While some neighbors oppose the one-way streets, citing speeding as a major concern, other residents are backing the Department of Transportation (DOT) plan.
Ryan Chen, who lives on 72nd Place and Calamus Avenue, said in a phone interview that he supports the one-way conversions because they would make his neighborhood safer. He argued that with a one-way, there would be half as many cars on the road, leading to fewer conflicts with pedestrians or other motorists.
With the emergence of apps like Google Maps and Waze, more and more drivers and truckers are using the side streets from 71st to 74th streets to avoid traffic-heavy Grand Avenue.
“Our streets are very narrow. Our neighborhood, which was once quiet, is now a shortcut for other motorists,” Chen said. “We can’t pick convenience over safety.”
According to DOT’s crash data, there have been 35 injuries and no fatalities in the study area since 2012.
But Chen, who requested data from the 104th Precinct, was told by the traffic safety unit that there have been 119 accidents in the vicinity since 2015.
The Maspeth resident said that number of accidents alone are enough reason to advocate for change.
Opponents of the one-way conversions have argued that one-way streets invite speeding, which is even more dangerous. They say two-way streets, like the current conditions, force drivers to slow down and allow oncoming cars to pass by.
But Chen, like other residents in favor of the conversion, said drivers will speed in either scenario.
“You’re not going to stop people from speeding,” he said. “If you’re so worried about speeders, put up some speed bumps.”
Like Chen, other neighbors argued that most streets in surrounding communities have one-way streets. Chen said it wasn’t fair their area hasn’t been converted yet.
One block within the study area, 70th Street, has already been converted to a one-way. Chen said since the change, there have been fewer cars and accidents, including sideswipes or mirror damages.
“Every block should get converted,” Chen said.
Guo Zhong Wu, who has lived on 72nd Street for the last four years, noted the increase in population in the area. He said that means more cars are parking on the streets, making the two-way roads tough to drive and turn onto.
“When there’s a car double-parked, just to get around it is difficult,” Wu said in Mandarin, which Chen translated. “Definitely a safety issue, the way it is now.”
Wu added that when a snowstorm strikes New York City, the two-way roads make it difficult for snow plows to get through and clear the streets.
“With a one-way, you only have to worry about one direction,” he said.
The plan is still being discussed by Community Board 5, which has yet to take a vote on the topic.
DOT has previously stated that they will look to the board for a determination on which streets, if any, are converted.