people just how dangerous it is to cross 111th! I'm in that area frequently, and as an adult it is very scary. And now while sitting back and editing the footage I can't believe how much I was jerking my head around to constantly monitor the traffic. In fact, I've ridden with the GoPro on my head while bicycling all over the city and I have never seen footage quite like that (which admittedly might make some a little queasy.)

I'm hoping as the community gears up to further debate this plan, this footage will come in handy. The most amazing thing is that I only recorded about 15 minutes before my battery died, now I've been thinking about what the footage would be like on a more busy, perilous day.  Based upon how the next CB4 meeting goes. I'm pondering making a full film on the dangers of 111th Street if the plan continues to be blocked. CB4 Residents deserve better.

Wherever you are, documentation is the irrefutable key to getting real change on your streets. Go out and make it happen!

18 Comments
  • tbatts666

    Great idea! Get all the little ped and bike people cameras.

    In my two years of riding in St Louis I've experienced so much insanity, including people using their cars as weapons (twice so far). Some of it is quite jarring.

    Maybe it's time to invest in a GoPro.

  • Patrick94GSR .

    Seriously? I just rode around St Louis and Clayton for 4 hours on Saturday and experienced not one bit of hostility or incivility. Check out CyclingSavvy courses there in STL coming up in the fall, it just might change your life!

  • Patrick94GSR .

    Ugh more 2 lane separated crap?? Cross section views don't show the hazards. What happens at driveways? Side streets? 4-way stops? Signalized intersections? This is where people get hit and killed, and these 2-way cycle "traps" exacerbate the problem.

  • http://www.streetfilms.org/ Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    This would run adjacent to a the parkside of 111th Street. So very few hazards and driveways to contend with. It's as best case scenario you can get, similar to put along a road that hugs the coastline of a waterway.

  • tbatts666

    2 years. It usually isn't every day.

    Both times I have had people use their cars as weapons was on park avenue practicing lane control on the narrow bits.

    I usually figure I'd rather get yelled at then get doored or sideswiped.

  • Patrick94GSR .

    Also 8 feet is far too narrow for a 2-way path. That's ridiculously narrow.

  • Patrick94GSR .

    Park Ave. is a tough one with all those dumb medians and such. It's easier where there's a center turn lane that motorists can use to pass. This past Saturday we basically made a loop via Clayton, Skinker, Vernon, Jackson, Carondelet and Brentwood. Even traversed Brentwood passing underthe 64/170 interchange by the mall. No problems whatsoever.

  • tbatts666

    Are you a fast biker? Would you happen to wear spandex and ride a road bike?

    I am a slow roller. Usually ride the heavy steel bike to haul all the stuff I need for work.

    Anyways just this morning I had someone do one of those 1 foot passes to teach me a lesson on tucker entering downtown.

    I am glad you don't have to endure the abuse some of us get. Have you considered that your experience may be different than the rest of us folks on bikes?

  • tbatts666

    Oh my gosh. And the amount of people who throw trash out their windows in this city! It's tragic how little some people care.

  • http://www.streetfilms.org/ Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    Normally I would agree. But riders on this stretch do not go very fast, plus there is a buffer. It'll be fine. Far better than the nothing that is there.

  • mrsman

    Well done Clarence, you've shown how dangerous this street can be.

    One thing that I don't understand with regards to the opposition, is where do they believe the traffic can go.

    North of 46 Rd, the two northbound lanes merge to one. The south end of this street dead ends at Horace Harding. Narrowing this street won't cause congestion, it would just make the crossing situation more sane.

    If the council member is concerned with congestion during special events like the US open, perhaps DOT can put in a temporary treatment to show that traffic would not be adversely affected.

  • Patrick94GSR .

    I wear Lycra on my long commute but other times do not. I am also slow, my average speed rarely exceeds 13 mph. Our ride around St Louis averaged a whopping 7.7 mph, through some very heavy traffic and as I said we had ZERO problems with any motorists. Every single person either changed lanes to pass or waited behind to turn right. I promise you can have a huge impact on how others drive around by owning your lane.

  • tbatts666

    I have noticed the area around Forest Park is more tolerant of bikers (I actually can't remember any nastiness being yelled at me around that area). I can only say what my experience is in St Louis. I am familiar with a lot of the tips Cycle Savvy teaches. Lane control is my default if I have any uncertainties.

    Tucker/Gravois and Park are probably where I find the most people screaming at me. Also when I move over to take left hand turns people seem to get a little ragey.

    A few weeks back a friend and I were wandering from the Grant's Trail to River Des Peres trail over surface streets and had a string of 4 cars pass us honking and cursing.

    Of course gender and race and dress and location and even style of bike probably play a huge amount into who gets verbal abuse and who doesn't.

    My commute today everyone was courteous! :)

    Even with angry motorists biking is still like the best way to explore St Louis!

  • Patrick94GSR .

    I have to disagree, a bad design is not better than nothing at all. Bad designs get people killed. You mentioned when you tried crossing the street that you have to watch for cars both behind and in front of you. That's exactly what you have to do on a 2-way cycle track whenever cars have to cross the track. 2-way tracks are NOT safe in any form where cars have to cross. Even Copenhagen has enough sense to not build 2-way separated tracks because of their dangers.

    https://www.facebook.com/justin3/videos/10206833882542866/ He has 4 or 5 other videos from that same area all with various real hazards.

  • Patrick94GSR .
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