We continue our series on City Council candidates with a Q&A with former New York Young Republican Club President Daniel Peterson, who’s running to represent District 22, covering Astoria, Ditmars-Steinway, and northern Jackson Heights. Yesterday we ran a Q&A with Democratic District Leader Costa Constantinides. There are two other candidates in this district. Antonio Meloni responded to Streetsblog’s questionnaire but did not provide answers for publication. Danielle De Stefano did not respond.
Streetsblog: A proposal for a pedestrian plaza at 30th Avenue, 33rd Street and Newtown Avenue was defeated by opposition from Community Board 1 and Council Member Vallone. Do you think public plazas, like the ones installed in other neighborhoods throughout the city, provide a benefit to the community?
Daniel Peterson: I welcome proposals for additional public space in Astoria and throughout New York City. As councilman, I will listen to new proposals for areas of Astoria that can potentially be transformed into new public space. I will also make sure all the pros and cons are thoroughly vetted. The democratic process may not grant every proposal, but we should certainly look for alternative options that can improve our public space.
SB: Astoria Boulevard is slated to receive Select Bus Service improvements to speed bus travel. Could other parts of the neighborhood benefit from things like dedicated bus lanes?
DP: Other parts of Astoria would most certainly benefit from dedicated bus lanes. If 21st Street is an option, I would definitely look at such a proposal. The real question is: Can other parts support dedicated bus lanes? Unfortunately, Astoria’s street grid does not support many options for dedicating a section of road for a bus lane as our roads are just not wide enough. However, I am open to any improvements for our public transportation.
SB: How can the council best use its powers to reduce vehicular deaths and ensure traffic justice citywide?
DP: Public safety will be my number one issue for my campaign and as councilman. However, there is only so much the City Council can do when it comes to regulating the streets of New York. It will basically fall on the police to enforce traffic law, drivers to obey the law and the pedestrians to be aware of their surroundings when crossing the street or walking on the sidewalk. Our biggest problem today for pedestrian safety is bicycles, and particularly motorized bikes, riding the wrong way on one-way streets and the sidewalks. Most people reflexively look in the direction of traffic and do not expect something coming at them from the opposite direction. This is a serious concern of mine as I’ve been hit by careless riders and have seen some serious accidents involving reckless bicyclists. The motorized bikes are becoming more widely used by delivery persons and not one of them obey the laws for motorized vehicles. This has to stop.
SB: The MTA is a state agency, but what actions would you like to see the City Council take to fund and expand transit service?
DP: The City Council has the responsibility to make sure that any MTA expansion, contraction or alteration is properly accommodated in some way. Our job as representatives is to ensure the MTA does not drastically alter the economics of a given area and that all efforts to improve on what was there before are made possible. I do believe public-private ventures with the MTA and local businesses should be explored, so we can help alleviate costs for the MTA so that fares are not drastically increased.