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Queens Blvd. at Union Tpke
Eastbound Side - Kew Gardens
Photo Gallery: Queens Blvd

Death Blvd
A pedestrian was killed crossing hereTwo views above of traffic heading for Union Turnpike eastbound. The top from Queens Boulevard Westbound, 80th Road and Kew Gardens Road; the second shot from the boulevard eastbound. Since boulevard and turnpike are on a slant here, consider the boulevard southeastbound and the turnpike more or less northeastbound. The turnpike acts as De Facto border between Kew Gardens, where we stand, and Forest Hills, where that hideously ugly sand colored building sits in the center of photo #2.
Adding to the perils of crossing anything over here is the endless assortment of angles from which and to which vehicles going one way end up on another. A lot of angling is needed as well to get into the right lanes before you are forced to go where you don't want to. That's all well and good on a limited access highway. It doesn't do much for pedestrian safety when it occurs in a situation like this. Added to the complexity is that many commuters emerging from the subway have to run across at least one of these crossings to make connections with busses that they cannot trust to wait until they dash the block and a half to reach them.
 Just east of the last Union related crossing on the boulevard's north side. The action to the south, however, is far from over, since 80th Road traffic is flowing into both the boulevard and Union here. Those on 80th Road headed for Union follow the path shown in photo #1.

Many of those emerging from the subway half a block and one crossing behind us see that Q46 bus sitting on the following block, just past the flag. They've yet to cross the eastbound and westbound lanes of Union, plus 78th Crescent. Thankfully at this moment, the bus is still near the back end of the block, where it usually lets off its last westbound load, but if it were already further up the block, where it takes on its eastbound riders, just about everyone coming from the subway would be making a mad dash across all four closely bunched together crossings, in order to make that bus before it departed, regardless of whether they have the light. It is simple human nature. Yes, there is also a subway exit hard by the busstop, but it is closed during off hours and most riders would likely come out the main exits by 80th Road. Such commuters also have the choice of trying to outguess and outrun the bus by dashing down eastbound Union Turnpike to the next busstop a block and a half away, but that also becomes a horserace, and most leave that contigency for when they see the bus is already in motion. Though the run in that direction is undoubtably safer, at night that stop appears desolate, whereas the boulevard stop is well lit and served by an all night donut shop. All in all, the greater attraction is almost always going to be the stop four dangerous crossings away. As for those who may have been behind me at the moment this was shot, the passing ambulance might have served to dissuade any jaywalking.

©2001, Jeff Saltzman. All right reserved.