Skip to content

Posts from the Queens Category


Deadly Woodhaven Boulevard and NYC’s Broken Community Board Process

Cross Bay Boulevard and 149th Avenue, where Jazmine Marin was struck and killed yesterday. Queens Community Board 9 does not want to change this street. Image: Google Maps

Yesterday morning, a driver struck and killed 13-year-old Jazmine Marin as she walked across Cross Bay Boulevard at 149th Avenue on her way to school. The location is deadly — one other person has been struck and killed there since 2012, and Cross Bay is one of the most dangerous streets in the city. From 2009 to 2013, 17 pedestrians lost their lives on Cross Bay and Woodhaven Boulevard (the name of the same street north of Liberty Avenue) [PDF].

And yet, opponents of DOT’s Woodhaven Boulevard Select Bus Service project — which would create safer conditions by expanding pedestrian space and restricting vehicular turns — continue resist it by claiming pedestrians would be harmed.

To win the support of local Council Member Eric Ulrich, DOT has already scaled back plans for left turn bans in the Woodhaven project — including one at Jamaica Avenue, where more pedestrians were killed between 2009 and 2013 than any other intersection in the city, according to DOT.

While Ulrich is on board now, Queens Community Board 9 remains adamantly against the redesign. Despite the agency’s concessions, all but three CB 9 members voted last week to oppose the project. One person went so far as to say that if any fatalities occurred on the corridor after SBS implementation, “Their blood will be on your hands,” the Queens Chronicle reported.

Read more…


Ferreras Joins Corona Families to Demand Action From de Blasio on 111th St

Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland brought more than 80 people from Corona and Jackson Heights to the steps of City Hall this morning. Photo: David Meyer

Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland brought more than 80 people from Corona and Jackson Heights to the steps of City Hall this morning. Photo: David Meyer

More than a year after DOT first proposed a redesign of 111th Street in Corona to make it safer for residents to access Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the city has failed to follow through and implement the project.

Today, parents and children from Corona and Jackson Heights joined Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland on the steps of City Hall to say they’re tired of waiting. They called on Mayor de Blasio to move forward with the project, which will narrow the wide, two-way roadway while adding safer pedestrian crossings and a protected bike lane alongside the park [PDF].

“We are demanding, we are urging, we are pleading that the time is now,” said Ferreras-Copeland. “I want to be clear: This is not a favor, this what we deserve. And if other communities can have bike lanes, so can we.”

Crossing 111th Street is the most direct way to access the park coming from the neighborhoods to the west, but it’s a dangerous street. With two northbound car lanes and three southbound, 111th is more like a divided highway than a neighborhood street. The distance between crosswalks is as long as 1,500 feet — more than a quarter-mile. And without safe space for cycling, 84 percent of cyclists ride on the sidewalk.

“It affects me deeply to see mothers that have to run across the intersection simply for lack of a cross-light,” said Vero Ramirez of Mujeres en Movimiento through a translator. “It is us and our children who give life to the streets and the parks.”

“Our school is feet away from 111th Street. Our children and parents walk this street everyday,” said P.S. 28 PTA President Miriam Sosa. “This has been our biggest concern for years.”

Read more…


The Campaign for a Safer Bike Connection to Joe Michaels Mile

schenkman joe michaels mile2

There is no safe on-street bike access from Northern Boulevard to Joe Michaels Mile, the asphalt path on the right. Photo: Google Maps

When 78-year-old Michael Schenkman was killed by a speeding motorist on Northern Boulevard last month, he was on his daily ride to Joe Michaels Mile, a bike path that runs for two and a half miles along the Cross Island Parkway. Now business owners and residents in Little Neck and Douglaston are reiterating calls for safe bike access to the popular cycling route.

Michael Schenkman was the 16th cyclist killed by a New York City motorist this year. Photo via Facebook

A driver killed Michael Schenkman last month as he attempted to bike to Joe Michaels Mile.

Schenkman was riding east at around 6:30 a.m. on August 24 when a driver struck him from behind as he began to merge into the center lane to turn left onto Joe Michaels Mile, according to the Times.

Drivers killed eight pedestrians along Northern Boulevard from 2012 to 2014, placing it near the top of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s 2016 list of the borough’s “Most Dangerous Roads for Walking.” It is also one of the city’s Vision Zero priority corridors.

