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Posts from the "Jackson Heights" Category

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115th Precinct Sting Issued More Moving Violations to Cyclists Than Motorists

While some precincts are ramping up failure-to-yield stings and disavowing jaywalking tickets, not every NYPD outpost has moved beyond the shoot-fish-in-a-barrel approach to traffic enforcement.

The latest traffic operation from the precinct covering Jackson Heights, North Corona and East Elmhurst had a familiar target: Bicycle violations were the top category of summons issued. Meanwhile, there’s no mention of the top cause of fatal crashes in New York City — speeding drivers.

Deputy Inspector Michael A. Cody, commanding officer of the 115th Precinct. Photo: NYPD

Deputy Inspector Michael A. Cody, commanding officer of the 115th Precinct. Photo: NYPD

According to a newsletter from the office of Council Member Daniel Dromm — under a section with the unfortunate title “Good Job 115th Precinct!” — a precinct operation this month issued 62 moving violations. “Bicycle moving violations” led the way with 32 tickets issued:

Last week, the 115th Precinct under the direction of Deputy Inspector Michael Cody conducted an operation in the area of 73rd Street and 37th Avenue resulting in 23 summonses for horn honking, 22 double parking violations, 2 handicap parking violations and 1 unlicensed operator violation.

Also, officers under the direction of Lieutenant Shapiro conducted a second initiative with the goal of issuing appropriate traffic violations to ensure the safety of pedestrians.

This operation resulted in 25 parking violations and 62 moving violations. Below is a breakdown of the violations issued: 32 bicycle moving violations, 19 double parking violations, 17 unlicensed operator violations, 9 fail to yield to pedestrians violations, 6 bus stop parking violations, 3 failure to wear seat belts violations [and] 1 driving while using a cell phone violation.

Apparently, no speeding tickets were issued. Last year, the 115th Precinct issued 193 speeding tickets — about one every other day [PDF]. Speeding is the leading cause of fatal crashes in New York City, and failure to yield to pedestrians was the leading cause of crashes resulting in injuries in 2011.

Last year, 178 pedestrians and cyclists were killed, and 16,059 injured, by drivers in NYC. A bicyclist has not killed a pedestrian in New York City in nearly five years.

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In Queens, Parents Push for Safer Streets Near Schools

After 25-year-old Martha Tibillin-Guamug was killed crossing the street in Jackson Heights last week, the 110th Precinct went on the offensive, writing 200 summonses in 72 hours, including dozens for failure to yield to pedestrians. At a traffic safety town hall on Sunday, residents applauded the effort, then asked the police and DOT to do more.

Martha Tibillin-Guamug, 25, was killed by a bus driver in Jackson Heights last week. Photo: NY Post

Martha Tibillin-Guamug, 25, was killed by a bus driver in Jackson Heights last week. Photo: NY Post

The 110th already has a leg up on most other precincts when it comes to traffic safety — it issued 442 failure-to-yield and nearly 3,000 speeding tickets last year — but at the town hall hosted by Make Queens Safer, Congressman Joseph Crowley, and Assembly Member Francisco Moya, residents said it would take more than a ticket blitz to clamp down on dangerous driving.

Dozens of Queens schools have been designated as priority locations in DOT’s Safe Routes to Schools program, for example, but most have not received street redesigns as a result. From 2004 to 2009, DOT implemented street redesigns in areas surrounding 30 schools citywide. Researchers say these types of traffic calming measures could prevent 210 child injuries annually if the city applies them to all 1,471 elementary and middle schools.

I.S. 230 in Jackson Heights has already been identified as a Safe Routes to Schools priority location. Victoria Medelius, president of the school’s parent-teacher association, said traffic safety efforts shouldn’t happen only after someone dies. ”We have to do more than just issue a summons,” she told Streetsblog.

Medelius said one of her son’s classmates was walking to school with his mother last year when a driver hit and injured him. “It shouldn’t be that way. It wasn’t like that for me growing up,” said Medelius, who grew up in Jackson Heights. “Drivers should be more responsible.”

