Members of the Woodside and Long Island City communities are calling on local car dealerships — which can be found on both sides of Northern Boulevard — to be good neighbors and help keep the streets safe.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer gathered with residents and local leaders on Tuesday morning to voice their outrage and concern with car dealerships and auto body shops on Northern Boulevard parking their cars illegally on sidewalks, blocking the path for pedestrians.
“We call for increase in enforcement of the auto dealerships along Northern Boulevard but also increased neighborliness on the part of these auto dealerships,” Van Bramer said. “In addition to [Northern Boulevard] being an incredibly busy roadway, it is also the neighborhood for tens of thousands of people who are going to school, going to parks, going to church, going to work and they need the sidewalks free and clear of any obstructions.”
Van Bramer added that on Monday he met with the commanding officers of the 108th and 114th precincts, which share coverage of Northern Boulevard, to discuss increasing enforcement. Both precincts had previously given out tickets to cars parked on the sidewalks.
The councilman also led a tour down Northern Boulevard on Monday pointing out various dealerships between 55th and 61st streets, which had cars parked on the sidewalks. He added that the issue continues down the strip.
During the tour, a car left the Queensboro Toyota dealership on 62nd Street – located across the street from P.S. 152 – was seen heading the opposite way down a one-way street, and then entering a parking lot behind the dealership. According to residents, this is something that normally occurs.
Queensboro Toyota did not immediately respond to request for comment.
“We cannot, should not and will not accept pedestrians being forced onto Northern Boulevard to be able to get where they are going. That is so dangerous and potentially deadly and this problem has gone on for a while,” Van Bramer said.
Jackson Heights resident Clarence Eckerson Jr., a father of a newborn baby boy who said he often walks down the thoroughfare to go shopping with his wife, said he has seen this issue for a long time and the problem gets worse on the weekends.
Eckerson, who has taken photos of cars parked on the sidewalks, added that another problem is cars without license plates taking up metered spaces.
“We would like to see them step up and be good neighbors. I’d like my son to grow up on a Northern Boulevard that he can safely walk on and I don’t have to fear for his life,” Eckerson said. “[Car dealership owners] may not see parking their cars illegally on the sidewalk or blocking pedestrians as something that is anti-vision zero but it does contribute to the climate of making our streets dangerous and we’re here to let them know that.”
According to Van Bramer, this call is not an attack on the car dealerships that are running businesses and have every right to succeed; however, the community wants to be able to make changes before accidents happen — not after.