Activists Push for More Safety Measures on Queens Blvd. After Fatal Crash
QUEENS — A group of advocates is pushing for traffic safety improvements — including protected bike lanes, speed humps and speed indicators — on notoriously dangerous Queens Boulevard in the wake of a hit-and-run that killed a Bangladeshi immigrant.
“It’s very tragic that a hard-working member of the community was mowed down that way,” said Peter Beadle, a member of Transportation Alternatives Queens Activist Committee, which initiated the petition earlier this year.
“It doesn’t have to be that way. We can change the design of this street to encourage drivers to slow down and follow the law.”
Nisath Hossain, 58, had just left the McDonald's where she worked on Continental Avenue when she was struck while crossing Queens Boulevard on Saturday, just before 10:20 p.m., police said. The driver fled the scene and no arrests had been made as of Wednesday, cops said.
The petition calls "for protected bike lanes, pedestrian safety improvements and Select Bus Service on Queens Boulevard.”
Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, who represents the area and allocated $7 million to improve safety along Queens Boulevard, said a number of improvements have been completed at the intersection, including installing countdown signals for pedestrians.
But she said that the speed limit along Queens Boulevard is "not abided by, especially at night.
"People should be punished more for going over the speed limit," she said.
In 2001, the speed limit on Queens Boulevard was lowered from 35 to 30 mph, according to the Department of Transportation.
Beadle said the intersection of Queens Boulevard and 71st Avenue could be further improved by installing electronic boards telling drivers how fast they are driving and a speed table, which is a long speed hump with a flat section in the middle.
He also said the 7-mile boulevard is designed almost like a highway, and in comparison with other major thoroughfares, such as Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, "has a vastly disproportionate amount of space dedicated solely for the use of automobiles," which makes it dangerous for pedestrians and bike riders."
It's nicknamed the “Boulevard of Death,” because more than 70 pedestrians were killed in accidents there from 1993 to 2001. In 1997 alone, 18 pedestrians were killed there, according to statistics provided by the DOT.
Since then, a number of safety improvements have been introduced, including fences preventing pedestrians from jaywalking. Pedestrian countdown signals were installed at more than 60 intersections at Queens Boulevard from Queens Plaza South to Hillside Avenue, and signals were modified to provide more pedestrian crossing time, according to the DOT.
In 2011, no pedestrian was killed on Queens Boulevard and last year two people lost their lives, according to the DOT.
Beadle said the petition, which currently has about 1,400 signatures, will be presented within a couple of months to community boards and elected officials.
Dan Andrews, a spokesman for Borough President Helen Marshall, said she is planning to soon discuss the fatal accident in Forest Hills with the DOT.
“We’ll be looking to see if anything else is needed at that intersection in terms of traffic and controlling devices,” he said.