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The family of a Jamaica bicyclist killed earlier this year on Queens Boulevard joined City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) Sunday to urge Mayor Michael Bloomberg to construct a bike lane down the thoroughfare infamously dubbed the "Boulevard of Death."
"How many people have to pay the ultimate price for the government to move on what needs to be done?" Gennaro asked during a news conference at Queens Boulevard and 55th Road, where Asif Rahman was killed in February as he was pedaling on the road when a truck struck him and fell on his chest.
Gennaro, himself a bicyclist, said he is afraid to ride down Queens Boulevard "at busy times."
"This is not going to protect you by itself on Queens Boulevard," he said, clutching his helmet in his hand. "This is not going to win a fight with a truck."
Rahman's mother, Lizi Rahman, said installing a bike lane on the boulevard "might not bring my son back, but my son would have died for a good cause.
"I always worry about the bicyclists on this street," she said. "I'm really happy that finally people are listening to us."
She said her son used his bike as transportation to work and she was concerned about his safety, but he told her not to worry because "there are bike lanes all over the city."
Gennaro wrote a letter to Bloomberg Sunday asking that he consider the bike lane proposal.
"It is 2008. We can figure out a way to get this done," he said.
Queens Boulevard, the most dangerous thoroughfare in the borough, has been called the "Boulevard of Death" due to the many accidents that claim the lives of pedestrians. Bicycle activists say the street is just as dangerous for bikers.
Noah Budnick, deputy director of Transportation Alternatives, a nonprofit advocacy group for bicyclists, agreed.
"It should not take a single more death to turn Queens Boulevard a complete street," he said, referring to bike lanes.
Asif's sister, Moumita Rahman, said she felt the city contributed to her brother's death.
"I believe the city has committed an act of negligence... for promoting bike uses" but having no safeguards for bikers, she said.
Budnick said the proposal would still allow parking on the boulevard. Since the thoroughfare is 12 lanes wide in some stretches, he said "there's more than enough space."
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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