How Bus Rapid Transit Can Save Lives on One of NYC’s Most Dangerous Streets

Woodhaven Boulevard needs BRT not only to move transit riders faster, but also to save lives and prevent traffic injuries. Map: Transportation Alternatives [PDF]

Lives are at stake in the redesign of Woodhaven Boulevard and Cross Bay Boulevard, making the implementation of bus rapid transit on this southeast Queens corridor all the more urgent, according to a new analysis from the BRT for NYC coalition. Crash stats bring home the point that new pedestrian islands and other safety measures in DOT’s Woodhaven BRT project are critical to reducing the carnage on one of the most dangerous streets in the city.

Woodhaven Boulevard regularly appears near the top of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s list of the city’s most dangerous streets. More pedestrians were killed by motorists on Woodhaven from 2011 to 2013 than on any other street in Queens, Tri-State reported in March, outpacing notorious roads like Queens Boulevard and Northern Boulevard. Citywide, only Flatbush Avenue and the Grand Concourse saw more pedestrian deaths.

An analysis released today by BRT for NYC coalition member Transportation Alternatives pinpoints the intersections with the most crashes on Woodhaven [PDF], based on NYPD crash data from July 2012 to December 2014. They are:

  • 101st Ave & Woodhaven Blvd: 42 crashes, 62 injuries, 1 fatality

  • Jamaica Ave & Woodhaven Blvd: 38 crashes, 52 injuries, 2 fatalities

  • Queens Blvd & Woodhaven Blvd: 32 crashes, 42 injuries, 0 fatalities

  • Atlantic Ave & Woodhaven Blvd: 32 crashes, 55 injuries, 1 fatality

  • Rockaway Blvd & Woodhaven Blvd: 30 crashes, 18 injuries, 0 fatalities

Among the victims was Yunior Antonio Perez Rodriguez, 35, killed by a hit-and-run driver after he stepped off a pedestrian island near Jamaica Avenue in December 2013 — just months after another man was killed trying to cross Woodhaven at the same location.

On Woodhaven at Atlantic Avenue, 90-year-old Roger Pariente was killed in a five-car crash triggered when two southbound drivers side-swiped each other in December 2014. Pariente was a passenger in a car going the other direction when the two drivers crossed the median and struck cars in front of him, reports the Forum. Pariente’s vehicle rear-ended one of those cars and he suffered a fatal head injury.

The death toll on Woodhaven has been high for years. Fatal crashes happened at 101st Avenue in 2007 and in 2005, when a 77-year-old man was killed as he tried to cross Woodhaven.

Woodhaven’s high crash rate came up in the news again last month when a bus driver heading to the Resorts World casino crashed into a Rego Park building after making an illegal U-turn, colliding with another vehicle. Six people were injured in the crash.

“Recent car and bus crashes on Woodhaven Boulevard have gotten a lot of attention, but unfortunately they’re nothing new. We need transportation options that are safe for bus riders, for car drivers and for pedestrians trying to cross the street,” Riders Alliance Executive Director John Raskin said in a press release. “Bus Rapid Transit will help thousands of people get to work and get around the neighborhood, but it will also make the street safer.”

“We can vastly reduce the number of crashes on these deadly intersections by implementing BRT,” said TA Executive Director Paul Steely White. “With dedicated bus lanes and an overall safer environment for drivers and pedestrians, BRT can help mitigate the risk at these dangerous intersections along Woodhaven Bus Rapid Transit corridor.”

DOT is still developing the details of its plan for Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards, which is scheduled to begin construction in 2017.