A neighbor writes: There was a bad car accident yesterday morning [June 5] on 51st and Skillman outside La Marjolaine. An SUV taxi blew the stop sign coming down 51st and t-boned a big SUV coming down Skillman. The driver of the private car was taken to the hospital, but it didn’t seem life threatening. Of course, both vehicles nearly ended up on the curb.
This morning at about 9AM, two cars crashed at the corner of 51st and Skillman. One car went up on the sidewalk in front of the laundromat, but was stopped by the bollards protecting the fire hydrant.
I talked to the driver of the green car, and she said that she had been going north on 51st and looked for cars going west on Skillman before proceeding. She claimed that she didn’t see the grey car because it was speeding, but the fact that her passenger-side door window was covered with cardboard might have had something to do with that as well.
The front bumper came off her car; you can see it on the sidewalk in the picture above. Everyone involved was alert and walking around. The ambulance was ready to take some of them to the hospital, but I don’t know if anyone went.
We’re lucky that no one was badly hurt here. Clearly some people (I can’t tell which ones for sure) weren’t as careful as they should have been, but our street should be more tolerant of that kind of failure. That means not encouraging drivers to speed, which in turn means sidewalk extensions and possibly two-way traffic.
I was walking home and saw fire trucks and an ambulance on Skillman just east of 50th Street. I saw John Millus, who caught some photos of the scene:
He said that the green van appears to have tried to make a left turn from the right lane, and didn’t see the grey van in the left lane. It also hit the black Mustang that was parked at the corner. At least one person was taken away in an ambulance:
I took a couple of my own photos, including this close-up:
This is the same place where three cars have crashed into Aubergine Cafe, and there was another fender-bender a few months ago. Sidewalk extensions would help, and so would making Skillman two-way. Join our mailing list to be updated on our campaign.
In his petition, Al Volpe asks his neighbors to sign onto the assertion that “Skillman Avenue is a very safe street.” This is simply not true.
CrashStat is a website set up by Transportation Alternatives showing crashes around the city resulting in pedestrian or cyclist injury from 1995 to 2005, based on data compiled from police reports by the New York State Department of Transportation. It shows that there were six separate such crashes at the corner of 52nd and Skillman during this period: pedestrians were injured in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2005. These are in addition to the crash in May when a girl was injured, but not seriously.
Compare this, for example, to the stretch of 50th Avenue between 44th Street and 49th Street, where there were no injuries at all during this period. Now that’s what I call a very safe street!
In this week’s Woodside Herald there is a letter from our neighbor Al Volpe, who clearly believes that the current level of danger on Skillman Avenue is acceptable. Unfortunately, his letter contains several factual inaccuracies. To paraphrase the late Senator Moynihan, Al is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.
Al claims that “If there is a pedestrian accident, it is because of the pedestrian jaywalking.” This does not account for the pedestrians hit by cars when they were on the sidewalk.
Al claims that at the May meeting of Community Board 2, he suggested retiming the signals on Skillman Avenue, and that “Al Volpe and the DOT ‘calmed’ Skillman and 43rd in one week!” The signal retiming was suggested by Transportation Alternatives in November, the suggestion was conveyed to the DOT in January, and the signals were retimed at the end of March.
Al claims that “Transportation Alternatives insists that at least 1 parking space per corner at each intersection should be removed – ‘daylighted’. They could remove 8 parking spots per intersection. Eight!” The daylighting suggestion is to remove between one and three parking spaces at each problematic corner. Since these are one-way streets, this means at most one corner per intersection. It only applies to intersections without traffic signals, of which there are a total of seven on the entire 33-block length of Skillman Avenue from Hunterspoint to Roosevelt (four in Woodside and three in the industrial area of Sunnyside). That means giving up a maximum of twenty-one spaces, but more likely only fourteen.
Al claims that “If Transportation Alternatives’ plans were fully implemented – widened sidewalks, protected bike lanes, angle parking – Skillman Avenue will end up as a 1-lane street.” These suggestions are alternatives, not meant to be implemented together.
