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Motorists Have Killed at Least Three People Walking on Northern Boulevard in 2018

Westbound Northern Boulevard at 101st Street. Image: Google Maps

For the second time in three weeks, a driver has killed someone walking on Northern Boulevard in Queens.

A 24-year-old woman driving a Honda sedan struck and killed Carlos Gavilanes, 47, as he crossed Northern between 100th Street and 101st Street at around 12:37 a.m. today, according to NYPD.

Police said the victim was crossing the street south to north and the driver was westbound on Northern in the left lane. The NYPD public information office did not know who had the right of way, and had no more details on how the crash occurred, such as the driver's speed or whether investigators looked for evidence of motorist distraction.

Gavilanes was pronounced dead at Elmhurst Hospital. The driver, whose name was not released, was not charged or ticketed. NYPD said the investigation remains open.

Northern Boulevard is one of the most dangerous streets for walking in Queens. Between 2009 and 2013, motorists killed five pedestrians and severely injured 39 others along the 4.3 miles from Queens Plaza to 114th Street, according to DOT’s 2015 Queens pedestrian safety plan.

Including Gavilanes, motorists have killed at least three people walking on that segment of Northern in 2018, according to crash data tracked by Streetsblog. When a hit-and-run driver killed 9-year-old Giovanni Ampuero at Northern and 70th Street on April 28, local residents and elected officials called on DOT to install traffic-calming measures on the street.

DOT knows how dangerous Northern Boulevard is, but recent improvements in central Queens have mainly consisted of pedestrian islands and retimed signals, not a more substantial overhaul that repurposes car lanes.

Since 2012, at least four children have died in traffic on Northern Boulevard. After Giovanni Ampuero's death, DOT retimed the signal at the intersection where he was struck, but hasn't committed to physical changes to the streetscape that would protect people from reckless drivers. DOT will have to act with more urgency to prevent further loss of life.

Carlos Gavilanes was killed in the 115th Precinct, and in the City Council district represented by safe streets opponent Francisco Moya.

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