In December, 11-year-old Miguel Torres was struck and killed as he tried to cross the street on Northern Boulevard.
Now, leaders in Jackson Heights are calling for a slow zone to prevent more deaths.
Councilmember Daniel Dromm is leading the push that would lower the speed limit in the neighborhood from 30 miles per hour to 20 miles per hour on specific streets to stop drivers who speed through.
Last year, the councilmember applied to have a slow zone between 74th Street and 86th Street, from 37th Avenue up to Northern Boulevard. The application was denied by the Department of Transportation (DOT), as Northern Boulevard cannot be part of the slow zone because it is considered a major arterial traffic way, said Dromm.
But now Dromm hopes to reapply and focus on the side streets that meet Northern Boulevard.
“There is a very big problem in Jackson Heights on those side streets,” said Dromm. “We have to change the mentality of drivers that when they are coming into such a congested area, you aren’t going to get in and out fast. You need to slow down, calm down and take it easy.”
About two weeks ago, on the corner of 81st Street and 35th Avenue, a pedestrian was struck in a hit-and-run accident when a car was making a left turn. Another pedestrian was hit on 82nd Street and Northern Boulevard and is in critical condition.
Edwin Westley, president of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, said he is working with Dromm to bring the slow zone to the neighborhood.
“We need it for two reasons, one is the number of senior citizens in the neighborhood and the other reason is there are a large number of schools in the area,” Westley said.
A slow zone in East Elmhurst, on 25th Avenue from 69th to 83rd Street, was approved by the DOT and is nearly completed.
“Northern Boulevard needs to be a safe environment considering just how many schools sit right along it throughout Jackson Heights and into Corona,” said Serhan Ayhan, 26, a Jackson Heights resident. “We shouldn’t be playing a game of chicken waiting until a student is hurt while crossing the street to implement safer policies.”
Along with the slow zones, Dromm also hopes to implement other traffic measures including bike racks and extended curbs to get drivers to slow down. He is also working with the NYPD for additional enforcement on the north and south ends of Northern Boulevard to decrease fatalities and hit-and-runs.
The DOT did not respond as of press time.
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