Al claims that “Transportation Alternatives reports that in the seven-year period, 1995- 2001, there were, horrors!, 11 pedestrian accidents on Skillman Avenue.” The figure of eleven crashes that resulted in pedestrian injuries is only for the two block stretch between 50th and 52nd Streets; along the 33-block length of Skillman there were 32 pedestrians and 11 cyclists injured during that period. This figure does not include injuries to motor vehicle operators or passengers, or crashes that only resulted in property damage.
The rest of Al’s letter engages in various logical fallacies, but it is the factual inaccuracies that concern me the most. I have tried several times to correct Al in person, but he just repeats his version. It disappoints me that someone who has been a community leader for so long would be so disinclined to listen to his neighbors.
If you hear anyone repeating these erroneous statements, please make sure they know the truth.
Queens Boulevard is one of several similarly designed, multi-lane, multi-medianed thoroughfares strewn about the 5 boroughs of NYC. It was first widened in the 1920’s, when it was renamed from Hoffman Road and modeled on the Grand Concourse of the Bronx, which itself was an Americanized attempt to echo the great promenades and boulevards of France. Other cousins of this expansive roadway include Brooklyn’s Linden Blvd, Kings Highway, Eastern and Ocean Parkways, the Richmond Hill section of Woodhaven Boulevard, a short section of Little Neck Pkwy, the pre expressway Bruckner Boulevard in the Bronx and pre expressway Horace Harding Boulevard that ran from Queens Boulevard out to the Nassau County line.
Sadly, both the witness who called 911 after the crash and an obnoxious commenter on the Daily News site both think that there’s nothing that can be done to make the Boulevard safer. I hope they’re wrong. I don’t want to lose any friends or neighbors to it.
Thanks to Streetsblog for bringing the story to my attention.
Neighbor Catherine Leopando posted this report on the Sunnyside Yahoo Group:
We were out for a walk a bit ago and there had just been an accident
at the intersection of 43rd & Skillman. A biker had been hit by a car
– it must have just happened when we got there – he was lying on the
ground, unable to move other than just move his head a bit.
Fortunately the driver stayed, and the police arrived when we were
leaving. I’m not sure of the condition of the biker (definitely some
major injuries), but even if he will be fine I think this is good time
to point out an issue discussed here a while ago. There are always
drivers going way too fast on Skillman, and a suggestion to prevent
that is making Skillman and 43rd ave two-way streets. It seems like
everytime I cross Skillman I see people treating it like an
expressway. Of course, I didn’t see the accident so I can’t tell you
how fast he was driving — but clearly two-way streets are less
conducive to these types of accidents.
I’m glad that she agrees about two-way streets, but I’m very concerned about this cyclist. If anyone has any more details, please let us know.
This morning the DOT striped the new bike lanes. I hope that they weren’t a factor in this crash. If they were, I hope we can change the lanes to be physically separated like the Ninth Avenue lanes.
Since my wife saw a girl get knocked down by a slow-moving SUV at the corner of 52nd Street and Skillman Avenue on Tuesday, I’ve made it a priority to improve that particular intersection.
First, an update: I talked to the girl’s father today, and he said that she was feeling much better, and able to walk okay. It sounds like she’s just bruised. That’s a relief.
Fortunately, that evening was the Community Board meeting. I rushed over there, only to discover that they weren’t going to be talking about Skillman Avenue that night after all. However, I did have a nice chat with Commissioner McCarthy for a few minutes after the meeting. I told her about the collision, and asked about the possibility of daylighting-related improvements in the area. I don’t remember her exact answer, but I think she said it was likely.
The other improvement that would really help make that intersection safer is sidewalk extensions. I asked the Commissioner about those, and she said that they would probably be not be done for a while. She confirmed that this was for budgetary reasons. I asked if they could be funded with member items, and she said, “We’ll take anybody’s money!” So we should work on finding funding for more expensive items like sidewalk extensions.
Today I was talking with a neighbor who lives on 52nd Street, and she told me that on Wednesday she went home for lunch and they were installing a new school crossing sign just before the stop sign. I tried to take a picture of it, but my camera phone wanted to focus on the Honda in front of it:
It might be a coincidence (apparently the DOT has been installing them in other places), but it might not. It won’t solve the problem by itself, but every little bit helps. Thanks, Commissioner!