Northern Boulevard is especially treacherous around the entrance to the bike path, with three wide car lanes in each direction. Traffic speeds are dangerously high — local residents said drivers routinely drive upwards of 60 mph. (The signed speed limit is 30 mph west of the Cross Island Parkway and 40 mph along the stretch that runs through between it and Little Neck.)

The city, however, has declined to pursue multiple requests for safer bike connections to Joe Michaels Mile.

Read more…


Man Struck in East Elmhurst Was 17th Cyclist Killed by NYC Driver This Year

NYC motorists have struck and killed 17 cyclists in 2016, compared to 11 deaths through August of 2015. NYPD said the most recent victim was biking in the left shoulder of Grand Central Parkway, but the exact location of the crash is unknown. Image: Google Maps

NYC motorists have struck and killed 17 cyclists in 2016, compared to 11 deaths through August of 2015. NYPD said the most recent victim was biking in the left shoulder of Grand Central Parkway, but the exact location of the crash is unknown. Image: Google Maps

Update: According to NYPD collision location data, the crash occurred on Grand Central Parkway near LaGuardia Airport. H/t to reader Jules.

A man hit while riding a bike in East Elmhurst yesterday was the 17th cyclist killed by a New York City driver in 2016. NYPD filed no charges.

According to NYPD, the victim was in the left shoulder of eastbound Grand Central Parkway at around 1 a.m. Monday when an eastbound motorist traveling in the left lane hit him with a Mazda minivan.

The preliminary NYPD crash report said the cyclist “veered into the left lane,” a department spokesperson told Streetsblog. NYPD had no details on the driver’s speed.

It’s not clear exactly where the collision happened. The NYPD public information office said the victim was struck in the vicinity of 111th Street, which runs parallel to Grand Central Parkway for roughly two dozen blocks. Police also said the crash occurred in the 115th Precinct, where 111th Street runs for about six blocks from Roosevelt Avenue to Astoria Boulevard, two blocks to the west of the parkway.

The victim died at the scene, according to police. His name had not been released as of this morning, pending family notification.

The driver’s name was withheld. NYPD normally shields the identities of drivers who kill people unless charges are filed.

DOT has allowed Assembly Member Francisco Moya to block the installation of a protected bike lane on 111th Street. If there was an obvious bike route on 111th, maybe people would be less likely to end up biking on this stretch of the Grand Central Parkway.

Motorists killed 11 cyclists through the first eight months of last year, and 14 total in 2015, according to city crash data.


Illegally-Parked and Abandoned Cars Plague Queensbridge Houses, Greenway

NYC Parks said it is aware that this segment of the Queensbridge Park Greenway has become a haven for illegal parking. Photo: David Meyer

The Parks Department knows the Queensbridge Park Greenway has become a haven for illegal parking, but drivers continue to park there. Photo: David Meyer

A bicycle and pedestrian greenway that connects protected bike paths on the waterfront to Queens Plaza and Queens Boulevard has become a parking lot, with private and government-placarded cars lining its southern curb for months.

The Parks Department knows about the vehicles parked in the path and “has been ticketing when they are observed,” according agency spokesperson Meghan Lalor. But that hasn’t deterred people from leaving their cars on the greenway.

The greenway, which is technically part of Queensbridge Park, runs for two blocks from Vernon Boulevard at the East River waterfront to 21st Street, between NYCHA’s Queensbridge Houses and the Queensboro Bridge.

On Vernon Boulevard, motorists continue to park illegally under the bridge, blocking pedestrian access to the sidewalk on the west side of the street. Streetsblog reported last October that Con Edison employees were parking their personal cars there while making repairs to the bridge.

I visited the location twice this week and found the greenway filled with parked cars. Some of them had Parks Department placards. In others, drivers displayed orange safety vests (at least one had the word “contractor” on it). Some of the cars had out of state plates.

“[It’s] a new phenomenon. Cars were not parking there until a few months ago,” said Ray Normandeau, a longtime Queensbridge resident. “We’ve seen people park a car, then walk to the subway.”

Read more…


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.

Read more…


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.”

Read more…


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.

Read more…


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.

Read more…


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


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.