Generally, when you leave the house to go to work, you leave with the expectation that you’ll arrive at your destination safely and get back home the same way.
Two weeks ago around 5 a.m. at Woodhaven Boulevard and 91st Avenue, a driver struck Sivanaintha Perumal so hard it left behind carnage so gruesome it can’t be described in a family paper such as this. The driver did not stop to see if Mr. Perumal was alive; the driver did not stop at all.
How fast do you need to be traveling to knock a man out of his pants? And what kind of animal do you need to be to strike down a human being and not even stop to offer assistance?
Sole responsibility for what happened to Mr. Perumal rests with the inhuman bastard that was behind the wheel that morning. But the environment in which this was allowed to happen belongs to the City of New York. And it is a failure on so many levels, it can’t be conveyed in the space and time allotted for this column.
This isn’t about bus lanes or traffic lights. This is about letting drivers get away with murder for decades. It’s about the City of New York not protecting our residents by enforcing the laws on the books.
We’ve all found ourselves at one time or another on Woodhaven Boulevard in the middle of the night or early in the morning. And we’ve all seen cars flying down Woodhaven Boulevard at speeds hard to even imagine in a residential neighborhood. 90 mph? 100? 110?
The evening that Sivanaintha Perumal was killed, we were heading home from a concert at the bandshell driving a friend to her home in Howard Beach.
We were sitting at the red light at 91st Avenue waiting to cross the bridge, when a car screamed past us on our right, blowing through a red light and almost striking a bicyclist crossing the boulevard.
Again, this was less than 24 hours after a man had been killed at that very spot.
The same city that manages to pounce on and ticket residents and shop owners for garbage dumped on their property by others is weak at the knees or nowhere to be found when it comes to ticketing aggressive, reckless drivers that put our family and friends at risk.
Let’s do the math: the vast majority of drivers on Woodhaven Boulevard do not live in Woodhaven. They’re from other neighborhoods just passing through our community.
On the other side, the vast majority of pedestrians that cross Woodhaven Boulevard are residents. They are your neighbors, your friends, and the people you see on the sidewalks of Woodhaven every day.
Looking at those numbers, we have to be completely biased in favor of safety laws that protect pedestrians. But we don’t have to fight for new laws or new initiatives or new programs with names created by marketing executives and tested by focus groups.
Just enforce the damn laws already on the books. Don’t just position a car at 91st and Woodhaven at 2 p.m. or during rush hour. Put undercover enforcement all along Woodhaven Boulevard overnight and early mornings, as well.
It was less than a year ago that we saw two fatalities in separate incidents, both of which happened well before the morning commute.
Hit people with tickets over and over and over again until they learn to act responsibly. Ticket speeding cars, buses, trucks and motorcycles as many times as you have to.
And yes, ticket the pedestrians you see every day taking their lives into their hands, running against the light to catch a bus or ignoring the crosswalks when crossing the boulevard.
Unfortunately, we’re asking the same folks who have created the problem to help resolve it, which means this request was doomed from the start, meaning that someone else will die. It’s inevitable.