Victims' families, officials call for improved pedestrian safety in Queens

ByAnthony Carlo, Eyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, November 28, 2023
Queens lawmakers push for new street safety plan
Officials say there have been over 900 crashes involving pedestrians or cyclists this year alone.

ASTORIA, Queens (WABC) -- There is a new push by lawmakers in the western parts of Queens to improve pedestrian safety.

Officials say there have been more than 900 crashes involving pedestrians or cyclists this year.

"My daughter Karina was killed 18 months ago and she was a wonderful person. She was an angel that walked the streets of Astoria," said Carmen Larino, one victim's mother.

The streets feel a lot colder to Carmen. She gripped a photo of her daughter Karina who was killed while crossing the street in Astoria last May.

Tuesday was another chance for her voice to be heard.

"On behalf of her I participate in all these events simply because I want things to change," Carmen said.

Street safety advocates and local elected officials gathered in the freezing cold for that change.

It was a cold night in February when 7-year-old Dolman Naadhun's life ended in Astoria.

"There's a lot that could have been preventable. In the case of Dolma who was 7 years old leaving the park, if we had daylighting the car that approached and ended up killing her could have stopped earlier and been able to see her cross the street," Assemblymember Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas said.

Daylighting involves removing parking spaces closest to intersections so drivers can see pedestrians better. Just one of the demands in the "Blueprint for Traffic Safety" in western Queens.

The borough has seen a 43% increase in traffic fatalities according to elected officials. In western Queens, which includes Astoria, there have been 924 crashes this year involving a cyclist or pedestrian, resulting in 13 deaths and 939 injuries.

Part of the push to reimagine traffic enforcement is calling for the expansion of speed cameras and the removal of police to reduce the chance of a traffic stop turning deadly.

"Traffic infractions that do not present immediate safety concerns should be enforced by cameras, traffic control officers, and by the Department of Transportation, that will undoubtedly make us safer and save lives," Tiffany Caban said.

For Carmen, street safety is something she taught her daughter, and won't rest until everyone learns that lesson.

"I used to sing her the song, you know, to cross always on the green. I know she was doing the right thing. She always did. And it's a shame she had to die there," she said.

The Department of Transportation released the following statement:

"We appreciate the elected officials' interest in traffic safety and their support of our efforts to redesign our streets and advocacy for more automated enforcement. NYC DOT has delivered many safety projects in western Queens in recent years-work that has helped drive pedestrian fatalities citywide to historic lows, even as they rise nationally-and the agency looks forward to reviewing the report."

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