It’s an issue as old as this city. But that doesn’t mean we have to live with it.
One of South Queens’ most persistent—and perpetually dangerous—problems is punctuated by hazard lights.
At all hours of the day and night along a stretch of the eastbound Nassau Expressway between Howard Beach and John F. Kennedy International Airport you’ll find a visual symphony of blinking amber courtesy of dozens of private cars and for-hire autos idling roadside. For decades, impatient drivers have been abruptly pulling out of makeshift parking spots and into traffic, endangering motorists traveling along the expressway, which serves as a major thoroughfare for drivers merging from the Belt Parkway on to the Van Wyck.
And according to the authorities, which should be applauded for their consistent efforts, there’s no end in sight.
“Another thorn in my side,” an exasperated Deputy Inspector Brian Bohannon, commanding officer of the 106th Precinct, said last year.
“It is a constant nuisance and we continue to issue summonses there,” Capt. Mike Edmonds, executive officer of the precinct, told The Forum last summer. “We conduct initiatives each month; my whole traffic team is at the location for the whole day. [The City Department of Transportation] has signs posted stating ‘No Stopping,’ and people still disregard.”
Indeed, in the first five months of 2018, 106th Precinct officers handed out more than 150 summonses to drivers parked and waiting on the side of the expressway.
Still, it doesn’t seem to be enough. For all the cops’ efforts, nothing seems to deter the practice.
“Any suggestions would be appreciated,” Edmonds added, “but I don’t see a quick resolution other than constant monitoring and summonses.”
Back in 2016, then-Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder urged the city Taxi and Limousine Commission to ramp up efforts to combat the longstanding, terrifying tradition. In a letter to then-TLC Chairwoman Meera Joshi, Goldfeder requested increased enforcement of stopping and standing by TLC-licensed vehicles on this segment of the expressway.
Goldfeder noted in the missive that the practice has been the subject of multiple enforcement efforts by the 106th Precinct and Highway Patrol in recent years, but that it continues unabated.
“The Nassau Expressway is one of the busiest roadways in our community,” Goldfeder wrote. “Drivers should not have to contend with parked cars pulling into 50-mile-an-hour oncoming traffic. I urge the TLC to take the necessary steps to put an end to this dangerous practice before someone gets seriously injured.”
Many anxious residents over the years have brought their concerns regarding the issue to the community board and area civic groups.
“Members of our civic often complain of drivers zooming out into traffic when they get the call from a fare,” said Howard Beach Lindenwood Civic Association Vice President Barbara McNamara.
We pledge to stay on top of this issue. You should, too. We’ve been saying it for years: Get involved. Attend community meetings. Alert the authorities. Write your elected representatives.
Tell all of this persistent, idle threat.


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