Yesterday Flushing resident Michael Schenkman was killed by a car as he was cycling to Joe Michaels Mile park.
According to police, the driver of a Chevrolet Impala ran him over around 6:30 a.m on Northern Boulevard near 223rd Street. The 25 year old driver is a volunteer EMT who’s name has not been released by the police and faced no immediate charges.
Michael Schenkman was 78 years old when he was killed. He raised five children, and had eight grandchildren and eight great-grandkids with his wife of 35 years. He was a former driver for Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, on her security detail from from 2001 to 2008. Earlier in his life he taught automotive and industrial arts at the Valley Stream school district and owned an automotive shop. In his later years he was often the only one in his age group for marathons and triathalons.
Northern Boulevard has long been one of the most dangerous sections of Queens. By prioritising car speed over pedestrian and cyclist safety, it become a barrier between the community and local businesses and parks. On the section where Michael Schenkman was killed, joggers and cyclists need to compete with speeding drivers in 40 mile per hour multi-lane street that acts like a small highway. If they use the thin sidewalk to get to the park, they face overgrown vegitation that limits sight distance for the multiple on and off ramps on both sides of the street (some of which have no signs asking cars to yield or even look out for pedestrians).
Joe Michael’s mile is an important resource for our community, allowing neighbors to walk, run or ride their bikes alongside the waterfront. Unfortunately dangerous infrastructure cuts of the park from the communities of Oakland Gardens, Bayside Hills and Douglaston. When fit and veteran road users like Michael Schenkman are not safe, none of us are.
Overall this incident is a sad illustration of why the work the Eastern Queens Greenway is doing is so important. Please join us in asking your local elected officials to fix this section of Northern.