Tonight I had some tea at Aubergine and was served by Maya, the sister of Ongma, who was hit by a taxi at the bus stop on the corner of 52nd Street and Queens Boulevard. She says that Ongma is recovering and able to walk a little, though with difficulty.
John Millus posted more details and some photos on the bulletin board at Aubergine, over on Queens Crap. It turns out that the taxi had been heading west on Queens Boulevard, made an illegal U-turn, lost control and flew into Ongma and the bus shelter.
Here’s an aerial photo from Live Search, showing the intersection as it was before the 2004 safety improvements. As far as I can tell, though, the safety improvements did not address the main issue with this intersection, which is that it’s way too wide (east-west). At most, it needs to be wide enough for a car going south on 52nd Street and a car going north out of the cemetary to comfortably pass each other.
Take a look at the black van going down 52nd Street. By the time you get to the furthest traffic lane, the intersection is easily 20 times the width of the van. No wonder crazy cab drivers think nothing of making high-speed U-turns there.
Now look at the south side of the boulevard. The sidewalk doesn’t match up with the cemetary gates. Imagine that you fixed that. Then imagine extending the median dividers to match up with the sidewalk, so that the gap between them is never more than 20 feet wide. Plenty of space for a car from 52nd Street and a car from the cemetary to pass each other at legal speeds. Finally, imagine a driver trying to take a U-turn at high speeds with that configuration; they’d wipe out long before they got across the road, probably at the first median divider. With any luck, that would have a concrete barrier protecting pedestrians. More likely, they’d have clear visual signals that would tell them it’s unsafe to turn at that speed, and not do it.
Here’s where I make the connection to 43rd Avenue, and then to Skillman. The whole reason that the intersection has that funny trapezoid shape is to make it easier for eastbound cars from 43rd Avenue to turn onto Queens Boulevard. Reduce the number of those cars, and you reduce the pressure to make that intersection so dangerous.