A request to turn Utopia Parkway into a complete street has been unanimously approved by the full Community Board 11 board on Monday March 1st (after being approved by their Transportation Committee earlier). The request will now go to the Department of Transportation where it will hopefully be implemented quickly due to the imminent danger of the current configuration and the lack of opposition to these safety measures.
The motion was brought up by Ben Turner, who has spent years gathering over 1,000 signatures on this petition, even going as far as knocking on doors of neighbors that live along that route. He knows the dangerous of this route, traveling on it often through all hours of the day and times throughout the year. Recently Ben and other residents spoke to NET TV about the danger on what should be a residential street.
Remains of crashes are a common sight, as are children biking to school. The principal of Francis Lewis High School said over 100 kids would bike to school each day (before COVID) most having to travel on Utopia, entirely unprotected from speeding drivers. Francis Lewis is currently constructing a substantial amount of new classrooms, so we can only imagine how many students cycle to school as the population grows. Additionally as the Greenway is rebuilt through the Destination:Greenways! program more neighbors will be using Utopia to access the park network.
The Department of Transportation has a large toolbox of changes it can implement along Utopia to help shift it from driver only priority, to something that is safe for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. By re-timing stop-lights, closing slip-lanes, extending sidewalks into crosswalks, and physically protecting cyclists, the DoT can change Utopia from a speeders paradise to a healthy street that connects neighbors to their parkland, schools, and local businesses.
We want to thank Ben for his tireless work on this project and look forward to seeing the improved plan for Utopia Parkway. If the DoT listens to the community and puts in significant safety improvements, it truly could be a #CompleteUtopia.