Feb. 6, 2014 By Michael Florio
Western Queens elected officials are looking to stamp out pedestrian fatalities on Northern Boulevard.
The officials are calling for Northern Boulevard to be incorporated into Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” initiative, a policy which aims to bring traffic fatalities down to zero by measures such as redesigning high-risk streets.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, State Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblywoman Marge Markey held a press conference Thursday where they called on de Blasio to deem Northern Boulevard one of the city’s most 50 dangerous streets. By doing so, the city will look to redesign the boulevard and introduce slow zones as part of Vision Zero.
“We are calling for the administration to include Northern Boulevard, all of Northern Blvd stretching down to Jackson Heights and Corona, as one of its 50 locations that it will zero in on,” Van Bramer said.
Several pedestrians have been killed on Northern Boulevard in recent years. Between 2010 and 2012, five people have been killed. Meanwhile, in December, Noshat Nahian, an eight-year-old boy, was struck and killed at 61st Street and Northern Blvd while crossing to get to PS 152.
The press conference was held at Northern Boulevard and 48th Street at the location where four pedestrians were struck by a car—including a 7-year-old girl—while waiting for a bus on Saturday. The driver who fled from the scene was later arrested.
The Vision Zero initiative is a broad strategy and includes the help of the police. The police aim to clamp down on speeding and other types of dangerous driving.
As part of combating traffic fatalities, Gianaris discussed a bill that he has introduced in the state senate that would make it a felony if a motorist killed someone while driving without a valid license.
“They kill far too many people and just get a slap on the wrist,” Gianaris said.
Noshat Nahian, Gianaris said, was killed by an unlicensed driver.
The chance that Northern Blvd is included in the list of the city’s 50 dangerous streets appears high, since the well-known corridor is already on de Blasio’s radar.
“They are well aware of Northern Blvd,” Van Bramer said. “The mayor announced [the] Vision Zero task force at P.S. 152.”