Tomorrow: TA Rides for James Langergaard on Queens Boulevard

James_Queens_blvd_1.jpgSite of James Langergaard’s fatal August 14 crash

This past August, a young cyclist and a beloved Transportation Alternatives volunteer, James Langergaard, was struck and killed by a car at Queens Boulevard and 69th Street.

Tomorrow, TA will be holding a special Queens Boulevard Bike Pool ride in honor of James. The ride will pause at the site of James’ crash to dedicate his ghost bike. The ride meets at the Queens foot of the Queensboro Bridge bike-pedestrian path (Queens Plaza North at Crescent Street in Long Island City), and ends in Forest Hills. Riders depart at 6:30 p.m.

I recently helped install James’ ghost bike and saw for myself the intersection where my friend perished. Queens Boulevard is notoriously dangerous to cross, but this is a particularly forbidding stretch for anyone not encased in steel and glass.

James was riding south on 69th Street and had begun the perilous traverse of a 10-lane highway. After crossing three lanes of the "access" road, he came to the four-lane "express" portion of the Boulevard. Vehicles traveling down this corridor are given copious visual cues that they are on the urban equivalent of a limited-access freeway. They hurtle along a concrete, fenced-in channel that could be transplanted to any suburban no-man’s land without alteration. The only things out of place would be a crosswalk and a 30-mph speed limit sign, which may be the highway department’s idea of a joke given the inducements to exceed it.

As he approached the express lanes, James’ view of traffic coming towards him from the left would have been partially obscured by a fence and signs placed in the median. He wouldn’t have gotten a clear view of approaching traffic until he was only a few yards from the intersection. All he had to remind him that he was about to enter a zone of mortal danger was a distant "Don’t Walk" signal at the other end of the intersection. That and a thoughtful sign placed on the median to his left warning any pedestrian foolish enough to venture across this deadly expanse to "Be Alert: Proceed With Caution."

According to witnesses, James was crossing against the light. But capital punishment should not be the likely penalty for an error in judgment. James was arguably as much the victim of an infrastructure designed exclusively for the convenience of motorists. All others who stray into the area are an afterthought, at best.

By coming on the ride or attending the dedication, you can help send a strong message to the community and the city that these casualties of the Boulevard will not be forgotten, and that such inhuman landscapes in the middle of a congested city must not be tolerated and must change.

WHERE: Ride meets at the Queens foot of the Queensboro Bridge 
bike-pedestrian path (Queens Plaza North at Crescent Street in Long
Island City); Ride ends in Forest Hills

WHEN: Friday, October 2; Riders depart at 6:30 p.m.

Monthly bike commuter pools on Queens Boulevard are led by TA’s
Queens Committee to provide cyclists with a safe ride home, and build
support for protected space for cyclists on the borough’s most iconic
roadway.

  • NattyB

    So you guys are gonna ride from Queens Plaza to Forest Hills on Queens Blvd?

    Are you guys gonna take the access route or the express lanes?

    My heart goes out to James and his family, but I’ll be honest, I’m scared to death to take my bike anywhere near Queens blvd, unless we have like a Critical Mass sized mob.

    Nevertheless, if I can get out of work on time, I’m gonna try to show my support. We can’t let James become another victim to an unnecessarily automobile-centric society.

    Just imagine, if they eliminated say, just 2 of the 8-10 lanes on queens blvd, and created a dedicated, protected bike lane. Could you imagine how many more people would commute to midtown over the 59th st bridge.

    Have people thought of maybe establishing a memorial fund, or some sort of entity, dedicated to transforming Queens and/or Queens blvd to become more bike friendly? I assume TA does that already, but, damnit, we can’t let another biker go down without something to show for it.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

In Memoriam: James Langergaard

|
James at the inaugural Tour de Brooklyn in 2005. On Friday evening, August 14, James Langergaard was killed by a car as he crossed Queens Boulevard at 69th Street. According to his family, witnesses told police that James ran a red light on his bike and died instantly. James was 38. His death is a […]

Streetfilms: Queens Boulevard Bike Pool

|
On the second Friday of the month, the Transportation Alternatives Queens Committee leads a bike pool along Queens Boulevard. This street is a critical yet dangerous part of many Queens bike commutes. By riding in a group each month, pool members aim to educate drivers that bikes are on the street, make a statement about […]

This Week in Livable Streets Events

|
As Summer Streets month continues, this week’s Streetsblog Calendar also includes an event memorializing city workers who have lost their lives while on the job, and an opportunity to help bring safer streets to Queens. Monday: Transportation Alternatives Queens Committee Meeting. Come join the TA Queens Committee and connect with like-minded neighbors as they tackle […]

Ride for a Safer Queens Boulevard Tonight

|
In July, bicycle advocates and family members of Asif Rahman, who was killed while biking on Queens Boulevard earlier this year, called on the city to transform the "Boulevard of Death" into a street that safely serves all users. The effort to make Queens Boulevard a complete street continues tonight at 6:30 p.m., when Transportation […]