This morning my wife called to tell me that she had seen a crash at the corner of 52nd Street and Skillman Avenue. She was walking our son to school, and she saw a girl, about six or seven years old get knocked down by an SUV. The SUV was going south on 52nd Street and did not stop at the stop sign. The girl got up immediately. The driver of the SUV got out and asked the girl if she was okay, and the girl said yes, and the driver got back in and drove away.
The girl was not okay, however. Almost immediately after the driver left, she complained about pain. A man had gotten the license number of the SUV and gave it to the girl’s mother, and my wife left our phone number and went to work.
A few minutes later I got a call from the girl’s father. He didn’t speak much English, and didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know that the 911 service has operators who speak almost every language. I went downstairs and helped them call 911. The girl’s foot was swollen, and she couldn’t walk on it. Within a few minutes the fire department came, and then an ambulance, and then the police. Officers Morse and Crooks of the 108th Precinct filed an accident report, and the ambulance took the family to Elmhurst Hospital. If anyone has more information about the collision, please call 311.
My wife has been saying for a long time that this is one of the most dangerous of the dangerous conditions on Skillman Avenue. As you can see from the photos I took in February, drivers have difficulty seeing traffic coming down Skillman, so they pull out into the crosswalk without always looking for pedestrians. In addition, the width of the street and the lack of parking on the west side of the intersection encourage drivers to roll through the stop sign without stopping.
The solution to the lack of visibility is to remove parking spaces. I know that it’s difficult to find a parking space in the area, but I don’t believe that a few parking spaces are worth putting children in danger. None of the drivers I’ve talked to about this do, either.
Removing those parking spaces will make it easier for drivers to stop at the stop sign, but some will still be tempted to roll through. To discourage that and to shorten the walking distance, the sidewalk should be extended on both sides, leaving just enough room for vehicles to get through.
Tonight I will be attending the DOT’s presentation to Community Board 2 about safety improvements on Skillman. I will ask that the plans include removing these parking spaces and adding sidewalk extensions at this intersection. I hope to see you all there.