The residents of 107th Street between Park Lane South and Jamaica Avenue in Richmond Hill know better than to linger on the sidewalk for too long on any given day of the week.
After years of residents losing their cars to reckless and speeding drivers, it’s a known rule of the neighborhood to avoid standing outside on the sidewalk for too long.
“We have a number of families here. I would say the majority of our families have young school-aged children. Our children are never out on the sidewalk unsupervised and yet there is that fear that one of these days someone is going to hit a car that will hit a child. And we know this because we live here and we’re experts in the area,” said Sandra Drozd, a mother of three and resident of 107th Street.
On Thursday, Sept. 14, residents of 107th Street gathered with Community Board 9, local leaders and neighbors to urge the Department of Transportation to fulfill its duty and provide families with safer traffic conditions in their neighborhood.
Andrew and Sandra Drozd, who have lived on the block for roughly eight years, spoke about the car accidents that have caused this neighborhood to remain in fear of speeding cars for years. The family’s car was totaled in August last year while parked on the road and it was hit several times before they had to replace it entirely, Andrew shared.
“I don’t think people here want to wait. I think we want something done and not in a year, and not in six months,” said Sandra. “We want something done now.”
On a block filled with a majority of families with children, the call for swift DOT action echoed among residents on the block.
Edwin Jaramillo, another long-time resident with five children, had multiple cars of his also hit by drivers while parked on the road. He also mentioned how one of the cars that was lost after being hit by a speeding driver happened five minutes after his kids returned home from school. He said if he was running late that day, his children could have also been hit.
“When I was small, I grew up and I was playing kick the can and hide and seek out in the middle of the street and it wasn’t a problem. Now it’s like, don’t go past the driveway. I don’t want to see you past the driveway,” Jaramillo said.
Anna Rojas, who shared details pertaining to multiple car crashes on the block, spoke on behalf of another neighbor whose car was completely totaled by a reckless driver. In one instance, a driver hit parked cars on the road so hard and so fast that three parked cars were pushed into each other, almost like a domino effect, she recalled. The fear of these divers is what’s brought this community to its breaking point.
“It’s a fear that a fatality is going to happen anytime. We need to be safe. We need to feel safe. We need our kids to be safe and our elders need to be safe. The community needs to be safe and law enforcement needs to happen,” said Rojas.
Senator Joseph P. Addabbo visited neighbors in support of the joint call for the DOT to heed the words of residents and although one unidentified man voiced his skepticism of the words shared by local leaders and legislators, Addabbo reassured the group that, “persistence will pay off.”
District leader James McClelland, along with Community Board 9 Chair Sherry Algredo, confirmed the DOT has denied requests for a speed bump in the past, although the issues with speeding cars remain. The community board helped support neighbors during the organized press conference in an effort to nudge the DOT in the right direction
QNS asked the DOT for the reason why traffic safety requests were denied and what residents can do in lieu of a speed bump.
“Safety is our top priority in Richmond Hill and across Queens. As we noted to the community board, we studied this corridor thoroughly and speed humps are focused at areas with recorded speeds over the 25 mph citywide limit. We have speed cameras citywide to deter speeding and can speak with the local police precinct about enforcement in this area,” a DOT spokesperson said in a statement to QNS.
As residents looked to find their own solution to the problem, most agreed that one prominent cause of speeding cars and unsafe traffic conditions originated from a car wash and detailing business near the corner of 107th Street and Jamaica Avenue.
Residents said the business was being run illegally and pointed to several indicators of more than just car washing occurring in the building, since the business is in possession of car lifts. A photo from Google Maps dating back to last year confirms this.
Once neighbors returned to their homes from the public conference, a man who presented himself as the owner of the car wash, alongside another older man, spoke directly to QNS and refuted claims that the business was responsible for creating unsafe conditions. The owner also said he, too, was a victim of speeding drivers and would do what he could to limit speeding.
According to data from the NYC Crasher Mapper, which uses data from the NYC Open Data Portal NYPD Motor Vehicle Collisions, there were over 20 car accidents recorded from September 2020 to September 2023. The provided data is based on police-reported motor vehicle collisions in New York City.
Although no deaths or major injuries have been reported on 107th Street due to the car accidents, resident say it’s only a matter of time if nothing is done.