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Posts from the Queens Category

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Eyes on the Street: Phase 2 of Queens Boulevard Redesign Takes Shape

Green paint is down on a new section of the Queens Boulevard bike lane in Elmhurst.

The second phase of the Queens Boulevard redesign runs from 74th Street to Eliot Avenue [PDF], extending east from phase one, which was implemented in Woodside last year. After construction wraps up this summer, there will be 2.5 miles of continuous median-aligned bike lanes on the most important east-west route in Queens.

In addition to the bike lane, the project calms car traffic and creates safer walking conditions. Below is a new crosswalk at a stop-controlled transition from the center roadway to the service road at Cornish Avenue. Previously, the design enabled drivers to merge quickly, without stopping.

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Hit-and-Run Dollar Van Driver Strikes Couple, Kills Man on Flatbush Avenue

Angel and Samantha Sagardia were struck by a commuter van while attempting to cross the wide expanse of Flatbush Avenue outside Kings Plaza Mall. Photo: Google Maps

A dollar van driver struck Angel and Samantha Sagardia, killing Angel, on this wide expanse of Flatbush Avenue outside Kings Plaza Shopping Center before fleeing. Photo: Google Maps

Drivers killed two pedestrians in separate crashes in Queens and Brooklyn on Friday and Saturday. In one case, police are still looking for the driver of a minibus who fled the scene after striking a couple, killing a man and critically injuring his wife.

At about 5:00 p.m. Friday afternoon, 47-year-old Angel Sagardia and his wife Samantha Sagardia, 50, were crossing Flatbush Avenue from west to east between Avenue U and Avenue V, near the Kings Plaza Shopping Center, when the driver of a Ford Omnibus dollar van struck them both.

Police believe an unlicensed man was driving the illegal commuter van above when he struck Angel and Samantha Sagardia. Photo: PIX

Police believe an unlicensed driver was behind the wheel of this minibus when he struck the Sagardias. Photo: WPIX

The couple was rushed to Kings County Hospital, where Angel passed away from severe head trauma. Samantha remains in critical condition.

Police located the vehicle on Saturday in East Flatbush near the corner of Rogers Avenue and Tilden Avenue, but the motorist — who WPIX reports is believed to be an unlicensed Haitian immigrant who was driving the dollar van illegally — remains at large. Witnesses told WCBS that the driver was speeding and did not stop after he struck the Sagardias, and motorists often drive above the speed limit on this section of Flatbush. NYPD says an investigation is ongoing.

In 2015, five pedestrians were injured on Flatbush Avenue at the intersections with Avenues U and V, according to Vision Zero View. Because it is such a dangerous location for pedestrians, Flatbush Avenue is a priority corridor and the crossing with Avenue U is a priority intersection in DOT’s Brooklyn Pedestrian Safety Acton Plan [PDF].

Friday’s fatal crash occurred in the 63rd Precinct, led by Captain Thomas W. Burke, which has given out 242 tickets for speeding through so far this year the end of July, according to NYPD data. The 63rd Precinct Community Council meets on the fourth Wednesday of every month at 8 p.m. in the Kings Plaza Mall Community Room.

It was the second fatal hit-and-run this year involving a commuter van, according to data compiled by Streetsblog, after 16-year-old Alexa Smith was killed in Rosedale in February.

Council Member Alan Maisel, who represents the area where the Sagardias were struck, said that illegal dollar vans have been “causing havoc” in his district for at least 15 years. “They speed, they throw trash out the window, they stop wherever they want to stop, block driveways, they urinate because they have no bathrooms that are accessible to them. They’re a menace,” he told Streetsblog this afternoon. “It’s a question of having the Taxi and Limousine Commission enforce the laws and, for whatever reason, the last two administrations have not taken [illegal dollar vans] as seriously as they should.”

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Garbage Truck Driver Admits to Causing Crash That Killed Cyclist Hoyt Jacobs

The truck driver who killed cyclist Hoyt Jacobs in Long Island City last year admitted to causing the crash and pled guilty to violating the victim’s right of way.

Hoyt Jacobs was cycling lawfully when he was fatally struck by a garbage truck driver who failed to signal a right turn.