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Was the Victim of the Jackson Heights MTA Bus Crash Jaywalking? [Updated]

Crash site, from bus driver's point of view. Image: Google Maps

Crash site, from the bus driver’s point of view. Image: Google Maps

Update: NYPD identified the victim as Martha Tibillin-Guamug, 25, according to the Times Ledger.

A pedestrian was killed by a Q53 bus driver in Jackson Heights Monday afternoon.

Some published reports say the woman was hit near 74th Street and Broadway, but photos of the scene and the Q53 route map indicate that the crash occurred as the bus driver was turning right from Roosevelt Avenue onto Broadway. FDNY got the call at 5:56 p.m. 

From DNAinfo:

The front window of the bus next to the driver was cracked from the impact and the body of the woman lay under the vehicle near the right front tire a half-hour after the crash.

Commuters heading home after work saw the crash and immediately alerted police, but the woman could not be revived, witnesses said.

“People started screaming,” Carlos Mesia, 28, who saw the woman hesitate before stepping into the street.

He turned away for a moment and heard the bus’s brakes screech. When he turned back, the vehicle rocked like it had just hit a bump.

WCBS reported that the victim, whose name has not been released, was crossing Broadway from west to east. If this is correct — again, judging by photos taken at the scene — she would have been in or near the crosswalk, with the bus to her left. The intersection of Roosevelt Avenue and Broadway is under the elevated 7 track, and there is a stanchion on the southwest corner. On the stanchion is a sign alerting drivers turning right from Roosevelt onto Broadway to yield to pedestrians. Unless there is an exclusive turn phase there, if the driver had a green light, the victim probably also had the signal.

Roosevelt Avenue at Broadway. Image: Google Maps

Roosevelt Avenue at Broadway. Image: Google Maps

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Families and Friends of Traffic Violence Victims March for Justice in Queens


In the past two weeks, four New Yorkers have been killed by reckless drivers while walking on the sidewalk. At least one senior has been killed in the crosswalk. The victims came from every walk of life, from many different corners of the city, and ranged in age from 9 to 79. Last night in Jackson Heights, family, friends, and neighbors of people killed by drivers joined elected officials and advocates to march for justice and demand action from the city.

The march covered a mile and a half along Northern Boulevard and 37th Avenue, from Corona to Jackson Heights. Along the way, the group of nearly 70 people stopped at crash sites to honor victims. The march was organized by Three Children Too Many, a Jackson Heights-based group that formed in response to the vehicular killings of young people in Queens, including Jahir FigueroaMiguel Torres, Luis Bravo, and Allison Liao.

Family members spoke about their loved ones, pleading with the city for action and asking drivers to stop engaging in reckless behavior. Amy Tam and Hsi-Pei Liao spoke movingly about their daughter Allison, 3, who was killed by a turning driver while walking in the crosswalk with her grandmother on Main Street in Flushing.

Christina Lee of Elmhurst was there to remember Luis Bravo, 19, killed by a hit-and-run driver in Woodside in September. ”It hurts. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think about him,” she said. “He was my daughter’s boyfriend. He was always at the house; he was like one of my own children.”

Bravo’s mother does not speak English, so Lee has been acting as the intermediary between her and the police, who have still not caught Bravo’s killer. ”I tried to talk with a detective on the case,” Lee said, “but he just told me basically if they haven’t caught the guy who did it after a week, then it’s going to be really hard to track down the person.” Lee has not heard anything from the detective in about three weeks and is planning to return to the 108th Precinct with Bravo’s mother to make sure NYPD hasn’t given up on the case.

At the corner of Junction Boulevard and Northern Boulevard, where Jahir Figueroa was killed by an alleged drunk driver, Bravo’s mother pleaded with State Senator José Peralta. ”Yo quiero justicia… Ayúdame Señor Peralta, ayúdame!” she said. “Ya no queremos más muertes.” (“I want justice… Help me, Mr. Peralta, help me! We don’t want any more deaths.”)

