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Eyes on the Street

Car Dealers Turn Northern Boulevard’s Sidewalks Into Vehicle Showrooms

Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.
Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.
Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

As a matter of practice, car dealerships along Northern Boulevard, one of the most dangerous streets in Queens, illegally use its sidewalks and curb lanes as a showroom for vehicles. NYPD doesn't enforce against the appropriation of sidewalks and won't answer questions about it.

Streetfilms' Clarence Eckerson recently walked down Northern Boulevard in Jackson Heights and found cars for sale blocking the pedestrian right of way, including the very crosswalk where a turning truck driver killed 8-year-old Noshat Nahian in 2013.

Nahian was walking to PS 152, the school where, later on, Mayor Bill de Blasio chose to first announce his Vision Zero initiative and signed a package of street safety legislation. While the city installed pedestrian islands and banned turns after Nahian was killed, it hasn't managed to keep the sidewalks and crosswalks clear of cars for sale.

The crosswalk where 8-year-old Noshat Nahian was killed is blocked by a car dealership using it as a display space for its latest models. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.
A car dealership displays one of its latest models in the crosswalk where 8-year-old Noshat Nahian was killed. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.
The crosswalk where 8-year-old Noshat Nahian was killed is blocked by a car dealership using it as a display space for its latest models. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

The issue is common all over the city, but has long been a particular problem on Northern Boulevard, drawing the attention of local advocacy group Make Queens Safer.

"Nothing can flare a temper as quickly as having to walk around parked cars on the sidewalks," said Cristina Furlong, a founding member of Make Queens Safer. "To me, it says that I’m low priority, residents are low priority -- but worse than that, that these dealerships are above the law, and act so blatantly because they know they are untouchable by law enforcement."

Muni meter? Sidewalk? Nothing can stop this Northern Boulevard car dealership from displaying its wares. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.
Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.
Muni meter? Sidewalk? Nothing can stop this Northern Boulevard car dealership from displaying its wares. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

East of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway in Jackson Heights, the 115th Precinct covers Northern Boulevard. West of the BQE, the 114th Precinct covers the north side of the street and the 108th covers the south side. Towing illegally parked cars isn't unprecedented: Last month, the 104th Precinct began towing illegally parked vehicles on sidewalks outside an auto body shop on Flushing Avenue.

DOT referred all questions about the issue to NYPD, which has not replied to inquiries about Northern Boulevard. In the meantime, car dealers on Northern Boulevard continue to be above the law.

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