Hoyt Jacobs was cycling lawfully when he was fatally struck by a garbage truck driver who failed to signal a right turn.

Jacobs was riding north on Vernon Boulevard at around 7:15 p.m. last January 17 when Frank Alibrandi, also northbound, hit him with a Mack truck while turning right onto 41st Avenue, according to the NYPD crash report [PDF].

Jacobs was killed on a segment of Vernon Boulevard where DOT elected to install sharrows rather than a bike lane in order to preserve curbside parking. If DOT had installed a continuous two-way protected bike lane on Vernon Boulevard, Hoyt Jacobs might still be alive.

The crash report says Jacobs was dragged by the truck for 25 feet, and that Alibrandi kept driving for another 237 feet before stopping. Jacobs, a writer who worked as a tutor at New York City College of Technology, died at the scene. He was 36.

NYPD and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown charged Alibrandi under Section 19-190, also known as the Right of Way Law. In addition, Alibrandi was summonsed for careless driving and failing to signal.

The truck Alibrandi was driving was owned by Manhattan Demolition, a private sanitation company. Private trash haulers kill more pedestrians per mile than any other type of vehicle in NYC, according to “Killed by Automobile,” a landmark 1999 analysis of crash data produced by Charles Komanoff [PDF].

Last month Alibrandi acknowledged in court that he did not signal before turning, and that he struck Jacobs, who was following traffic rules at the time of the collision, according to Steve Vaccaro, the attorney for Jacobs’s family. Alibrandi also admitted to failing to use due care, and entered a conditional guilty plea to the Right of Way Law violation.

Under the terms of the plea, if he pays fines totaling around $1,000 and completes a driver safety course, the misdemeanor Right of Way Law charge will be vacated and Alibrandi will be allowed to plead to a Section 19-190 traffic infraction.

Vaccaro said the DA’s office negotiated the plea agreement in consultation with Jacobs’s family after the judge indicated she might be inclined to dismiss the case.

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Eyes on the Street: Work Begins on Phase Two of Queens Boulevard Redesign

DOT has begun building out phase 2 of its safety improvements on Queens Boulevard, which include a protected bike lane. Photo: Jaime Moncayo

Crews are marking out where the medians will be expanded for walking and biking in the second phase of the Queens Boulevard redesign. This is the view from Ireland Street looking west. Photo: Jaime Moncayo

On Monday, crews began work on the second phase of Queens Boulevard safety improvements. The project will calm traffic on the service roads between 74th Street and Eliot Avenue, adding a bike lane and continuous pedestrian path along the medians. Together with the first phase of the redesign, implemented last year, the changes will create 2.5 miles of median bike lanes on Queens Boulevard in Woodside and Elmhurst.

To make way for the added space for walking and biking, the city has removed parking along the medians, and crews have started to remove markings between 74th Street and Broadway/Grand Avenue, according to a DOT spokesperson.

Phase two will redesign the Queens Boulevard service roads in Elmhurst. Image: NYC DOT

The high rate of traffic fatalities on Queens Boulevard led the Daily News to call it the “Boulevard of Death” in a series of stories that ran nearly 20 years ago. The name stuck, and for good reason. But 2015 marked the first year in a quarter-century that no people were killed on Queens Boulevard.

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No Charges for Driver Who Killed 26-Year-Old Terrence Montrose

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A driver struck and killed Terrence Montrose, 26, on this stretch of Rockaway Point Boulevard shortly after midnight Sunday. Image: Google Maps

A driver struck and killed Terrence Montrose, 26, as he was walking along Rockaway Point Boulevard in Breezy Point, Queens, just after midnight on Sunday.

The 22-year-old driver, whose name has not been released by police, remained at the scene, and no charges were filed. NYPD says an investigation is ongoing.

According to NYPD, Montrose, who lived in East New York, was walking “in the eastbound travel lane” just east of Beach 193rd Street by Fort Tilden when the driver struck him from behind. The driver’s 2005 Toyota Sienna had a smashed windshield and dented front end from the force of the collision, the Daily News reported. NYPD did not provide any information on the driver’s speed at the time of the crash.

