Calls for street safety improvements in downtown Flushing intensify after woman is struck by vehicle

Calls for street safety improvements in downtown Flushing intensify after woman is struck by vehicle
Courtesy of Rob Reynolds
By Carlotta Mohamed

A woman who was struck and pinned under a vehicle while crossing Roosevelt Avenue between Main Street and Union Street on Wednesday morning is in critical condition, according to authorities.

Police said a 59-year-old woman was crossing on Roosevelt Avenue between Main and Union Streets on Jan. 2 at around 7:50 a.m. heading to the subway station when she was hit by a black Ford and was pinned under the vehicle.

Firefighters shortly arrived and rescued the woman, who was transported to NewYork-Presbyterian Queens Hospital.

The operator of the vehicle stayed at the scene and the investigation remained ongoing, police said.

Flushing resident Rob Reynolds witnessed the aftermath of the incident.

“When I arrived she was already under the car, and there were a lot of people around and the car and they were trying to lift the car off of her so she could get out,” said Reynolds. “I don’t know if she’s alive or dead as of right now. After the firemen got there and got her out they got her on the stretcher, and put her in the ambulance … as they were putting her in the ambulance I heard somebody saying ‘she’s unresponsive.’”

It’s not the first time a pedestrian has been hit at the busy intersection, according to Reynolds.

“Someone was killed in that same spot in June 2018, and this is a big problem,” said Reynolds, who has reached out to local elected officials about the issue.

In December 2017, Reynolds contacted City Councilman Peter Koo requesting that Roosevelt Avenue between Main and Union Streets be closed to vehicular traffic and transformed into a pedestrian plaza. He told TimesLedger that he has not yet heard back from Koo.

“If we can make it in Times Square we can do it here,” said Reynolds. “It’s totally doable and necessary. People die and it’s not safe and it’s also inconvenient … I walk to the subway everyday.”

“I walk to the subway everyday and the reason I think she was crossing the street there is because the escalator was broken,” Reynolds added. “This is happens all the time, the escalator is not working.”

Reynolds emailed the MTA on Dec. 3 asking the authority to fix the broken escalator, but has yet to receive a response.

“I have never visited a place that has a broken or inactive escalator as frequently as the Flushing Main Street station. It would seem that a station that serves so many New Yorkers would not be in such a bad state of repair,” said Reynolds. “It seems like 25 percent of the time at least one of the three escalators in the station’s eastern-most entrance/exit are either blocked off due to repairs, or just shut down. Why don’t you just fix it permanently next time you shut it down?”

Following Wednesday’s incident, state Assemblyman Ron Kim took to Twitter, calling for safety improvements at the intersection, which is also the point of entrance for the 7 train subway station.

“For over a year, my constituents have asked @MTA to fix the broken escalator, which is causing people to cross the street to the other entrance,” Kim said on Twitter. “We can’t wait any longer. We need to also prioritize the needs of pedestrians over vehicles in downtown Flushing and across our city. I’m calling @NYC_DOT to come back & explore all options, including the creations of pedestrian plazas, on Roosevelt Avenue.”

“At the end of the day, the intersection of Roosevelt and Main Street is statistically one of the busiest intersections in New York City for both pedestrians and vehicle traffic, and we will continue working with the DOT, 109 Precinct, the Community Board and all stakeholders to ensure drivers and pedestrians are educated and informed about the need to travel safely,” Kim said in a statement to TimesLedger.

Koo said he’s worked with the DOT on a number of improvements centered on the downtown Flushing area over the last several years, which include a complete reconstruction of Main Street, wider sidewalks up to 9 feet to make it safer for pedestrians, new crosswalks, pedestrian islands, street repavings, bus lanes, traffic signals, adjustments to traffic signal timings, and more restrictive traffic patterns that prioritize pedestrian crossings.

“Last year, I also introduced Intro 1806, which would make it a requirement for the DOT to consider all-way traffic stops and leading pedestrian intervals at intersections as part of its studies of fatal or serious pedestrian crashes,” said Koo.

Koo also called on the MTA to get its act together and fix the broken escalator, describing it as an “essential piece of infrastructure” that serves so many commuters in Flushing.

“If this community is to bear the burden of dozens of bus lines and the last stop on the 7 train, the least the MTA can do is to make sure its customers have access to these vital services,” said Koo.

Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmohamed@schnepsmedia.com or by phone at (718) 260–4526.