Council Member Danny Dromm Wants A ‘Pedestrian-Friendly’ Northern Boulevard

The Jackson Heights council member envisions calming traffic with expanded pedestrian space and protected bike lanes.

Councill Member Danny Dromm at a community bike event this past weekend. Photo: Claudia Corcino/Twitter
Councill Member Danny Dromm at a community bike event this past weekend. Photo: Claudia Corcino/Twitter

Queens Council Member Danny Dromm is the latest local official to demand that DOT take aggressive action to slow down drivers on Northern Boulevard.

The street must be transformed into a “pedestrian-friendly community roadway,” the Jackson Heights pol told Streetsblog, with more space for pedestrians and possibly even a protected bike lane — just as the city has done on Queens Boulevard since 2015.

“We need to do something similar to what we did on Queens Boulevard, because since that bike lane and since those changes have been made, we haven’t had any fatalities,” Dromm said. “It’s no longer the ‘boulevard of death.’ Northern boulevard is now the ‘boulevard of death.’

“I would envision possibly having some type of island or a median installed on Northern Boulevard, particularly in my district, and/or protected bike lanes,” he added.

Since 2012, 13 pedestrians have been killed on Northern Boulevard, making it one of the most dangerous streets in the city. This year alone, drivers have killed four pedestrians on the western segment of Northern, between Queens Plaza and the Grand Central Parkway.

The recent carnage spurred calls for change from community advocates and elected officials. In response, DOT, which has been slowly installing new median pedestrian islands along the boulevard, promised to “[engage] with the local community on a vision for a comprehensive roadway redesign.”

DOT will do just that at community workshops this month, on Oct. 15 at Louis Armstrong Middle School and Oct. 22 at P.S. 151.

“I hope people will participate in these community forums, and together we can come up with solutions for this issue,” Dromm said. He noted that some thirty-odd years ago, the city got rid of parking on the corridor in order to allow cars to travel faster during rush hour. A parking-protected bike lane could help reverse that mistake.

“That actually encouraged speeding, which I think is a big part of the problem,” he said.

With his comments, Dromm joins Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer as the only two elected officials to express support for traffic-calming and protected bike lanes on the street. Soon-to-be State Senator Jessica Ramos has also endorsed the concept.

Other electeds who represent Northern Boulevard have kept mum, notably Council Member Francisco Moya. But Dromm’s desire to calm traffic and inclination towards protected bike lanes bodes well for any forthcoming fights over repurposing parking or travel lanes. In 2016, Dromm supported Mayor de Blasio’s push to redesign Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst despite opposition from the local community board.

This month’s Northern Boulevard workshops will both run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. More information is available here and here.

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