By Shawn King
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) joined other elected officials and residents Friday to urge the city Department of Transportation to address the growing pedestrian safety issue in the Queens Plaza and Long Island City area.
Van Bramer, state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), borough president candidate Melinda Katz and Deputy Director of Transportation Alternatives Noah Budnick called on the DOT to implement changes after a woman was struck and killed by a motorcycle at the intersection of 27th Street and Queensboro Plaza Sept. 13.
Karen Pheras, 20, was crossing Queens Plaza North just before 8 p.m. when she was hit by a 69-year-old man riding a 2009 Honda motorcycle, which then jumped the curb and struck a pillar, the NYPD said.
Pheras was taken to Mount Sinai Queens, where she was pronounced dead, police said.
“We have a growing epidemic where pedestrians are not safe on the sidewalks and the streets of Queensboro Plaza,” Van Bramer said. “Dutch Kills and Long Island City are home to thousands of new residents as well as hundreds of growing businesses.”
He pointed out that many more people are crossing daily through Queensboro Plaza, where there is a significant safety problem.
“We cannot afford another pedestrian collision or fatality in our neighborhood,” the councilman said. “ It’s time for the Department of Transportation to act before it is too late.”
This is the second collision in the Queensboro Plaza area in the past three months, Van Bramer said.
As housing developments have risen in Long Island City and Dutch Kills, where new commercial space has also sprung up, pedestrian and car traffic has grown substantially in recent years, the legislators said.
The officials suggested several new measures that the DOT should take to prevent more pedestrian accidents.
• extending pedestrian countdown clocks at crosswalks along Queens Borough Plaza
• installing additional signage that will make pedestrians aware of cycling lanes along Queen Plaza North
• making Queensboro Plaza an essential focal point in the DOT’s multimillion-dollar Western Queens Transportation Study
“The Queens Plaza area has long been too dangerous, and we have called for traffic improvements many times over the years,” said Gianaris. “Though we have had some success in making Queens Plaza safer, horrible accidents like this remind us that more needs to be done. I hope this tragedy will inspire us all to work together to make Queens Plaza a safer place for Queens residents.”