Hit-and-run on Queensbury sends pedestrian to hospital
By Heather Wright
On Feb. 16 at approximately 5:12 p.m., a black Nissan Maxima struck a 51-year-old woman in a crosswalk at Queensbury Road and 39th Place, according to city police. The driver fled the scene in his vehicle before officers arrived. The pedestrian went to the hospital.
In the week following the accident, about two dozen residents discussed the incident and pedestrian safety along Queensbury Road in the HOPE (Hyattsville Organization for a Positive Environment) email group. Ioana Gorecki, who noted that she lives on 42nd Avenue, off of Queensbury, wrote, “I can hardly keep track of the number of times I’ve almost gotten hit at the intersection between Queensbury and 42nd or Queensbury and 40th. A couple of times, I was even pushing my son in the stroller, and drivers seemed to have no issue rushing across the street right in front of me, in the crosswalk.”
Residents suggested speed bumps, rumble strips or white bollards to slow traffic. Some argued for removing double yellow lines and allowing more street parking. Others called for stop sign cameras or increased police patrols to enforce existing traffic laws.
Residents have been formally petitioning for speed bumps on the 3900 block of Oliver Street, which is around the block from where the hit-and-run incident took place, since October 2020. At a March 1 city hearing, about 10 residents spoke up in favor of adding speed bumps there.
On neighboring Queensbury, a major traffic artery that connects the fire station with north-south streets, mitigation strategies like speed bumps could increase response times for firetrucks and other first-response vehicles. Resident and HOPE member Nina Faye emailed, “We are definitely on the side of fast response times. If your house is on fire or you are having a heart attack, all else is nonsense.” However, another resident posted a link to a blog post by the urban planning nonprofit Strong Towns, with a photo of a crash and the caption “Our wide streets allow us to quickly respond to collisions caused by our wide streets.” The blog post cited studies indicating that there were significantly more traffic fatalities and injuries than fire-related fatalities and injuries.
Several councilmembers responded to the incident itself and to residents’ broader concerns. “This is frightening and terrible,” Bart Lawrence (Ward 1) wrote to the email group. “Sadly, people seem to be disregarding stop signs, speed limits, and other traffic laws all across the City (and I’m sure beyond).”
Councilmember Danny Schaible (Ward 2) cited a 2018 city transportation study recommending traffic-calming measures along Queensbury. “My opinion is that if you have a road that drivers generally feel comfortable speeding on, then they will speed,” he said. “The best way to get drivers to slow down to safe speeds is to design roads to that desired speed, rather than try to enforce a lower speed than what feels comfortable to the driver.”
On Feb. 22, city police officers arrested a 43-year-old Mount Rainier resident, charging him with assault and state traffic violations related to the incident, including failure to use headlights, according to a police press release and court records. As of press time, the pedestrian continues to recover from injuries sustained during the accident.