Tag Archives: Cristina Furlong

Queens ‘Zombie Ride’ to encourage safe biking


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Kidical Mass NYC

Wheels big and small will be going round and round this weekend through western Queens.

Advocacy organization Kidical Mass NYC will be hosting its third family bike ride and the first in Queens on Saturday, Oct. 25, through parts of Long Island City and Astoria.

The event, called “Zombie Ride,” will be a five-mile bike ride starting at the waterfront at Gantry Plaza State Park at the intersection of Center Boulevard and 47th Avenue.

The ride is open to intermediate-level bike riders or children ages 7 and up with good street-riding skills. Children in baby seats and on cargo bikes are also welcome to be a part of the event. 

“[We want to] make an opportunity to get kids to go around a city you walk, ride buses and drive in. It’s another way to get around,” said Hilda Cohen, one of the co-founders of Kidical Mass NYC.  “A lot of parents want to do this but are intimidated about it. It’s really a great way to see your city.”

The ride, which is named in the spirit of Halloween, will then continue through the Long Island City neighborhood and make its first stop at the rooftop garden Brooklyn Grange. After taking a rest stop at coffee shop COFFEED, the group will pass the Museum of the Moving Image and head back toward the waterfront to finish the ride at Socrates Sculpture Park, which will be hosting its Fall Festival. 

The young participants will also receive “spooky” treats such as zombie tattoos. 

“The name [of the event] has nothing to do with anything dangerous,” Cohen said. 

Kidical Mass NYC, which is the New York-based branch of the original Kidical Mass founded in Oregon, pays tribute to the national cycling event called Critical Mass.

Since starting in August, rides have taken place once a month in Brooklyn and Manhattan, bringing together about 40 participants, including adults and children. Now organizers have expanded the reach into Queens, hoping to attract residents from the other boroughs.

“Queens is the next big borough,” said Cristina Furlong of the organization Makes Queens Safer, who is helping Kidical Mass NYC organize the Queens event. “Queens is starting to get noticed.”

Members of the 108th and 114th precincts will also be in attendance on Saturday to provide extra security for the riders. 

“By being visible, I hope we influence some people that might be considering [cycling with their children] and show them that it’s safe,” Furlong said.

According to Cohen, although the event aims to show families that biking through their neighborhoods is a safe alternative to driving, the main goal of the day is to have fun. 

“We’re trying to make everything fun and exciting, which is exactly what biking is and it shouldn’t be something dangerous,” Cohen said. “This is just a means to enjoy our city with our kids.”

The “Zombie Ride” will begin at 10 a.m., with riders beginning to gather at 9:30 a.m. Cohen encourages those interested in participating to RSVP via the group’s Facebook page in order for every participant to receive their Halloween treats. Helmets are required for children 13 years old and under by law, and are recommended for everyone else, according to organizers. 

For more information visit www.facebook.com/kidicalmassnyc.

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New federal legislation to focus funds on areas with increased pedestrian accidents


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Newly proposed legislation will require states to focus federal resources in areas where there have been an increase in pedestrian fatalities or injuries, one politician said.

U.S Rep. Joseph Crowley created the Pedestrian Fatalities Reduction Act of 2014 to help prevent another traffic fatality from occurring on New York City streets.

Crowley made the announcement on the corner where 11-year-old Miguel Torres was fatally struck in December of 2012 as he was crossing Northern Boulevard to get to school. Last October 3-year-old Olvin Jahir Figueroa was killed crossing Northern Boulevard near Junction Boulevard with his mom. In December 8-year-old Noshat Nahian was killed crossing the busy street on the way to his Woodside school.

“The recent string in traffic related deaths in and around Queens demands our immediate attention to find solutions,” Crowley said. “We need to ensure the federal highway safety funds at their disposal are put toward achieving our goal of reducing pedestrian fatalities to zero.”

States are currently required to submit a Strategic Highway Safety Plan to the Federal Highway Administration for them to receive federal highway safety funds. This state-wide plan is used by state transportation departments to look at safety needs and decide where to make investments.

The Pedestrian Fatalities Reduction Act of 2014 will require the safety plan to include statistics on pedestrian injuries and fatalities, and each state must show how it expects to address any increases at both state and county levels.

“Pedestrian safety is a vitally important issue for my district and citywide,” said Councilman Daniel Dromm, who has worked with the Department of Transportation to implement neighborhood slow zones and other safety improvements. “However, more can always be done and this legislation would give some much needed funding to this tragic problem.”

The new legislation is also expected to update the federal handbook, which local and state transportation departments use when gathering highway safety data, in order to include items that will promote safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

“For too long, the people of New York City have seen repeated injuries in areas that have been proven to be dangerous and high risk,” said Cristina Furlong of the group Make Queens Safer. “With the passing of this legislation, New York will be able to provide the resources necessary to transform our dangerous streets.”

 

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Star of Queens: Cristina Furlong of Make Queens Safer


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook

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Following “too many” pedestrian deaths, Furlong and her group, Make Queens Safer, are trying to target reckless driving, one roadway at a time.

“Pedestrians sometimes don’t have the tools they need, they were never educated on the danger,” she said.

Her group is focusing on an education program, reaching out to everyone from the borough’s youth to local elected officials. The program includes a safe driver pledge for drivers to acknowledge patience and eliminate distraction while on the roads.

BACKGROUND

Furlong is a 10-year resident of Queens, currently living in Jackson Heights. She is an avid cycler and works as a tour guide for Bike the Big Apple, which provides bike tours through the five borough.

“As a cyclist, I’ve always been interested in safety. But when Laura [Newman, Make Queens Safer co-founder] posted a boy was killed by a drunk driver and put a call to action, I was 100 percent on board,” Furlong said. “We had to do something.”

FAVORITE MEMORY

“The best thing that’s come out of this is being able to support families who have suffered a lot,” Furlong said. “Mothers whose children were killed [by drivers], they have no place to go.”

After a vigil the group hosted for pedestrian victims, Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference in Queens to announce his vision of zero pedestrian fatalities, appropriately titled Vision Zero.

“That was a memorable thing,” Furlong said. “Of all places, he chose Queens, recognizing that we have the highest pedestrian injury rate in the city.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE

For Furlong, the biggest challenge her group faces is getting people to change their consciousness about reckless driving, she said. They frequently stop drivers on the street to relay safe driving tips, and aren’t always warmly welcomed.

“But we need to establish a responsibility behind the wheel,” she said.

INSPIRATION

“I think inspiration comes from the people,” Furlong said, referring to parents, family members and friends who have lost loved ones due to reckless driving.

“They’re always available and working so hard with us. I want them to know, hopefully, we’ll change things,” she said.

 

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