BY LUIS GRONDA
A new report released by a transportation group shows that among all the major streets in Queens, Woodhaven Boulevard has had the most fatalities in the last three years.
The Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a non-profit advocacy group that petitions for better transportation safety throughout New York and surrounding states, released its annual report on pedestrian safety and lists fatalities for each borough in New York City and town in New York State, as well as New Jersey and Connecticut.
For Queens, the report finds that, in the last three years, pedestrian fatalities has decreased from 48 in 2009 to 35 deaths in 2011. Broken down by avenues, Woodhaven Boulevard has the most pedestrian deaths in Queens with seven during those same three years, including four in 2011. Other Borough thoroughfares on their list include Jamaica Avenue, which runs through Woodhaven and a part of Brooklyn and intersects with Woodhaven Boulevard, which had five fatalities in those three years. Union Turnpike and Northern Boulevard also made the list, with four fatalities each.
Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association, said that he was not surprised that Woodhaven Boulevard finished first in the report for Queens because it has long been a street that has been dangerous to pedestrians, especially for the elderly.
“It’s a big, long boulevard and it’s as dangerous as it gets,” he said.
Wendell added that it has long been a problem in the neighborhood and it is something that they have discussed with the community in the past.
At a recent 102nd Precinct Council meeting, Wendell said that the commanding officer, Captain Henry Sautner, discussed with residents about pedestrian and driver safety around their patrol and they would look at speed and traffic enforcement in an attempt to address the problem.
Part of the reason for the problem, Wendell said, is because people speed down Woodhaven Boulevard while driving and they often try to beat the traffic light that sits on the corner of Woodhaven and Jamaica, which can lead to an accident if there is someone that is trying to quickly cross the street.
“That’s just a road where people drive too fast,” he said.
One idea that Wendell had to help the issue is to push back where vehicles stop at a red light and increase the length of the pedestrian crosswalk. This would give people more space between themselves and the car and possibly prevent some accidents, Wendell said.
News of the report came came on the heels of two recent accidents taking place in the neighborhood.
On Feb. 13, a 67-year-old man was struck and killed by a motor vehicle while he was trying to cross the busy intersection of Woodhaven Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue. On March 3, a driver in a minivan hit another car and drove into a building on Woodhaven Boulevard and Union Turnpike. According to reports, the driver fled the scene but no one was seriously hurt from the wreck.
Ryan Lynch, associate director of the transportation campaign, said that he hopes the report will bring more awareness to pedestrian safety and the City will take measures to make roads safer for pedestrians and drivers alike.
Reach Reporter Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.