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Parents of Allie Liao: ‘We Challenge Drivers to Pause and Ask – Is It Worth It?’


Last month, three year-old Allison Liao was crossing Main Street in Flushing with her grandmother when an SUV driver turned left, hitting and killing the toddler while she had the walk signal in the crosswalk. Yesterday in Jackson Heights, Liao’s parents marched with the families and friends of other traffic violence victims, and made this powerful plea for a safer driving culture.

“The police know the driver was in the wrong,” Amy Tam, Liao’s mother, told the crowd as she wiped away tears. “They issued him two traffic tickets: Failure to yield and failure to use due care. Allie paid the death penalty for crossing the street.”

The family has been in touch with the office of Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, which is reviewing the case but has not told the family how long that process will take. During that period, the family does not have access to evidence collected by the police, including video of the crash. “I’m not sure my wife would want to see, but I want to make sure the police are making the right decision,”  Hsi-Pei Liao told Streetsblog. “From what we keep hearing, they’re saying it’s an accident. I want to see for myself, does it really look like an accident?”

Also marching last night were other Queens parents whose children had been killed by drivers. Prior to the march, the only other parents of traffic violence victims that Tam and Liao had met were Amy Cohen and Gary Eckstein, whose 12 year-old son Sammy was killed on Prospect Park West. “Our kids were killed two days apart, so we connected on a level that’s very hard to understand,” Tam said. “You know, only parents who have lost their child would understand. I don’t know the words.”

We’ll have a full report on yesterday’s demonstration later today.

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Council Member Danny Dromm Talks Jackson Heights Plazas With NY1


As part of his excellent series visiting all 51 city council districts, NY1′s Errol Louis joined Council Member Danny Dromm for a walk around Jackson Heights earlier this month.

Louis began the segment by telling viewers about the neighborhood from the back seat of a car rolling down Roosevelt Avenue, but Dromm, an honoree at Thursday’s Streets Ball, got him walking around before long. Dromm took Louis to two popular spaces reclaimed from cars in his district: the 78th Street play street, which links together a school and a park, and Diversity Plaza, a busy plaza surrounded by immigrant-owned businesses.

Sukhi NY, the group started by local business owners to help take care of the space, has already organized popular events in the plaza for over a year, and has even more events planned. Tonight at 8:30 p.m., the group is organizing an Eid celebration in the plaza, featuring music, poetry, and snacks.

On Saturday, the Jackson Heights Beautification Group is organizing a cleanup on the plaza from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday evening, the Queens World Film Festival will be screening short films in Diversity Plaza, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Dromm isn’t the only council member showing off livable streets to NY1 viewers: In August, Council Member Julissa Ferreras talked pedestrian medians and plazas during her tour with Louis. Who will be next?

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Olvin Jahir Figueroa, 3, Third Child Killed by NYC Motorist in Five Days

Three children were killed by New York city motorists last week, including a 3-year-old hit by an alleged drunk driver in Queens Friday night. Hours earlier, a 64-year-old man was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Brooklyn.

Olvin Jahir Figueroa. Photo via Times Ledger

Olvin Jahir Figueroa and his mother were struck at Junction Boulevard and Northern Boulevard in Jackson Heights just before midnight Friday, according to reports. Figueroa was at least the fourth child to die in city traffic since September 26. At least nine kids aged 12 and under have been killed by NYC motorists in 2013, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog.

Gilbert Echeverria, 35, struck Figueroa and his mother, Karina Osorio, with an Acura SUV as they were crossing the street. Echeverria removed the injured boy from the road and drove the victims to New York Hospital Queens, where Figueroa was pronounced dead. Osorio suffered a leg injury.

A family friend quoted by the Times Ledger said Figueroa was brought to the U.S. from Honduras earlier this year. “He liked to eat a lot,” said David Dobon. “He played with his friends all of the time.”

An anonymous source told the Post that Echeverria said he “had some shots and then ate some empanadas. I’m good.” According to court records, Echeverria was charged with driving while intoxicated, criminally negligent homicide, and a top charge of second degree vehicular manslaughter — a class D felony punishable by up to seven years in jail, and which also allows for no jail time, or probation.

