Less than a week after transportation activists marched along Queens Boulevard to call for more safety features on the treacherous thoroughfare, a motorcyclist hit a pedestrian in Woodside and both died.
A few blocks away, an 8-year-old boy was run over by a tractor trailer as he walked to school last Friday on Northern Boulevard.
In the city and the borough, we follow crime statistics for our neighborhoods and breathe easy as we watch the number of murders decline. But what about the deaths that have become routine on the two main boulevards that cut across Queens? The public is outraged when our youngest residents are mowed down, which grabs headlines, but the reaction is still one of horror when an adult is killed crossing the congested roadways.
At least one pedestrian has died every month since August on the two boulevards. In August, a motorcyclist and a pedestrian died after a crash in Sunnyside on Queens Boulevard, in September an Elmhurst woman was killed in a hit-and-run on Queens Boulevard, in October a 4-year-old boy died when he was struck crossing Northern Boulevard with his pregnant mother, in November two men were killed in Elmhurst when a driver lost control of his car on Queens Boulevard, on Dec. 20 the 8-year-old was hit by a trucker who has been charged with driving without a license on Northern and on Saturday a motorist and Elmhurst woman died after an accident in Woodside on Queens Boulevard.
Nine deaths on two roadways since August numbs the mind.
Transportation Alternatives, a nonprofit dedicated to eliminating pedestrian deaths, staged a march from Elmhurst to Forest Hills on Queens Boulevard Dec. 14. The Queens organizer said the goal is a complete redesign for the thoroughfare.
In the past decade, the city Department of Transportation has introduced many safety devices on Queens Boulevard, which seemed to be paying off after pedestrian fatalities dropped to zero in 2011.
But something went terribly wrong this year.
Elmhurst Hospital, which treated 296 injury cases involving pedestrians and bicyclists in nearby communities in 2012, convened a daylong summit last week on pedestrian safety. During the conference, two pedestrians entered the hospital’s trauma unit.
We hope Bill Bratton, a supporter of a Swedish plan called “Vision Zero” to eradicate traffic fatalities, will prevail when he becomes police commissioner next year. Queens’ main arteries have become a combat zone.