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Advocates Ask Community Boards to Back Queens Boulevard Safety Study

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | April 11, 2014 9:35am
 Queens Boulevard is the site of numerous fatal accidents.
Queens Boulevard is the site of numerous fatal accidents.
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DNAInfo/Nigel Chiwaya

QUEENS — A group of advocates is urging Queens community boards to support conducting a study to redesign the notoriously dangerous Queens Boulevard, which has been the site of numerous accidents over the years.

The thoroughfare is nicknamed the “Boulevard of Death,” because more than 70 pedestrians were killed in accidents there from 1993 to 2001, according to statistics provided by the Department of Transportation.

The DOT has installed a number of safety features over the years, including fences preventing pedestrians from jaywalking and pedestrian countdown signals, but they did not prevent accidents from happening, the group said.

In 2013, six pedestrians were killed along the 7-mile boulevard and transportation advocates say the thoroughfare could be safer if it was redesigned, according to a letter sent by a group of politicians to the DOT earlier this year citing newly released NYPD statistics.

And earlier this year, an 85-year-old woman was seriously injured by a turning bus on Queens Boulevard and 108th Street in Forest Hills, the same day that Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his "Vision Zero" pedestrian safety program.

Transportation Alternatives Queens Activist Committee has collected more than 3,300 signatures under a petition asking for the study and "for protected bike lanes, pedestrian safety improvements and Select Bus Service on Queens Boulevard.”

“Queens Boulevard is not a highway but people kind of treat it like it is,” said Jessame Hannus, who discussed the group's plan, called “Zero Queens Boulevard,” during a Community Board 6 meeting Wednesday night.

The current design serves mostly drivers, which makes it dangerous for pedestrians and bike riders, advocates said. The high number of accidents is also a deterrent for customers shopping along Queens Boulevard and a danger to children crossing the boulevard on their way to school, they said.

The group will attend meetings at each community board that includes Queens Boulevard, according to Peter Beadle, a member of Transportation Alternatives Queens Activist Committee.

Several Queens Councilmembers, including Karen Koslowitz, Elizabeth Crowley, Rory Lancman, Daniel Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer, expressed their support for the idea.

The officials sent a letter to the DOT in February asking the agency to conduct the study and to make changes along Queens Boulevard one of the priorities in enacting the city's “Vision Zero” initiative, which has the goal of eliminating traffic-related deaths in the city.

“It’s time for the Department of Transportation to do a comprehensive study of the entire boulevard in order to evaluate changes to improve its safety and functionality,” the officials wrote in the letter.

They also wrote that the safety measures implemented over the years along Queens Boulevard “allowed the city to push aside the real infrastructure changes that are necessary.”

A spokesman for the DOT said in an email that the agency "is always interested in working with Queens residents, community groups and all New Yorkers on achieving our shared goal of creating safer streets for everyone."

He also said that the DOT is organizing a series of public workshops on "Vision Zero." The two events planned for Queens are scheduled for May 21 and May 29.