For years, Queens Boulevard was known as the “Boulevard of Death” after nearly 200 people were killed on the busy street over the course of 30 years. However, the major Queens thoroughfare has now gone three years without a pedestrian death following a slew of safety improvements in recent years.
“The Boulevard of Death has become the Boulevard of Life,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told The New York Times. “We’ve turned the corner.”
As part of de Blasio’s Vision Zero campaign to end traffic deaths and injuries, Queens Boulevard underwent a redesign that included the addition of cameras, protected bike lanes and wider crosswalks and medians as well as lower speed limits and longer walk signal times to give pedestrians a full 60 seconds to cross instead of the previous 32 to 50 seconds.
Two car lanes were also removed from Queens Boulevard during the $4 million Vision Zero work, leaving three lanes of traffic in each direction, two bus lanes and two parking lanes.
The city is expected to begin a $255 million project to add wide medians with benches, trees and a continuous bike and walking path on Queens Boulevard in 2019.
The safety measures on Queens Boulevard came after 186 people died along the seven-mile-long street since 1990, including 138 pedestrians. In 1997 alone, 18 pedestrians were killed along the street.
While traffic crashes across the city declined last year, pedestrians were the largest number of fatalities, rising to 148 from 139 in 2015, the Times reported.
As of Nov. 21, there have been 198 overall traffic fatalities this year, 11 fewer than in 2016. Ninety-two fatalities were pedestrians, while 19 were cyclists.