Samuel Cohen-Eckstein, 12, was struck by the driver of a commercial van on Prospect Park West last Tuesday. A motorist making a left turn hit Allison Liao, 3, in Flushing on Sunday, October 6. No charges were filed for either crash.

At approximately 8:25 p.m. Friday, John Dozier was struck by the driver of a Chevrolet SUV as he was crossing Remsen Avenue near Avenue L in Canarsie, according to reports. The driver fled the scene.

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City Council Candidates on the Issues: John Ciafone, District 22

We have an update to our series on City Council candidates with questionnaire responses from two additional candidates in District 22, which covers Astoria, Ditmars-Steinway, and northern Jackson Heights. In April, we ran responses from Democratic District Leader Costa Constantinides and former New York Young Republican Club President Daniel Peterson.

City Council District 22 candidate John Ciafone. Photo courtesy the candidate.

This week, we add responses from candidates who announced after we sent the initial questionnaire this spring: Green Party candidate Lynne Serpe and Democrat John Ciafone. Antonio Meloni, who responded to Streetsblog’s questionnaire but did not provide answers for publication, has since dropped out of the race. Danielle De Stefano did not respond.

Streetsblog: A proposal for a pedestrian plaza at 30th Avenue, 33rd Street and Newtown Avenue was defeated by opposition from Community Board 1 and Council Member Vallone. Do you think public plazas, like the ones installed in other neighborhoods throughout the city, provide a benefit to the community?

John Ciafone: I am a strong advocate of pedestrian plazas. Although I would have supported pedestrian plaza at 30th Avenue and Newtown Avenue, the argument about traffic and parking is tenuous at best. Traffic is already unmanageable and impossible to park and with a pedestrian plaza, I truly believe businesses will flourish.

SB: Astoria Boulevard is slated to receive Select Bus Service improvements to speed bus travel. Could other parts of the neighborhood benefit from things like dedicated bus lanes?

JC: We need dedicated bus lanes on every major avenue in Astoria, for instance: Ditmars Boulevard, 30th Avenue, and Broadway. We also need a dedicated bus lane on 21st Street and Crescent Street. It would increase the time efficiency of the buses and better accommodate the commuters.

SB: How can the council best use its powers to reduce vehicular deaths and ensure traffic justice citywide?

JC: I will advocate for pedestrian havens and zones where tables and chairs can be set up for enjoyment. I will advocate for bike lanes on both directions of 21st Street. I will advocate for more crossing guards near the schools. I will advocate for cameras to be installed at traffic lights to avoid intersection accidents. I will also advocate for digitizing speed cameras which tell drivers the rate of movement of their vehicles. I will advocate for the delay time of traffic signals from red to green. I will also advocate for speed bumps and speed humps throughout 21st Street.

SB: The MTA is a state agency, but what actions would you like to see the City Council take to fund and expand transit service?

JC: The City Council needs to have a predominant voice in the MTA budget meetings. The City Council members know better as to the individual needs of their locales and the trials and tribulations of commuting issues in their neighborhoods.

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City Council Candidates on the Issues: Lynne Serpe, District 22

We have an update to our series on City Council candidates with questionnaire responses from two additional candidates in District 22, which covers Astoria, Ditmars-Steinway, and northern Jackson Heights. In April, we ran responses from Democratic District Leader Costa Constantinides and former New York Young Republican Club President Daniel Peterson.

City Council District 22 candidate Lynne Serpe. Photo courtesy the candidate.

This week, we add responses from candidates who announced after we sent the initial questionnaire this spring: Green Party candidate Lynne Serpe and Democrat John Ciafone. Antonio Meloni, who responded to Streetsblog’s questionnaire but did not provide answers for publication, has since dropped out of the race. Danielle De Stefano did not respond.

Streetsblog: A proposal for a pedestrian plaza at 30th Avenue, 33rd Street and Newtown Avenue was defeated by opposition from Community Board 1 and Council Member Vallone. Do you think public plazas, like the ones installed in other neighborhoods throughout the city, provide a benefit to the community?

