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Rockaway takeaway: City wants to take lanes from Canarsie thoroughfare

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The city wants to block a way on the Rockaway Parkway.

Locals are livid about the Department of Transporta­tion’s plans to take away a lane of the Rockaway Parkway in Canarsie as a way to reduce traffic accidents.

“I think it’s horrible,” said Canarsie resident Marc Want. “They’re out of their minds.”

Rockaway Parkway would go from two lanes each way down to one between Flatlands and Seaview avenues, to make room for turn lanes and pedestrian islands at intersections, according to the plan presented at the Community Board 18 meeting on Jan. 17.

The plan is part of Mayor DeBlasio’s Vision Zero initiative to eliminate traffic deaths by the year 2020, which identifies that stretch of the parkway a “Vision Zero Priority Corridor” due to the relatively high number of fatalities there.

Six people died and 22 suffered severe injuries in traffic accidents in that area between 2011 and 2015, and a majority of motorists speed between Avenues J and K on the parkway, according to city statistics. There are also several schools in the area, and a nursing home.

But Canarsie residents complained that the plan unfairly punishes drivers when the real problem is pedestrians.

“There are too many cars and not enough roads,” said Judy D. Newton at the CB18 meeting. “Instead of punishing motorists, who have to go to work, and people going about their day, why not also punish the jaywalkers?”

Locals also griped that the plan would make traffic even worse.

“Making that one lane will be disastrous. It’ll take forever,” said Jim Buchanan, “If it’s one lane, I’d rather walk. I could make it quicker.”

A Department of Transportation rep defended the one-lane proposal by calling the current arrangement a license to speed.

“Two lanes, there’s no reason not to speed,” he said. “One lane allows you to control speed.”

He also said that the planned left turn bays — separated from the other lanes by a concrete median — will better separate cars at the busy intersections.

“We think it’s better,” he said. “The left doesn’t interfere with the right.”

This is not the first plan the department has unveiled for Rockaway Parkway. The city suggested adding pedestrian islands back in 2016, and Community Board 18 supported the idea.

Residents did say they recognize the need to address the civilian deaths on the thoroughfare — but with something short of stripping away traffic lanes. Want said he would support adding speeding cameras to the area instead.

“I understand kids were killed. Idiots speed there,” he said. “They should put speeding cameras. It’d be a lot cheaper.”

Reach reporter Adam Lucente at alucente@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Lucente.
Updated 7:22 pm, January 24, 2018
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Reader feedback

JD from Brooklyn says:
“Making that one lane will be disastrous. It’ll take forever,” said Jim Buchanan, “If it’s one lane I’d rather walk. I could make it quicker.”

There it is in a nutshell, people drive when they can easily walk. If Jim can walk when there might be traffic, he can walk all the time.
Jan. 22, 2:15 am
Diane Feldman from Canarsie says:
According to the police all of the fatalities were caused by speeding cars and distracted drivers. None of the victims were jaywalking. All had the green light and were in the crosswalk. Drivers need to be responsible.
Jan. 22, 12:15 pm
Jim Buchanan from Brooklyn says:
I'm surprised that JD from Brooklyn feels that I should walk from Flatlands Ave. to the Belt Parkway. Should I then go walk on the Belt as well? I'm also surprised that JD didn't suggest I use a bike. Doesn't Mayor DeB want everyone to use a bike?? But I'm sure when the first bicyclist hits a jaywalking pedestrian, we'll make everyone "walk" their bike. How about just teaching pedestrians, when they cross the street, to stop, look both ways, and cross when it's safe to. This is what people were taught in school for the last 100 years. Makes sense to me.
Jan. 23, 2:15 am
Diane Feldman from Canarsie says:
Jim, I guess you did not read my previous post. All the fatalities in the area were caused by the drivers, not the pedestrians who were crossing with the light and were in the crosswalk. Many drivers need re-education.
Jan. 23, 12:31 pm
Jim Buchanan from Brooklyn says:
Diane. First of all, the stats given by the DOT were from 2011 to 2015. To me that's OLD news. Secondly, pedestrians are struck for many reasons, not predominately by vehicle speed. People who wear all black clothing at night, are many times impossible to see, especially when turning at a corner (and speed is not involved in these cases). Pedestrians need to be "re-educated" also. Walking (or crossing) wearing earphones and texting, paying NO ATTENTION to traffic is not the drivers fault. Everyone should be more attentive. And finally, the plan presented by the DOT at the Community Board back in the spring, made sense, was generally accepted by the board (no objections) and would have made this roadway much safer. I've learned that when DOT presents a plan that the community accepts, it means they have to sit down and reevaluate it. That's crazy!!
Jan. 23, 4:24 pm
Diane Feldman from Canarsie says:
Jim, According to the police records all recent accidents in 2016 and 2017 were caused by drivers. In every case the pedestrians were not wearing black clothing at night, none had headphones and video at the intersections showed the pedestrians were in the crosswalk and had the green light. I was almost struck by a driver on Kings Highway. He was on his cell phone at the time and was going through a red light.
Everybody needs to be more responsible.
Jan. 24, 9:39 am
Allan Rosen from Sheepshead Bay says:
The only block with traffic congestion on Rockaway Parkway is the block where it is one wide. So DOT wants to increase that congestion to the entire roadway. That will really make the B42 run on time.
Jan. 24, 2:16 pm
Jim Buchanan from Brooklyn says:
Diane, I agree, everyone needs to be more responsible! But causing more congestion on this stretch of roadway will solve nothing, and make life miserable for everyone. Making it one lane will not prevent a driver from speaking on his cell phone (as in your unfortunate case). He could still hit a crossing pedestrian. Maybe putting one speed camera between Flatlands Avenue and the Belt Parkway, would significantly cut down excessively speeding cars. I still say their previous plan for the roadway would make things much safer, and would solve all their problems.
Jan. 24, 3:16 pm
Diane Feldman from Canarsie says:
Jim, thank you for your remarks. I just wish that the sizeable minority of drivers who drive so recklessly would take responsibility for their actions.
Jan. 26, 9:04 am
Jim Buchanan from Brooklyn says:
Diane, that we can all agree on.
Jan. 29, 1:24 am

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