For years, Queens Boulevard got that nickname for being one of the most dangerous thoroughfares in New York City. Nearly 200 people died traversing the boulevard in the last quarter-century.
At its peak, 24 people died in 1993. As recently as 2013, eight people died trying to cross Queens Boulevard. It took political will, careful organizing and the courage of local community boards to implement the necessary changes under Vision Zero.
Last year, that number was reduced to zero. Many residents may not like the bike lanes or the reduced speed limit, but the redesign saved lives.
Now, city transportation officials have to focus that same energy on Northern Boulevard. Weeks ago, nine-year-old Giovanni Ampuero lost his life while crossing the boulevard with his mother.
Ampuero is the fifth child to be killed in less than six years on this stretch of the corridor from Broadway to Junction Boulevard, according to street safety advocates. By one lawmaker’s count, three of them were killed in the crosswalk.
At a vigil last weekend, Ampuero’s father, Raul, said no parent should bury their child. It’s a nightmare scenario for any mother, father or guardian. It cannot happen again.
The city and state need to act. Albany cannot hold up legislation expanding speed cameras, championed by State Senator Jose Peralta, any longer. Penalties for hit-and-run drivers should be much higher.
The Department of Transportation should use every item in their toolbox, including possibly expanding Leading Pedestrian Intervals to every intersection on Northern Boulevard.
They should also consider Assemblyman Michael DenDekker’s idea of giving all cars a red light when pedestrians have the green. Northern Boulevard cannot be a highway when it goes through growing neighborhoods.
Transform Northern Boulevard into the second “Boulevard of Life” before it’s too late.