2013-08-14 / Features

Advocates Seek Improved Safety On Queens Boulevard

BY NICOLAS FERNANDES

Advocacy group Transportation Alternatives (TA) has introduced an online petition to improve safety on Queens Boulevard with protected bike lanes, pedestrian safety improvements and Select Bus Service there.

The 12-lane roadway, which becomes 16 lanes wide when it intersects with Yellowstone Boulevard in Forest Hills, has been nicknamed the “Boulevard of Death” because so many pedestrians have been struck by vehicles. According to a TA report, 103 were injured and two were killed by vehicles in 2008. Many people bicycle and walk down the boulevard every day and TA wants to see them using either a protected bike lane or bus to avoid its deadly traffic.

It runs through Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Elmhurst, Rego Park, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Briarwood and Jamaica. Advocates hope to see protected bike lanes in all of these neighborhoods, but are mainly concerned about Forest Hills, Rego Park and Sunnyside, where traffic on the boulevard is the worst. On Sunday, August 11, Claudio Huerto, 50, was killed by a motorcycle while crossing Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside.

Their online petition, Zero on Queens Boulevard, has received more than 1,200 signatures at press time, but TA is hoping to achieve 2,500. They have been traveling the borough this summer, campaigning and gathering support from the community. Once TA receives enough support, they will present the idea to the community boards and elected officials for approval. The Department of Transportation (DOT), who would make the final decision has already expressed opinions.

“While there are no plans for a bike lane on Queens Boulevard at this time, it is important to note Queens Boulevard combines particularly intense vehicular traffic with a high volume of pedestrians,” said DOT spokesperson Nicole Garcia according to the New York Daily News.

“If they felt it was a safe thing to do it would be OK with me. I’m not sure how safe it would be. They’d have to do a study,” Councilmember Karen Koslowitz told the Gazette.

Koslowitz funded the roadway’s pedestrian improvements, which included the installment of fencing to prevent jaywalking and countdown clocks at crosswalks, which resulted in no fatalities in 2011.

Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn has its own off-road bikeway and the DOT announced last month that nine extra miles of bike lanes will be coming to various streets in Long Island City and Sunnyside, but Queens Boulevard, which is most notorious for pedestrian deaths remains without protected bike lanes.

No plans have been reported yet regarding additional bus service.

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