WE MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY
FOR EACH OTHER ON THE ROAD
ON THE WEB
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TIMESLEDGER | QNS.COM | JUNE 5-11, 2020 15
BY COSTA CONSTANTINIDES
AND JULIE HUNTINGTON
As longtime residents of Queens,
we’re no strangers to dangerous streets.
Other boroughs have foreboding corridors
— Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn,
Boston Road in the Bronx, Canal
Street in Manhattan, Hylan Boulevard
on Staten Island — but only Queens has
a street that everyone calls the “Boulevard
So it’s disheartening, but not surprising,
to see that the majority of the fatal
crashes that have taken place since New
York went on “pause” in mid-March
have been in Queens. And though it’s
true that the pandemic has brought
down the total number of cars on the
road, the reduction in traffic crashes
has not been as pronounced.
When we look at these recent fatal
crashes in Queens, it’s plain to see that
they could have been prevented. Last
month, a man was killed by an unlicensed
driver who ran a stop sign in
South Ozone Park. A week later, an offduty
NYPD officer was killed after he
was struck by a drag-racing driver. And
earlier this month, a man died after he
was thrown from his vehicle in a onecar
crash on Cross Island Parkway.
These aren’t accidents. They’re the
result of reckless behavior, and streets
that condone it. But we do so little to
prevent crashes. All too often, we don’t
see safety improvements on our streets
until after someone is killed in a crash.
If we’ve learned anything from this pandemic,
it’s that an ounce of prevention is
worth a pound — no, a ton — of cure.
Just as stay-at-home orders can save a
life, so too can safe street design.
Major crises have a way of bringing
out the best in people, and right now,
we’re seeing the general public mobilizing
for the greater good of public
health. During the last few months, we
have gradually changed our behavior to
help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
First we took up washing our hands for
at least 20 seconds. Then social distancing.
And today, practically everyone is
donning face coverings in public.
We’re also seeing some good ideas
coming from city government, most notably
the move to set aside space on our
streets for social distancing-friendly
walking, and perhaps one day soon, eating
and drinking. Most New Yorkers don’t
own cars, so it’s only fair to create these
spaces — safe social distancing shouldn’t
be a privilege reserved for those who can
afford to drive. And if we do this right,
these open streets could help tilt the balance
on our streets away from cars, and
toward people. The last thing we need
coming out of this pandemic is another
outbreak of traffic deaths.
As the city begins to recover from
the pandemic, we must come away from
this crisis with a new regard for human
life. If any good comes from this,
it should be that we take better care of
each other. The pandemic has shown
that our society is, for the most part,
willing to take responsibility for one
another through the adoption of some
simple behavior changes. Are we just
as willing to take responsibility for one
another on the road?
Constantinides represents District 22
in the New York City Council and lives
in Astoria. Huntington is a member of
Families for Safe Streets and also lives in
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An overhead view of Queens Boulevard.
Photo by Mark Hallum