What to Know
Safety advocates are demanding changes on Northern Boulevard in Queens after a 70-year-old was killed by an SUV driver Sunday
It was the ninth pedestrian death in two years on that street, which critics are calling the new "Boulevard of Death"
The city is promising changes, including the installation of pedestrian islands
Northern Boulevard in Queens is quickly becoming the borough's new "Boulevard of Death," say safety advocates who are demanding changes after a senior citizen was struck and killed on the street last weekend.
The 70-year-old victim was killed by an SUV driver in Corona on Sunday, marking the ninth time in the past two years a vehicle killed a pedestrian on the boulevard. This past spring, 9-year-old Giovanni Ampuero died while crossing Northern Boulevard.
"Northern Boulevard tells drivers it's a highway, and they should act accordingly," said Paul Steely White of advocacy group Transportation Alternatives.
"We don't have to put up with these deaths. We know how to prevent them," he said.
Steely White pointed to the example of Queens Boulevard, which long had the notorious moniker of "Boulevard of Death." But the city made changes in recent years, adding protected bike lanes, new signal timers and a lower speed limit. Since the changes were implemented in 2014, there have been no deaths.
Northern Boulevard, meanwhile, has seen nine pedestrian deaths since 2016. Also known as Route 25A, it is a major connector from the BQE through Queens toward Nassau County.
"It's very dangerous," said Jackson Heights resident Thee Benitez. "I've seen too much kids getting hit over here over the years. "
"There's not enough time to cross sometimes," said Linda Smith.
DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg admitted the city needs to do more. She noted that changes began on Northern Boulevard after the death of 11-year-old Miguel Torres five years ago. But this fall, they'll begin major overhaul. The city will start by installing pedestrian islands between 70th Street and 92nd Street, which is the zone where the majority of the nine deaths have taken place.
"We agree we need to start from the ground up," Trottenberg said. "We don't want to see any more loss of life."