STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Transportation Alternatives hosted a rally on Saturday afternoon at the frenetic intersection of Hylan Boulevard and Bay Street in Rosebank to drive home the point that a reduction is needed in the speed limit on the street dubbed the “Boulevard of Death.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio fueled the ire of some Island politicians and drivers when he announced that the speed limit will be lowered to 30 mph along the entire length of Hylan Boulevard, from Rosebank to Tottenville.
“We are here because Hylan Boulevard, as you all know well, is the most dangerous street in Staten Island when it comes to traffic crashes and fatalities,” said Rose Uscianowski, of Transportation Alternatives. “It is also one of the most dangerous streets in New York City.”
Participants held signs inspired by headlines for crashes that occurred on Hylan Boulevard over the past two years in what the Facebook page for Transportation Alernatives noted has earned its deadly nickname.
“They are just a small number of the many crashes that have occurred here that have taken lives,” she said, adding that “when we’re looking at injury numbers, we’re talking about lives in many cases that have been changed from that moment forward.”
On Hylan Boulevard while de Blasio has been mayor since 2014, there have been more than 1,800 injuries and 23 fatalities due to traffic accidents, she said. According to the Transportation Alternatives website, since 2014 a total of 248 pedestrians and cyclists combined have been injured in traffic crashes on Hylan Boulevard and a combined total of 14 cyclists and pedestrians have been killed.
‘A NECESSARY CHANGE’
She described the reduction in speed limit as “a necessary change,” but said that many more traffic-calming measures are needed.
“We know that when you reduce the speed at which vehicles travel, you’re both reducing the chance that a crash will happen, and in the case that a crash does happen, you’re reducing the chances of a fatality or a serious injury,” Uscianowski said.
She added, “This change was a long time coming, and it will save lives.”
Her organization is calling on legislators in Albany to pass the Crash Victims Rights and Safety Act.
“On Hylan Boulevard, we’re looking to make sure that it’s safe for people to travel on bicycles, and it’s safe for pedestrians to use those roadways and every little bit helps,” said Troy McGhie, a candidate for the North Shore’s City Council seat.
“I understand that some people may not be happy with the reduction, but it’s a necessary situation to save lives.”
McGhie described an accident where a man he knew was 70 years old when he was struck and injured while walking across the intersection of Bay and Hylan; the driver tried to beat the light while turning.
Participants also spoke about how traffic safety is an Islandwide issue.
Annemarie Dowling-Castronovo, an assistant professor of nursing at Wagner College, wore a T-shirt in honor of Ronald Tillman, 29, who died in a hit-and-run crash on Howard Avenue on Grymes Hill in 2012.
“Here he was on a Sunday night, getting ready to take a test the next day, and he was tragically killed,” Dowling-Castronovo said of the nursing student who was heading home on his bike from the college library when he was fatally struck.
“We look for opportunities to collaborate [with Transportation Alternatives], and our nursing students learn that we don’t want everybody going to the hospital,” Dowling-Castronovo said.
Recently announced plans to lower the speed limit on Hylan Boulevard have been met with backlash by local elected officials, but city traffic data indicates that a high volume of crashes, including those involving injuries and deaths, have occurred along the roadway over the past decade.
Nearly one-third of all traffic fatalities on Staten Island since mid-2012 have occurred in crashes where Hylan Boulevard was listed as the primary or cross street, according to city data.
LOWER SPEED LIMITS ON 45 MILES IN NYC
On Monday, de Blasio announced that the city will lower speed limits on over 45 miles of major streets across the five boroughs where the most crashes have been reported, including Hylan Boulevard, the borough’s longest street, where the entire 14-mile roadway will soon have a speed limit of 30 miles per hour.
The new speed limits will go into effect as speed-limit signage is posted over the coming weeks, according to the city. Speed cameras located along any of these streets will be reprogrammed and drivers will be given a 60-day adjustment period after new signage is posted, the city said.
Currently, the speed limit on Hylan is 40 miles per hour on the southernmost stretch, from Massachusetts Street to Richmond Avenue, and 35 miles per hour from Richmond Avenue to New Dorp Lane.
The northernmost stretch of Hylan Boulevard, from New Dorp Lane to Bay Street, already has a 30 miles per hour speed limit.