With cars flying down the big hill past Forest Park in one direction and cars navigating shifting bus lanes and traffic pylons in the other, this has been the scene of over 100 accidents over the past few years, according to statistics compiled by the NYPD.
One house at that corner has had to replace fencing numerous times over the years due to out of control cars. And pylons meant to guide cars safely are regularly smashed to bits.
It is in the midst of all this chaos that children routinely have to cross Woodhaven Boulevard to get to school. Many times they are accompanied by their parents, but many times they are walking alone, crossing a boulevard with no safe place to wait in the middle if you run out of time.
Local parents have been worried about this situation for years, and now several of them are coming together to launch a petition to call on the city to provide crossing guards for children at this dangerous intersection.
Diana Farquharson, Parents’ Association President at PS 254 on 101st Street in Richmond Hill, is extremely concerned about the crossing, pointing out that cars driving along Park Lane South are just as dangerous as the ones flying up and down the boulevard.
“This is a nightmare,” she told me the other day when we met to look at the intersection. “[Park Lane South] is so narrow that cars have nowhere to go and drive into the crosswalk to get around cars that are turning.”
Jessica Benitez, a parent of young students at PS 254, is reaching out to local groups and organizations for support in getting signatures on a petition to have crossing guards stationed at the crossing.
She has the support of one nearby elected representative. Assemblyman Mike Miller, whose office sits right at this intersection, agrees with the parents.
“The parents and school administration of PS 254 and I stand in solidarity when it comes to the safety of our children,” he said. “Park Lane South and Woodhaven Boulevard is a high-traffic and high-volume intersection. It’s time to put our children first and do what we can to protect them.
PS 254 needs school crossing guards at this intersection and I will continue to advocate and fight on their behalf,” Miller added.
To help the parents of PS 254, Assemblyman Miller has agreed to post their online petition on his website. The parents have also put together a hard copy petition and will be hitting the local civic meetings in search of supporters.
The residents of Woodhaven have had to live with this dangerous road for nearly a century. Keep in mind that it wasn’t always this way; it used to be a quiet road until the city forced an expansion down Woodhaven’s throat in the late 1930s.
The city then sat back and did not enforce traffic laws for decades, leaving the residents of Woodhaven to hustle across the boulevard against a clock that seems to get faster and shorter every year.
Last year, they spent millions on changes that they claim will make pedestrians safer, but this intersection is a stain on those designs.
“We hope the city will take a closer look at this crossing and agree that putting a guard here makes total sense,” Benitez said. “We just want our kids get to school and come home safe.”
On this point, we all agree. And the parents of PS 254 hope the city will listen to their pleas and install crossing guards at Woodhaven Boulevard and Park Lane South in time for the reopening of schools in September.
It’s as simple as A-B-C.