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First Death on Queens Boulevard Since 2015 Vision Zero Fix

File photo: Gersh Kuntzman

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A pedestrian was run down and killed by an SUV driver on Queens Boulevard on Monday — the first traffic fatality on the former "Boulevard of Death" since the de Blasio administration transformed the roadway with a complete redesign in 2016.

The NYPD said the 38-year-old driver slammed into 73-year-old Yimei Gao as she tried to cross Queens Boulevard at 56th Avenue in Elmhurst against the light at around 6:22 a.m. on Monday.

She died at the scene. The driver remained and was not charged.

It is unclear how fast the driver was moving. The NYPD said Gao was crossing Queens Boulevard from north to south.

The location has been previously identified as a spot with insufficient crossing time for pedestrians (red circle below).

Pedestrians have complained of short crossing times. Photo: DOT
Pedestrians have complained of short crossing times. Photo: DOT
Pedestrians have complained of short crossing times. Photo: DOT

Improvements to Queens Boulevard began in 2015 in a segment to the west of Monday's crash. In the two years since the safety improvements were completed on that stretch of Queens Boulevard, 11 pedestrians and six cyclists were injured before Monday. In the two years before those safety improvements went in, 18 pedestrians were injured, with one pedestrian killed, and six cyclists were injured, despite far lower numbers of riders.

Further improvements would require a major capital investment, DOT has said.

"It’s not safe for pedestrians as it is," said Cristina Furlong of Make Queens Safer. "The improvements are not enough without the capital funding and implementation."

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