Mobilizing the Region
Issue 298December 18, 2000



Queens Boulevard - How Many Will Die in 2001 ?


The death of yet another pedestrian, this time a 14-year old girl named Sofia Leviyev, on Queens Boulevard spurred more than 100 local residents to block the street in protest this past Sunday. Unfortunately her death does not come as a surprise. On Queens Boulevard, there has been on average one pedestrian killed by an automobile per month and more than one non-fatal accident per week since 1993.

Newspapers jumped on the story with headlines such as "Concrete River of Death," "The Street That's Out of Control" and "Ready, Start, Die,"

The City DOT responded by saying it will speed up implementation of a $3 million "improvement program," which will install a fence along the median of the street and create high-visibility crosswalks at certain intersections. Both of these improvements focus on changing pedestrian rather than motorist behavior.

The agency has not responded to letters sent in November from community groups and the Campaign calling on it to slow the traffic through low-cost signal timing and long-term street design changes. According to the City DOT's report, on which the agency is basing its plan, 2/3 of all Queens Boulevard drivers exceed the speed limit and 1/4 drive at 40 mph or faster. The report lists one of the causes of the excessive speed as the light timing, which permits cars to move at 38 mph without needing to stop for signals.

Nor has the agency begun to address another major point raised in the report - excessive road width without adequate crossing time or medians to stand on. The report states that at rush hour, there is not enough time to cross the street in one light. But pedestrians who need to use medians to cross in two lights are often out of luck. It says, "intersections with left-turn lanes on Queens Boulevard are created by reducing the width of the normally adequate (15 foot) center mall… to three or four feet in width… At a number of intersections, the medians do not extend through the crosswalks [and consequently pedestrians] are left unprotected in the roadway."





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