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Northern Boulevard is the ‘New Boulevard of Death,’ Bicycle Advocacy Group Says

Northern Boulevard/90th Street (Google)

Sept. 12, 2018 By Tara Law

Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group that aims to reclaim the city’s streets from vehicles, is calling for a “comprehensive redesign” of Northern Boulevard in response to a recent spate of pedestrian deaths on the busy thoroughfare.

The group is now calling Northern Boulevard, where eight pedestrians have been killed since Jan. 2017, “Queens’ new ‘Boulevard of Death.’”

The moniker is a reference to an old nickname for Queens Boulevard, which was notoriously dangerous in the 1990s and early 2000s. In 1997 alone, 18 pedestrians were killed on Queens Boulevard.

However, Queens Boulevard’s reign as the Boulevard of Death appears to have come to an end as a result of alterations to the street design over the past 20 years. No pedestrians have been killed on the Boulevard since 2014.

Queens Boulevard is currently undergoing a large redesign under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero program, which aims to reduce crashes on the city’s streets. The redesign has already brought the installation of broader curbs, wider medians and protected bike lanes to approximately half the length of the seven and a half mile roadway.

Transportation Alternatives was one of the most vocal proponents of the Queens Boulevard redesign. The organization was particularly adamant about the inclusion of protected bike lanes, as encouraging cycling is part of its mission to promote modes of transportation besides cars.

Now, Transportation Alternatives wants similar measures on Northern Boulevard.

Paul Steely White, Transportation Alternatives’ executive director, called the situation on Northern Boulevard a “crisis.” He argued that the Boulevard has few protections for the most vulnerable pedestrians— seniors, children and the disabled.

“Due to its car-oriented design and lack of safe accommodation for people, Northern Boulevard remains needlessly deadly for everyone who dares to use it — especially pedestrians and bicyclists,” said White. “While the City has made incremental improvements, more needs to be done, including safer intersection geometry and protected bike lanes, before yet another life is taken. The lack of urgency … is frankly unacceptable.”

White’s statement was released on Sept. 9, the same day that a 70-year-old man was killed while walking across Northern Boulevard near 108th Street.

The Department of Transportation installed several safety measures on the section of the road between 58th Street and Junction Boulevard earlier this year, including leading pedestrian intervals. The measures were not installed on the part of Northern Boulevard where the 70-year-old was killed.

The measures were installed in response to the death of 9-year-old Giovanni Ampuero on April 28 near 28th Street. 

Ampuero was crossing the street with his mother when he was hit by an 86-year-old driver. The driver was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to exercise due care.

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Bicycles are vehicles and should obey red lights and traffic lights in general. Why many cyclists do not heed traffic lights is puzzling to me. This does not happen in Europe.


They need to get rid of on street parking for free. Parking is too cheap in NYC. There’s 1.9 million cars in NYC. They should have to pay $1,000 registration tax to fund the decrepit subways and buses. Bicyclists stand no chance against a 2 ton steel cocoon, driving at 25 MPH. The fastest bicyclist in the world goes at 16MPH. All a bicyclist has to protect them is a foam or hard shell helmet. It’s not a fair comparison. Motorists are shielded from stupid acts by insurance, even if they hit a biker the cost to them is minimal. Hit a biker and you break their bones and possibly paralyze them. How often is a motorist in a life or death accident.

Biker beware

These are excellent points, you’d think with such potential peril in front of hem, bikers would be more compliant with the rules of the road and more careful with their mortality!

steve 8O

My wife and I each cycle commute 3,000 miles +/- each year and we drive our cars about 20,000 miles a year. (Yeah, we’re not home much.) and I think it’s safe to say I see both sides of the cars vs. bikes vs. pedestrians debate. Suffice to say, there’s plenty of blame by all parties, not everyone, not every minute on the road, but often enough to be an issue. Human nature is not going to change. Licensing bike riders and registering bikes won’t change the death toll. Improved road design will. As Stan Lee would say “Nuff said.”


Well written Steve 80 imo, very true. The only point I would make is that bike riding/bike lanes have exploded in the past few yrs. and cyclists are not licensed like auto drivers. As a senior I look out more for bikers than cars now. I am still undecided on licensing bike riders but you are right road design is the most important.

A Woodsider

All bikes, motorized or not, should be registered, licensed, with identifying license plate, and INSURED as required of all other vehicles. Share the roads, share the responsibilities. Speed bumps should be placed on Northern Blvd every second block. This should slow down ALL vehicles and bikes. If ALL of us would act responsibly, instead of like a bunch of entitled idiots, maybe there would be fewer deaths! Isn’t this what everyone wants? No sane person wants to kill or be killed!?! As far as ” the bike lanes”, this should have been decided by voting. Have JVB give instructions on how to vote as he has done for other “issues” (i.e., toilets, libraries, etc.) regarding how taxpayers’ money is spent. Let taxpaying voters decided!


well written, don’t agree with all of it but well thought out instead of ignorant, bigoted posts by some other posters.


Yes, Transportation Alternatives is that controversial group that advocates for [checks notes] fewer dead people.


I think the issue here is degree. Yes both bikes and cars can kill/injury and/or be killed and injured. However by and large most car and truck drivers obey the laws when they are moving. They are licensed. Bike riders do to a much lesser degree since they are not licensed. I watch out for cars and trucks but especially bikes since they are not licensed and break the law more.


Agreed Anna and also simple redesign like they did on Northern Blvd. can literally lower the death toll dramatically.

On another note, I think the management at the Greenpoint Post since moderate these comments just like any other publication does for foul and or degrading language. I have seen several instances here and if you don’t crack down on it, the blog can go downhill fast.,

Anna Centeno

Im not against bike lanes. However, the bike lanes on most avenues and streets are not used correctly by the people riding the bikes. They go the opposite direction, they go over the line, and they to don’t abide by the stop signs or traffic lights. They go right through them. If they want the lanes, it has to work both ways. They have to follow the laws like everyone.

Immoral Society

So if you aren’t against bike lanes, why say “i’m not against bike lanes”? Basic psychology – you ARE against bike lanes , simpleton.

so punny

Sounds like Anna isn’t against bike lanes, just against irresponsible bike drivers/riders. I concur. Bikers put themselves into harms way time and time again. They are given the lanes they fought for, but then they do not properly use them or abide by the rules of the road. sharing the road is a two way street.

No need for name calling, especially when reading comp and writing skills are subpar.


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