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Bicycle Infrastructure

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.

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