The crash occurred in the 100th Precinct and in the City Council district represented by Eric Ulrich. If you would like to express concerns to the NYPD about pedestrian and traffic safety in the neighborhood, the 100th Precinct’s community council meets this Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in the Knights of Columbus Hall, 333 Beach 90th Street.

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Wider Sidewalks Coming to Flushing’s Crowded Main Street

Pedestrians crossing Roosevelt Avenue at Main Street, the location of the Flushing-Main Street subway station, at around noon today. Photo: David Meyer

Foot traffic on Roosevelt Avenue at Main Street, the location of the Flushing-Main Street subway station, at around noon today. Photo: David Meyer

Main Street in Flushing gets more foot traffic than anywhere else in New York after Times Square, but its sidewalks are too narrow to handle all those people. So later this month, the city will begin expanding the sidewalks on four blocks of Main Street, Council Member Peter Koo, DOT, and the Department of Design and Construction announced this afternoon.

Set to begin next Monday, the project will also add a one-block bus lane and high-visibility crosswalks, part of a bottom-up reconstruction of Main Street between 37th Avenue and 40th Road.

This section of Main Street is located at the convergence of the 7 train, the Long Island Railroad, 13 MTA bus routes, and many private bus lines. At any given point in the day, the sidewalks are overflowing with commuters and shoppers, 83 percent of whom arrive by foot or transit, according to DOT.

Council Member Peter Koo (center) spoke this afternoon alongside DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora and DOT Queens Commissioner Nicole Garcia. Photo: David Meyer

Council Member Peter Koo (center) with DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora and DOT Queens Commissioner Nicole Garcia. Photo: David Meyer

Downtown Flushing’s streets are designed primarily to move motor vehicles, however, and people walking on Main Street have to contend with heavy car traffic. In 2015 alone, 28 pedestrians were injured and two were killed along the .9-mile stretch of Main Street between Northern Boulevard and Elder Avenue, according to Vision Zero View.

The $7.8 million reconstruction project will add between two and eight feet of sidewalk space, depending on the location, building on a 2011 project that used paint and flexible bollards to narrow the roadway and expand space for pedestrians. That project led to an 11 percent decline in traffic injuries, according to DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia. Casting the wider sidewalks in concrete, she said, will “deliver on Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero goals.”

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Basic Pedestrian Upgrades Coming to Conduit Blvd, But No Bike Infrastructure

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Four people have been killed while walking on Conduit Boulevard between Atlantic and Sutter since 2008. The DOT plan would reconfigure six locations for improved safety. Map: DOT

Last month, DOT revealed its plan to make Conduit Boulevard less of a barrier between neighborhoods near the southeast Brooklyn-Queens border [PDF]. With better, more frequent pedestrian crossings, the project should make it easier for residents to get from one side of Conduit to the other, but the design doesn’t include any bike infrastructure and leaves much of the high-speed geometry of the street intact.

With few pedestrian crossings, wide travel lanes, and separate east- and westbound roadways divided by a large median, Conduit Boulevard functions a lot like a highway. Until recently, the speed limit was 40 mph — much higher than the 25 mph citywide default — and drivers still exceed it routinely. Since 2008, four pedestrians have been killed in the project area.

Residents of East New York, Cypress Hills, and Ozone Park must contend with those conditions to access transit, parks, and schools in their neighborhoods. Beaten paths on the median attest to the substantial foot traffic despite the lack of crosswalks and high traffic speeds.

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Walking across S Conduit and Pine Street, where there is no pedestrian crossing. Photo: DOT

The DOT project consists of basic safety improvements — adding signalized crossings and sidewalk connections, restricting left turns, and narrowing the most highway-like sections of the roadway. DOT also lowered the speed limit on the corridor to 30 mph in June, bringing it more in line with the citywide 25 mph default limit.

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Myrtle-Wyckoff Plaza Gets Near-Unanimous Approval From Queens CB 5

The city held a successful one-day plaza at the location in April. Photo: David Meyer

A one-day trial plaza on Wyckoff Avenue in April went off without a hitch. Photo: David Meyer

With 29 votes in favor, none against, and one abstention, Queens Community Board 5 overwhelmingly endorsed DOT’s safety plan for the Myrtle-Wyckoff transit hub last night. The project would significantly reduce potential conflicts between turning drivers and pedestrians, mainly by creating a car-free plaza on Wyckoff Avenue between Gates and Myrtle [PDF].

