A cyclist was killed by a motorist in Howard Beach this week, on a street where residents say drivers routinely ignore stop signs. The crash occurred in the City Council district represented by Eric Ulrich, who has not responded to inquiries concerning street safety in the district.
Gary Zammett Sr. was out to buy cheesecake for his wife when he was hit by the unnamed driver of an SUV at 84th Street and 160th Avenue at around 6:40 p.m. Wednesday, according to reports in the Queens Chronicle and the Forum. A family member said he suffered extensive injuries to his face and limbs. Zammett, thought to be in his 50s or 60s, died at Jamaica Hospital about 90 minutes after the crash.
Reports don’t provide details of the crash itself, but locals say motorists regularly break the law on 84th Street. From the Chronicle:
Eighty-fourth Street is a major thoroughfare in the Rockwood Park section of Howard Beach. It is the only two-way route in that section of the neighborhood besides Cross Bay Boulevard and connects the community with Lindenwood on the other side of the Belt Parkway.
“That intersection was a ticking time bomb that exploded,” said a resident who lives a block away, who identified himself only as Gary. “We need more lights on 84th Street.”
The intersection has a four-way stop — as do most of the others along 84th Street — but Gary and other residents say drivers often run the signs. Jones said she and her family witnessed cars jumping the stop sign at the scene when they visited after the accident.
“We saw cars physically run straight through the stop sign,” she said.
Immediately after the incident, police officers pulled over drivers near the intersection who ran through stop signs or were not wearing their seatbelts.
The driver who killed Zammett was not charged.
Reports say Zammett’s family members and Community Board 10 want a stop light at 84th Street and 160th Avenue. Since motorists are ignoring existing stop signs, it seems consistent enforcement is also needed. The 106th Precinct, where the crash occurred, issued 1,036 citations for red-light running in 2012, and 746 tickets for disobeying street signs.
There were seven pedestrian and cyclist injuries, and one pedestrian fatality, along a nine-block stretch of 84th Street south of the Belt Parkway between 1995 and 2008, according to Transportation Alternatives’ CrashStat. No crashes were reported during that time frame at the intersection where Zammett was killed.
Zammett is one of at least three cyclists and pedestrians killed in Ulrich’s district this year, and at least the seventh fatality in the last 15 months. Ulrich is a vocal critic of automated enforcement, and has a history of ridiculing DOT traffic-calming efforts. He didn’t respond when in July we twice asked him what measures he has taken to improve traffic enforcement and traffic calming in his district.
We emailed Ulrich this morning to ask if he was aware of conditions on 84th Street, if he’s spoken with locals about their concerns, or if he has reached out to NYPD or DOT to improve safety there. We’ll let you know if we hear back.
To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety to Deputy Inspector Thomas M. Pascale, the commanding officer of the 106th Precinct, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 106th Precinct council meetings happen on the second Wednesday of the month at 8:00 p.m. at the precinct, 103-53 101st Street. Call 718-845-2228 for information.