A tragedy in our home neighborhood

Our home base is Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, Corona, East Elmhurst. Last night, we learned a senior in our neighborhood was killed by a turning driver who failed to yield to this man who was in a crosswalk. What follows are comments made to our neighborhood list serve. Our hearts go out to this mans family and loved ones. 

My heart goes out to the friends, family and neighbors who suffer this loss on the very streets we walk, bike, bus, shop and drive every day.

It’s true, I had contacted the previous commanding officer last year about 37th and spoke at precinct council meeting just the night before this tragedy. I spoke specifically about 37th. I also mentioned that hazards such as double parking create road rage events, as frustrated drivers plow through streets once freed from behind a double parker.

Vision Zero initiatives have reduced fatalities. City-wide there has been a decrease of 60 fatalities over the last year. Sadly, they are on the rise again. Mind you, vision zero kind of started here with a march in November of 2013 after three kids were killed on Northern Blvd in about 10 months. Redesign came quickly on Northern. Left turn lanes, larger medians, changes to signal timing and sporadic speed camera use have all been added. 

Last year Olvidio Jaramillo was killed in a cross walk at Junction/Northern by a hit and run driver who was never caught and never turned himself in.  Senator Peralta and Council Member Ferreras-Copeland had a press conference and a walk about with DOT and NYPD. They both have pushed for more speed cameras in their districts. 

NYPD has said that resources are directed to crash areas- they are not proactive. If there have been crashes, then an area gets looked at. I will look at data.

NYPD said they had 5 or 7 (will check) fatalities in the 115 last year. A few on GCP and at least 3 on our neighborhood streets. Note that they are not listed on the traffic stat photo posted here.

What else goes unreported? What is under-reported, such as the category, “contributing factors”. Cops hardly ever cite any factors in police reports (cell phone, driver distraction, drowsy driver, speed) and this directly affects prosecution rates. 

I’m proud of the success we’ve had on Northern, though we are far from truly successful. We have prevented some tragedies. I stressed at115 Community Council that I biked there in the hard rain because “a tragedy is imminent on 37th.” 

We as a community are well placed change driver behavior. ( Yes, pedestrian and bike behavior as well, but please start a new thread for that ) We have many, though underfunded, volunteer groups and caring citizens. Schools and PTA’s can request DOT to do presentations. Our elected can distribute more pertinent info in their offices, of course legislation and street re-design need 311 complaints, active participation in community meetings and people who will make the call when they see “a crime in progress” which is a 911 call. Let police decide what level emergency your concern is. It’s your right, and it’s the advice NYPD gives. 911 is for a crime in progress. And traffic enforcement is law enforcement. Download the 311 app to your phone. You can send a photo, a mapped location and a complaint in less than a minute. Police are detailed based on 311 complaint data. 

We have here in JH, the founders of Make Queens Safer. We can’t do much, but we keep these tragedies in the news, attend community meetings, write about these topics, arrange press conferences and have the ear of legislators from local to the Mayor’s office. 

We have the Transportation Alternatives Queens Committee, which meets right there on 76th and 37th monthly. TA Queens sadly doesn’t have the respect of TA Manhattan/Brooklyn, but you can change that. 

We’ve got Van Bramer, Dromm, Peralta and Ferreras- who’ve all held press conferences for previous deadly traffic incidents.

We have Streetfilms! Clarence has made hundreds of videos documenting safe streets activism. Some months ago, he shot right here in JH, regarding yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks, when Mexican activist Peatonito came to New York for Vision Zero cities conference. 

With all respect for the serious and tragic circumstances today, I’ll still share the peatonito video. (Jh begins around 2 minutes). It may inspire you to engage your kids and neighbors. Peatónito is in NYC: Protecting Pedestrians from Cars in the Crosswalk