Oct. 2, 2013 By Christian Murray
The Department of Transportation and the NYPD were slammed by elected officials in Woodside yesterday, at the location where a pedestrian was killed in a hit-and-run incident on Saturday.
Luis Bravo, a 19-year-old from Jackson Heights, was struck by a dark-colored sedan crossing Broadway near 58th Street on Sept. 28. The perpetrator’s vehicle fled the scene leaving Bravo on the road to die; authorities are still searching for the suspect.
Broadway has a reputation among local residents as being a dangerous street where motorists speed. “Broadway is like a racetrack or the autobahn,” said Ed Surmenian, who was surprised an incident like this had not happened before.
In response to resident complaints, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said that his office had reached out to the DOT and NYPD in March, 2012, and requested that they study the traffic flow along Broadway (between 69th and Northern Blvd). Van Bramer sought traffic calming measures and requested that they look at the timing of the lights.
“They wrote back and told us that everything was working just fine and no changes were necessary,” Van Bramer said.
A spokesman for the DOT confirmed Wednesday that a review was conducted last year. The spokesman said, “no changes were recommended” at the time, given the conditions.
However, the spokesman added, that “DOT will again review conditions on the Broadway corridor, including the intersection with 58th St., making use of the most recent data to assess signal timing and intersection controls, and will also look into the feasibility of other traffic calming measures here as well.”
State Sen. Mike Gianaris said that the DOT should pay more attention to what residents have to say since they know their streets best. It should not take a death, he said, for the DOT to take action.
In the last three months there have been at least five pedestrian collisions within Western Queens—four of which resulted in fatalities.
Van Bramer was critical of the NYPD for not arresting drivers who kill people as a result of being reckless or negligent. Unless a motorist is intoxicated or leaves the scene of the crash, prosecution is rare, Van Bramer said.
For instance, in March, a teenager was killed in Long Island City when the driver lost control when he bent down to pick up a milk carton. The driver plowed into several people on the sidewalk—killing a 16-year-old student.
The driver just got a ticket for driving without insurance.
“Is he sorry he did this? Of course,” Van Bramer said. “Did he want this to happen? No.”
“But should he just walk away uncharged? No. He killed someone and the victim’s family will never be the same,” Van Bramer said.
Citing NYPD data, Van Bramer said that during the first 8 months of 2013, 189 pedestrians were killed. He said that only 20 people were charged.
Van Bramer said the laws in Albany need to be changed—and the police need to enforce them–so that those people who drive recklessly and kill people don’t just walk away.