Pedestrians outnumber motorists at the six-legged Myrtle-Wyckoff intersection, located at the junction of two subway lines and six bus routes, three to one, according to DOT. But it’s not safe — three people have been killed while walking there since 2009.

While the city implemented minor changes in recent years, the new turn restrictions weren’t enough. A turning bus driver struck and killed Edgar Torres in 2014 after the changes were made.

The car-free block will further simplify turning movements and give pedestrians a safer path between the Myrtle-Wyckoff subway station and the Ridgewood Bus Terminal on Palmetto Street.

In 2013, Judy Kottick lost her daughter, Ella Bandes, when a turning bus driver struck and killed her at the intersection. “It was very gratifying that Community Board 5 really considered the redesign and gave us their support,” said Kottick, who attended last night. Not one person spoke against the project during the meeting’s public comment section, she said.

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Tonight: Queens Community Board 5 Takes Up Myrtle-Wyckoff Plaza

Reconfiguring this dangerous intersection with a car-free plaza will simplify vehicle movements and reduce the potential for turning drivers to hit pedestrians. Image: DOT

Reconfiguring this dangerous intersection with a car-free plaza will simplify vehicle movements and reduce the potential for turning drivers to hit pedestrians. Image: DOT

Queens Community Board 5 will vote on DOT’s safety plan for the Myrtle-Wyckoff transit hub at its monthly meeting this evening. The plan, which creates a one-block public plaza on Wyckoff Avenue between Gates and Myrtle [PDF], won near-unanimous support from the CB 5 transportation committee three weeks ago.

Since 2009, three pedestrians have been killed by drivers at the six-legged Myrtle-Wyckoff intersection. Initial changes that simplified turning movements failed to prevent the death of Edgar Torres, who was struck by a turning bus driver while crossing with the right of way in 2014.

In March, CB 5 Chair Vincent Arcuri said he was reluctant to go ahead with the car-free block, but recognized the need to prevent more injuries and deaths. “Something has to be done, obviously,” he told Streetsblog. “We’ve tried different things and we still haven’t stopped the fatalities. I have mixed feelings about the plaza, but what else can you do?”

While CB 5 members have warmed to the proposal, the same cannot be said for Brooklyn CB 4, which represents the southern side of the project area and failed to support the plan last month. Council Member Antonio Reynoso, who represents areas served by both community boards, has said he believes DOT should move forward with the project.

You can weigh in on the project at tonight’s meeting, which begins at 7:30 p.m. at Christ the King High School, located at 68-02 Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village.

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Driver Backing Up to Park Severely Injures Cyclist in Middle Village [Updated]

Lutheran Avenue, where a driver backing up to park injured a cyclist today. Image: Google Maps

Lutheran Avenue, where a driver backing up to park injured a cyclist today. Image: Google Maps

A driver in pursuit of a parking spot severely injured a cyclist in Queens this morning.

The victim, a 64-year-old man, was traveling northbound on Lutheran Avenue, near Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village, at about 8:35 a.m., NYPD told Streetsblog. Near the intersection of Juniper Boulevard North, a 71-year-old backing up to park hit him with a Honda sedan.

The victim was pinned under the car and sustained lower body trauma and injuries to his right leg, police said. He was taken to Elmhurst Hospital in critical condition.

The Daily News spoke with teachers at nearby Learning Tree Nursery School, who were on the scene. Teresa Kava said the victim’s feet were “‘mangled’ by the car tires.” Said Tracy Neuweiler, a second witness: “He was conscious. He thought he was going to die.”

NYPD had not released the identities of the victim or the driver as of this afternoon. No charges were filed, police said, and the investigation is ongoing.

DOT is planning bike lanes in western Queens neighborhoods, with bike lanes or sharrows proposed for the street where today's crash occurred, circled in pink. Image: DOT

DOT is planning bike lanes in western Queens neighborhoods, with bike lanes or sharrows proposed for part of the street where today’s crash occurred, circled in pink. Image: DOT

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