The Newtown Pentacle

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The boulevard of death.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Queens Boulevard has the single greatest appellation of any street in New York City – the “Boulevard of Death.” The thoroughfare has earned its nom de plume via the ridiculous number of people who have been smashed to death by automotive traffic along its length over the years, and as is the case with most things municipal, the elected guardians of the citizenry have enacted various programs and campaigns to safeguard against future tragedy. None of these well meaning efforts have been terribly successful.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The failure of “traffic slowing” or whatever they call it this week or year is generally not being caused by inherent flaws in municipal design or logic, instead, it boils down to the same thing that a corporate IT officer will blame 90% of their computer problems on – user error. As a dedicated pedestrian, I see this happening all the time, and I’m not really sure how much “cherishing of life” nor “sense of self preservation” is possessed by someone who tries to cross Queens Blvd. diagonally and from the middle of the block has, nor how you can codify or legislate that sort of stupidity away. In many ways, its Darwinism at work.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Remember “public service announcements”? PSA’s used to admonish against littering, or starting fires, and instructed on proper etiquette when onboard bus or subway. The PSA’s also used to inform newcomers on how to safely cross the streets and follow the rules. If you follow the street rules, odds are that you won’t end up as a greasy smear on the streets on Queens. Cross at corners, wait for the walk/don’t walk sign to flash white, look both ways before entering the vehicle lane. A humble narrator advises standing behind something like a street lamp when waiting to cross a high speed eight lane street, out of an abundance of informed caution.

This sort of conventional wisdom seems out of style at the moment, and Queens Blvd. remains the “boulevard of death.”

There are two public Newtown Creek walking tours coming up, one in LIC, Queens and one in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Glittering Realms, with Atlas Obscura, on Saturday May 17th.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

Modern Corridor, with Brooklyn Brainery, on Sunday May 18th.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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Written by Mitch Waxman

May 9, 2014 at 1:08 pm

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