The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Pedestrian Safety in NYC: Making Queens Boulevard Safer for Walkers in 2018

Posted by on Monday, February 5th, 2018

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As New York City podiatrists, we advocate walking as a great way for people to maintain strength and mobility in their feet. Of course, that means you need a safe route to travel. After all, what good are strong feet if you’re run down by a motorist? And while any native knows that our busy streets can sometimes be hazardous for pedestrians, some major improvements have been made in terms of pedestrian safety in NYC. We’re pleased to report that Queens Boulevard is no longer a pedestrian death trap, thanks to the efforts of Mayor de Blasio.

Queens Boulevard is now a safer place to walk.
Queens Boulevard is now a safer place to walk. Image Source: Wikimedia user Jim.henderson.

Queens Boulevard Pedestrian Death Statistics

Queens Boulevard has long been known as a notoriously dangerous area to cross on bike or on foot. Tabloid headlines called it “the Boulevard of Death,” according to the NY Times. But that wasn’t just sensational journalism—Queens Boulevard was genuinely hazardous for pedestrians. Consider these sobering statistics:

  • In 1997, 18 people were killed on Queens Boulevard.
  • 186 people were killed on Queens Boulevard since 1990. 138 pedestrians were among the accident victims.
  • Overall, there were 231 motor vehicle accident fatalities last year and 198 this year. Of those, 148 were pedestrians last year and 92 were pedestrians this year.

From these numbers, it’s clear that pedestrians would do well to avoid crossing Queens Boulevard. But what made this particular area such a death trap?

Why Was Queens Boulevard So Dangerous?

Queens Boulevard moves traffic from Manhattan via the Queensboro Bridge to bustling central Queens neighborhoods. It’s been an epicenter of activity since the early 1900’s when trolleys shuttled people to and from Manhattan in the roaring twenties and thirties. There are many busy streets in New York City, but what makes this boulevard distinctive is its massive size at some points. Your typical New York City side street is about 30 feet wide. First Avenue in Manhattan is 70 feet wide. By comparison, some parts of Queens Boulevard can fit a dozen traffic lanes, stretching as wide as 300 feet! That’s a lot of ground to cover and there simply was not enough time to do so safely—especially for old, crippled, or injured individuals. In the city that never sleeps, motorists are just too busy to wait.

Improving Pedestrian Safety in NYC

New York City is part of the Vision Zero network that works to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries nationwide. Thanks to the efforts of city officials, there has not been a single death on the seven-mile thoroughfare since 2014. Improvements started in the nineties with:

  • Boosted enforcement of speeders, light-runners, and reckless drivers with street light cameras.
  • Street redesign to eliminate vehicle lanes, broaden the curb, and narrow the sections where people cross.
  • Additional crosswalks and fencing installation to deter jaywalking.
  • Re-timed crosswalk signals to allow for pedestrian head-starts and a 60-second duration (rather than 32 to 50 seconds, as before).

After six pedestrian fatalities in 2013, the Department of Transportation took another look. Mayor de Blasio decreased the speed limit from 30 to 25 miles per hour, despite protests from civil engineers, and ordered a $4 million overhaul that included:

  • The addition of designated bike lanes.
  • More crosswalks and places to wait in the median.
  • Redesigned car lanes to better incorporate both local and through traffic.
  • More cameras to catch speeders near school zones.

Next year, city plans call for a $255-million plan that adds wide, tree-lined medians, benches, and a continuous biking/walking path that transforms the boulevard into a park-like setting for all to use.

Do Your Part to Stay Safe by Visiting New York City Podiatrists

Don’t become a statistic! Keep yourself healthy and mobile so you have no trouble crossing Queens Boulevard in the time allotted. If you are experiencing any pain in your feet or ankles, come see our New York City podiatrists at either our Manhattan or our White Plains office. We have a full suite of diagnostic imaging technology and board-certified podiatrists with over 40 years of experience on staff. With innovative therapies from shockwave therapy to platelet-rich plasma injections, you won’t walk out of our office without feeling a significant reduction in pain. Contact us for details or to book an appointment.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.