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Posts from the "Jackson Heights" Category

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Off-Duty NYPD Officer Seriously Injures Child in Jackson Heights Crosswalk

The crosswalk where Chunli Mendoza, age 5, and her mother were injured by an off-duty NYPD officer on Tuesday. Photo: Stephen Miller

The crosswalk where Chunli Mendoza, age 5, and her mother were injured by an off-duty NYPD officer on Tuesday. Photo: Stephen Miller

Just after 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, 5-year-old Chunli Mendoza was walking to P.S. 228 with her mother. They were midway across Northern Boulevard at 92nd Street, just a block away from the school, when they were struck by an off-duty NYPD officer. Chunli was seriously injured and remains at Elmhurst Hospital after undergoing surgery on her leg. Her mother, hospitalized for a foot fracture, was released on Thursday.

NYPD says the mother and daughter were struck by an off-duty officer driving a white pickup truck. The driver has not been charged and no summonses were issued. ”We hope the girl makes a full recovery,” an anonymous police official told DNAinfo. “Unfortunately it was a tragic traffic accident.”

Witnesses offered their version of events to reporters yesterday at a rally held by Make Queens Safer at the intersection.

Maria Jose Penaherrera, 37, has a daughter in the first grade at PS 228. She was driving to school that morning and was three cars back from the intersection when the crash occurred. While she did not see a white pickup truck, she does remember a black sedan making a U-turn in the intersection before traffic inched forward and she could see a girl down in the street.

“I knew it was a girl from PS 228 because of the uniform,” she said.

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Slow Zones, Safer Arterials Win Over CBs in Manhattan and Queens

The scene at last night's Queens CB 3 meeting in Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights. Photo: Daniel Dromm/Twitter

The scene at last night’s Queens CB 3 meeting at Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights. Photo: Daniel Dromm/Twitter

At its annual outdoor meeting in Diversity Plaza last night, Queens Community Board 3 voted to support two traffic safety projects: a new neighborhood Slow Zone in Jackson Heights and nine additional pedestrian refuge islands on Northern Boulevard, one of the borough’s most dangerous arterial streets.

“It was not very contentious at all. It was definitely a big majority,” said Christina Furlong of Make Queens Safer. “Nobody was especially against it.” CB 3 says the Slow Zone passed 25-1, with two abstentions, and the Northern Boulevard improvements won over the board for a 25-2 vote, with one abstention.

The board also asked DOT to extend the Northern Boulevard project [PDF], which will add turn restrictions and pedestrian islands to select intersections along 40 blocks between 63rd and 103rd Streets, east to 114th Street.

The Slow Zone will add 20 mph speed limits and traffic calming, including 26 new speed humps, to an area covering nearly one-third of a square mile, bounded by 34th Avenue to the north, 87th Street to the east, Roosevelt Avenue to the south and Broadway and the Brooklyn Queens Expressway to the west. This area, encompassing six schools, two daycare and pre-K facilities, and one senior center, was the site of 28 severe injuries to pedestrians and vehicle occupants from 2008 to 2012, and three traffic fatalities from 2007 to 2014, according to DOT [PDF].

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Two of the Most Dangerous Streets in Queens Set for Safety Upgrades

DOT is proposing nine new pedestrian islands on Northern Boulevard in Jackson Heights, including a few with left-turn bans. Photo: DOT

DOT proposes nine new pedestrian islands on Northern Boulevard in Jackson Heights. Photo: DOT

DOT has proposed concrete safety improvements for Northern Boulevard and Broadway, two of the most dangerous streets in Queens. If supported by Community Boards 2 and 3 next month, the projects could be implemented by the end of the year.

On Northern Boulevard between 63rd and 103rd Streets, DOT has proposed adding nine pedestrian islands in the existing striped median [PDF]. Currently, there are five islands in this 40-block, 1.8-mile stretch, which ranks in the most dangerous 10 percent of Queens streets.

Since 2008, there have been three pedestrian fatalities on this part of Northern Boulevard, including Olvin Jahir Figueroa, age 3, and Miguel Torres, age 11. A DOT study of the intersection with 61st Street showed that a third of all pedestrians at the intersection are school-aged children. The street is 70 feet wide, which is difficult to navigate for people who can’t walk fast. In 46 percent of crashes that injured pedestrians, the victim was crossing with the signal.

Four of the nine new islands, at 75th, 78th, 96th, and 102nd Streets, will include left turn bans. DOT has already installed similar pedestrian islands and turn bans at Northern Boulevard and 61st Street, where 8-year-old Noshat Nahian was killed by an unlicensed truck driver making a left turn last December. Nahian was walking to PS 152, where Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled his Vision Zero agenda in January.

DOT presented the plan to Community Board 3′s transportation committee last Tuesday. Committee members were generally receptive and urged DOT to do more, including adding more trees and greening, according to Make Queens Safer, which has been campaigning for a safer Northern Boulevard. Some of the islands will have trees, while underground utilities in some locations prevent trees from being planted.

“Northern Boulevard still has a lot of complex problems that remain unaddressed,” Make Queens Safer said in a statement. “The city should do everything in its authority to create a more comprehensive transformation of this outmoded highway into a model design for arterial roads.”

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Eyes on the Street: Jackson Heights Triangle Turns Into a Plaza

Manuel de Dios Unanue Triangle at Roosevelt Avenue and 83rd Street has received a seating upgrade. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Manuel de Dios Unanue Triangle at Roosevelt Avenue and 83rd Street has received a seating upgrade. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Sometimes, it’s the little things that make a big difference. Manuel de Dios Unanue Triangle provides a speck of green along Roosevelt Avenue in the packed Jackson Heights neighborhood, but for years, there was nowhere to sit.

Even the brick wall surrounding the trees was topped with two spike strips to discourage people from resting for more than a minute. While the spikes remain, the space now has the foldable chairs and tables familiar from other plazas across the city — and on this beautiful spring day, they are well-used.

The changes are part of Viva La Primavera, a series of public classes and free concerts at the triangle on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays this May. The initiative is a project of the proposed Jackson Heights-Corona Business Improvement District, the 82nd Street Partnership, the Department of Parks and Recreation, Partnership for Parks, Neighborhood Plaza Partnership, the Queens Chamber of Commerce, Council Member Julissa Ferreras, and sponsor Affinity Health Plan.

Before, the only place to sit was lined with spikes to discourage people from spending time in the space. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Before, the only place to sit was lined with spikes to discourage people from spending time in the space. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

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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?