It happened at the same spot where a woman was killed last month, and at the same spot where a man was killed in 2013.
All three tragedies happened off-hours, so I am not blaming the new bus lanes for these deaths. In fact, eyewitnesses stated that at least one of the victims was crossing against the light when she was struck and killed.
But we do need to recognize that the Department of Transportation (DOT) sold this plan on the merits that it would “calm” traffic and make it safer for pedestrians. And they sold the plan using the name of the man who was killed at 3 a.m. crossing Woodhaven Boulevard.
So using their own metric, their renovations to our boulevard have been a dismal failure.
Woodhaven Boulevard has always been dangerous, and that is due to a complete lack of enforcement of existing laws, which are broken thousands of times a day by both drivers and pedestrians.
Woodhaven Boulevard has, and always has been, an almost completely lawless intersection.
It was that way decades ago, it was that way when I was a kid, and it was that way when DOT was proposing their changes to calm traffic. And now, even after all the money they spent, Woodhaven Boulevard is still an almost completely lawless intersection.
DOT will use these accidents to do more studies and spend more money, because that’s where our city government excels. They create a problem, and then rush in claiming to be the saviors needed to fix it.
It’s like having a friend throw a garbage can through your front window and then offering to fix it for a few million dollars.
Except instead of a broken window, we now have two more dead residents.
So here’s a cheap easy fix for the problems of Woodhaven Boulevard: enforce the laws, particularly off-hours. Enforce the hell out of them.
Hit speeding drivers with tickets, and hit jaywalking pedestrians with tickets. Hit them where it hurts before they get hit where it kills.
If you have any doubts that the laws on our boulevard are poorly enforced, I have a very simple experiment for you. Drive your car down Woodhaven Boulevard outside of rush hour at exactly 30 miles per hour, which is the speed limit.
Watch how the cars behind you react. They will flash lights at you, they will change lanes and speed past you, probably giving you the finger as they pass. It’s not just a few cars that are speeding though our neighborhood, almost all of them are.
Here’s another experiment: stand at Woodhaven Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue and over the course of an hour keep count of how many pedestrians are crossing against the lights, putting their very vulnerable and unprotected bodies in the path of these speeding machines.
Now with extra pedestrian crossings, including two that cross Jamaica Avenue between bus stops in the middle of the boulevard, there’s even more of an opportunity for confusion and hurried commuters crossing against the lights.
It’s not really a surprise when someone is struck and killed on our boulevard, it’s more of a surprise that it doesn’t happen more often.
I don't care about the bus lanes. I care about the lives of our residents. DOT had no issue using the names of victims to push their pet project.
I hope they will use the names of these latest victims of Woodhaven Boulevard to push complete and comprehensive enforcement of the laws in order to accomplish what they claimed they wanted to do.
If the city wants to make Woodhaven Boulevard safer, they just have to enforce the damn laws already on the books.