Lynne Serpe: When I ran for City Council four years ago, I proposed turning that intersection into a pedestrian plaza. I was active in the recent attempt to convince the community board to support the proposal, and was disappointed by the position of many of the other candidates in District 22. I am a big advocate of using our public spaces for non-traditional use, to create shared and safe places for our community to gather, play and relax. I have a long history on this issue: I volunteer with the Astoria Park Alliance on Shore Fest, the street closure of Shore Boulevard for three Sundays in August, and host Ping Pong in the Park. I volunteered with Transportation Alternatives to improve the pedestrian crossings at Astoria Boulevard and 31st, and have led street cleanups of that area and the sidewalks surrounding Two Coves Community Garden near Astoria Houses. I’ve hosted Make Music New York and have participated in Park(ing) Day numerous times. As councilwoman, I would push for more street furniture along our commercial corridors and work with local businesses and residents to create a “Greenest Block” contest similar to those of the Brooklyn and Manhattan borough president’s offices.

SB: Astoria Boulevard is slated to receive Select Bus Service improvements to speed bus travel. Could other parts of the neighborhood benefit from things like dedicated bus lanes?

LS: I support upgrading the M60 to Select Bus Service, which will improve travel times and mean fewer people driving to the airport. Traffic congestion is an economic, environmental and public health problem. Rates of asthma and other respiratory ailments are on the rise, especially in neighborhoods with heavy truck traffic. Bus Rapid Transit works and is crucial in areas where there is limited access to mass transit, such as many under-served areas in Queens. Dedicated bus lanes for the Q69 and Q100 are needed on 21st Street, along with a range of traffic calming measures and bike lanes. But one of the most significant issues in our district is frequency of bus service! The Q101 and Q104 are far too infrequent, the Q18 is standing room only after three stops during rush hour, while the Q103 along Vernon Boulevard is practically nonexistent during the week and doesn’t run at all on weekends. At a time when New York City is finally recognizing the need to improve waterfront access, this is ridiculous. I also support bike racks on buses, and would advocate for the City and MTA to develop a pilot project for the Q19 along Astoria Boulevard to Flushing.

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Boy, 5, Among Three NYC Pedestrians Killed by Drivers This Weekend

Three New York City pedestrians, including a young child, were killed by motorists over the weekend. Two of the crashes were hit-and-runs.

Kyrillos Gendy was killed, and his mother and sister were injured, by a hit-and-run driver in Staten Island. A suspect was charged with leaving the scene of the crash, but not for killing Kyrillos or hurting his mom and sister, and was freed on bail.

At around 8:25 p.m. Friday, Kyrillos Gendy, 5, his mother and sister were struck by a hit-and-run driver in a Mercedes-Benz sedan in Dongan Hills. From the Times:

Just before he hit the family, at 8:25 p.m., the police said, the driver turned left out of the parking lot of the Diddle Dee Dairy and Deli at 1334 Richmond Road.

“Eyewitnesses say he did stop first, looked both ways,” Mr. [Adam] Gendy said, “and then hit all three of them in one shot.”

Kyrillos was killed. His sister, Gabriella, 7, and their mother, 35-year-old Erieny Thomas, were hospitalized and later released, reports said. On Saturday, John Sanjurjo, 33, accompanied by a lawyer, turned himself in to police, according to reports. From the Daily News:

Sanjurjo’s 2013 Mercedes-Benz 350 matched the vehicle description, including dents in the hood from the impact, a law enforcement source said.

The force of the impact sent Kyrillos flying through the air.

Bits of scattered food that Kyrillos’ family was carrying were found on the car, the source said.

According to reports and online court records, Sanjurjo was charged with one count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, and two counts of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury. He is free on $50,000 bond. Kyrillos’ funeral was held Sunday.

The crash that killed Kyrillos Gendy and injured his mother and sister occurred in the 122nd Precinct, in the City Council district represented by James Oddo.

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