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Countdown Clock Madness

October 28, 2010 Leave a comment

I don’t know about those new countdown clocks the DOT has put at the corner of Queens Blvd. and 71st/Continental. It sounded like a good idea and it just might save lives. But there’s something about the way they are designed that really bothers me. I think it is the fact that the countdown almost immediately turns a menacing orangish-red making the Queens Blvd. crossing, for this pedestrian anyway, even more unpleasant than it used to be!

I mean, crossing Queens Blvd. used to just be about looking every which way so you didn’t get clipped by all those crazy drivers as they sped through the intersection ignoring your legal right of way to walk across. Now, it is not only about that, but it is also about trying to BEAT THE THREATENING COUNTDOWN CLOCK!!!

Blvd. of Death, Meet Clock of Death!

Once again, it seems in this automobile-dominated culture, we car-less cannot seem to catch a break. These new clocks are basically broadcasting in bright red numbers: “Hey! You Pedestrians! You Are the Problem! You Are Walking Too Slow! You Are Not Paying Attention When You Cross!! STAY ALERT AND HURRY THE HELL UP!”

All well and good, except it is not the pedestrians who are killing the drivers.

My suggestion – change the clocks so they are a soothing aqua-green as they countdown, subliminally affirming our right as pedestrians to walk across our city’s streets, and lengthen the time we have to cross while you’re at it. What’s the use of giving us a countdown to get across if you still have to be this guy to make it in time?

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Father, Daughter Hit on 108th St.

September 30, 2010 4 comments
Pedestrian crossing sign on Queens Boulevard i...

Image via Wikipedia

One of Edge of the City’s readers has contacted me about what she describes as “an horrific accident” that occurred last night at 108th and 66th Streets, across from Temple Beth Gavriel. This person says a father and his daughter were both hit by a car there while trying to cross. She says both were injured, but the last she heard they had survived.

“108th is notorious for speeders – something needs to be done or somebody will be killed for certain,” the reader told me. “What can we do, Drake?  We need to formulate a letter of sorts (to whom, I’m unsure) suggesting perhaps that the lights be timed so that it stops speeding?  That’s one idea I had.  Perhaps a camera to take photos of the speeders?”

As readers of this blog know, I have long been pushing for more time to get across Queens Blvd. (I honestly don’t know how the elderly can make it across as it is set up now, with just about 40 seconds to cross.) Now I’m hearing about these types of tragedies occurring on other streets in our neighborhood.

It’s so tragic because it really is so easily preventable if only the powers that be stopped favoring motorists over pedestrians. After all, a ton of us here in the City don’t even own a car and our feet are what we use to get around.


Lunchtime in the Hills

September 23, 2010 7 comments

Just some stuff I noticed today during a nice walk around Forest Hills on this delightful Indian-Summerish day:

The empty space on 71st Continental, near Queens Blvd., is being filled by another optical store.

Some before and after tornado shots of the Queens County Savings Bank on Queens Blvd.

The Queens County Savings Bank on Queens Blvd. right after the tornado...

... and the Queens County Savings Bank today.

And the Jewish harvest holiday of Sukkot has busted out all over town!

Oh, and one other thing…. what is with the Fay Da Bakery, over near the T-Bone Diner? I walked in there and it was P- A – C – K – E – D !!!!! Is the place that good? Just what have I been missing all these years?

Going to the Dogs

September 12, 2010 Leave a comment


Is it just me, or are a lot of new pet grooming stores opening in Forest Hills all of a sudden? Anyway, here’s the latest one I spotted – My Dazzling Doggies. It’s opening on the north side of Queens Blvd., between Ascan and 75th Ave., if I recall – I forget the exact block. If anyone knows, please share it below.

In any case, it’s good to see this rather dilapidated portion of Queens Blvd. suddenly pepping up a bit, between the new Subway store opening in the same vicinity and now this new dog grooming place.

Queens Blvd. Countdown Clocks Arrive

September 9, 2010 Leave a comment

This new countdown clock is at the corner of Queens Blvd & 71st Ave.  Hopefully, they have also lengthened the time to actually walk across or, unfortunately, it won’t really help solve the problem. But more importantly, I still maintain that this is an example of going after the wrong part of the problem. The City needs to somehow either physically slow down cars making turns at these pedestrian intersections — speed bumps, rumble strips, anything? — or better enforce the many overly aggressive motorists at these intersections who regularly ignore the pedestrians’ right of way.

Queens Blvd. Construction Update

August 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Remember that mysterious construction going on in the center medians of Queens Blvd.? Well, the explanation has been revealed in an article in the Queens Tribune, and it is kind of scary. Think of what could have happened if Stephen Melnick, president of the Queens Boulevard Restoration Group, hadn’t called everyone’s attention to what he noticed. Here is the article: Queens Blvd. Medians in Disrepair

What Makes Us Unique

August 24, 2010 4 comments

I recently ran across this very interesting article in New York magazine which revealed how the City has been changing over the past couple of decades. We all probably know it already, but it was still interesting to sift through the data in the article about the changing demographics.

Basically, it says that the “white flight” of the 70’s and 80’s, which saw the city’s white population flee the city to the suburbs, has begun to reverse itself. For the first time since those years, whites comprise the majority of the population of Manhattan.

As a child of the suburbs, who moved to Manhattan in my early 20’s, and then out to Brooklyn, and then Queens, my reaction to this is “What took them so long to figure out that the City is a better place to live than the suburbs?” The suburbia where I grew up was a cultural wasteland. The city was just a short LIRR ride away, but it might as well have been a world away. There was so much more to see and do, and so much more energy. The City was alive.  The suburbs, where I grew up anyway, were pretty dead.

What does Manhattan’s changing demographics mean for Forest Hills and our part of Queens? Well, it’s already happening — with Manhattan and other areas of the City already gentrified, more and more people priced out of these areas are looking for the few affordable areas left, and Forest Hills is one of them.

But while Manhattan is now becoming increasingly homogeneous — it’s amazing to think that is possible, but it is — we here in Forest Hills and the rest of Queens have a great, special advantage: our diversity.

As many have been forced out of the Manhattan market because of the high rents, we have begun to benefit. It’s no coincidence that Forest Hills has suddenly begun to see some great new restaurants and shops open in the past couple of years, and with the current trends this will only continue, and yes, I think so even despite the economy. New York City is a unique place and its resurgence continues unabated. Forest Hills is feeling the effects of that.

We are also lucky in another way — there are entire swaths of the area that await redevelopment, or at least improvement. Both sides of Queens Blvd. east towards Kew Gardens is one example. It’s not surprising that one of the best new restaurants to open in the past couple of years, Tuscan Hills, chose a location there to do so. I don’t know for sure, but I would guess the proprietors got a pretty sweet deal. And other fine restaurants have begun to open near it.

As Forest Hills, like Manhattan, continues to change, I only hope we are able to harness the one thing that really makes us special — our diversity. If Manhattan’s fate is to be an urbanized, upper class Disney World, then hopefully we can corner the market on what makes New York City really special: its amazing mix of cultures.

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