Advocates rally for Queens Boulevard safety improvements

Posted at 6:10 PM, Oct 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-21 08:17:50-04

QUEENS — Families in this Queens say they don’t want to go to another vigil, especially for someone killed on Queens Boulevard.

That’s why they’re calling on the city to finish redesigning the boulevard which would include protected bike lanes.

“You can not replace a child and this pain just eats you up, this void will never be fulfilled," Lizi Rahman lost her son, Asif, back in 2008. The 22-year was a teacher’s assistant. He left for work, but never made it back home.

“His bike was hit from behind by a freight truck, killed instantly.” Rahman's been fighting with every tear, ever since, to make Queens Boulevard safer.

Her story is similar to many who turned out for a rally at MacDonald Park in Forest Hills Sunday, some holding signs like "safe streets now" and "protected bike lanes save lives."

Transit advocates say the city rolled out a redesign project for Queens Boulevard back in 2015 but the final phase is yet to be completed.

The first three phases were completed without much opposition, but in this fourth phase, many have argued that from Yellowstone Boulevard to Union Turnpike, hundreds of parking spots would be eliminated.

Transportation advocates say last year 331 people were hurt on the boulevard between Roosevelt Avenue and Union Turnpike, so far this year, there were 271. That includes people on bikes, in cars and those walking, trying to cross the street.

Residents who live nearby say they want the city to act quickly, so they call this roadway the boulevard of life, instead of what’s it’s referred to now, "the boulevard of death."

The city would not comment on whether or not the stalling of the redesign was due to politics over a new jail set to open in Kew Gardens. Now that the jails are a done deal, advocates say there shouldn't be anything stopping them from moving forward.

A spokesperson for City Hall said "We are moving forward with the redesign and working with the community. We've completed four miles of redesign on Queens Boulevard, driving fatalities are at a record low, and will continue working through this last, most challenging section."